Hands-on Gear Review

Asolo Athena - Women's Review

Price:  $200 List | $99.73 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, breathable, incredible water resistance, spacious fit, good traction.
Cons:  Flexible and not very supportive ankle shaft, flexible soles, thin soles.
Editors' Rating:   
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Boot Type:  Lightweight/ Midweight
Weight (Per Pair):  1.88 lbs
Sizes Available:  6-11.5
Manufacturer:   Asolo

Our Verdict

The Asolo Athena is incredibly light and airy, weighing less than two pounds per pair. The breathability and water resistance of the Athena are unparalleled. For all-season hiking and trails that demand agility, the technical aspects of these boots are excellent, from synthetic mesh and waterproof suede uppers to Asolo specific Natural Shape soles. Among the top women's hiking boots, these are the most flexible for fast hiking over technical terrain. For a versatile, lightweight boot capable of fleet-footed movement in wet and dry conditions, the Athena is superior.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Briana Valorosi

Last Updated:
Wednesday
May 20, 2015

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The Athena is a lightweight hiking boot suited for fast movement in the mountains. With unparalleled water resistance, they are sure to keep your feet dry through rain, snow, river crossings, and the deepest mud.

Performance Comparison


The thin-soled  tall  and flexible Asolo Athenas are excellent for fast and agile hiking and comfortably supporting light pack loads.
The thin-soled, tall, and flexible Asolo Athenas are excellent for fast and agile hiking and comfortably supporting light pack loads.

Weight


At just under two pounds, the Athena is not only light on the scale, but feels light on your feet as well. The combination of mesh, suede, and polyester keeps the weight lower than full-grain leather boots. The Top Pick winning Ahnu Montara - Women's is similarly lightweight at 1.8 pounds. Compared side-by-side, the Montara has a sturdier ankle shaft and less breathability, but is constructed of leather and suede, which is more durable over the lifespan of any hiking footwear.

Support


Asolo has created a proprietary insole-midsole-sole that aims to mimic natural foot contours and shape. Named Natural Shape, it is incorporated into select Asolo hiking boots and shoes, including the Athena. This design is intended to cup the heel, create spaciousness in the toe box area, and wrap around the underfoot and forefoot. This will be beneficial to some anatomical shapes and leave some hikers feeling unsupported. Like the Merrell Salida Mid WP - Women's, flat feet or those needing minimal arch support will find the Athena quite comfortable. For those seeking a more supportive and/or well-padded insole, check out the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's or the La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 GTX - Women's.

The ankle support of the Athena feels loose and flexible. The softness of the ankle shaft is preferred for agile movement and fast hiking on semi-technical terrain, yet it lacks adequate support for those carrying heavy packs or in need of ankle stabilizing.

The Athenas are lightweight and comfortable enough for a dog walk yet offer a degree of technicality suitable for moderate to difficult terrain and scrambling.
The Athenas are lightweight and comfortable enough for a dog walk yet offer a degree of technicality suitable for moderate to difficult terrain and scrambling.

Traction


The Athena has deep lugs and a varied tread pattern. The tread is not widely spaced, leading to some adhesion in sticky mud, but overall, the boots shed dirt and sand without clumping. Compared to the widely spaced Merrell Salida tread, the Athena soles performed nearly as well, only lacking in wider spaced lugs. On wet river rocks and in slushy spring snow conditions, the Athena maintained stability and traction. The Vibram soles provide no-slip grip on a wide range of trail conditions, including rocks and downed trees.

Comfort


The molded EVA foot beds and Asoflex Natural Shape midsoles are firm. For some foot shapes, the firmness provides support, but for most the padding is lacking. Aftermarket insoles increase the comfort level of any hiking boots or shoes, and we recommend them for these boots. Semi-soft rubber soles lead to sore feet on rugged terrain. While the Athena is great for moving fast over semi-technical terrain, these do not have firm enough soles to minimizing underfoot discomfort on rocks and roots. The excellent breathability achieved from light upper materials makes these the most comfortable hiking boot in summer temperatures.

Water Resistance and Breathability


Water resistance and breathability are where the Athena shines. These boots are constructed with a combination of upper materials, including water resistant suede. While walking through moving water, standing water, and while submerged in up to five inches of water, the Athena remained dry inside. Water beads off of the synthetic material and the waterproof lining keeps feet completely dry. Even while hiking miles across snow covered terrain, our feet remained dry.

The uppers are designed for maximum breathability. The polyester, mesh, and suede combination keeps the uppers light in weight as well as offering ventilation. During activity, they are the most breathable of all of the boots in our review.

Whether you prefer to hop across the rocks or hike right through the water  the Asolo Athenas will keep your feet tractioned and dry. Up to about five inches of water depth  our feet were comfortably dry.
Whether you prefer to hop across the rocks or hike right through the water, the Asolo Athenas will keep your feet tractioned and dry. Up to about five inches of water depth, our feet were comfortably dry.

Durability


As mentioned in our Buying Advice article for women's hiking boots, full grain leather is the most durable. The Athena incorporates a hybrid of suede, mesh, and polyester, which is not as durable as leather, but allows for excellent breathability.

The rubber soles are some of the thinnest we have reviewed. Underfoot, sharp terrain can be felt. This lack of sturdy, thick soles means these boots will likely wear out at a rate more comparable to hiking shoes.

We tested the Athena with this mid-weight load on a spring backcountry ski mission. Here OGL tester Gentrye Houghton is all smiles in this lightweight  agile boot. Their packability was an added bonus when it came time to put the skis on.
We tested the Athena with this mid-weight load on a spring backcountry ski mission. Here OGL tester Gentrye Houghton is all smiles in this lightweight, agile boot. Their packability was an added bonus when it came time to put the skis on.

Best Applications


The Athena excels most at agile hiking, three- to four-season day hiking, and lightweight backpacking. The flexibility of the ankle shaft and soft rubber soles lend to comfort and stability while moving fast across semi-technical terrain. Waterproof characteristics and deep lugs allow for comfort and security on wet trails and in variable weather. Substantial ankle support is lacking, making them best suited for light pack weights. For a more supportive ankle shaft design, consider the Editors' Choice Award winning Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's.

Value


At around $200, the Athena is among the most expensive women's hiking boots in our review. For specific applications, such as fast hiking and backpacking or conditions demanding excellent breathability or water resistance, they are a good value. For $40 less, the Ahnu Montara - Women's, our Top Pick awarded boots, have similar qualities of breathability and water resistance with slightly more supportive ankle shafts and sturdier soles. For $25 more, our Editors' Choice Lowa Renegade boots are firm, supportive, and comfortable, although we wouldn't recommend them for agile movement or moving fast over technical terrain.

Conclusion


The Asolo Athena excels at fast, agile hiking on moderate to semi-technical terrain. They provide superior water resistance and breathability while remaining lightweight. Unlike most hiking boots, the Athena has a tall, flexible ankle shaft that requires little to no break-in period. For a boot that is simple and technically apt, these are a suitable option for four-season hiking.
Briana Valorosi

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