The Asolo Stynger GTX is one of the most popular hiking boots designed specifically for women, with lasts made to fit a woman's typically longer arch and narrower heel. These boots get top marks for comfort and traction in most circumstances. Waterproofing is great but doesn't last forever, and a few users say the Stynger is surprisingly breathable.
Built for a woman's foot. Both experts and users enjoy the Asolo Stynger GTX's supportive fit and light weight. The boot's last is made specifically to fit a woman's narrower heel and longer arch. "These boots have a nicely shaped back and great lacing system which arrests motion of the foot inside the shoe," says a reviewer at Backcountry.com whose narrow heels tend to slide around in other footwear.
Backpacker Magazine has evaluated the Stynger GTX a couple of times, ultimately recommending it for low- to medium-volume feet. In a 2006 review, a female tester says the boots offer a "forgiving fit." "There's plenty of forefoot room, and they're super-stable in the arch and ankle," she explains.
While a few women say the boot runs a little narrow in the toe, the general consensus is that the Stynger runs true to size and can accommodate wide feet. Owners say the boot breaks in easily, with only a few blisters if any. A few mention that although it has very little padding, the insole is "just the right shape;" others substitute their own aftermarket insoles for extra cushioning. The average weight is just more than 1 pound, 3 ounces per boot.
High-end, lightweight. Most wearers say the Asolo Stynger GTX offers good traction, even on wet surfaces. "I took them out in slick icy snow, and when it was rainy and really muddy... they have a pretty solid grip," says one at Backcountry.com. There are a few dissenters about the Stynger's traction in wet conditions, but not many.
An unusual combination of good waterproofing and surprisingly good breathability may be one of this boot's highest points. "I wore them on 11 trips to Iraq and two rotations through an intensive 10-day combat shooting school... and feet were the most dry/comfortable thing on me!" writes one poster at Backcountry.com.
Another says at REI.com, "They took me through desert hikes, rock scrambling, five inch deep snow, and a hike up Angel's Landing on snow and ice. They kept my feet warm when needed and weren't hot when hiking in the sand."
The Stynger is rated for carrying backpacking loads of up to 35 pounds, although owners report carrying more without issue.
An Achilles toe? Expert reviewers from Backpacker Magazine and Outside don't have much to report about the Stynger GTX's durability, but owners post plenty of comments. In general, they say the uppers wear very well, but the soles, not so much. "It's frustrating to have to buy a new pair once a year because I repeatedly wear the soles down flat to a shiny surface," writes one Backcountry.com user who estimates she wears her Styngers some 200 days out of the year.
Many other owners say they've used their Stynger GTX boots for years. One Moosejaw.com user who purchased her Asolos two years ago says they "still look like new...the tread has held up nicely." Another wore her boots nearly every day for five years before the tread wore down, and still another claims her Styngers lasted through three years of intensive backpacking.
Ultimately, the only weak point for the Stynger is its sole. While it's not out of the question for a relatively grippy sole to wear smooth with several years' use, owner complaints about the sole delaminating around the toe after a few months or less are fairly unusual. Posters to Backcountry.com and REI.com report this problem, and in a couple of cases were able to get the boots replaced. The boots they get in return don't appear to suffer the same fate.
1. Backpacker Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent A female tester recommends the Asolo Stynger GTX for its roomy forefoot, excellent support and "forgiving fit." She says they're "super-stable" in the arch and ankle, and offer great toe protection.
Review: Hiking Boots Review: Asolo Stynger GTX, Steve Howe, March 2006
Review Credibility: Good Although REI.com no longer sells the Asolo Stynger GTX, you can still access nearly 100 reviews, mostly positive, from customers who purchased this boot in the past. The Stynger gets an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5 and draws consistent praise for its traction, comfort and waterproofing.
Review: Asolo Stynger GTX Hiking Boots - Women's, Contributors to REI.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good More than 60 women give the Asolo Stynger GTX enthusiastic reviews and a near-perfect rating at Moosejaw.com, making it one of the top-rated hiking boots for women at this retail site. Most say the break-in time is minimal.
Review: Asolo Women's Stynger GTX Boot, Contributors to Moosejaw.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good About 30 women review the Asolo Stynger GTX here, praising the boots for their comfort, support and durability. However, they don't fit every woman's foot well. Several users claim blisters formed on their heels, even after they tried to break in the boots.
Review: Asolo Stynger Gore-Tex Boot - Women's, Contributors to Backcountry.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good For women-specifc backpacking boots, Gantenbein recommends the Asolo Stynger GTX as "light but tough, waterproof, and built for a woman. Perfect for a light person and a moderate pack." No testing information is provided in this brief write-up, but Outside is known for its thorough reviews.
Review: Q: My Backpacking Gear Got Swiped from My Car. Can You Help Me Find Inexpensive but Suitable Replacements?, Douglas Gantenbein, April 20, 2009