The Asolo TPS 520 GV stands out as one of the most comfortable heavy-duty hiking boots we evaluate. It draws expert and user praise for a stiff and supportive yet walkable sole, excellent waterproofing and generally good traction. Traction on wet rock has improved but remains uncertain; durability is a major asset.
Most comfortable leather boots. Of all the heavy-duty leather boots we review, the Asolo TPS 520 GV gets the most raves about its comfort. Quite a few hikers wear them straight out of the box, but most still need a typical break-in period of a few days to a couple of weeks before they're ready for long treks. For those who don't want to hassle with a break-in process or wear a fairly heavy-duty hiking sock with or without a liner sock, leather boots probably aren't the right choice of hiking footwear.
A number of owners complain about the boots' weight; a men's pair weighs just over 3.5 pounds. Even so, most users say the boots feel comfortable and supportive, and are easy to walk in thanks to a rocker sole that's slightly curved. Several use their own insoles with these boots, a typical adaptation to any footwear, and many like the lacing system. In a review for Backpacker Magazine, Annette McGivney praises the lacing system for keeping testers' feet from sliding forward inside the boot during long, steep descents on Grand Canyon trails.
Nearly perfect traction. Reviewers say the Asolo TPS 520 GV's Gore-Tex waterproofing is beyond reproach. The high-cut uppers support the ankles and keep feet dry through stream crossings. However, they aren't the best choice for hiking in hot weather because sweat can't evaporate.
McGivney also likes the TPS 520 GV's high-cut, padded ankle shaft for its excellent protection. "The stiff midsole prevented sore feet even when testers carried 50-pound loads over rocky terrain," she reports.
Historically, the biggest owner complaint is that the Asolo doesn't hold its traction on wet rock. "Walking on wet grass or rocks was seriously like walking on very smooth ice," says one user in an older review at Eastern Mountain Sports. A few posts at Amazon.com indicate that recent versions of the boot fare noticeably better but still aren't perfect.
Feedback on the TPS 520 GV's performance on other surfaces is universally positive. "Really good traction in snow, mud and dry rock," writes one wearer at Backcountry.com. "Very stable across all surfaces and great support," says another at Moosejaw.com.
Expect to log thousands of miles. We found only one real complaint about durability for the Asolo TPS 520 GV: Some users say the soles begin to delaminate, or peel away, after just 100 or 200 miles. As long as you can dodge this issue -- which might be a manufacturing defect, because most owners have no problem -- you can easy log 1,000 miles or more in these boots.
"These will stand up to at least five years of hard Grand Canyon hiking," says a backcountry ranger who helped test the boots for Backpacker Magazine. He normally wears through a pair of lighter-weight boots every six months. Others frequently report getting 10 or more years of use and upward of 1,000 miles from their boots. Some say the uppers are still going strong even after the soles have worn completely flat. The waterproofing lasts, too, if you treat the leather occasionally. The Asolo TPS 520 GPV can also be resoled.
1. Backpacker Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent The Asolo TPS 520 GV is one of just five boots to survive four months of testing by Grand Canyon rangers and guides in this Backpacker Magazine test; four other boots don't make the cut. The TPS 520 GV is dubbed "best protection" of the lot and credited with minimal break-in time considering its burly construction.
Review: Gear Review: Asolo TPS 520 GV Boot, Annette McGivney, August 2010
2. Eastern Mountain Sports
Review Credibility: Good The men's Asolo TPS 520 GV is by far the most popular hiking boot listed at Eastern Mountain Sports. It receives a near-perfect rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 after more than 100 owners share feedback; the wide version and women's version get similar high scores from about 35 additional posts.
Review: Asolo Men's TPS 520 GV Backpacking Boots, Contributors to EMS.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good The men's Asolo TPS 520 GV receives nearly 300 reviews, and the women's version more than 65, with an average rating of about 4.4 stars out of 5. Users praise this boot for its excellent traction, comfort and waterproofing.
Review: Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots - Men's, Contributors to REI.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good The Asolo TPS 520 GV accumulates more than 35 reviews and earns 4.6 stars out of 5 at Amazon.com. Most owners compliment the boot's comfort, although a few note that the soles began to peel away after relatively mild use.
Review: Asolo TPS 520 GV Boot - Men's, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good Only the men's version of the Asolo TPS 520 GV is available at Backcountry.com. It gets a near-perfect rating from about 80 reviewers who praise its comfort, especially around the lacing eyelets.
Review: Asolo TPS 520 GV Boot - Men's, Contributors to Backcountry.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good The Asolo TPS 520 is very popular at Moosejaw.com, receiving a near-perfect rating from more than 120 male reviewers and about 4.5 out of 5 from more than 45 women. Users call it stable, supportive and comfortable.
Review: Asolo Men's TPS 520 GV Boot, Contributors to Moosejaw.com, Contributors to Moosejaw.com