You probably know that I wear a lot of boots. In winter, for my other day job as Fell Top Assessor on Helvellyn, I get into some pretty gnarly mountaineering-type ground on a daily basis, but rules of the job restrict me from getting tangled with a ‘proper’ climb. So, B1 boots are absolutely spot on for my every-day work-wear.
The Friction GTX boots from Hanwag, on paper at least, look a bit OTT for nipping around the edges on Helvellyn, but I was keen to test a pair anyway. I do get to play on the steeper and harder white stuff sometimes too, though sadly this has been lacking so far this winter. So for this test half a dozen rounds of the classic ridges on Helvellyn (Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, of course, but also the East Ridges of Nethermost and Dollywaggon Pikes) just had to do.
Initial impressions of the Friction GTX were good. The boots look solid, feel quite heavy, and enjoy the superb build quality you’d expect from Hanwag. There was a small part of me wished I’d been sent the red ones to test, rather than the orange, purely because I seem to be having a bit of a run on orange boots this winter, and it would have been nice to have a different colour on my feet!
The boots have a Goretex membrane, as you’d expect from the name, and a Duratherm insulation layer. I found them to be very waterproof, and exceptionally warm.
On the hill I initially found them a bit stiff and uncomfortable, but these are solid B2 boots, and they all feel like that for a while. On rock they are very, very impressive. The Vibram Dolomit sole gives incredible friction, even on wet, slabby rock. Again, hence the name. On Swirral Edge this morning I made a point of finding all the steeper sections on the ridge and tackling them direct, even though the rock itself was wet and slippery. I know of many boots that would not have put up with that kind of behaviour, but the Friction’s just got on with the job. As I gained height, so I gained in confidence in these boots. I stopped noticing the initial stiffness and just enjoyed the scramble.
Hanwag say the Friction GTX are for mixed rock and ice, and I have to agree that they’ve come up with a real belter with these. The boots take semi-automatic crampons, which for most folk will mean that they’re happy wearing them on winter climbs graded up to Scottish III or possibly IV. I particularly liked the weight of the boots in hard snow. I spend a lot of time teaching people to use the boot as a tool for kicking steps in neve, and found the Frictions to be just spot on for the job.
Most B2 boots of this quality sell for £250 – £300, so it’s a relief to see that the Hanwag Friction GTX currently retail for around £200. This surely should make them one of the most sought-after boots for Scottish winter mountaineering, and they’ll see you through an Alpine season too!
For more information visit Hanwag