If there’s a specialist boot among the four reviewed in our three season boots review, it’s the Firetail.
While it’s basically a lightweight walking boot (920g (m); 760g (w)), it has some crossover with approach shoes and utilises a few features from that genre of footwear, such as a relatively thin and sensitive sole; a toe shape ideal for scrambling and climbing; a rubber toe cap/rand, lightweight uppers (handy for carrying on a climb), lacing right to the toe, and a decent tramping boot-style sole with an aggressive heel.
I really liked the Firetail and found them a comfortable boot for a variety of walking, but being quite a narrow fit they won’t be for everyone. They’re a low centre of gravity boot, with quite a thin sole, which I loved the sensitivity and stability of. They’re reasonably bendy, so harder work on the foot with a heavy pack but for fast and light trips they would be a good pick.
Completely synthetic, the uppers utilise modern fabrics and manufacturing techniques to reduce seams. This makes them light and malleable, but in doing so provides less protection for the foot than that of a leather boot.
I liked the use of a rubberised aramid (Kevlar) fabric for the rand and have noticed this ultra-hard wearing material appear on other boots recently. In testing on moraine, scree and rocky tracks, the rand held up well and I noticed only one area of wear – where one of the laminated reinforcing fabrics is peeling away in a tiny section at a flex point in the forefoot. Some non-crucial stitching has worn through here already, too.
Salewa’s 3F heel lock/ankle support system transfers tension to the arch and heel when the laces are tightened, but it doesn’t actually move and nor is it very tight, so most of the increased support in the ankle area comes from the plastic reinforcing alone.
I highly recommend this boot if they fit your feet well, but I’d be selective about where I wore them and would not expect years of use out of the uppers.