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Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid GTX Review

A rugged boot with a unique inner bootie system that gives excellent support but falls short in some key metrics.
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Price:  $330 List | $229.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stable, supportive, great traction
Cons:  Heavy, poor breathability
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 30, 2019
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Our Verdict

The Arcteryx Bora2 Mid GTX is easily the most unique boot in our review. Using a removable inner bootie that is equipped with a Gore-Tex waterproof barrier, the Bora2 feels more like a double mountaineering boot than a traditional lace-up hiking boot. While it is ahead of its time, it falls short of its competitors in many ways, the most important being its lack of breathability and narrow range of usefulness. It is a model to consider if you are trekking through wet environments like the Pacific Northwest, but in most hiking applications, the inner bootie diminished performance.

If you still want a heavy-duty boot that resists the weather and gives your feet the support they deserve, then check out the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX, or the all-leather Vasque St. Elias FG GTX.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Bora2 is an innovative hiking boot that uses high-tech materials and a unique inner bootie. It gives great ankle protection, has impeccable performance in rough terrain, and is very stable, but it comes with a $330 price tag and does not compete well with other boots in a number of rating metrics.

Performance Comparison


The Bora2 is best suited to wet conditions where the extra tall waterproof bootie can help keep feet dry  but in most conditions the bootie actually translated into wetter feet than normal.
The Bora2 is best suited to wet conditions where the extra tall waterproof bootie can help keep feet dry, but in most conditions the bootie actually translated into wetter feet than normal.

Comfort


The Arcteryx Bora2 scores about average in this metric, tying other models such as the Keen Targhee II Mid, but coming behind best in class models like the Hoka Sky Kaha. In cold weather environments, we appreciated the removable inner bootie, as it added extra warmth and gave us the option of having a camp shoe that we could wear in the tent or in the sleeping bag on cold nights. In warm weather, however, this bootie did not breathe well and gave us damp and clammy feet.

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 lace locks on the side were cumbersome to use and not very user-friendly.
The lace locks on the side were cumbersome to use and not very user-friendly.

The upper has a panel of breathable mesh which should allow the Gore-Tex lined inner bootie to breathe better, but it still felt like our feet were destined to be sweaty whenever we wore them. Reviewers complained of blisters on demanding hikes, likely the result of having too much foot perspiration. We like the protection the boot offers, as the durable toe cap and heel cup helps to protect against sharp rocks. The lacing system is good and allows for a snug fit, but the lace locks are not nearly as user-friendly as on the Quest 4D. They grip the lace well, to be sure, but when unlacing we had to rip the laces out of their jaws.

The internal bootie is great when you want a lightweight camp shoe  but makes your feet sweat like crazy since it is not very breathable.
The internal bootie is great when you want a lightweight camp shoe, but makes your feet sweat like crazy since it is not very breathable.

Stability


The Bora2 Mid is rigid, and offers excellent torsional stability. This trait makes them a useful tool when carrying big loads up and down the mountain. The TPU chassis gives these boots a solid platform that resists rolling, and the stiff sole underfoot makes them an able contender on 3rd and 4th class scrambling terrain, although we felt a little unnerved at times by the inner bootie slipping around inside the boot as we edged carefully along the rock.

The Bora2 gives good support and stability  especially when traveling over slippery  uneven terrain.
The Bora2 gives good support and stability, especially when traveling over slippery, uneven terrain.

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, tying with the Adidas Terrex Scope. The Quest 4D 3 GTX or Renegade GTX offer much higher ankle protection thanks to taller collar heights.

Traction


The Arcteryx Bora2 Mid performed admirably in the traction metric, scoring an 8 alongside the Editors' Choice-winning Salomon Quest 4D. Its Vibram sole was developed in partnership with Arcteryx and uses a rubber compound that is soft enough for gripping dry rock, but hard enough to bite into snow, mud, and scree. The lug pattern is an open design, with lots of room in between lugs to ensure they don't get clogged with debris. The outer perimeter is capable of kicking steps into firm snow and gave us confidence on our early season hikes.

The Bora2 Mid edges well  but the inner bootie allows for a bit of slop inside the boot.
The Bora2 Mid edges well, but the inner bootie allows for a bit of slop inside the boot.

Weight


The Bora2 weighs 3.1 pounds per pair, which puts in right in the middle of our midweight hiking boots when compared. Three pounds is not considered obese in this boot category, and they are a full pound lighter than the Asolo Powermatic 200, though boots which scored better across the board such as the Lowa Renegade GTX weigh less. We would even rather take on a little bit more weight on our feet, if it meant getting better overall performance, as we found in the 3.3 pounds Quest 4D boots.

Water Resistance


The Arcteryx Bora2 Mid has a flood height of 6.8 inches, which is the best of any boot in our review. This is thanks to the fact that the inner bootie has the Gore-Tex liner, and it extends higher than the tongue gusset where a boot's waterproof membrane typically ends. The upshot is that our feet stayed dry during our five-minute submersion test. The downside is that the tongue area is open, and water seeped into the boot shell at a depth of only 2.5 inches. Our feet stayed dry, but with water sloshing around inside the boot between the outer shell and the bootie our only recourse was to take our boots off and dump the water out.

With a flood height of nearly seven inches  these boots keep the water out when fording deep streams.
With a flood height of nearly seven inches, these boots keep the water out when fording deep streams.

Also not our favorite part of this boot, the booties absorbed large amounts of water readily and took ages to dry out. We prefer the midweight models from Salomon, Vasque, and Lowa for their performance in water resistance.

Unfortunately  the Bora2 also keeps water in. The inner bootie might be waterproof but the outer is not  and it puddles up inside  making them a pain to dry out.
Unfortunately, the Bora2 also keeps water in. The inner bootie might be waterproof but the outer is not, and it puddles up inside, making them a pain to dry out.

Durability


The Bora2 has a nubuck leather and nylon mesh upper, the pieces of which are glued together. The upper is stitched to the ankle collar, but there is a lot of stress being placed on that upper as it bends and pivots, and we began to see wear after a single demanding hike. The lacing eyelets are only bolstered by the nubuck material and have no metal reinforcement. For a model with a similar weight but a much higher level of durability then check out the Vasque St. Elias FG GTX.

Best Applications


The Bora2 Mid is designed for multiple days in wet and inhospitable 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.

Value


This boot costs $330. It is high-tech, has a unique inner bootie system and is a good contender in stability and traction, but other models scored better in all metrics and cost significantly less. It is a nice boot, but not a great value.

Conclusion


We were excited to try out the updated Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid GTX, as we had found the all-leather version to be clunky and unfit for warm weather. The new version replaced a side panel with mesh, and we hoped that it would aid in the breathability, but alas, it was just as clammy feeling as before. 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.


Ryan Huetter