Free Hike

17 May, 2024 02:43 By: Ceri Rees

If like me, you prefer to feel the ground beneath your feet when you hike, then traditional hiking boots fail to cut mustard. adidas have fashioned a hybrid shoe, which combines the breathability and comfort of a running shoe in the upper knitted mesh and the stability and durability of a hiking boot, with a slightly rigid sole.

adidas must have been aware of this preference when they designed the Freehiker because it’s light, as well as grippy and there’s even a GORE-TEX version to keep your feet dry while hiking on boggy ground, although some might say that bog and dry feet are oxymorons.

adidas is an unusual brand in that they pay close attention to aesthetics as well as functionality, partly because of their cultural legacy, whatever you think about that and partly because of its close association with Stella McCartney and Her Team GB Olympics fame. Comfort is something way more important to anyone lacing up for a day’s traipsing over Dartmoor however, and these shoes, made partly with mostly recyclable materials, won’t disappoint.

The shoe is suitable for Thru hiking; on coastal paths or in the mountains, as it’s grippy German Continental rubber outsoles provide good traction, even on slippy rocks. But its unique feature is probably, its boost midsole, which the brand claims will bring energy to every step to keep you moving on hikes long and short.

I’ve tested the Boost’s running equivalent and can vouch for its longevity and durability. On Dartmoor or long hikes, which may be crisscrossed with tarmac sections, it’s great to have a degree of comfort and cushioning as well. One small thing, if you’re the kind of person who cross purposes your shoes for casual wear; the white version of these does tend to stain yellow or worse, so the darker boost alternative is a welcome innovation.

And if you are tempted to break your walking gate and change into a run, these shoes will provide that, although they aren’t designed with running in mind, with their relatively stiff and stable sole.

Having once been given the Gore tour in Austria, I was and am impressed by the diversity of their waterproof membranes, not so much for their ability to keep skin dry (which surely no shoe can on squelchy Dartmoor days) but for their research into the ideal humidity and temperature for your feet, in order to prevent blisters, at least in theory. Not being someone who ever really gets blisters, this has never been a concern for me, except for when hiking multiple days across dry Spanish planes, like the meseta on the Camino Santiago, where blisters became a real problem.

The upper is soft and supportive, while its tongue is gusseted and comfortable, and its internal frame and heel support add stability for those tussocky baby heads.

At 350g (for a small footed person) they are much lighter than the average pair of walking boots and they come with a 10mm drop from 33mm at the rear to 23 upfront. If you don’t like the built up feel of the heel however, they also do a mid and a low-cut version.

The stretchy and adaptive knit collar keeps dirt and debris from getting and is also made with 50% recycled polyester to commit to help end plastic waste, as they claim on their website.

Coming in at between £150 and £170, which is an average price for a decent pair of hiking boots these days, I would say any of the Freehiker ranger are worth the money.

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