Walking Boots: Berghaus Kibo GTX
Berghaus Kibo GTX
Lightweight Mountaineering Boot
The very first thing everybody says when I hand them this pair of boots is ‘blimey these are light’ or something along those lines. Weighing in at 910g a piece (when I weighed them they were actually a few grams over 1kg so presumably the published weight doesn’t include laces or mud!) this compares favourably with my old pair of leather Zamberlan’s at 1092g and significantly less than my Asolo plastic’s at 1665g. As an indication of what these numbers mean in real terms I weighed my approach shoes (North Face Buildering) and they came in at 502g each. Basically they don’t weigh a lot, especially considering the extra benefits you are getting over standard walking boots or approach shoes.
They are a B2/C2 crampon compatible and designed for Scottish or Alpine use. I fitted my Grivel G12 crampons to them in a jiffy. Note that they will not fit a fully step-in crampon. The manufacturers blurb tells you that they incorporate a lot of highly technical materials including reversed leather, Lorics synthetic leather and abrasion resistant and breathable Schoeller® Keprotec®. Now whilst I am obviously interested in what they are made of I am not interested in the actual composition of these materials. Abrasion resistant and breathable are good enough for me - combined with a Gore-Tex lining which is obviously incorporated to keep your feet dry and breathable, these are three of the most important qualities in a pair of boots. The other, and perhaps most important, quality is something that is a lot more personal – comfort. Obviously everybody’s feet are different and no boot will be comfortable for all, but I have to admit that the Kibo’s seem pretty well set up on the comfort front. They have a really nice firmly padded tongue and feel very comfortable when laced up tight. They have given me no hint of hot spots, rubbing points or blisters. They feature a full rubber rand which is obviously going to help their longevity as well as aid climbing and scrambling and the sole is Grainto Vibram.
So what were they like in practice? As I’ve said, very comfortable to wear, walk and climb in. The full shank is a little stiff and takes some getting used to, but the slight upward curve towards the toe made walking a lot less painful and ungainly than in my plastics. My main quibble is with the lacing, and in particular with just one of the lacing points. In general the lacing seems to have been very well thought out. The lower points all incorporate a ball bearing which speeds up the lacing procedure and will presumably lengthen the life of the laces. The fifth lacing point up, features a pretty funky plastic lug which pops into the associated D ring and pinches the lace so that it can’t move. This allows you to lace the bottom half of the boot, lock things up, and then concentrate on the top half. Neat. Then it goes downhill. The next point is a fabric loop through which the laces pass. This is situated back down towards the heel and is intended to allow you to synch the heel in tightly. The first time I wore the boots was around town to break them in. I laced them up to the locking D ring, and then loosely tied the laces with the tongue hanging out teenager style. I was walking along minding my own business with a couple of bags of shipping in my hands when Wallop, I found myself flat on the floor, fruit and veg everywhere. Basically one of the lacing hooks on the upper right boot had hooked the offset lacing loop on the left boot and hey presto I was over. This happened about half a dozen times, though I learned to expect it and stopped falling over! Obviously most of the time the boots will be worn fully laced and this hook and eye problem doesn’t present itself, but beware if you are in a hurry and don’t lace things up properly. The result, as well as two bruised hands, is a torn upper and bent hook. Probably not a great downer in the grand scheme of things, but one I felt I had to point out.
Despite the above issue I love the boots and am very happy with their performance to date.
Retailing at £180 they are not cheap, but bridge the gap between decent leather or Gore-Tex walking boots and plastic boots for the more adventurous climber.