New from German boot specialist Hanwag, the Najera Mid uses the new Gore-Tex Surround technology, which is claimed to increase the breathable area available to the foot by approximately 30% to improve comfort particularly in hot conditions. Other than the
- Gore-Tex Surround Technology
- Vibram sole with easy to repair cemented construction
- Nubuk and air mesh uppers
- Special breathable footbed
- Rubber heel and toe caps
- Ghilly-lacing and clamping lace-hooks
At first glance the Najera Mid doesn't look particularly out of the ordinary, a sleek Nubuk and mesh-uppered lightweight, but look at little close and you can spot the tell-tale signs of the new Gore-Tex Surround technology. For a start, there's mesh, lots of it.
In particular, there are very obvious, almost gill-like vertical slits running along the base of both sides of the uppers. They're there to allow air to get in and flow under the foot through a special spacer mesh which in turn sits against a Gore-Tex liner which runs under the sole of the foot as well as surrounding the top of your foot like a conventional Gore-Tex liner.
There are more clues inside: the removable footbed is perforated throughout its length to allow airflow to the sole of the feet again. Gore tells us that the extra breathable area equates to around one third of the foots' complete surface and that '30-35% of the sweat glands on our feet are located on the soles'.
They also say that lab testing shows a genuine increase in breathability that 'actually correlates with perecivable advantages in human comfort'. The tests were carried out on a treadmill with sensors inside the boot recording humidity levels and the test subject also recording subjective impressions of comfort.
It will be a while before temperatures in the UK reach levels where that'll be testable we reckon, but the theory makes sense at least. We've also seen a Gore-Tex video detailing the testing using micro-sensors to record micro-climate humidity within a boot in the lab, which looks typically thorough. You can see a graph of the results on the right of the page.
As they don't say in Game of Thrones, summer is coming. In the mean time though, we can tell you a little more about the boot judged purely as a boot.
First it's decently light, think around 560g for medium in a size 43, next it looks to be thoroughly well put together. It's actually produced in Croatia and finally, like other Hanwag footwear we've used, it has a really nice last that's slim in the heel, but with enough forefoot volume to work for the typically-British editorial foot. Your mileage may, of course, vary dramatically, but we suspect it'll be a happy medium for a lot of British feet.
The boot is pretty flexible underfoot with enough EVA cushioning to take the sting out of walking on harder surfaces and despite the down-to-toe, rock-boot styled lacing, we reckon its more of an all-round light hiker than a dedicated scrambling boot, though the blocked-out toe section of the Vibram Cross outsole should help you pad your way neatly up the odd easy slab.
It's not a rigid-soled, 'good for standing on small edges' weapon by any means. Other stuff? The cuffs are relatively high but softly padded so they don't feel uncomfortable - there's a shoe version too if you prefer lows - and it gives a slightly softer ride than the other GTX Surround boot we have in from Mammut.
Finally, despite have a whole bunch of mesh going on with the uppers, there are heel and toe reinforcements for added durability. In other words, they seem like very nice, lightweight hiking boots regardless of Surround or not.
One slightly weakness we've not seen mentioned elsewhere, is that if you use non-venting aftermarket footbeds or clinical orthotics, that's going to negate at least some of the benefits of the underfoot venting, so if that's how your roll, you'll need to bear that in mind before splashing out on a pair of boots using this technology.
So far we'd have to say that if you didn't know about the Gore-Tex Surround technology, you wouldn't really know it was there. In a warm indoors room with a Najera on one foot and a conventional Gore-Tex lined mid on the other, there's no obvious difference, just that slight warm fug you get with any Gore-Tex footwear in our experience.
And in walking use in late winter/early spring temperatures, the same's true. But then this is a technology that's intended to work when temperatures are on the warm side, not in the UK's wet spring, so while these are, like the Mammuts, very nice lightweight walking boots in their own right, the price premium is down to Surround, so we'll have to wait and see on that front.
Of course, you could argue that in really warm conditions, a non-waterproof mesh upper is the way to go, but then of course, if it does rain, you'll get wet feet. Surround might mean having your cake and eating it too. Or that's the theory. Bring on the sunshine. Or will someone please send us an air-ticket to somewhere warm and wet?
Full details at www.hanwag.com.