Less Expensive Option to 520 TPS GV or Power Matic 200 GV But Almost Just As Good

Reviewed by OdinWiski from Arizona on Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I have 2 pairs of 520 TPS GV that I've been using for backpacking trips or even long day hikes on rocky terrains. And they are built like tanks and I have not had any problems with them. The lowest sales price I've seen on those was $180 (with sales AND an additional $50 off for first purchase over $200). The Power Matic 200's can be had for $250 when they are on sale. I bought a pair of these when they were on sale at STP for $136, just because.

I've worn these on a number of long day hikes, a snowshoe day trip, and a cramponed climb in snow and ice. Overall I'm very happy with this boot.

I could be wrong, but I feel this boot has a ever so slightly different last than the 520 TPS and perhaps just a tiny tad smaller? The color is not really walnut, as a lot of reviewers have pointed out. The color is very light - much lighter than the pictures show here. The first thing I did after I took them out of the box was to apply Nikwax - not so much to soften the leather, but to make it darker. Now their color looks like what's shown in the pictures.

The boot is built very solid:

- The "legendary" power matic sole is sturdy and stiff because of the full shank polyurethane mid sole and tough Vibram outsole, as a backpacking boot should be, so that you won't feel every little rock under your feet. I personally feel the TPS on the 520 feels just a tad more burly under my feet.

- The Vibram sole and the tread design offer very good traction on reasonable slippery surfaces of rocks and mud. Please don't be unrealistic and expect any boot to offer adequate traction on snow and ice without putting on traction devices. When people tell you that, they are either lying or they just feel so good about their boot and they THINK or dream that :)

- The micro pulley lacing system does allow you to cinch the front portion of the boot down very easily. Although personally I wouldn't really miss it if I didn't have it on this boot. Plain old lacing system found on the 520 TPS and another boots works just fine. And there are lacing techniques to help you cinch your boot just the way you like it. I hope my concern of those micro pulleys being clogged up and rusted out by mud and water and thus rendered non-functional is unwarranted. I haven't had the boot long enough to tell.

- The boot top, when laced down well, offers excellent ankle support, as a backpacking boot should. The gusseted tongue is nicely padded just like on the 520 and prevents water and debris from getting inside.

- I love the toe box protection on this boot. I don't know why Asolo did away with the toe box protection on their Power Matic 200 from its previous incarnations (I think it might have been Power Matic 500???). Same thing with the 520 TPS. Yes, full grain leather is very durable and the wear and tear on the toes is nothing but a badge of honor. But those boots without the toe box protection gets scuffed up on your very first trip - guaranteed. It's not a big deal, but I just don't quite understand the reasoning behind the design change.

- The nubuk leather is very good. It is not full grain and should not be expected to perform like full grain leather does. Nubuk is essentially less quality leather usually with cosmetic blemishes so one side is buffed out to make the leather have a supple and nice look to it and does not show the blemishes. That is essentially removing top layer material from the leather. So the leather is always just a tad thinner and does not have as good water proofing ability as full grain leather. I was quite impressed, however, after a few hours of snowshoeing and a full day of snow/ice climbing in crampons. After the full day climb/descent and a lot of postholing (with full gaiters on), portions of the boots seemed to have absorbed quite a lot of moisture content - you could tell visually portions of the boots got darker from the wetness and retained that wetness. But the goretex liner worked great as the second line of defense and my feet were dry. And the next day, I couldn't tell those portions of the boots were ever darker and retained wetness. They dried out well. The boot leather did not sustain any damage from the tie down mechanisms on the MRS Evo Ascent or the BD Contact Strap Crampons. I've seen them do that to other boots :)

- As the result of different sole construction and the nubuk leather used, I think this boot is a tad lighter than my 520 TPS.

Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this boot, especially at the sales price STP places it at. It is definitely a very strong and worthy alternative to Asolo Power Matic 200 or 520 TPS GV!

p.s. Don't be fooled by all the manufacturers or by people who have already been fooled by manufacturers - goretex does not make anything breathe better. It's purpose is to stop moisture and water from getting inside and that always sacrifices breathability. And full grain leather does not have great breathability. Nubuk is perhaps just a tad better, but not by much or probably even noticeable, and that is at the expense of less water proofing capability. I personally do not have a problem with goretex and full leather boots - I actually love them. I just find those claims misleading and don't want people to have the wrong expectations :)
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