It never ceases to amaze me just how popular Asolo Boots are in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I’d say that 75% of the 3 season boots that people wear up here are Asolos, evenly split between the leather TPS 520 and the Asolo Fugitive GTX, shown above. That from a company, that as far as I can tell, markets purely by word of mouth in the United States.
I own both of these boots and am on my third or fourth pair of leather ones at the moment. I bought the Fugitives and a pair of Asolo Flame GTX boots about midway through the summer because I wanted to try a boot that would be lighter to walk with when wet and that dries faster than leather. Since then, I’ve been systematically breaking in the non-leather boots and evaluating them for future use in boggy terrain or hikes that will require a lot of stream crossings.
So far I’ve found that the non-leather Asolos require about 30 miles of hiking to break in fully. Wearing them to the office and around the house doesn’t count. When they’re broken in, you’ll be able to tighten the uppers enough to lock your heel down in the heel box. Until then, you’ll feel your foot sliding around a bit.
Let me reiterate: it is a myth that the non-leather Asolo boots don’t require a break-in period. They do.
Having tried both the Fugitives and the Flames, it’s worth noting the similarities and differences between the boots, while I describe the Fugitives in more detail.
The Fugitives are slightly heavier boots than the Flames, both in weight and construction. In a 9.5 US, men’s, the Fugitives weigh 26 oz per boot compared to 24 oz for the Flame. Externally, there is very little difference between the boots. They are both made with suede lowers and ballistic nylon uppers, with substantial toe kicks and aluminum shoelace hooks, like you find on mountaineering boots. There is significantly less padding around the top of the boots than in the Asolo all-leather models, but the boots are still perfectly comfortable.
Internally, both boots are Gore-tex lined, which I actually like, because it extends their season in colder months. In summer, they’re warm, but slightly cooler than leather boots, given that I wear two layers of socks when hiking.
The real difference between the boots is in the sole and the last. The Fugitives have a much stiffer feel than the Flames. This is due to the construction of the last and footbed which has several layers bonded together to prevent pronation, supination, and torsion. The Flame’s footbed emphasizes shock absorption not stiffness and has a less complex footbed architecture. In English, this means the Fugitives are good for multi-day treks and the Flames are a day hiking boot.
Fitwise, the Fugitive is noticeably larger inside than the Flame. It is wider and higher inside, enough so, to fit a Green Superfeet replacement insole. This is impossible in the Flame, which has significantly less vertical space, and you must use the factory insole. This hasn’t proven to be a problem on day hikes, but I will not take the Flame on a multi-day trip for that reason alone. The risk of plantar fasciitis is not worth it.
Regarding the extra width in the Fugitive: this is easy to narrow by tightening the laces when the boot gets broken in, but you need to be patient and complete the break-in period before you conclude that the Fugitive is too wide. On the flip side, if you have very wide feet, the grey/black version of the Fugitive GTX comes in an extra-wide size.
The Fugitive also feels a bit longer than the Flame, enough so, that I’ve experienced a lot less toe pain when hitting rocks or hiking down steep downhills than in the Flames. At first, I thought that the toe kick on the Fugitive was larger than the one on the Flames, but they are in fact both the same size.
So to wrap up, if you are shopping for non-leather boots and you have a wide foot, need better support from a 3rd party insole, and plan on multi-day trips, I recommend you try the Asolo Fugitives. If you have a smaller, narrower foot and are looking for a day hiking boot instead of a softer mushier mid, like the Keen Targhee, you should give the Asolo Flames a try. Personally, I look forward to hiking with both of these boots more next year and plan to wear them out.
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