Oh, the agony! These are so nearly brilliant boots. I’ll tell you why they fall short at the end. Dartmoor was an excellent test for these boots as the weather had left the moor very wet in places. One reason for going back to leather boots was to see whether they would be able to keep my feet dry. I just don’t like wet feet! In the summer, I didn’t enjoy my experiment with trail shoes, even with neoprene socks.
My Biom boots after cleaning. A nice “distressed” look!
While my Salomon Fastpackers don’t leak, they do wet out quickly and become much less breathable. Although my feet don’t get soaked, like they would with unlined trail shoes, they do get quite damp. However, Fastpackers do dry quickly. I was somewhat dismayed that in my first foray into bogs, the Bioms wetted out quite quickly. However, I shouldn’t have worried, my feet remained dry throughout the four days I was on Dartmoor.
After half an hour’s bog trotting, the leather wets out
I treated the leather with the Ecco waterproofer and some Duxcoat before I went, but the water only beaded for a short while before it soaked in. I was surprised at how quickly the Yak leather dried when I was out of the boggy sections. I wonder whether this is because the leather swells and prevents a deeper penetration of water. With other leather boots I’ve owned, it’s taken a long time for the leather to dry once saturated, but not with the Bioms. I’m sure the tanning process and the type of leather have an influence.
This picture was taken an hour after the one above, the boots are drying rapidly
The large rubber toe bumpers also play a part as they prevent the toe section from saturation, which is a major failing of many boots. The inner material appears to wick sweat away efficiently and the Goretex membrane seemed not to be a barrier to expelling sweat. I think also the mid construction aids air flow. Anyway, to cut a long story short, these boots sailed through the bog trotting on Dartmoor with flying colours.
The Bioms are unusually flexible for a boot, which made walking more comfortable and they required very little breaking in. The Yak leather uppers are also very supple, aiding flexing. While they definitely felt more like boots compared with Fastpackers, they didn’t feel confining. I had replaced the rather floppy footbed that came with the boots with Superfeet green footbeds, which worked well.
The boots are quite roomy compared with Fastpackers and I was worried they might be a bit sloppy, but they can be laced comfortably tight. What is very noticeable is the extra room in the toe box. The laces that are provided are not particularly beefy and are a bit stretchy, so I replaced them with some Scarpa laces, which provided a more positive fit.
The deep tread on the soles gave superb grip and stability. For me stability is important as I have a weak ankle that makes me stumble sometimes. Being relatively low cut, there was enough support for me, without compromising ankle movement.
OK so what’s wrong with them? I suffered from some soreness under the balls of my feet, but I put that down to a poor sock choice on day one. I used some Bridgedale Coolmax liner socks. When new, these are very soft, but with repeated washing they tend to become quite harsh. I walked about seventeen miles on day one and they made small blisters. I changed to merino from then on and was much more comfortable.
My right foot was supremely comfortable, but my left foot suffered from some minor bruising at the base of my Achilles’ tendon. I can’t see any difference between the boots, but it was quite noticeably uncomfortable. I’m not sure whether my left foot is incompatible with the boot or that the boot requires a bit more breaking in. I shall try again, possibly putting some Compeed over the affected area to give some cushioning.
I did also suffer a bit of toe bruising. I failed to put on the gel toe protectors on the first day. I can’t blame the boots, it’s just my stupid feet. Lesson learnt, I’ll just have to use gel toe protectors.
Overall, I really like these boots. They are fantastically comfortable, at least on my right foot. It’s frustrating that there seems to be an issue with my left foot. I hope that it can be sorted out, either by protection or by the boot softening further. They appear to be very waterproof. Mine are the suede/nubuck version and the smooth leather ones may be even better (even if they don’t look as nice).
They are very roomy boots. I wonder whether I could have taken the next size down. For all walking boots and shoes, I normally go up a size. I think they could do with a more supportive footbed (but so can most boots/shoes) and it’s worth replacing the laces (Scarpa 130cm work well).
Finally, it’s made me reconsider my attitude towards leather boots. They do seem to be more effective than textile boots at keeping your feet dry. A yak leather version of the Fastpackers would be an interesting experiment! It also makes me wonder what the Brasher Fellmaster boots might be like. If you want dry feet, leather seems to be the way to go.