I'm in Italy, as guests of Aku, soaking up every last drop of the spectacular scenery on offer in the Dolomites. What's more, I'm wearing a pair of Aku's La Val GTX on my feet. I've not been in the specialist hiking village of La Valle long, but I've already been treated to some of the finest pizza and pasta I've ever tasted. You haven't come here for a food critique though. You've come to know what I thought of the boots. In short, I liked them a lot.
The La Val GTX from Aku is an extremely versatile and comfortable walking boot, as at home in the valley lows as it is in the mid-mountain heights. Its asymmetric construction can seem strange at first but when you realise it's all part of Aku's exclusive Elica technology, a technology that optimises load distribution and delivers where it matters most on the foot roll, you soon appreciate that there's a method in the madness.
The boot's Michelin pulsar tread has been inspired by mountain bike tyres and I'm happy to report that this particular feature, which could have so easily just been a quirky gimmick rather than something truly effective, works like an absolute charm. Despite a relatively shallow tread, compared with more traditional soles, these boots really do bite in underfoot; gifting security and confidence to the wearer when they're out and about. Dare we say it, the whole mountain bike tyre idea on this thing works wheel-y wheel-y well (sorry).
During my day of testing the La Vals, I got the impression that Aku have found a way to perfectly merge solidity with a lightweight feel. There's a strength to these things that meant I trusted them to hold when I needed them to, but a strength that didn't feel heavy or like an effort to drag around. Apologies for bringing another wheel reference to the table here, but the boots really seemed to roll with the hills.
Extremely comfortable for the most part (I did notice a minor heel pinch on some of the uphills), with a really nice aesthetic and a Gore-Tex® Peformance Comfort lining, the La Val is an excellent all-rounder with more than enough going for it to please both casual and serious walkers alike.