Hanwag Alaska GTX – Serious Boots for Serious Tours
Some years ago several of my friends seemed to be pondering the same question: “Which hiking boots to buy for the next trekking tour?” Our experiences until then were not completely positive: our boots seemed too heavy, not rugged enough, were too warm, too wide or too narrow… After a lengthy research and trying out boots in various outdoor stores, one of my friends bought a pair of Hanwag Alaska GTX trekking boots. And shortly after that all of my buddies followed suit.
Why? Quite simple: Hanwag Alaska GTX are the archetypal trekking boots!
It doesn’t matter if you wear them when it’s – 20°C in Norway or 30°C in Africa. It makes no difference if you are trekking on a soft ground, rocky terrain, or ankle-deep in water. These boots give you outstanding support yet are extremely comfortable to wear. In fact I’ve heard this statement from several people: “These boots make me feel invincible!” And that’s absolutely true, at least as far as your feet are concerned.
We recommend these boots without any reservation! We’ve been using ours for years in various situations, on all kinds of tours:
- climbing in the Italian Dolomites on difficult ridges with many sharp rocks,
- trekking through Norwegian national parks on rough, slippery and muddy terrain,
- trekking across wide frozen patches (with spikes) on the Lofoten,
- with and without crampons at -10°C on various 3000+ meter summits in the Alps and 5000+ meter summits in the Andes,
- at 30°C in the Namibian desert and on safari,
- crossing rivers and climbing steep mountains in Iceland,
- on a long tour through New Zealand’s mountains and along the coast.
On all these tours we’ve never had the feeling that a different boot could have been better. Of course, we are talking about difficult trekking here and not everyday situations where sandals or running shoes are more appropriate and better suited.
In the end it comes down to this: with our Hanwag Alaskas we’ve never felt anything other than safe and comfortable, and we’ve never had to abandon a route because of limitations imposed by these trekking boots.
The boots are made from top-grain Nubuck leather on the outside and have a soft Gore-Tex lining inside. The front and sides are tailored out of a single piece of leather, which minimizes the number of seams and increases longevity and wearing comfort. The boot is set on a first-class Vibram sole and the leather is protected by an elevated brim, which adds to the overall stability and durability. The sole is replaceable, in case you wear out the rubber faster than the rest, but we haven’t needed this yet.
The Gore-Tex membrane ensures on the one hand that your feet remain dry even if you walk through rain or wade ankle-deep in water. On the other hand warmth and moisture (sweat) are dissipated quite efficiently from your feet to the outside. Finally shoes with a GTX membrane dry faster and are ready for use quicker than shoes without GoreTex. Because of these very desirable properties we always recommend that you spend the extra money for the GTX version of any shoe or boot you are considering.
Despite their robustness, the Hanwag Alaska GTX are relatively light, especially compared to other products which we’ve used previously. They are not cheap, but the price is highly competitive when you factor in the quality of the materials and the great workmanship.
Rated at category B/C by the manufacturer, these boots are suitable for challenging hikes in lower mountain ranges and off-trail use. They are also compatible with strap-on/flexible/walking crampons, but not with rigid/step-in/clip-on/automatic ones. So use the boots in snow, on frozen lakes or glaciers, but not on very steep or vertical ice (for example frozen waterfalls).
In addition to the the “standard” and the Gore-Tex versions, Hanwag also makes wide and lady models, each available in a variety of “colors”. More details can be found on the Hanwag webpage.
Are The Hanwag Alaskas Perfect?
As close to it as possible! I am not aware of any other trekking boots with a better combination of light weight, stability, longevity, comfort and good looks. Due to the high-quality materials and high manufacturing standards, these boots are easy to care for and will probably last you well over 10 years.
Want them now?
You can buy the Hanwag Alaska GTX in any serious outdoor store, but also from Amazon. The boots are available in different colors and widths:
For those of you who wish to get an overview first, we are linking to a general search which you can refine according to your needs and buy YOUR pair of Hanwag Alaska GTX here.
If you find the Hanwag Alaska’s too bulky and masculine, the Hanwag Tatra GTX (Lady) could be just the thing for you. Katja also has them and we’ve seen many women all over the world wearing them. It’s a lighter and more flexible shoe, but note that there are the following differences to the Hanwag Alaska:
- Other than the two rubber protections in the front and in the back there is no elevated brim for protecting the upper material from debris, stones and gravel.
- Officially the shoe is not suitable for crampons of any kind and thus not for crossing snowfields or glaciers. Katja used hers anyway in combination with crampons with strap binding and it worked very well. Also the mountain guide had nothing to complain about.
If you have any questions please let us know by leaving a comment. We’ll be happy to help.
PS: In a future article we’ll write about how to care properly for your leather boots.