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Boreal Drom Review

© Rob Greenwood

Boreal describe the Drom as 'a 4x4 for your feet', which sets the scene quite nicely for what to expect: a lightweight Lamborghini this is not. In fact the Drom feels like it has as much in common with a mountaineering boot as with a typical approach shoe, offering a high level of support and protection when you're scrambling or climbing, stuffing your feet into cracks or using small edges. At 1040g in Size 9 they're not the lightest, to say the least, but they're not meant to be - this beast of burden is built to last. It's designed with big mountain days in mind - lots of them too - and has the potential to be the most durable approach and/or walking shoe out there.

Functionality

The Drom could well be thought of as a mountain boot 'lite' as opposed to an approach shoe, as its levels of support are more akin to the former than the latter. As a result it is well suited towards technical ground and would be ideal both as a sturdy climber's approach shoe or as a shoe specifically for scrambling. In fact it is presented as part of Boreal's 'Walking Adventure' range, rather than featuring on their website alongside the other nimbler approach shoes, and they'd certainly work well as a shoe for more challenging hands-off walking terrain.

A high rubber rand means that they're not only grippy whilst wedged into cracks, but also extremely durable. The only pitfall is that due to its level of support there's not much sensitivity, which can be an issue on more insecure/smeary terrain. But on edges the shoe's stiffness and support means that when placed carefully you know it's going to stay there.

For those who like all of the above but want more of a boot feel, a Drom Mid is also available, which features pretty much the same list of features, albeit with a higher top. This comes in at £160, while the low-cut version I've been using is £140.

The Drom's sole isn't quite as sensitive whilst smearing, but it excels on edges  © UKC Gear
The Drom's sole isn't quite as sensitive whilst smearing, but it excels on edges
© UKC Gear

Despite their waterproof lining we didn't find the Drom as warm and sweaty as you might imagine  © UKC Gear
Despite their waterproof lining we didn't find the Drom as warm and sweaty as you might imagine
© UKC Gear

Fit

The Drom have a wide, high volume fit, albeit one that can easily be adjusted courtesy of the full length lacing; however, even with this level of adjustment it still feels quite roomy, so isn't likely to be one that fits people with narrow or low volume feet. The heel cup is also quite wide, but we had limited problems with lift, and any of the problems we did have were largely down to lacing - hence easy to remedy.

Size-wise I've found them to be in line with my standard street shoe size. The men's version comes in a huge range of sizes, from 4 all the way up to 13; unfortunately this model isn't on offer in a women's/lower volume version.

Upper

Split leather uppers add to the Drom's boot-like feel. The shoe also features a deep rubber rand around the entire shoe, which helps provide extra durability on rough terrain and extra grip whilst torquing and twisting into cracks. This feature also adds to their already substantial levels of durability, as the uppers aren't going to wear out any time soon - even with exceptionally hard use.

Full-length lacing means that you can get a precise and varied fit, although the round and seemingly teflon coated nature of the laces means that there's a tendency for them to come undone - even when tied carefully. Whilst I'm aware it's unfair to judge an entire shoe by its laces, what I will say is that they do let the rest of the shoe down, because they really do seem incapable of staying done up (and believe me, I tried everything!).

The Drom contains a Sympatex® Moisture Tech lining, which provides waterproofing throughout (barring the big hole at the top). I always feel a bit divided on whether or not liners are a good thing, wavering from "they're too hot and sweaty" to "you don't really notice them, apart from the fact your feet are dry at the end of the day". With the Drom I was expecting to fall into the first camp, as a liner, combined with the high rubber rand and leather uppers, sounds like a recipe for a warm/sweaty shoe; however, they're not as bad as you might think and all-in-all I was impressed with how little I noticed it. Yes, your feet get warm in summer, but show me the shoe in which they don't. At least with the liner their functionality is extended into wetter and colder times of year.

The waterproof lining keeps your feet dry, without becoming too sweaty on warm days  © UKC Gear
The waterproof lining keeps your feet dry, without becoming too sweaty on warm days
© UKC Gear

Full length lacing gives them a versatile fit, but they're still one for the wider foot   © UKC Gear
Full length lacing gives them a versatile fit, but they're still one for the wider foot
© UKC Gear

Sole

The Drom features a board last, making it incredibly stiff (hence like a mountain boot). As I've said - but it bears repetition - this makes it brilliant for support on smaller edges, but less brilliant on more smeary terrain, where maximum rubber to rock is often hard to achieve due to the stiffness.

It features a highly rugged, deeply lugged Vibram Pepe outsole. One of the shortcomings of a great many approach shoes these days is that their shallow-tread, dotty rubber outsoles wear out quickly and are lethal on wet grass. The Drom seeks to address this by providing a highly durable solution that I've found performs exceptionally well on all surfaces - rock, wet grass, and mud. The sole would not look out of place on a full-on boot (spot the theme emerging here).

Above the outsole lies a full-length midsole with a layer of soft EVA foam layer, which is what gives the shoe its levels of day-long comfort.

The rubber rand adds not just to the grip, but also the durability  © UKC Gear
The rubber rand adds not just to the grip, but also the durability
© UKC Gear

Full length lacing allows a precision of fit (but they're still pretty wide)  © UKC Gear
Full length lacing allows a precision of fit (but they're still pretty wide)
© UKC Gear

The Drom features a robust sole, that's designed for rock and wet grass alike  © UKC Gear
The Drom features a robust sole, that's designed for rock and wet grass alike
© UKC Gear

Weight

As a result of their burly nature, the Drom aren't the lightest shoe out there, coming in at a hefty 1040g per pair for Size 9. I don't think they're well suited to hanging off your harness on a multi pitch climb! This will clearly make them unattractive to some, but if you've read this far I suspect it's because other assets - durability, support, comfort - are the factors you're most interested in. So they're clearly not the lightest - but then they're not pretending to be.

Summary

The Drom is an unashamed workhorse, which is designed to bear the brunt of big, back-to-back mountain days. Its high rubber rand makes it perfectly suited for technical use and further adds to its durable nature. The sole is also in keeping with this and is suitable not just for rock, but also for wet, muddy/grassy slopes - which a lot of modern/lightweight approach shoes fail miserably on. Were there to be a downside it would be its not insubstantial weight, but each gram adds to the shoe's level of support and durability - hence its weight shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Compared with the lighter and softer approach shoes that make up the bulk of the market, the edging ability and overall support on offer here will definitely appeal to some users. Bearing in mind its likely lifespan, the £140 price tag should come out as very good value.

Boreal say:

A no-compromise shoe built for the mountain. Drom packs all the performance features you need and will take you where you want to go. Perfectly at home walking to your local crag or high in the mountains, Drom is like a 4x4 for your feet.

  • Sizes: 4-13 (men's version only)
  • Weight: 1040g/pair size 9 (Boreal say 970g/pair size 7)
  • Upper: Premium quality split leather 2mm and waterproof Lycra Intech. Integrated gaiter on the upper. Lateral PU overlay and toecap for added support and protection
  • Lining: Sympatex® Moisture Tech for absolute waterproofness + stay cool breathability
  • Midsole: Boreal PB-60 with an EVA top surface layer for added underfoot comfort
  • Sole: Vibram Pepe rubber outsole with shock absorbing EVA and PU
  • Usage: Approach & cooler conditions. Protection for rain and snow. Paths, trails and off-road. Travel

For more info see borealoutdoor.com



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