Before we left, one of the more important decisions we had to make was what footwear to bring. To keep the load light, we predominantly live in one pair of shoes that are used all day, almost every day. They are walking shoes, cycling shoes and hiking shoes. And so the decision on what to buy was one we spent quite a bit of time dilebrating over.
I chose the Mammut Ridge Low GTX, they are almost a hiking boot, albeit without the high ankle. This appealed particularly to me as full hiking boots would be too heavy for wearing in hot weather, but a shoe like this is still pretty rugged and allows me to do a bit of hiking comfortably without having to carry any additional footwear. Also, my favourite pair of hiking boots are Mammut, comfy, perfect fitting and were easy to break in, I thought I would stick with this brand in the hopes of a repeat performance. Unfortunately, it was not to be so. I bought a size 5 and although they fit me from heel to toe perfectly, after a few hours of wearing them, my toes become pinched from the top of the boot. They seem to be an extremely narrow fit, especially when you consider I have very slim feet and had I been wearing them at home before I left, I probably would have returned them for a larger size. The pressure on my toes does not become apparent until I have worn them for a few hours but it quickly becomes quite painful and so trying them on in the shop, they seemed fine but in reality the fit is not to my liking. It has eased over months of use but I’m still glad to take them off after a long day. I do have the option of removing the bulky insoles and replacing them with something slimmer, but when you’re on the road, insole shopping is pretty much the last thing on your mind!
Fit aside, these are a decently performing pair of shoes. Made of gore tex, they have not leaked once despite having been worn through heavy flooding, mucky fields and having been subjected to every form of abuse you can imagine. The breathability is pretty decent too. Unavoidably on very hot days (greater than 35 degrees celsius), they can get pretty sweaty inside, but that is to be expected and for the most part, I have no problems at all.
The Mammut Low Ridge GTX is designed with the Via Ferrata specifically in mind, and so is a fairly stiff shoe. This suits me for cycling and as an every day shoe (fit aside) they perform admirably. My only minor complaint in this regard is that the sole seems somewhat clunky, but as this is a function of their design, I can’t really niggle over it. I have worn these shoes every day for over 7 months now and they still look almost new. There’s a litle bit of fading to the colour which I don’t really care about. Bu the sole, the shoes outer and all the seams are as good as new. It’s prety rare to find a pairof shoes that suffer no cracking or breakdown of the seams at all, particularly after the use they’ve had and I consider these really rugged, almost bombproof in their sturdiness!
So when it comes down to it, if Mammut had just managed to nail the fit of these shoes, they would be one of the best pairs that I have ever owned; rugged, waterproof and versatile. But I can’t get away from the fact that by the end of each day, my toes feel squeezed. If I were buying them again, I would go for a size larger, so maybe bear hat in mind if you’re thinking of investing in a pair!