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Paul Austin tests out the Driven Hunt GTX boots from Harkila - a must have boot for anyone that enjoys hardcore hunting in mountainous settings
A quick glance at the Driven Hunt GTX tells you it's a serious off-road shooting boot. Not exactly the sort of thing you'd slip on for a gentle stroll at the weekend, but if you're heading off into the mountains they could well be your new best friend.
These things are built from the ground up for really tough terrain and they certainly look the part with 10 eyelets stretching up the extended shaft of the boot. The higher the shaft, the more ankle support and boots don't come much taller than the Driven Hunt GXT.
Härkila clearly have confidence in the GTX range offering a two-year warranty on every pair, so build quality and longevity of service isn't unlikely to be a concern. Double-stitched 1.8mm full-grain leather should make them as tough as dare I say old boots.
For me, leather will always be my number one choice for a boot. I've wasted too much money over the years on man-made fibres that try but fail to match its inherent qualities, toughness, its ability to remain supple while coping with repeated flexes and an innate ability to mould to the foot. Most importantly, it can be treated and indeed retreated to remain fully waterproof.
The GTX doesn't shy away from modern materials such as Gore-tex and rubber reinforcement in a protective rand (toe cap) but with the GTX man-made tech is used to compliment and protect the leather rather than replace it. Fully synthetic boots can be light, comfortable and indeed fashionable, but they're never as tough or as durable as high quality leather, something which the Hunt GTX certainly doesn't lack.
The Vibram ICETREK sole delivers the all-important grip while the accompanying insole provides the stiffness you need in the heel when tramping down from a great height. Insulation in both the sole and indeed the entire boot reflects heat back where it matters and Harkila claim the boot remains warm down to -10°C. Over the last three months of testing, I can't say they've been exposed -10 but it's mid November and fairly nippy up north. I've never felt a hint of cold over that period, even when stood foxing for hours on end.
The breathable Goretex waterproof inner membrane works exactly as advertised, keeping your feet dry from both perspiration and external moisture. The membrane encases the entire boot stretching almost to the ninth eyelet, so they're wellie like in terms of waterproofing. The concertina-style flex point on the ankle means they're not too stiff in the heel-to-toe axis, something which can be an issue with particularly tall boots. The overall build quality and fixtures and fittings are exactly what you'd expect from a premium brand. The GTX aren't the lightest boot in the world, but the combination of support, strength, warmth and waterproofing make them ideal for really tough terrain.
The GTX certainly isn't what you'd call an everyday boot. They're built for a purpose. They're a mountain boot through and through with no compromise, which is exactly what you want from footwear that will have to cope with some of the roughest terrain imaginable.
To find your nearest stockist visit: www.harkila.com
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