The suede-and-fabric upper provides a unique combination of strength and flexibility; we never felt like we were sacrificing comfort for toughness. The upper’s double stitching is bolstered by rubber caps on the toe and heel, which helped protect the boot during a five-hour scramble up a scree field in Washington’s North Cascades National Park. “We boot-skied our way down from the Golden Horn,” our tester says. “They were scratched to hell, but the scree would have totally shredded a lesser pair of boots.” How does Helly get to such a reasonable price? Simple: They use their own proprietary waterproof membrane and outsole.
The mixed-material upper and flexible forefoot have an immediately soft, broken-in feel. We took them right from the box on a 15-mile hike in Lake Tahoe with a 25-pound pack. The slightly rockered toe and soft footbed gave the boot a cushy feel that’s rare in mid-duty boots.
A hard, plastic stabilizer in the arch provides torsional stiffness without restricting flexibility in the forefoot, and, along with the EVA midsole, gave us enough support to handle a 40-pound pack over 30 miles in the Cascades.