When my good friends at the Keswick Boot Company asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the Hanwag Ferrata Combi GTX boots, I knew I’d be onto a good thing. They sell boots for a living, so certainly know their stuff. I was expecting great things from the Hanwag offering.
Initial thoughts are the Ferrata Combi GTX is a great-looking boot, that fits well, and feels sturdy. Obviously they are intended for use on Via Ferrata, but I’m much more likely to wear mountain boots like these for scrambling, and for easy snow and ice routes.
So far I’ve only worn the Hanwags on relatively straightforward scrambles, including the odd single rock pitch, and longer mountaineering routes such as Stepped Ridge on Brown Cove Crags on the Thirlmere side of Helvellyn. Stepped Ridge is a grade 2 scramble, so not desperately hard, but on the day I did it recently the rock was damp and felt greasy. The Ferrata Combis gripped pretty well on the slimy rock, as well as you’d expect from a solid Vibram sole, and I really liked the stiffness of the boot which meant I could edge on small holds without feeling like my calf muscles were under strain. Certainly for scrambling I think they are a very well-made, solid boot, and part of me wants to not wear them too much now so that I’ve got them still in good condition for all the rock work I’ll be doing when the spring comes around.
As it’s still early winter I haven’t had a chance to try the Hanwags in proper snowy conditions so far. I’ve worn them a couple of days in softish snow, and think they are good and stiff enough for kicking pigeon-hole steps, as well as for sideways slash steps. They will definitely take a crampon, but I would place them in the high-end B1 range, rather than the B2 semi-automatic crampon compatible range, as they just aren’t stiff enough for anything other than winter mountain walking and grade 1 ridges and gullies. That said, as a winter mountaineering boot they are superb, and should be on anyone’s Christmas wishlist for winter walking and low-grade climbing – in fact I wish these had been around when I did my Winter Mountain Leader qualifications, as they are a huge improvement on the heavy leather boots I wore back then!
Overall I really like the Hanwag Ferrata Combi GTX boots, although I have to say I haven’t had a chance to wear them for long periods as of yet. My only negative comment at the moment is that the clamping lace rings (or Click Clamps, as Hanwag call them) for tensioning the lower and upper parts of the laces independently, are too hard to release once clipped in. One of these actually needs to be released with a penknife as pulling the lace outwards and downwards (as you’re supposed to be able to do) just doesn’t work, and leaves me wondering if these will be durable enough with prolonged use over time.
But that is just one minor worry. I love the look of these boots, and find them comfortable for long days in the hills, whether walking on paths, grass, or snow. I think they are superb for scrambling and general mountaineering, and look forward to using them more in snowy conditions. I do worry a little about the name, as they are much more than just a boot for via ferrata, but that’s just a little quibble.
The Hanwag Ferrata Combi GTX retail for around £200, which also makes them great value for money.