Aleks from Bristol has been out testing the latest
Alt-berg Dalesway Vegan Boots
I have recently had the pleasure of taking my new Alt-Berg Dalesway Vegan Boots out on the hills for their first outdoor adventure. We had a windy but beautifully sunny Sunday and a couple of my friends wanted to do one of the circular walks from 'Beyond Bristol' book, in Doynton, Hinton and Dyrham area, just a 20 minutes drive east from Bristol. It is only a 7.5 mile route and most of it is quite a leisurely stroll through fields and on well-defined footpaths and tracks. Not the most demanding of hikes but considering I haven't spent much time breaking the boots in at home, I thought that would be a sensible way to try them out.
Alt-berg boots are a favourite with Taunton Leisure and we have stocked them for years. They are one of our best-sellers, have great range of fittings, and the attention to detail that goes into their craftsmanship is, in my opinion, second to none. They are hard-wearing, durable and made in a board-lasted way, which makes them more stable and less flexible and also allows re-soling. All this makes Alt-Berg the brand of choice for the Army and Police forces. On top of that, many of our customers like the fact that they are a British company, based in Yorkshire.
The Dalesway Boot
The majority of Alt-Berg boots is made with leather but the Dalesway, is made especially for all the vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and those who simply don't like wearing leather. All components and materials used in the production of the Dalesway are non-animal or animal derivative and that includes adhesives. These vegan boots still give the same performance and support as the rest of the Alt-Berg 2-3 season range and come with an added benefit of being more lightweight in comparison to their non-vegan equivalent. The upper is made out of 2.0 mm breathable, durable, waterproof, lightweight fabric called Lorica®, for breathable and waterproof lining Alt-Berg used Sympatex®, and the midsole is 3 season – ideal for medium to rough terrain, giving excellent support with a little bit of flex. Vibram® Werewolf sole is a combination of PU and rubber, which provides durability and shock absorption.
Before the hike I was a little worried about how this double waterproofness of Lorica® and Sympatex® would affect the breathability but even though I was walking quite fast and it was a sunny day, my feet didn't overheat and if there was any sweat production going on in my feet, it was nothing a pair of Merino wool socks couldn't handle (sorry, vegans!).
I really like the way Lorica® looks. It is manmade and completely synthetic but if you didn't know that, you would never guess. It looks just like leather, even the backing of it. There's no cheap, ‘plastic look’ to it whatsoever. It is created from a remarkable combination of extremely thin microfibres. This interlacement of microfibers, soaked in special resins, has a microporous structure which is very similar to the collagen of natural skin. This gives Lorica® excellent softness, durability and breathability. From reading other reviews, I found that it also stretches more like leather than other synthetics so the boots should get even more comfortable with time.
Another feature I appreciated on my muddy walk was the outer sole's tread pattern with wide spaces in it, which allow easy 'self-cleaning' – mud doesn't stick to it and easily falls off.
The one thing I think could be slightly better, at least for my footshape, is the fit around the ankle. Dalesway only comes in one width (medium) and has quite a straight shape, meaning that the width doesn't change much between heel area and the toebox. That can make them a little narrow for people with bunions or just wide metatarsal joints and a little too wide in the heel area for people with very skinny ankles. For me it wasn't a big issue – I used the Superfeet insoles to help hold my heel in place and I only had to tighten up the laces twice during a 3-hour walk. I didn't get any blisters, which for the first hike with my skinny heels can be considered a success. However I think Alt-Berg should consider making a vegan boot in their A-forme asymmetric last, which has a wonderfully padded, narrow heel and wide, spacious toebox.
Overall, I can wholeheartedly recommend these boots to anyone! I think they are really well made and knowing Alt-Berg's reputation, I trust they will last many years, so despite a higher price tag, they are a good investment. Just like with any other boots though – please come in to one of our stores to have your feet measured and the boots fitted for you and try them on at home before taking them out!
Aleks from our Bristol Store wrote this review. She loves spending time in nature, hiking and talking about hiking when in store! Her personal interests include ethical fashion, nutrition and environmentalism.