Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX Boots surprised us more than any gear we’ve used in a long time.
With skepticism, we took a pair of Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX boots into the depths of tough autumn weather in the Rocky Mountains to see if these innovative boots were any good. We discovered that they are a revolution in all-weather hiking boots.
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“I’m going to hate these,” our gear tester told anybody who would listen. He had just received the Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX Boots, a departure from the traditional Zamberlan leather boots he had used for well over a decade.
After a month in these boots, he had become an enthusiastic supporter of them, telling anybody who would listen how surprisingly well these performed. They were light, they didn’t cause blisters and they were so comfy. He bragged about a recent wet weekend in Assiniboine Provincial Park, where he had warm, dry feet every day. Meanwhile, others with traditional boots had a weekend of wet feet with soaking boots that never dried out.
The Bora2 Mid GTX Boots are a revolution in hiking boots.
Footwear hasn’t always been Arc’teryx’s forte, but when they decided to redo their footwear lineup a few years ago, they certainly didn’t disappoint. The main attraction in their newly-revamped lineup were the Bora boots for technical hiking, and the Acrux boots for alpine approaching; both are excellent choices for their respective tasks, but today, we’re looking at the latest version of the Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX.
Although the brand is known predominantly for their jackets, these sturdy hikers are a classic Arc’teryx innovation with great design features. Combining the comfort and performance of an approach shoe with the sturdiness and grip of a hiking boot, the Bora 2 are easily the best hiking boots we’ve tried. This is thanks to a two-piece construction, combining a thermolaminated upper with a removable inner liner to create the adaptability and flexibility needed for performance in varying conditions.
Hiking spring through autumn. We can’t wait to try these snowshoeing, and will report back later this season.
- No Blisters. Most boots have a break-in period, but the second time these boots went out, we completed 24km without any rubbing or hot spots. The removable liner means that you don’t get the typical pressure points that lead to blisters. We also think that the lack of a tongue allows heat and moisture to escape easily, which helps keep the blisters at bay.
- Dry Feet. We couldn’t believe how well these performed in rain, sleet, mud and snow. Our feet stayed dry all day, and overnight we removed the liners and let the boot and liners completely dry out.
- Weight. These are so light compared to our regular leather hiking boots. What a nice change and we noticed less leg and foot fatigue.
- Orthotic compatible. We were worried about using our orthotics in these boots. We were pleased to find out they worked great!
- Great for those who have hot feet. We have hot feet, and even on dry days our socks get wet pretty quick. What a pleasant surprise to have dry socks almost all the time with these Bora2’s. We think this is due to the fact that the liner is open to the elements, and foot moisture and heat can escape so easily (unlike traditional boots that have a heavy liner enclosing the foot). This probably helped reduce blistering and foot fatigue as well.
- Support. Our tester pronates, which is a motion where the ankle rolls inward while stepping. These boots are not as stiff and rigid as the tester’s previous boots. We added our orthotics and that really helped, however they weren’t as stable as our stiff trekking boots. There is a trade-off with weight and comfort vs. stability. That said, unless you’re carrying a really heavy pack, we’re not sure you’d need the stability of a heavy-duty leather boot.
- Laces come undone. We had these on under rain pants and gaiters and the laces somehow managed to come undone quite often. This was frustrating on wet days.
Hold the Bora2 Mid’s in your hand, and you’ll instantly feel the quality and design details that make up these boots. Take out the interior bootie and you see how this truly is a 2-piece boot.
The exterior of the boot is made from a single-piece, thermolaminated upper, consisting of PU-coated yarn and TPU formed and laminated around 3D molded heel and toe caps. An EVA midsole that provides stability and absorbs shocks when navigating rocky, rugged terrain backs up this outer layer. The thermolaminated material Arc’teryx uses is also hydrophobic; it repels water and makes it one step harder for moisture to get to the Gore-Tex layer below. The outer boot functions a bit like a rain-boot, keeping water away from the bootie inside. There are obvious benefits to this outer boot in terms of keeping your feet and the Inner Bootie dry.
While the outer is great, what really sets the Bora2 Mid GTX apart from most other similar hikers is the removable, interchangeable Adaptive Fit inner boot liner.
This liner is made from a stretchy, breathable material that is washable and quick-drying and is constructed without any seams – eliminating uncomfortable rubbing and potential chafing on your feet. Furthermore, the liner is made of Gore-Tex, making it nearly impervious to moisture trying to get in.
Being separate from the upper also allows the inner liner to move freely and absorb most of the friction created by rubbing against the outer. Thus, instead of getting blisters after a long hike, you get a comfortable, pleasant hiking experience. Don’t worry about your foot sliding around in there, the liner keeps your feet firmly planted inside the boot for a stable fit.
Over time, the material slowly takes the shape of your feet, allowing a for more comfortable fit. It doesn’t necessarily work the way that moldable rubber will, but enough to make your feet more comfortable over the long haul.
Another cool feature of the Adaptive Fit liner is, since it is removable, you can also wear it around camp, just like a slipper or moccasin; Arc’teryx included a rubberized sole to protect the bottom of the liner – and your feet.
Perhaps the best feature, at least on a wet weekend in the backcountry, is you can remove the liner and put it in the bottom of your sleeping bag at night, using body heat to completely dry the liner out each night.
The Bora2 features a Vibram outsole, with a custom 3D-moulded Ortholite footbed; together, they offer great arch support and comfort. The Vibram outsole is custom-patterned; Arc’teryx created it in conjunction with Vibram to achieve excellent grip on virtually any surface.
Traction grooves placed on the side of the outsole allowing it “dig in” to both rocks and dirt, and Arc’teryx gave the shoe a spherical heel design and “Y Groove” split heel technology, which make it easier to control on wet surfaces.
Wear these boots on wet rocks, mud, or rocky terrain, and you’ll have no problems finding firm footing and avoiding slips and falls. We think you’ll be quite pleased with how they hold up.
Overall, the Bora2 Mid boots are built to last. How sturdy it really is becomes evident as soon as you pick it up. We’ve yet to have any damage other than some slight scuff marks after a month in of hiking and backpacking.
By choosing to go with a two-boot design for the Bora2’s, Arc’teryx passed up on including a traditional tongue; they have confidence in the Gore-Tex liner and hydrophobic upper to keep your feet dry. We were skeptical, but they work, really well.
The real innovation on Arc’teryx’s part is the elastic band on the top of inner liner, which serves to lock water – as well as rocks, dirt, branches, etc – out of your shoe. It’s not an incredibly ingenious addition, but it is uncommon on hiking boots like these, and we quite like it. Your feet stay dry in rain and wading through shallow water, and there’s no dirt or pebbles in our shoes at the end of the day. Since the liners come up an extra inch or so from the top of the boot, it’s almost like having small ankle gaiters. We paired them with a heavier-duty pair of gaiters for some additional water/snow protection in truly terrible weather.
Yes, Yes, Yes!
The Bora breathe remarkably well, in fact, they breathe better than any hiking boot we’ve used. Even in hot weather, the Adaptive Fit liner remains comfortable and feet stay dry, especially compared to many leather hiking boots. Unlike most boots, which effectively seal off all airflow around the foot, the Bora’s 2-piece construction and lack of a tongue let air get in and out of the foot.
The Bora2 Mid GTX Boots are a complete change from any boots we’ve used before. They are an excellent offering for midweight, waterproof hiking boots. At only 2 pounds and 2 ounces for a pair, they could compete with many lightweight hiking boots in terms of actual weight, but with the waterproofness, stability and durability you’d expect from heavier pairs.
The Adaptive Fit liner is comfortable, and we think an excellent idea for a more customized fit as well as to allow you to dry out the entire boot easily each night. The elastic band around your ankle keeps it tight and the water out.
These have changed our gear tester’s mind about his favourite boots, and he can’t wait to try these out for snowshoeing this winter.