Comparison between the Guide and the Summit - Long term review and design quirks

Reviewed by Anoop from Buffalo on Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Well, I had to write this review for good KARMA.. I did not have or come across a review that described aspects that I was looking for.. So here it goes, side by side comparison of the Alico Guide with the summits. I got the guides first and not i am going through the summits before deciding which one i want to stick with.

I wear size 10.5 in my shoes and sneakers and the Guides run true to size, The summits run 1/2 a size bigger, Both have enough toe room, so they will do fine with swollen feet. I felt the Summits toe box to be more roomier (on the loose side that the guide's)

Well, I got the guides first and compared to that the summit look puny in build. The sole is beefy for both. One thing though is that the Vibram lug pattern and compound is great for dry, jagged terrain but is a bad choice for slick environment (Slick wet rocks). The upper on the Guides are super thick and atleast 4 times stiffer than the summits. The leather on the guides cannot be polished to a shine, they almost take a finish of an Oiled canvas when you apply treatments. One thing to note is that the Guide has a true single piece upper and thus no two shoes are the same. The leather has natural fold lines and flex points. I had two different pairs and one did not fold on the right spots and thus was irritating my foot, the other folded at different places and broke in nicely.

Footing and Outsole:
The Vibram sole is the same on the shoes. The lug pattern and compound does not lend itself well to wet rocks and the like. The slippage is more pronounced on the guides, being 3/4 shank, the guide will only flex so much before the shank flexes and kicks in like a spring. When this happens, the shoe will slip on the rock. I did not feel comfortable using the guide in this environment. Summits are more sure footed in such terrain, since they flex as two points (Ball of the feet and the mid arch).

Guide being a single piece upper are difficult to lace up when new, but after 2 months of usage, the guides can be laced up more snugly than the summit. This is also in part due to the lacing on the summits. The eye lets on the summit are backed up on a reinforced leather perimeter that does not allow the uppers to be drawn close and snug like the guides can.

Design Quirks:
Well, the tough part...
The guide has a fantastic upper, but being 3/4 shank, it only flexes at the ball of the foot, around the bid toe. That means that its only fit for walking with a springy gait. No Running, No climbing down stairs, or for that matter any activity that would require you to flex your foot. The guide is perfect for climbing rock terrain, but for a backpacking shoe, is out of place for 50% of the time. I really wished they made the guides in half shank version. Also, the leather being stiff and all the flexing taking place only at one point and not gradually from mid foot, develops crack at the folds.

The summit has a quirky lacing pattern. The top reinforcement of leather and the stitching around the lacing eyelets mean that the uppers cannot be drawn in close for a tighter fit. Also the sole is stiffer than the upper, sort of mismatched. Its like canvas upper mated to a stiff outsole.

Ideally I would want a guide upper mated to a summit lower. The best combination.

Comfort, usability and long term durability:
Comfort and usability outright goes to the summits. I wanted to have a reason to hold on to the guides, but I found very little. I felt very uncomfortable jogging in those shoes, climbing down stairs was a chore and my connection with the ground was not good,. I am a five fingers guy and I want to be able to feel the ground. The stiffness of the shoe means that you hardly can discern whether your next step is ankle twisting or not and if so, whether you need to flex your muscles for that. Summits provide more feedback and is more suitable for all areas minus plowing your way through jagged rocks on a level field.

Long term durability : Guides of course. that upper is beefy and indestructible.

For me its the Summit. The swiss army of the boots. They excel in most areas and are usable in some scenarios. Its the one pair I will have, if I am allowed only one shoe

The guide: I compare them to the Axe. They are unbeatable in 2 areas - Flat, rocky and dry ground and Non technical climbing up steep slopes. For everything else they are pretty much useless. They are especially a bad choice for hiking in the dark, since you can only see so much and thus rely on feedback from your foot and stepping to maintain balance and stability of your ankles. One thing I would say is that if you use the guide to plow your way up, be sure to get another sue to get down. your knees will thank you.
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