Gear Review: Altra Tushar Boot

The brand new Altra Tushar Boot is the ultralight hiking boot you didn’t realise you needed. The Tushar is lightweight, waterproof, breathable, grippy, rugged, and tough—perfect for all-weather mountain adventures. Altra’s been tinkering with waterproof options for their shoes for a few years and the Tushar appears to be the company’s first truly competitive offering in the hiking boot category.

I received my pair of Tushars in late November and immediately ventured out on one of my favorite trails near Squamish, B.C. I’ve been doing my best to put the Tushars through the wringer with the special help of our fickle Pacific Northwest weather. I’ve worn them on early-season snow in the mountains, on wet and slippery roots and rocks in old-growth forest, with snowshoes in deep powder near Mount Baker and even (briefly) on normal dry trail. I hiked in a range of temperatures from about 14 to 50°F.

Women’s Altra Tushar Boot At-a-Glance

Style: Mid Hiking Boot
MSRP: $200
Listed Weight (pair): 16.6 ounces
Upper: eVent waterproof and breathable fabric
Cushioning: High
Stack Height: 27 mm

Intended Purpose

The Altra Tushar is designed for all-weather mountain adventuring. The boot is exceptionally waterproof, with lots of heavy-duty protection built around the upper. The higher level of protection includes a thick toe guard and can accommodate more aggressive crampons. A hook and eye Gaitertrap™ is on the heel and the outsole incorporates a gap where a gaiter strap can cross. The Tushar isn’t insulated, which allows them to be used for adventures in all seasons, not just winter.

Features

First snow near Squamish, B.C.

Balanced Cushioning: Boots were historically designed with heels for riding horses and yet now that horses are no longer in the picture it seems we can’t get rid of our attachment to heels. Altra’s changing our understanding of feet and is best known for their zero-drop platform, which they’ve recently rebranded as Balanced Cushioning™. In all their shoes the heel and forefoot are positioned at an equal distance from the ground, which “aids in optimal alignment, cultivates better form, and encourages a low-impact landing.”¹ In these boots I felt a more solid connection with the ground than I’ve ever had, which helped me maintain traction when transitioning from mud to snow to gravel all within just a few yards.

Staying dry through creek crossings.

Heavy-Duty Outsole: Hikers and cars require something in common—good contact with the ground. Tires with good tread give the vehicle its ability to grip the road, to corner tightly, accelerate and brake smoothly, and maximize fuel economy. A good tread on a shoe allows the wearer to grip and safely travel over a variety of surfaces such as rock, gravel, mud, grass, and ice. It can give the wearer the confidence to move quicker and to respond more dynamically to changes in the trail. Your actual mileage may vary!

The shoe designers at Altra Running understand the importance of tread and nowhere is this more obvious than in the Tushar boot. The boot combines the patented super grippy DuraTread™ outsole with an aggressive lug design. Instead of the now-familiar Altra footprint, the sole integrates long grooves down and across the foot, which allow the sole to flex and grip and provide a space for water to escape. Sipes (thin slits) are added to the rubber blocks for even more traction, just like you might see on rain and snow tires.

Image courtesy eVentfabrics.com

Waterproof and Breathable: Altra introduced its first 100% waterproof shoe and boot last year with the Lone Peak 4 RSM models. Trek Managing Editor Maggie Slepian declared the waterproofing on the Lone Peak as “first-class through rainy runs and muddy trails.”² The Tushar takes the waterproofing a step further with a heavier-duty fabric upper incorporating the same eVent technology used in the Lone Peak 4 RSM.

Many waterproof technologies use a polyurethane layer in their fabrics that first absorbs the moisture before allowing it to vent through a membrane. eVent’s fabric skips the absorption layer, allowing the moisture to escape up to twice as fast through their hydrophobic membrane. What this means in common speak is that your feet will dry faster even if water manages to get inside. The eVent membrane also works to let sweaty moisture out, helping to keep your feet cooler and drier.

Fit and Comfort

Light, aggressive, or in between?

I’m a woman and I trail-tested the woman’s model, which incorporates Altra’s unique Fit4Her™ technology. Altra recognizes that women’s feet take forces from different angles due to hip geometry and gait. The Fit4Her™ design incorporates a higher instep, a longer arch, narrower midfoot and heel, and a slightly different foot shape while still allowing our toes to relax and spread more naturally than pretty well any other shoe or boot made for women. This special design focus is why I particularly love Altra shoes and why I loved the fit of these boots.

That being said, these boots do require some breaking in. Due to its aggressive design the Tushar isn’t as flexible as we’ve come to expect from Altra shoes. The upper fabric is structured and stiffer than any of Altra’s mesh shoes or boots. My first time wearing these boots I hiked a 12-mile trail and ended the day with blisters on my heels. It took a couple more hikes before the fabric started to relax to the shape of my heel.

Many of the initial reviews of the boots (especially the men’s model) include comments that there isn’t enough width across the forefoot, that the lacing system pinches the top of the foot, or that there’s not enough padding on the inside. While I can’t comment on the width of the men’s boots I do know that some of these negatives are a compromise for a more rugged and yet still lightweight boot.

Pros

I was really excited to trail test the Tushar Boots and they definitely lived up to my expectations. I live in zero-drop shoes and it was a relief to set aside my heavy heeled boots and slip the lightweight Tushar Boots on instead. The flexibility of the sole, combined with the grippy and rugged tread, helped me feel solid and connected to the ground. Combining that with the excellent waterproof breathability made me feel like my adventure options were limitless.

Cons

The Tushar Boot is not out-of-the-box comfortable like the rest of Altra’s lineup. This is a first model and it’s pretty clear from review comments that Altra needs to tinker with the fit. The boots pinched my heels and caused some soreness on the bridge of my feet. Thankfully these sore spots relaxed after a few wears.

Overall

Muddy boots are a sure sign of hiking in the PNW.

As an outdoor adventurer in the Pacific Northwest I need a shoe that can take me from the wet rain forest trails of a river valley to the snowy peaks of the Cascade mountains in January or July. I’ve rarely found a waterproof boot that can live up to the high standards of the PNW. Boots I’ve owned in the past have had thick, heavy soles and uppers and aren’t usually as breathable as the companies lead you to think. I considered purchasing Altra’s Lone Peak RSM that was released last winter but the outsole wasn’t quite rugged enough for my local trails. While this is obviously Altra’s first attempt in this class, the Tushar is still a stand-out waterproof boot at nearly half the weight of similar footwear on the market.

Comparable Waterproof Boots

Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM
MSRP: 160

Vasque Breeze LT Mid GTX
MSRP: $179.95

Oboz Bridger Mid BDry
MSRP: $180

This product was donated for purpose of review.

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