Gore-Tex Surround, it's Gore-Tex in a boot, but not as we know it, because the membrane goes under the foot in an effort to increase breathability and thus comfort. It's a new technology for this spring 2015 and the Comfort High GTX Surround is Mammut's take on it in a decently lightweight trekking boot. And here it is...
- £170 / 994g (pair size 43)
- Gore-Tex Surround liner
- Mesh and fabric uppers with welded exoskeleton
- Lightweight toe reinforcement
- Sonar Comfort Gripex sole unit
- Rolling Concept chassis, erm, concept
- IP-EVA wedge with integrated arch support
We've seen several examples of Gore-Tex Surround now, but until it gets really warm out there, we can't really tell you if it achieves its goal of improving foot comfort by increasing the breathable area of the shoe by around 30%. That increase comes from running the membrane under the foot where a space - 'spacer' - between the mid-sole and the wedge should allow humidity to escape more easily as air moves through it and under your feet.
One thing that confuses us a little about this is that the footbed inside the shoe is made from what looks like a solid, non-breathable foam. That's in contrast to the perforated footbed used by Hanwag for its take on Surround. Then again we can suck air through the Mammut footbed, so presumably it's also air permeable, but in a less visually obvious way.
Otherwise you notice the very obvious mesh areas on the lower half of the boot, again designed to improve breathability and that the boot sits quite low to the ground.
Other than the Surround, we can tell you that the boot feels decently light - just under 1000g for a pair of size 43s - the lasting matches our broadish forefoot, narrowish heel very nicely and while we were expecting a slightly harsh ride, the boots actually feel quite cushioned, particularly at the heel end of things.
They're high by nature as well as name, but the ankle section is both decently padded and very flexible, so they don't have the restrictive feel of some high leather boots. In fact they're just very comfortable straight out of the box. We're wondering if the notably cushioned-feeling footbed plays a role here too as they feel more cushioned underfoot than we'd expected.
Finally, the Gripex outsole unit uses two different rubber compounds with enough lug depth to make us think that they ought to grip on most surfaces.
Took the boot for a bit of a moorland hill walk today and they proved to be light, comfortable and grippy with enough cushioning and support that rocky sections were fine. We still can't really comment on the claims of increased breathability. In current dry conditions they feel just like any other Gore-Tex lined walking boot we've used with a slight moistness to the sock at the end of the walk.
Does Gore-Tex Surround work? We have no idea. We're wondering what happens to the breathability if the spacer under the foot fills with water, as it presumably will in UK 'summer' conditions, then again this would presumably just reduce breathability levels to what they would be with a conventional Gore-Tex liner anyway. We'll let you know what happens when it gets hot enough for us to tell...
Otherwise, the boot feels like a really nice, lightweight hiking and trekking mid, but with a higher than average ankle cuff, however there's also a 'Low' or shoe version for the those who prefer to be able to graze their ankle bones at will. One area we'll be looking at is abrasion resistance. While the toe gets a protective overlay, that low-down mesh fabric looks worryingly vulnerable to scree and rock abrasion.
In short: nice boots, but the jury's out on Gore-Tex Surround so far and we're a little concerned about that mesh low down.
More about Mammut's range of clothing and footwear at www.mammut.ch.