How to best test out the new Tribute II GTX trekking boots, £139.95 from Aku? Give them to your awesome travel writer bestie before she heads off to Japan on a winter adventure. Lucy Thackray tries the Tributes out whilst temple-hopping in Tokyo.
Product description: ‘Tough, versatile footwear for gentle hiking in the hills and at mid mountain height.’
Temple hopping: After bars, boutiques and urban chaos in Tokyo, my first stop out of town was Kamakura. An hour’s train south of Tokyo, it has lovely hiking trails, hidden 14th-century temples and monasteries, and lovely mountains and beach. My box-fresh boots were perfect from day one, as I bounced along paths and got deliciously lost, stumbled across magical bamboo forests and incense-smoky shrines, and generally stretched my legs after a few days in the chaotic capital. They also took me all around sprawling Kyoto, a city that’s doable on foot – but only with some forgiving footwear – to streaming Nishiki food market, a tranquil tea ceremony, and my two favourite temples: hilly Fukushima-Inari, with its maze of orange torii gates, and Kinkaku-ji, the golden temple beautifully reflected in the lake it sits on.
Frozen: A few days later we headed north on the bullet train, a reasonable hour and 45 minutes out of Tokyo, and found beautifully frozen mountain town Nikko, complete with frozen-over lakes, light-refracting waterfalls and towering charcoal mountains. It was beautiful, and my grippy Tributes meant I could smugly trek around the area while my friend slipped and slid along icy trails as thick Vibram outsoles work fantastically even on slick ice. Full Gore-Tex lining repels water and snow perfectly, especially paired with high ankle cuffs, and a thick lining kept my feet toasty so I could explore for longer. We even encountered some of Japan’s famous ‘snow monkeys’ – but they were not friendly. Mental note: these boots are also great for making a quick getaway.
Verdict: These boots fit perfectly with my trip – Japan’s a stylish nation, but every day is casual Friday: I could wear these into a chic sushi restaurant or whisky bar after a long day’s walking, without anyone batting an eyelid. The only negative? You have to take your shoes off before entering any temple, and they do take a minute to unlace (but frankly, I wasn’t going to be wearing thin slip-ons in the height of January). Their mega soles and tough leather meant I stayed snug, dry and walking on air through mountains, snow, city, hills and beaches. Every bit as versatile as a Japan holiday and a great choice if you’re after beautifully made waterproof leather boots to see you through your travels.