The new Yan Tan from Yorkshire-based boot specialist Altberg is the brand’s first fabric boot and pitched as ‘a strong 2-3 season fabric boot made using a combination of Nubuck leather and Kevlar fabric with a Sympatex waterproof/breathable lining’, though our early impressions are that it’s as sturdy underfoot as some 3-4 season boots.
Altberg’s built a brilliant reputation for top-notch UK-friendly boots as well as a unique custom-fitting service – see our interview with Altberg’s Joe Sheehan for more background – and has factories both in Richmond on the edge of the Dales and Treviso in northern Italy, so we were expecting a seriously well constructed boot and we weren’t disappointed.
One feature of the Yan Tan is Altbergs’s new A-Forme last. It’s a revised fit with an asymmetric cut which is intended to fit approximately 25% of the population who have trouble getting a good fit with current lasts.
In brief, it has a wide, flattish forefoot which is shaped to let the big toe lie flat rather than pushing it in, narrower waisting and a heel shape that narrows, like a pear, to reduce heel lift. It’s based partly on running shoe fit and partly on traditional lasts used for shepherd’s boots.
At 1340g real life weight for a pair of size 9s, the Yan Tan is decently if not obsessively light and it’s components are top-notch: tough kevlar-based, Cordura fabric, Nubuck leather, Vibram sole, leather-lined ankle cuff and a Sympatex membrane. Looks good too in a subte, slighty retro way.
Pull the boot on and the lacing adjusts fluently through slick lace hooks – three types including a neat locking instep one – and gives an immediately comfortable fit for us at least. That A-Forme last is a close, supportive fit for us, maybe slightly tight on the left instep, but it may give a little with wear at that point.
Definitely no swimming about which helps with precision on the move.
The other main first impression is of serious underfoot stability and stiffness by fabric boot standards. Or indeed any 2-3 season boot levels. No trainer-style flex or bouncy cush here, Altberg’s Tri-flex mid-sole and the Vibram Masai outsole combine to give tank-like traction and enough support to stomp across even rocky terrain with a cavalier disregard for precise foot placement.
Rather like a stiffish, leather 3-4 season boot in fact, but – and here’s the good bit – without the weight and with minimal clumpiness. Altberg presumably wouldn’t recommend it, but we can’t see any reason why you couldn’t fit a flexible trekking crampon to the Yan Tan for the odd winter day. They certainly feet up to it.
The downside of that is that despite a nice roll to the stride, there’s not an abundance of underfoot cushioning and we think long days on hard surfaces or pavement could be hard on the legs.
The final piece in the equation is the rare in the UK, Sympatex waterproof liner which makes puddles a go zone. Too early to comment on breathability or durability, but it’s done the job so far.
While most fabric boots tend to be flexible and cushioned underfoot, the Altberg Yan Tan has the stiffness of a more traditional leather mountain walking boot, but combined with lighter weight and Altberg’s snugger-fitting new last.
The nice bit is that even if it lacks a little underfoot cush, the fit and relatively light weight mean that while it’s very supportive underfoot – good for gallumping over rocky ground and scrambling – it doesn’t feel at all clumpy and imprecise.
Add in superb build quality and great components and we reckon the Yan Tan is an excellent fabric alternative for traditional leather boot fans who want to save a chunk of weight without losing underfoot support.
- Leather: Nubuck – water repellent 2.4mm, full grain, top quality grade A European hide
- Fabric: Nylon/Kevlar/Polyester mix – specially developed for high quality boots in use on mountainous, rough terrain
- Lining: Sympatex®, waterproof, breathable bootee construction
- Midsole: Tri -flex® 3 season, rough terrain support
- Sole: Vibram® Tsavo/Micro – lightweight with shock absorbing micro midlayer, and full rubber scuff resistant rand
- Sizes: 4-14 (inc ½ sizes)
- Widths: Medium/Wide – ergonomic A-Forme last
- Weight: 650gms (size 9)
- Height: 15.8cms (size 9, including heel