With so many multifunctional travel shoes on the market, it is sometimes difficult to determine what may make one better than another. Heck, what does “better” mean? In the case of the Mammut Comfort Low GTX Surround ($169, men’s and women’s), we enlisted an experienced hiker and traveler as our wear-tester to give it a real-world beating.
Our tester really liked it. A lot. She wore the Mammut Comfort Lows for a number of months on light hikes over the late winter and into early summer, in part to get a good feel for the Gore-Tex Surround technology in various weather conditions. For those who aren’t aware, Surround by Gore-Tex is a relatively new technology for the company known for its breathable waterproof jackets. “Vents” either on the sides of the shoe in the fabric, in the midsole/rubber rands, or even under the sole of the foot do not allow water or rain in, but are said to keep feet cooler at much higher temperatures, while also still keeping them dry. Different companies have implemented designs in a variety of ways. In Mammut’s case, these vents are midfoot in the sides of the midsole of this multifunctional travel shoe.
For our tester, fit out of the box of the Mammut Comfort Low GTX Surround was top-notch, with no hot spots, pinching or chafing. And, boy, did they get a real testing, with treks in rain and in sun, and “dunkings” in both sticky clay-like mud and seawater. Despite all of that, a quick rinse and occasionally a little brushing brought them right back into cool-looking shape, ready to wear out to a casual dinner if desired. And, she noted, the Mammut shoes dried super fast too. One design feature she appreciated in light of mud-dunks was how the rubber toecap of this hiking/travel shoe was practically flush with the rest of the upper’s fabric. That meant the ridge between the two that can exist in some shoes was non-existent here – one less place to collect grime and gunk during hard wear. Same held true for the sides and sole even: Not a lot of indents, grooves or a lug pattern where hiking “souvenirs” sometimes stick around too long.
She was also happy with the support the provided insole gave her; in fact, she did not replace it with an after-market product as is her usual habit. And the toe box was roomy enough for comfortable wear on real hikes. Traction also seemed appropriate on a range of surfaces from packed dirt, gravel, marshy areas, slick mud and bare rock. The slick mud of briny Mono Lake even sucked one shoe right off her foot, but it recovered well and was ready for the next adventure after a quick scrub and rinse.
When it comes to the GTX Surround, our tester was not familiar with it prior to testing the Mammut Comfort Low GTX Surround and, as a result, she c0uld not say definitively if she felt it made a difference in temperature regulation. “I had no real sense of (it) being especially better for keeping my feet cooler,” she wrote in an email, although she added that she had a slight sense of some airflow once during a spring hike. Nevertheless, the normal Gore-Tex waterproof promise worked without a hitch, she noted.
These multifunctional travel shoes that are also ready for a long day exploring a city or a hike in the hills is made of ripstop fabric that is extremely durable and abrasion resistant. The toecap is “liquid rubber,” as the company calls it, making it nearly seamless with the upper fabric. Board lasting creates a sturdier, more supportive shoe.
Normally, our tester is a hiker who prefers very neutral or dark colors, but she actually quite liked the teal highlight “pops” on these multifunctional travel shoes (1 lb., 6 oz.). FYI, in trying on the shoes, I myself found the fit to be “higher volume,” i.e. roomier around the foot, thus it did not work for my narrower foot – a note for others with smaller and lower-volume feet to be aware of.