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Hands-on Gear Review
Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid Review
Cons: Heavy, sweaty feet, collects water inside boot, not very durable
Bottom line: This burly midweight hiker strong choice for difficult terrain, providing great stability, traction, and foot protection, but lacking in breathability.
In the wide variety of hiking boot designs featured in this review, the Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid is probably the most unique. It's the only model with a removable bootie, and its upper is almost void of seams, creating a very different look from the others. This boot stands out in appearance and design, but didn't quite measure up to all our expectations during our testing period.
Our main reviewer wore this pair during a two-day summit push on El Misti, a volcano in southern Peru rising to 19,101 feet above sea level. The steep slopes of this shield volcano were dry and constantly switching between scree and large, unstable rocks. The Bora2 ate this terrain up, providing excellent traction and stability. However, this boot ties for the heaviest model in our review, and this negative detail did not go unnoticed by our legs and feet. The Gore-Tex bootie was convenient as the summit got closer, but in the desert heat lower down on the mountain, our feet sweat heavily inside this boot. The rough terrain also took its toll on this model, chewing up parts of the outsole and scuffing and snagging the leather upper.
For a lighter midweight model with better durability, check out the Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX. Or, for the ultimate in performance, see our Editors' Choice award winner, the Salomon Quest 4D Quest II GTX.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Hiking Boots of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Costing a whopping $350, the Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid is the most expensive boot in this review by $100. While we found some features of this boot to be great, we struggled to find many reasons to choose this model over other, less expensive ones. This boot does extremely well gripping all types of surfaces and will keep your ankles protected. However, we had some issues with its durability, water resistance, and the level of comfort it provides.
At times, we were very impressed with the comfort this boot provides, and other times we wished for another model underfoot. The Gore-Tex bootie kept our feet snug throughout the boot cavity. It also proved to be an asset as an extra layer inside a sleeping bag when camping in frigid temps above 14,000 feet. The bootie can even be worn around smooth terrain without the boot, such as in a hut or cabin, a welcome benefit after a long day of hiking.
Arc'teryx sells two other versions of the bootie separately, one a low-cut liner, and the other an insulated mid-cut. This makes it the only model that can adjust to different climate needs, but also adds to the already hefty price of this model.
The bootie is surrounded by a thick upper of leather, and it didn't breathe well at all. Our feet sweat uncomfortably when active in warm temperatures, and still generated unwanted moisture inside when hiking in cooler climates. This struck us as a significant hindrance to the comfort of this boot. When bombing downhill on the descent of El Misti, the reviewer developed a hot spot, then large blister, on the big toe of his left foot. We attributed this to the damp skin of sweaty feet rubbing against the front of the bootie, which slid forward to the front of the toe box. For a more breathable midweight, the Quest 4D II GTX is an excellent option.
The toe, arch, and heel protection was great in this boot, with a rubber rand going around the entire perimeter above the outsole. The stiff sole also kept our feet from getting fatigued when hiking up rock-filled slopes. The boot definitely made our feet feel invincible. We also liked the lacing system, which consists of six lower, one middle lock, and two upper hook eyelets. The large radius on the middle locking eyelet was great for ease of use, but we found the locking teeth within the hook to be so strong, we often had to forcibly rip the laces out. The thick leather upper takes significant breaking in before the lower part of the boot tightens easily under the laces.
This boot doesn't rock forward like the Vasque St. Elias GTX, Lowa Renegade GTX Mid, or several other models in this review. We tended to prefer models with rockered outsoles. Although this boot gives a strong feeling of protection from the elements, it also felt very fat and heavy on our feet.
The Bora2 Mid features rigid torsional stability to help bear hefty loads, thanks largely to a strong TPU chassis. After 8+ hours of an uphill battle through rough terrain with a heavy pack, these boots performed extremely well in terms of stability and support. The ankle is wrapped very snugly in one of the thickest ankle collars, and just feels sturdy.
Measuring from the footbed to the top of the collar, though, this boot was the shortest of the midweights, and its forefoot width was one of the narrowest we encountered in this review. For taller boot shafts, check out the Quest 4D II GTX or Renegade GTX. Still, our in-the-field use pushed the stability and support of this model to the max, and it protected our ankles beyond the shadow of a doubt, leading us to grant it a high score in this metric.
This Arc'teryx model also scored very well in terms of traction. The Vibram Arc'teryx Hiking sole gained superb purchase on wet and dry rock, stuck in well when climbing and edging, and rocked up scree fields very well. When running down scree fields, the bootie did a better job than all others in keeping debris outside the boot. It's only average performance was in muddy terrain.
The Bora2 Mid ties the St. Elias GTX for the heaviest boot in our field of competitors. Compared to more lightweight models, it certainly tired out our legs faster. If you don't need to the ruggedness provided in this model, we recommend checking out our favorite lightweight model, the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra Hi WP.
This product's flood height is 6.875, the highest by far of all boots in this review. We were stoked to get that deep into the water with a hiking boot. It passed our five-minute lake edge test as well. However, we were very disappointed that, although our feet stayed dry, water collected inside the outer shell of the foot cavity. After water breached the leather upper just around the toes, it seeped inside and stayed there. We had to remove our boots to pour out this excess water after wading through water.
Also not our favorite part of this boot, the booties absorbed large amounts of water readily and took ages to dry out. Again, we prefered the midweight models from Salomon, Vasque, and Lowa for their performance in water resistance.
We must admit, sending the volcano El Misti was the most rugged terrain we faced over the course of this review, so this Arc'teryx boot was faced with a formidable challenge in many ways. That said, it costs $350, and we expected it to hold up better than it actually did. After the two-day ascent and descent, the Bora2 Mid had small chunks missing from the outsole, multiple scratches and scuffs in the leather upper, and the glued-on rubber rand around the perimeter was just beginning to peel away. For a comparable model featuring a leather-heavy upper and much better durability, check out the St. Elias GTX.
The Bora2 Mid is designed for multiple days in rugged terrain, and it certainly provided the necessary stability, traction, and foot protection for this type of hiking. However, we did have some issues with its comfort and durability in such environments, and would generally grab another pair over this one. We would also recommend avoiding warm to hot temperatures in this boot, as it does not breathe well.
The staggering $350 price tag that accompanies this boot is enough to make anyone hesitate before buying. Considering its drawbacks in comfort, water resistance, and durability, we don't feel this boot is a good value.
We were excited to try out the Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid, as its unique design piqued our interest. Throughout the testing period, though, our enthusiasm waned for this product. We would be lying if said we didn't appreciate the stability and traction this boot provides in difficult terrain. However, it would also be untruthful to say we enjoyed it as a comfortable, water resistant, and durable boot. And it's heavy. The lack of quality performance in multiple metrics, coupled with its expensive price, made it tough to fully fall for this midweight hiking boot.
— Ross Robinson
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