Owner Review - Alico Summit boots - Richard Lyon
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ALICO SUMMIT BOOTS
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
December 10, 2007
Personal Details and Backpacking Background
Male, 61 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.91 m)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Shoe size: US 12 or 12½ B for street shoes, US 12-13 (European 46
48) for hiking boots, depending on manufacturer.
Email address: rlyon AT gibsondunn DOT com
Home: Dallas, Texas USA
I've been backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the
Rockies since 1986. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often
take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at
altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp
backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my
share of forced marches too. Though always looking for ways to
reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker and I usually choose
a bit of extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to
Product Description and Details
Alico describes its Summit boots as "designed for tough terrain and
rugged wear" when hiking, trekking, or backpacking. These full-
leather over-the-ankle boots from Italy's Dolomite Alps have four
metal eyelets and three hooks for laces, with the lowest hook set
outside the other holders as shown in the photo.
Manufacturer: Alico Sport.
Website: www.alicosport.it (resolves in English). Quotations in
this Review come from this website.
Year purchased: 2006
Size: Men's 13 (USA)/48 (European), medium width. Available in US
men's 7-13 (half sizes available), European 39-48 (half sizes
available), medium or wide width; US women's 5-10.
Weight, measured: 2 lb 9.5 oz/1.18 kg per boot. No listed weight.
Height, measured from top of sole to top of cuff: 6.9 in/17.5 cm.
Materials: 2.6 mm (0.1 in) oiled-tanned full-grain leather outer;
leather inner (also available with brushed Cambrelle inner);
leather/nylon midsole; Vibram Montagna sole.
Construction: The Summit is made from a single piece of leather sewn
to the sole with what Alico calls "the ideal stitch construction"
for easy replacement of the sole when necessary. My local cobbler
called it a Norwegian welt. The body of the boot is overlaid with a
second leather piece with the metal eyelets and a gusseted tongue.
The heel is reinforced with another leather piece, and a heavier
leather collar is sewn at the top. Alico states that the Summits
have a half shank for support.
MSRP: Not available.
Warranty: None on the website or hangtags.
Why I Bought Them.
What, full leather boots, in this day and age? Whatever for? I had
several reasons for buying these old-fashioned, old-world boots. I
need heavy boots for my volunteer work with the U.S. Forest Service,
trail clearing and maintenance in the Northern Rockies. Stout over-
the-ankle boots are a Forest Service requirement and a prudent
safety precaution when handling a Pulaski, cross-cut saw, rock bar,
or the other hand tools while trail grading, bridge building, or
tree felling or skinning. Leather boots also provide good ankle
support when hiking to our base camp or to the worksite with a full
expedition pack. This past summer our work crew hiked fourteen
miles (20 km) on a stock trail that had long sections where horse
trains had worn the trail into a narrow gully, prime ankleturning
terrain with a fifty-pound (23 kg) pack. I appreciated the Summits
especially on this hike.
I'm used to hiking in leather boots. The Summits replaced a similar
(though somewhat lighter) pair I'd worn for many years that expired
after two re-solings. I like the support that leather boots
provide, especially since I tend to overpack. Now that the Summits
are nicely broken in I find myself wearing them even on shorter
hikes in conditions when I could go with a lighter boot. They fit
my long and narrow feet very well and have become a comfortable and
These days many hiking boots are available in only one width. I've
found that the standard size in men's boots, whether
designated "wide," "medium," or "standard," is a (U.S.) D or E, or
wider. I actively search for boot makers that offer a choice, as a
narrower boot is a better fit for me. Alico's medium is between a B
and C, much better suited to my feet, and a narrower boot keeps my
heels from moving around when hiking.
Once I find a boot that fits I tend to stick with it. Shoe or boot
fit is one of the most idiosyncratic and individual issues in
outfitting oneself for the backcountry. Materials, lasts, standard
sizes, construction techniques, and many other design
characteristics vary wildly from one maker to the next. I've worn
size 12 boots that were too large, others that were too small.
Boots that give me a good fit might drive another person to blisters
or crutches. I consider boots my most important equipment choice
if my boots don't fit my feet hurt, and when my feet hurt soon
everything else hurts. I tried on many different boots before
settling on the Summits and I urge the reader to take the time to
find the pair that's right for her or him.
The Summits have about 120 trail miles on them, not counting a
rather lengthy break-in period when I wore them on my morning and
evening walks with my dogs and short day hikes. Most backcountry
use has been on well-maintained trails that often include scree
fields and rocky stretches, and the trail work sites. I've worn the
Summits in all seasons, though mostly in the summer and fall.
Daytime temperatures have ranged from 0-100 F (-18 to 38 C). When
backpacking I almost always pack sandals or sneakers for river
crossings, fishing, and evening wear in camp, so rain and soggy
trails are the only chance the Summits have had to get wet. This
past September I had plenty of the latter when I hiked the Bechler
River Trail in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming and Idaho, where the
relative lowland and abundant thermal features made for much swampy
Care. Heavy leather boots require a lengthy break-in period. These
boots were very stiff out of the box. I gave the Summits three
separate treatments of Sno-Seal (a beeswax-based leather conditioner
applied after heating the boots) before wearing them anywhere.
Then I spent at least two months wearing them on weekends and my
daily dog walks before I was willing to trust my feet to them in the
After any hike during which the boots get wet, dusty, scuffed, or
dirty I clean the boots with a leather cleaner and then give them a
new dose of Sno-Seal and if necessary a coat of shoe polish. I
always store the boots laced up, especially immediately after taking
them off in camp or back at the trailhead, to reduce the possibility
of deformity. If I end a hike at home I also use shoe trees for
Accoutrements. As I have done for all hiking boots I have owned, I
replaced Alico's factory insoles. The Summits rated a pair with
Shock Doctor Ultra insoles, a model I really like that is now either
discontinued or impossible to find. When shod in leather boots I
always wear silk or merino liner socks and a heavy wool sock of some
kind, more protection for my skinny ankles. I have added Engo
Blister Prevention Patches (see my separate review, linked below) on
the inside of the heels.
Performance. Sadly for my desire to lighten up on the trail, I
really like the Summits. The fit is great, they are comfortable, I
haven't had a blister, and I haven't turned an ankle. I can't see
anything special about the Montagna sole; to me it's just another
Vibram solid and grabby on rock faces, even when wet, and loose
rock. My feet stayed dry through the trail mud in Yellowstone, and
have stayed dry when hiking through a rainstorm. As work boots in
Montana last August they were ideal. They took some real abuse on
that trip, in hot, dry, dusty weather. We worked in an area called
The Burn because of a huge fire in 1988. Most of our work was
clearing blown-down trees from the trail, using a cross-cut saw and
levers. Much of the blowdown was sooty or rotten, giving the boots
constant exposure to more unpleasant and possibly harmful media than
mere dust, rock, and mud. Daily wiping and my regular post-trip
spruce-up were all I needed to restore the Summits to presentable
condition. As the leather softens from use and re-treatment the
Summits seem to get more comfortable.
It's hot on the feet to hike in leather boots. These boots breathe
fairly well, but I confess that at the end of each work day, or any
other warm day on the trail, I look forward to releasing my feet
from suffocation by leather and wool and exchanging the Summits for
camp shoes. OK, often this desire doesn't wait until the end of
the day to set in. In any weather above 70 F (21 C) I pack camp
shoes even when not needed for water crossings just to give my feet
some rest. That's not a great inconvenience (I also use the lighter
footgear for fishing) but does mean even more weight. Given the
great fit of and so far blister-free hiking in the Summits, however,
I'll take the heat for the safety and support they provide. The
Summits are definitely overkill, though, when I'm hiking with a day
After a clean-up the boots look just fine. Not like new but better
like a well broken-in saddle. Six months' use this summer and fall
hasn't put a noticeable dent on the Vibram soles. I expect to be
able to wear these boots for years to come.
Sturdy and safe. Great for heavy-duty work or an expedition load.
Excellent fit for me
Heavy, and hot on the feet on a summer day.
They require considerably more break-in and care than synthetic or
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