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Asolo Flame GTX Hiking Boots

Asolo Flame GTX Hiking Boots
Asolo Flame GTX Hiking Boots

Hiking in wet leather boots, up and down mountains, for days on end, really sucks. Really. That’s what happened to me on my last big trip through the 100 mile wilderness. So when I got back from Maine, I vowed to renew my quest to find a non-leather boot that dries quickly and but still gives me the feel of a leather boot.

I’ve tried a number of lighter weight boots this year including the Inov-8 Roclite 370 Trail Boot but it didn’t have a stiff enough last to support my foot, even when augmented by a green Superfeet insole. I also tried a pair of KEEN Targhee II Mid Hiking Shoes which were much better, but too damned hot for three-season use.

My leather boots are Asolo 520 TPSs, so I decided to try Asolo’s non-leather hiking boots to see if they would satisfy my needs. Asolo makes two non-leather boots, the Flame GTX and the Fugitive GTX, so I ordered them both from REI to try them out. The Flames arrived first, so I’ve been using them exclusively for the past 3 weeks and I’m very satisfied with them.

As you can see above, the Asolo Flame is made using suede leather and nylon mesh but comes with a Gore-tex liner for waterproofness. Each boot weighs 24 oz in a men’s size 9.5 US which is about 7 oz less than the leather Asolo 520 TPS in the same size. This weight difference is very noticeable when hiking, especially when they’re wet inside.

The Flame’s last is not as stiff as the last in my leather boots, but it still quite satisfactory, and way better than the Inov-8 Roclite or the KEEN Targhee. This is a hiking boot, even though it’s rated by the manufacturer for lighter loads than a heavier backpacking boot.

Break in time is quite quick for the Flames. I’ve hiked 45 hard mountain miles in them so far without even a hot spot. But it’s taken me about 25 of those miles to feel the right degree of angle flexion that you need for descending steep rock laterally while keeping the surface of my boot on the rock face. If you’ve ever hiked on ice in crampons, you know what I mean.

Heightwise the ankle cuff on the Flames is a little lower than the cuff on my leather Asolos, but without diminishing the level of ankle support I like in a hiking boot. Fit wise however, the cuff is a lot looser and it wraps around your leg above the ankle more like a plastic mountaineering boot, increasing the chance of scree getting into your boot unless you wear a gaiter. I haven’t had this issue yet, but it’s a matter of concern for me and I’m thinking about buying some eVent gaiters for use with these boots.

Asolo Flame GTX

Fit wise, these boots lock my heel into the back of the boot extremely well without any heel lift. Initially they felt narrow and a wee bit small on my foot, but after experimenting with different sock thicknesses, I figured out that the problem was with the insoles. I automatically put green Superfeet insoles into every pair of hiking boots I try on as soon as they come out of the box. Normally this is not an issue, but it raised the foot bed of the Flame too high. When I replaced them with the original insole it solved the fit problem completely.

Now we come to the question of drying time. The Flames do dry out faster than my leather boots, but not what I would consider incredibly faster. To test this I submerged an Asolo TPS 520 and an Asolo Flame in a bucket of water for 12 hours. I drained both boots and squeezed as much water out of them as I could. Then I put them side by side in an open window and timed how long it took for each boot to dry completely. The Flames dried in 2 and 1/2 days while my leather boots dried in 3 and 1/2 days. Not bad and at least directionally positive.

But stay tuned, the Asolo Fugitives don’t have a fit problem with green Superfeet insoles and are made with less leather than the Flames, so they may dry even faster.

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  1. After many awful experiences with so-called 'hiking boots' I decided to just wear the boots I always wear – straight from my local Army-Navy supply store. I would highly recommend going down and picking yourself up a pair but make sure you get the ones with the Gore-tex lining. They are about $100 dollars and a little heavy on the feet but worth it. Stay away from the summer-time boot because when they get wet they stay wet and as with any leather boot – be sure to apply some shoe polish before your trip so the water beads off instead of soaking into the boot. My feet have yet to get blistered in either pair – just make sure you tie them properly. For the money I can't think of a better pair to have on my feet. (one more comment – if you do decide to try them get the ones with the speed laces – you'll thank yourself later when you are trudging through the snow – happy hiking:) )

  2. Eagerly awaiting the next installment, I've had my eye on the Flame and Fugitive for a while, can't find a wide Flame to try on anywhere (both shoes come in a wide version, although it feels only slightly wider). I found the fugitive was flexing on the wrong place on my toe – then I put superfeet in and instantly solved the problem.

    BTW, I wear the Targhee II as my "everyday shoe" and love the fit. By now (~2 years later) it's a little too broken in to even day-hike with.

  3. I've never seen the Flame in a store either. That's why I order perishables like shoes from REI for in-store delivery, because I can try them on in the store and return them on the spot if they don't fit. Doesn't work if you don't live near an REI, but I'm surrounded by several locations.

  4. That is why I hike in Chaco Z1 sandals…..dry in….2 minutes…I coat the straps in Seam Sealer, this also makes them last longer. In winter I wear a kayaking neoprene bootie over my Injiji toesocks….worked great in the Smokies and on the Ice Age trail IN THE SNOW! Have hiked thousand of miles this way. They also will last more than 1000 miles before resoling them…YES you can even have them resoled.

    • Thumbs up on hiking in your Chacos. I love hiking in mine, as well. They’re my hiking footwear of choice when I’m hiking in UT or any canyon/desert climates, especially. If nothing else, they are definitely in my pack! :)

  5. I used boots for many years, but now have been using Asics Gel Nimbus for about the last 3000 miles – in desert heat, and sometimes snow. Always with Superfeet green inserts. Only problem is that around 500 miles they show signs of failure, and by 700, have to be replaced. Give them a substantial trial. You won't be disappointed. I have always used them with hiking poles. That probably is a requirement to offset the flexibility.

  6. I have 3 years of 4 season hiking on my fugitives. the only thing happening is a little bit of the toe box stitching is worn off. I'll keep wearing them while i break in a new boot.I trust them! I just got some leather tps 535's great sale item this month. I was a little bummed to find out they were not goretex. Will I care with big wool socks? I probably need to treat them-what works best.

  7. I have some heavy Asolo leather boots and I switched over to Asolo Styngers (waterproof cordura/suede mix) for my last hike. They are much lighter and remarkably waterproof (it was pouring and the trail was more of a steambed with a current). I was so much happier in a lighter shoe and I think I also stayed dryer because my feet weren't sweating as much.

    I am so happy with my Styngers I bought a second pair half a size larger for about a tenth of the price at REI garage sale. What a great find! I'll wear them in the winter with heavier socks.

  8. Diane – I like using sno-seal for leather boots. I've been using it for over 35 years, in fact.

  9. To echo Ralph:

    I typically use a low-top trail runner as well – the Montrail Hardrock fits my feet and keeps them happy – no blisters. Same thing though: they need to be replaced after 700-800 miles and I need to use poles to save my ankles. Also, I am wary about my pack weight. Too much weight and my ankles are in danger.

  10. That's been the barrier to trail shoes for me – ankles. I twist'em and boots save me.

  11. Ralph – the Gel Nimbus is actually my normal "work" and gym shoe. I wear it almost all the time except on those rare occasions when I need to wear wing tips.

  12. Tom – that mid looks perfect. Made with eVent and the insole system looks fantastic! I'm going to have to save some pennies, but this might be another good candidate.

  13. I don't use hiking boots. Usually thick socks work best. I take them off in the rain. Going barefoot saves 1 to 2 lbs of weight easily.

  14. I read this review with interest. I picked up a pair of FSN 75 GTX's for a trip to the Smokies earlier this year. I love the 75's. I have a pair of Merrell Chameleon's GTX which have died after a year of casual wear and light hiking in local parks and preserves. I am wondering if the Flames would be a good replacement boot for light dury or if it is a more substantial boot like the 75's? After wearing Asolo's I am now underwhelmed with Keen's, Merrell's, etc. but I am looking for something lighter. My local REI has most Asolo's but the Flame.



  15. I couldn't say – have never used the FSN 75's. You might want to read the review I posted today about the Asolo Fugitive, which compares it against the Flame.
    Like you, I prefer to hike in a light weight hiking BOOT vs a shoe or some other boot hybrid.

  16. Oops, my post was a re-occurring typo, I meant the FSN 95's.

    – David

  17. Dick Wackingbush

    I find Asolo boots the most uncomfortable boot on the planet. I can hike most anywhere in hiking shoes. Everyone has different feet. Asolo boots are over priced for what you get.

  18. I had a pair of Asolo Fugitives for 15yrs and am just now shopping to replace. I want to stress I used these things for everything – hiking, snowshoeing in light snow, quad riding, splitting wood and yard work. I understand they made some changes to the mold and I hope they remain ultimately the same. The Flames intrigue me and I wonder if the extra stiffness of the Fugitives contributed to their longevity?

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