Hanwag Xerro Plus Winter GTX Review
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Part of the allure of hiking is the promise of experiencing nature in ways that draw us to the earth. We are creatures who need to be grounded, who need to connect with our surroundings. When hiking, this reviewer in particular appreciates the feel of the earth beneath his feet. Most hiking boots that I have worn have taken that feeling away in favor of more durable construction or a better grip to the sole. Since, for some, hiking is an attempt for us to get a better grip on our souls, it’s important to have footwear that offers the full spectrum of what is needed: durability and grip, yes, but also comfort, flexibility, support, and, hopefully, a feeling that the gear on your feet is a bit more “one” with you as you step from trail to stone, through water, over ice, and all the places in between. I am looking forward to putting the Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX to the test.
The Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX Construction
Hanwag takes their manufacturing seriously. They are meticulous about the steps toward fashioning their materials. When you first see the Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX, and hold it in your hand, you understand that you are holding a well-made boot. The website boasts that their polyetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membrane is “durably waterproof and very breathable.” This reviewer found this to be true. One thing that can be quite aggravating on a hike is feet that feel like they are overheating. The Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX is, indeed, very breathable, while still remaining steadfastly waterproof. I took them for a long stroll through several inches of wet snow, over various terrains, and even through some water. The boots kept my feet warm and dry, and there wasn’t the slightest bit of feeling too toasty.
The lacing of the Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX
The lacing is the first thing I noticed when I put the Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX on my feet. Hanwag calls it “Ghilly lacing,” claiming on their website that it “allows a tight fit, yet guarantees mobility.” This is one of those surprising places where advertising claims match reality. I was amazed about the grip in the lacing when tying them up all the way, and once I had them secured, they were truly flexible and stayed in place. There isn’t much that’s more frustrating about outdoor shoes than laces that keep coming untied. These do not. They stayed tied and tight for as long as I wore them, and they also remained perfectly flexible. It sounds strange to say, but the lacing is one of my favorite features about the Xerro Plus.
Grip and Flexibility for the Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX
Flexibility is a must. I won’t wear something that feels like a brick, with the same limited mobility. The Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX is a substantial boot, and it is as sturdy as you need it to be, but it feels like it will move with you as soon as you put it on. I wore them around the house for a few days to start breaking them in, and it was only a few minutes into the first day that I had already forgotten that I had on hiking boots. Sometimes at the end of a long hike, when you take off your boots, you feel like a weight has been lifted. Surely, with the Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX your feet and ankles will notice a difference once they are off, but it did not at all feel like I had dropped ten pounds from being wrapped around the end of my leg. And these boots do move with you. When I had them on the ice, I was sure that this would be where the manufacturing would override comfort. The grip would take over, and I would lose the feeling of flexibility.
Not the case.
As I walked over the ice, I could feel the Hanwag “IceGrip” zones, which are made with “a special rubber compound with extremely fine glass particles,” and I felt as if my feet had the ability to control my footing. That doesn’t always happen in a pair of shoes, let alone such a durable and sturdy boot as this one. The “IceGrip” alone was worth the purchase of the boots. I was able to feel the trail underneath my feet, whether it was over the ice, or on a dry trail through the woods.
A Note About Sizing for the Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX
As far as fit goes, the boots are sized according to UK and European sizing. I wear an 11.5 in most shoes, from Keen to Merrell to Adidas. I tried the 10.5 size first, as this was the comparative size for the US 11.5. They fit, but there wasn’t much room. I didn’t want a larger size at first, since I wasn’t looking for blistering to be a possibility. After some consideration, I switched to the 11 UK, which is a 12 US. The 11 fit much better, with a great deal of comfort, enough snugness for support, and they have not rubbed my feet or caused any blistering. Something to keep in mind when ordering a pair for yourself, try the next half size up if you’re concerned with them being too snug.
Durability, comfort, flexibility, the feeling of gripping the trail, lightweight and waterproof, the Hanwag Men’s Xerro Plus Winter GTX has it all, and all for 250 US dollars. This is a comfortable boot that won’t overheat, and is perfect for day hikes through any terrain, winter or summer.
For more information, visit www.moosejaw.com/hanwag.