A trekking-focussed boot to accommodate all types of feet. Find out how we got on with it
Why We Chose The Hanwag Banks GTX: Comfortable, reliable, adjustable fit
Hanwag’s popular Banks boot, originally released 16 years ago, has had a 2020 update. With new materials and a slightly modernised design and fit, this new one’s stable, durable and built for long distance comfort.
Who’s The Hanwag Banks GTX For?
We see the Banks GTX as a very British-style walking boot. It’s got the look for sure, but it also seems made for managing a day wading through sticky peat on top of Kinder Scout or for navigating the bogland of Rannoch Moor. It’s not a boot with the tech specs to handle a day of via ferrata in the Dolomites, but if you want something reliable enough and comfortable enough for a big day hike, or maybe even a national trail, the Banks GTX would be a very safe bet.
There’s also the fact that Hanwag offer a number of different variations of this to cater for different foot shapes. The standard model has their StraightFit last which gives a nice amount of space around the toes to let them sit naturally, then there’s the new SF Extra version which combines the StraightFit’ last’s roomy toebox with a wider fit around the ball of the foot. There are ladies specific variations of both of these models, plus a narrow fit option as well.
Materials and Features
A mix of nubuck leather, suede and synthetics are used for the upper and this all combines for a good quality feel and look. Then, of course, there’s a Gore-Tex membrane, which continues right from the walls of the upper and into the tongue via its bellows.
The ankle is quite high, bringing a lot of stability but it’s also got a good amount of cushioning for comfort. The lacing system also contributes to these two aspects of the boot. It’s got a nice smooth glide to it and pulls in evenly for a secure wraparound.
Unlike some of the more technical boots across Hanwag’s trekking collection, there isn’t a big rubber toe bumper on this model, so you won’t want to put this through too much exposure to rocky ledges. As for the fit, OM editor Will will give his thoughts on that below in his Tester’s Verdict.
The sole unit features Vibram’s Endurance Pro which is designed to offer good cushioning, reliable traction on softer ground (muddy tracks, forests, grass etc), full-length cushioning and flex.
Will Renwick, editor of Outdoors Magic
“I’ve been wearing these quite a lot, including over a few challenging hikes in the Lake District and Brecon Beacons, and I’ve been impressed.
“The space around the toes that the StraightFit last creates is very noticeable. There’s plenty of wiggle room but your feet are still held in securely by the rest of the boot so you won’t end up sliding forward when descending. After a long day of walking, that kind of space can make a difference (a good one) so with that in mind, I’d say these would be very good for any long treks, particularly those in places like the Alps or the Scottish Highlands.
The sole unit has the right amount of flex for long distance walks as well and the very slight roll that this gives is another detail that’ll help on those big days. The shock absorption has been impressive too, even on any hard trails, and I’ve found the grip to be reliable on all but slimy rock.
As for quality, I’d say this doesn’t quite have the exemplary craftsmanship of some of the boots we’ve tried from Hanwag (which are all much more expensive), mainly due to the amount of panels and stitching, but it’s still a very well made boot. The leather in particular seems to be excellent. So far, I’ve put these through quite a lot but the uppers still look healthy.”
Andreas Settele, Head of Product / R&D at Hanwag
“The Hanwag Banks GTX is a product with a history that spans over 16 years and we believe it to be one of the best “Trek Light” boots in the European outdoor market. In this time, apart from slight changes to the materials used, such as switching from suede leather to nubuk, or from one Cordura to another, this style remained unchanged. So, at the beginning of 2018 we set about developing a new and improved version of the trusted Banks boot which still retained the DNA of the old one. We have continued to work with great partners, like Vibram and Gore-Tex, for the new Banks GTX, but have invigorated the design. The result is a younger and fresher boot with a timeless design that is 100% ready for use in the outdoors!”
“There were about 15 prototypes created before we reached the final design.”
“By removing the Cordura material on the quarter and replacing it with leather, in addition to adding a stitch and turn seam which protects from abrasion, the main design idea was born. Besides this, our aim was to develop not only a new Banks boot, but a Banks family which would enable everybody who wants to go and explore the great outdoors to buy a pair of boots to fit the shape of their feet. With new series of Standard lasts, a Narrow fit and the newly developed SF Extra last for those with wider feet, we are able to provide a comfortable boot for nearly all shapes of feet.”
“All new materials were tested in laboratories to ensure they met Hanwag’s quality specifications. For the last round of developments, we took our existing lasts and modified them at the crucial points to generate a better fit. Due to the second sole and insole construction of the new SF Extra last, we did not one, but two developments and there were about 15 prototypes created before we reached the final design. We then chose testers with a range of different feet sizes and gave them a pair for field testing in the outdoors.”
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