Gear Review: AKU Tengu Low GTX
MSRP: $249.99 USD
Weight: 870 grams; 30 ounces.
Height: Ankle height (low)
Material: Gore-Tex elastic sock inside with an EVA layer around the lower outside, giving the shoe a rubber-like exterior. AKU’s trademark Air 8000 and suede on the upper shoe.
Color: Orange and turquoise, with gray and orange laces.
The Tengu Low GTX is a new model from AKU, an Italian boot manufacturer. With a Vibram sole the Tengu moves easily from flat, hard-surfaced trails to rocky, mud-laced mountain trails. AKU has more than 30 years of experience in the design and production of trekking and outdoor footwear. The boots are available in the U.S. and Canada through the company’s North American website and at retail outlets.
Circumstance of Use
Vermont. Where mud and rocks collide. So what better place to put hard miles on the AKU Tengu Low GTX than the Long Trail north of Maine Junction. Over days of tramping through mudholes, stepping on trail-blocking blowdowns, and too many rocks to count, the Tengu impressed. The boots felt light on my feet. The Vibram soles gripped rocks and cushioned my feet. I didn’t get a single blister. They stayed dry inside after days of walking through shallow streams and mudholes that didn’t come over the tops of the boots. And though they did get wet inside after a day of rain and stomping in deep water, the insides were only damp the next day and dried with a fresh pair of socks. And I have to say, because I wanted to test the Gore-Tex lining and quickness of drying, I stepped in more and deeper mud and water than I normally would. I bounced on small blowdowns to see if I could break them up. I kicked rocks to see how the shoes protected my toes. In short, I put these shoes through hell. And they came out feeling like heaven. Before hiking in Vermont, I used these shoes for numerous day hikes in Connecticut, where I found that puddle-jumping is still fun after all these years.
Gore-Tex lining: Keeps your feet dry under normal trail conditions. Because of the low cut of the boot water will get in on rainy days or if you step in a deep puddle, but the inside liner dries fairly quickly.
Vibram soles: Good grip on wet and dry rocks; the soles absorb pounding on rocky and hard trails.
Outer layer: Good protection against stubbing your foot on a rock.
I liked these shoes for their firm, Vibram soles. I hike in New England, known for its rocky trails. These shoes gripped dry and wet rocks firmly. After years of full-height boots, I was leery of rolling an ankle with a misstep on a rock while wearing an ankle-height boot. Didn’t happen. My feet felt good at the end of a day spent pounding rocks on the Long Trail. The Gore-Tex liner is more like a sock that encases the entire foot, reducing entry points for water. The shoes do not have a traditional, loose tongue, which helps with the seal. The fit was true, and a size 12 U.S. fit my size 12 feet with no problems. Orange laces are included if you want something brighter than the gray laces put on in the factory.
For comfort right out of the box, Gore-Tex lining, and a tough exterior that take a beating, these boots should last. They’ll be my go-to hiking boots from now on.
Disclosure: This product was donated for the purpose of this review.
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