New for spring 2015, the Arc'teryx Bora is the higher-ankled version of the Canadian brand's new footwear range, which like its low-cut sibling the Acrux,uses an innovative two-piece design with a lightweight, stretch inner boot and a separate fabric outer shell boot.
Unlike the Acrux however, which is 'more scramble than ramble', the Bora is aimed at all-round hiking and mountain walking use, though this being Arc'teryx, we're talking 'technical hiking' rather than just bumbling around the hills.
- £275 / 1240g (pair size 42)
- Arc'teryx Gore-Tex Adaptive Fit Liners
- Vibram Hiking outsole and EVA mid-sole unit
- Seamless thermo-laminated fabric upper
- “Y" groove split heel technology
- Locking instep lace hook
- Full protective rubber rand
- Spherical heel shape for easy rolling gait
- Sole on liner allows use as a hut slipper
We've been using two versions of the Acrux shoe for a while now, but we were properly intrigued by the Bora with its more hiking-orientated brief and higher, more protective cut - not that we're prone to clumsily scuffing our ankles on rocks of course...
Like the shoe, the mid uses an interesting two-piece design. The outer is a welded, seamless sandwich of tough PU-coated Nylon and mesh fabric with a full rubber rand thrown in for added abrasion resistance, while the inner is made from a stretchy, breathable cushioned mesh.
Pick And Mix Inners
Because these are the top-of-the-range Bora2 model, the inner boot gives you the choice of the standard waterproof, Gore-Tex liner or for winter conditions, a warmer insulated version. Both have a simple rubber sole, so you can also use them as hut or tent slippers in the evening - ideal for alpine hutting or Himalayan tea-house trekking.
The most obvious difference between these and the Acrux is that the Vibram Arc'teryx Hiking sole unit is much more aggressively lugged than the more approach-orientated shoe. That means that although there's a blocked out 'climbing' toe section, the main sole is modelled on an all-round mountaineering boot with much more aggressive lugs for better grip. We've found the Acrux sole surprisingly grippy anyway, but for all-round walking, the Hiking sole should be even better.
Early impressions are that the stretchy inner does a great job giving a close, cliched, glove-like fit with brilliant heel hold and no hot-spots helped by the complete absence of a conventional tongue. You can adjust fit differentially using the locking hook at the front of the ankle too, always welcome.
The snug fit gives a really nice, precise feel and as with the Acrux, they hit a decent mid-point between being cushioned but not overly soft and the 'spherical heel' with its pronounced curve does seem to help give a nice rolling walking action and, based on the Acrux experience, without any grip penalty on grassy downhills.
Light But Sturdy
Other stuff to note is that although at a measured weight of 1240g for a pair of size 42 - one down on our usual 43 - the Bora is decently light, it feels pretty sturdy with it with lots of underfoot lateral stiffness and there's plenty of abrasion protection from the all-round rubber rand.
One aspect of the boot we'll be keeping a close eye on is performance in really heavy rain. Although the use of hydrophobic, fast-drying materials and the removable inner boot should mean you can dry it out quickly when things do get damp, it does look as if heavy rain will leave water sat between the ventilated outer boot and the stretchy inner.
Whether that's a problem in the real world remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure, this being the UK, we'll find out soon enough...
We love the way Arc'teryx looks at product design from different angles and in the case of its footwear, the result is an unusual mix of technologies that so far, we'd say, really does promise to work with a nice balance of glove-like fit, weight and sturdiness.
Throw in a combination of underfoot grip and precision, plus that rolling feel from the rounded heel profile and you have a really versatile lightweight mountain walking boot. The removable, modular liner system is an added bonus if you're hut-to-hutting or want to up insulation over winter and should help with rapid drying too, though we'll be on the alert to see what happens in really heavy rain.
And of course, they look a little bit different too. And yes, they're reassuringly expensive, but then good outdoors footwear has never been cheap.
Full details see arcteryx.com.