Hanwag Alaska GTX – Serious Boots for Serious Tours

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.

Details

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.

Gore-Tex Inner Lining

The waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex® lining is particularly impressive. Our feet feel comfortable at any temperature.

Ball Bearings

Thanks to the small ball-bearings, lacing the boots is very easy and almost no re-tightening is necessary.

Elevated Brims

The elevated brim increases the stability and protects the leather very effectively from premature wear by loose rocks.

Rigid Soles

The rigid soles provide excellent torsional stiffness and help you walk effortlessly on uneven ground or sharp stones.

Lace up to the Shaft

The ability to lace boots to the shaft gives you outstanding support, stability and a secure fit.

Nubuk Leather

The Nubuck leather is very durable and with proper care it lasts almost a lifetime.

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.

Alternative:

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.

8 Comments

  1. Connie Gross

    I bought a pair of Hanwag Tatra Lady GTX this spring, and looked forward to skid-free hiking this summer! Yesterday I went for a strenuous all-day hike. On the plus side – these boots were amazing. I felt much more secure when walking on scree slopes or slippery rocks. Also, I happily splashed through small streams without any water problems. My biggest complaint -the balls of my feet were in agony by the end of the day. I had worn the boots several times around my yard trying to break them in. But, it seemed to make no difference. I think the strength of the sole is also the problem for my feet – perhaps the soles are too tough for my feet. Any suggestions on what to do? I hate to give up these boots as they are otherwise the best boots I have owned.

    1. Katja

      Hi Connie,

      great to hear that you felt much more comfortable on unstable ground and when walking through water. Your negative observations on the other hand are rather disappointing.

      Luckily my only complaint is that after long or intense hikes – especially if they include long and strenuous descents – my feet get very tired and are happy to be “released” again, but that’s normal.

      I don’t know how much “test walking” you did and how long your daily hikes were so far, but every foot and shoe is different, and maybe it takes a little more time getting your shoes used to your feet. I usually break in my new shoes by taking several walks and small hikes and always made good experiences with it.

      If this doesn’t help, try shoe inlays. They are available in different variations (leather, silicon, thick, thin, with orthopaedic effects supporting certain areas of the feet …) and increase the comfort and prevent pain when walking a lot. Take care that there is still enough space in your shoe so the shoe doesn’t pinch at other locations afterwards.

      Since the sole needs to be tough to give your feet stability and keep you from feeling every stone and loose gravel in your feet, shoe inserts could be a solution to make the walking feeling “more soft” and don’t feel the tough sole as much.

      Alternatively you could try special gel pads that are placed only under the balls of the feet to relieve pressure and friction. These cushions are made of silicone and filled with a (cool) gel. The pads adapt to the foot, and can be worn directly in the shoe or with socks.

      Let me know what option you tried out and if it helped.

      Good luck and best wishes,
      Katja

      1. Bojidar

        Hi Connie,

        I basically agree with Katja, but I wouldn’t start experimenting with inlays just yet. Do give the shoes another 2-3 chances to take the form of your feet. It does take time and some warmth and dampness, which basically means a couple more strenuous walks. Maybe even one in the rain.

        I think that after that your feet and your new (wonderful) shoes will get along much better!

        1. PLHNTR

          I have a pair of Hanwag Yukon, which are basically the same as the Alaska model, minus the Gore-Tex lining inside; Yukon boots have hide lining, which is really comfy. I’m using the boots together with Berghaus Yeti gaiters since day one, and hence moisture is no issue, even when crossing streams or walking in tall, wet grass. The sole is indeed rigid and might inflict some pain in your feet after prolonged wear and since I’ve had experiences with rigid trekking boots before, I’ve put silicone inlays as a precaution (before using the boots for the first time), and wore them for quite some time. The inlays made walking in Hanwags really comfortable for my feet, however I’ve experienced one recurring problem: blisters, which tended to develop after long hikes and/or when pulling loads. I was really unhappy with this and began to think about ditching the boots. At some point, after developing blisters under above described circumstances, I decided to rest the Hanwags for some time and put on my old Merrels, which I haven’t used for some time. And now, I’ve developed blisters wearing Merrels, which was really peculiar, since it has never happened before. I had no clue at first, but when I started to think about it, I recalled that when I was ordering the silicone inlays, I bought more than one pair, and put them in all my trekking/hiking boots, Merrels included. So, the logical conclusion was, that the only link between both boots and blisters, were the inlays. Since silicone was the culprit, I switched back to the original inlays in all boots, Hanwags among them. To make the long story short, I’ve never, ever, had any blisters wearing my Hanwags ever since. The sole is of course quite rigid and the thin original inlays doesn’t offer much comfort in this area, but given the choice between tough soles and blisters, I’ll take the former over the latter any day. Covering long distances in rough terrain wearing tough boots won’t be exactly a paradise for your feet anyway, so I guess there’s no way around this problem. In all fairness, I have to add that I haven’t experienced a great discomfort associated with the tough soles, let alone pains to the degree described by Katja, I just feel that the soles are tough, that’s it. It’s rather hard to explain this sensation, but you’re probably familiar with the feeling of walking in tough, rigid boots. This experience made me appreciate the fact that modern hiking boots are a complicated design with serious development behind it, and consequently, now I’m a firm opponent of “fixing” the perceived flaws in such design, using non-OEM solutions, and therefore would recommend against it in Katja’s case. Maybe you should start with some lighter, less rigid shoes, and then move towards more rigid boots gradually?

          1. Bojidar

            Thank you PLHNTR for the long and valuable reply!

            I think that your advice to start with softer shoes and gradually move onto firmer ones is THE way to go.

  2. chris

    Hi, I would like to know if the size of the Hanwag Alaska GTX boots is the same as ones normal sport shoe size = my wife would like to order a pair who’s normal size is US 8 = UK 7 . Have searched Hanwag sizes on multiple sites including Hanwag, and have read that each size up = a 4mm increase . We live in NewZealand there is no Hanwag lady models imported, so are forced to buy off shore .

    A UK 7.5 could be a safer bet, but would a 7 be fine. Some reviews include Hanwag to run small in size .

    Sincerely, chris in NZ

    1. Bojidar

      Hello Chris,

      I bought my Alaskas in the same size as my street shoes, and on normal hikes I find them still comfortable, but a bit too small. On long hikes or on steep downhills I wish they were a half size bigger. Add to this the fact that hiking socks are usually thick and sturdy, I’d suggest to go for 7.5 for your wife.

      Hope they fit well and your wife is happy with them for a long time!

      1. chris

        Hello Bojidar . First time I’m back on your site since I posted the question of Hanwag boots in relation to ones normal sport shoe size. rather slow of me LoL .Thanks so much for your reply , just great . I’m an ” old ” home boy of NZ, and I think I read that you had visited NZ, it is an up and down piece of Earth, keeps the lungs working, hence your opinion was even more fitting LoL of ones toes in downhill travel, I know it well .
        If you have not, be sure to spend time on Stewart Island , should you visit again , lovely place depending on ones likes of course . CHEERS, chris . NZ .

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