Every so often a product comes long that just feels absolutely fit for purpose. When I first clapped eyes on the Montagnard GTX boots from AKU I just simply had to have a pair. Even before trying them on I just knew that they could oh, so easily become my go-to boots for winter work in the mountains.
So, when the postie delivered a pair to my door for testing, I just couldn’t wait to get out and play in them. Unfortunately, the timing corresponded to a period of snow-less summits in the Lake District, and rather than just trash these boots in a bog, I waited for the right conditions to test them. When that time came around, I was blown away by the quality and comfort that just oozes from the Montagnards.
Yes, they are big boots, but for winter mountaineering and icefalls that’s exactly what you’d expect. First off though, I had to walk a bit on non-snowy ground to gain the freezing level, and was a little bit apprehensive of how comfortable the Montagnards would be on ordinary paths. I remember shreading my feet with the old plastic boots that we all used to wear for winter climbing. Not so with the Montagnards. Apart from the slight initial clumsiness from having such whoppers on my feet (my fault, not AKU’s!) I found them to be very, very nice boots to walk in.
One minor thing I should point out is that the lacing, well thought-out though it is, brings the knot very close in around the lower leg, which may actually be an indication that I have slim ankles apart from anything else, but maybe a slight development here during manufacturing might help those of us who don’t have chunky calves? I found that the two sides of the top of the boot were actually touching once I’d tightened the laces.
Once I reached the snow, the AKU Montagnards didn’t disappoint me any more than they had on the lower path. For kicking steps in steep, hard neve they took all the strain out of the technique, making superb, solid pigeon-hole steps easily with a single swing. For side-slash steps they worked equally well, and were a joy to work with.
In crampons the boots were beyond reproach too. Simply amazing at everything I threw at them. I would say the Montagnards are a good solid, B2 boot, just as at home on a grade III or IV icefall as on a walking route up Blencathra. There really isn’t anything not to like about them, well apart from perhaps the name!
For more info go to the AKU website here: AKU Montagnard GTX
In Cumbria you can buy them from the Keswick Boot Company