Field test and review
Anyone who knows me will know that I own and have tested my fair share of hiking shoes and boots. Everything from trail runners, low cut, mid cut and high cut boots. Waterproof, non-waterproof, leather, suede, breathable, somewhat breathable to just plain sweaty. I have hiked thousands of kilometres, as my feet will tell you, and strongly believe that what you put on your feet represents possibly the most important investment you will make as a hiker. You may be new to hiking and only walk a few kilometres on your adventures and as such don’t give a lot of thought to your feet protectors, that’s fair enough. But trust me, once you start taking longer hikes over longer day or multiple days you will start to experience the ill effects of poorly designed footwear.
Blisters might be the first sign that things are not going well. Then comes the sore toes, bent toenails, sprained ankles, aggravated tendons, shin splints, broken bones (OK I’m only kidding about the bones, that would just be weird). The point I am trying to convey is that I started with a cheap pair of hiking boots. They went really well for a few months and then the feet and ankle problems started so I had to ditch my cheaper boots and started down the path of finding my ideal match. I will mention here that I currently own a pair of excellent hiking boots for my overnight hikes. What I was looking for was quality footwear for my day long adventures.
So I started wearing trail runners, just because they looked so cool. They were amazingly comfortable due to the spongy knobby tread and felt like I was walking on a cushion of air. But they offered no support on rough terrain and the tread had all but vanished after a few months of rock scrambling. From trail runners to sturdier, heavier hiking shoes. While they clearly offered greater all round support of arch and ankle they added increased weight to my feet which after a 28km day hike you do start to notice when your muscles are telling you to stop.
Following extensive research, trial and error and discussions with various retailers I was sent a pair of TREKSTA Kobra GORE-TEX® hiking shoes by Snowgum. Cool and thank you. (and before anyone comments, mine are black, not the pink and grey ones that my wife is wearing).
When I opened the box the first thing I saw was the GORE-TEX® logo. I love GORE-TEX® so this just added to my excitement. I will digress for a moment. Recently when I bought my overnight hiking boots I was making my selection based on the appearance of the boot. Being a designer I always believe that things have to look good so it made sense to me that I would hold the appearance in such high regard. I was quickly put back in my place though, being told that often the ugliest shoe or boot will offer you the greatest support. OK, point taken. Looking for ugly footwear now.
Back to opening the box. What lay before me were a pair of low-cut hiking shoes in a striking black and grey color scheme with chunky soles to provide plenty of cushioning and grip that looked like it would hold you to a wall. I was feeling confident but was also recalling that ‘it is not all about looks’.
Pulling the shoes out of the box I quickly noticed that there were no traditional laces to tie. I was actually quite excited to see this as my last pair of trail runners had laces with a quick release and I loved the fact I never had to tie them up. However, this lacing system was different to anything I’ve seen. The TrekSta Kobra’s are fitted with the innovative Boa lacing system, providing a reel and a steel lace cable system to crank boots instead of shoelaces. The quick adjust reel on the shoes means you’ll be tightened and ready to hike with a simple turn of the reel. On-trail adjustments are made easy with the Boa as you simply reach down and turn the reel to tighten to the correct tension or pop the reel out to loosen the fit as our foot swells. You can even do it without stopping if you possess the dexterity to reach down while your foot is coming up at the same time as missing the overhanging branch and the tree to your right.
After ten minutes of marveling about the Boa lacing system the more skeptical part of my brain switched on and I started to consider the terrain I would be wearing these shoes on. Mud, sand, water, snow, rocks, gravel, dust, the list goes on. I started to wonder if the dial and the thinness of the steel laces and complexity of the reel mechanism would be able to withstand what I needed to put them through. Reading the label dangling from the side of one shoe I was somewhat reassured about the lifetime guarantee offered on the Boa system. Alright then, let’s see. After three months of testing the shoe system is as solid as the day I first opened the box, so far I am impressed.
TrekSta uses NestFIT tech to ensure the shoes curves to and cradles your feet. NestFIT leaves the shoe follows the natural curve of your feet and moves away from the conventional show shape. I’ll admit, they looked and felt a little weird the first few times I put them on my feet however after the initial break in period the NestFIT delivered exactly what TrekSta promised: ‘a shoe that adapts to the contours of your feet is tough to beat in terms of comfort’. After long hikes in the Victorian alps and tough slogs along long stretches of sandy beaches my feet were so comfortable that I didn’t even need to change shoes at the end of the hike as I normally do. Just popped the Boa reel to let my feet rest. I should mention that the first hike I wore these on was 25km in length and my feet weren’t sore and I was blister free.
So what happens if water is unavoidable? With the TrekSta Kobra this is no issue at all thanks to the GORE-TEX® membrane to keep your feet dry. I gave them the customary test by standing in a muddy puddle for five minutes and are happy to report that my feet came out completely dry. Further testes in mud, creeks, heavy rain, and tidal flow the GORE-TEX® managed to keep the water where it belongs, not on my feet.
After putting these shoes through their paces I am confident in saying that you would be hard-pressed to find a better mid-priced (sub $300) lightweight, waterproof hiking shoe. The TrekSta Kobra performed well in all conditions and kept my feet comfortable and dry whilst doing it. If you’re in the market for a new pair of shoes that delivers proven performance with heaps of style, the TrekSta Kobra GORE-TEX® should definitely be on your list or candidates.
Buy direct from Snowgum for $299.95 per pair
Packed with features and exceptional support, the Kobra is the one shoe to do almost anything. Work in, travel with it, walk the dog or hike a trail in it, you will find the materials, functionality and performance to your liking. One of the most requested styles.
- NestFIT system cradles your feet, accounting for every contour as it follows the natural flow and design of the foot. Upper, insole, midsole, and outsole
come together like never before.
- Water-repellent Soft Suede synthetic and Serena sandwich mesh uppers
- Upper shoe features GORE-TEX® XCR (extended comfort range).
- BOA lacing system for easy percision adjustment.
- IceLock™/HyperGrip® sole provides traction in all conditions.
- 3D Resin Printing
- TPU Heel Support
Field Tested by
Darren and Julie Edwards > www.trailhiking.com.au