Boreal Ordesa Boot Review

Boots are hard to review. If you are wearing a pair that don't fit, that are treacherous on certain surfaces or just not quite right for the job then you will be conscious of every step you take. If, however, they fit and keep your feet firmly attached to the hill then you'll probably not give them much thought once the laces are tied. Boreal are probably hoping that these Ordesa leather boots (named after a Pyrennean canyon) will fit into the latter category, but we shall see.

The Spanish brand Boreal is one I associate more with climbing footwear than walking boots, but I think that reflects what we see in the UK rather than where their expertise lies. They have been making walking boots with breathable linings since 1984 after all, so they probably know a few things about it.

They're a nice, light-ish, wide-fitting leather boot at a decent price  © Richard Prideaux
They're a nice, light-ish, wide-fitting leather boot at a decent price
© Richard Prideaux

There are two Ordesa models, the Ordesa Classic in full grain leather (also £150) and the Ordesa Style in nubuck. I'm reviewing the Style here, though I'm not clear why nubuck is more stylish than full grain leather (especiually once you've treated it). Other than the leather, the two boots are identical, so what I've said here should mostly apply to the Classic too.

Weight

At 1530g for my size 47 (Boreal say 1150g/pair in a size 7) they're towards the lighter end of the scale for an all-leather boot, and probably suited to on-path use more than the really roughest terrain.

Upper Materials and Design

From a distance the Boreal Ordesas look like most other 2-3 season leather walking boots, with a slight drop towards the heel in the upper and a slightly streamlined style.

They probably aren't going to the be the first choice of hardcore vegans, being made mostly from a 2.4mm Nubuck leather with some smaller synthetic panels around the ankle and on the tongue. One large panel of hand-cut leather sweeps from below the ankle on the outside of the foot, around the toebox and down to partway along the inside of the foot. Several smaller leather panels are then stitched together for the contoured heel. The tongue is mostly a synthetic fabric (Teramida SL) with leather patches under the high-wear points for the laces.

Refreshingly, these boots aren't dripping with tags and 'technologies' that call every single curve and fastening a unique name. The feature that stands out is the Boreal Heel Fit System of contoured foam pieces designed to hold the heel securely without movement. As most of that is buried under the boot lining there isn't much to see, but if you hold the boot interior up to the light then you can indeed see some subtle shaping and shadowing from all of those carefully placed lumps and bumps.

As a stitched leather boot with panels it unsurprisingly comes with a membrane liner to keep your foot dry - in this case the Boreal Dry-Line.

Ideal for all-round 2-3 season use on easy-to-moderate hill terrain  © Richard Prideaux
Ideal for all-round 2-3 season use on easy-to-moderate hill terrain
© Richard Prideaux

Sole

A Vibram 'Lite Wolf' sole wraps the underside of the boot, with deep lugs in the places where it matters (at the heel and under the forefoot). There is no wraparound protective rand and minimal toe protection at the front, just a small riser. A layer of shock-absorbing PU rubber sits between the outer sole and the boot.

The tread is fairly aggressive, as one would expect on a boot more likely to be used on muddy slopes than smooth rocks. It sheds mud easily though and I don't tend to transfer too much mud from one place to another while wearing them

The heel breast is not quite as aggressive as you will find on other 2-3 season boots, but I've always felt confident in descending steep slopes with the Ordesas, and don't end up flat on my arse due to friction-related treachery.

It's a flexible boot, indeed flexible enough to be useful for smearing rather than edging when I employed them for scrambling. However a stiffened midsole prevents too much rolling and twisting near the heel. They are not a scrambling boot, but I've been happy enough rock-hopping in them or moving over short-ish sections of technical ground. They also passed the pub-toilet test and seem safe enough on wet, hard surfaces.

The sole has a decent tread for wet, muddy ground  © Richard Prideaux
The sole has a decent tread for wet, muddy ground
© Richard Prideaux

Fit, Feel and Performance

There is also a female-oriented fit version, which looks identical other than a different colour for the back of the ankle.

The fit is apparently for a broader foot, and my size 47 review sample seemed to hold to this. My boots normally develop a weird bulge just above the soleplate after a few months wear - to the point that the sole itself is sometimes narrower than the natural shape of my foot, despite the boot 'fitting'. No signs of that yet with the Ordesa.

At no point do my toes feel cramped, and they aren't as picky about the length of my toenails as some of my more mountain-oriented boots are. The lacing system holds my heel and forefoot securely - although the supplied laces do have a habit of slipping at the knot when wet (even after washing them to remove any manufacturing residue).

That Heel Fit System and contoured foam all seems to work well enough, and I didn't notice any heel lift once I had worked out the ideal tension for my laces. There is a significant gap running vertically behind the heel, which is a design feature to promote airflow and allow sweaty moisture vapour to escape. This seems to disagree with some of my socks, and I did get a few hot-spots at the back of the heel when wearing those specific socks but not in others. There is probably an obvious reason for that variance, but I'm not smart enough to work it out. None of those hot-spots actually turned into a blister or even a lasting red mark, even on tired feet or tired skin.

For boot reviews I just throw them on for the next trip into the hills or day at work and get cracking. I don't go through a careful process of breaking them in or wearing around the house - if something wants to earn a place in my gear cupboard then it has to be able to get on with the job. I think I gave the Ordesas a slightly harder life than their designers intended - a wet spring/summer/early autumn of Welsh, Scottish and Cumbrian mountains and use for at least 2-3 days per week in the six months or so that I have had them. They are showing some signs of that hard use, but I can see them holding out for a long time yet.

One thing I did note early on was the poor DWR performance - but I can also report no leaks. I suspect that the factory-finish DWR hadn't even considered the likelihood of a Welsh summer, and the leather showed immediate signs of being saturated by moisture, and occasionally took a few days to fully dry out. As yet none of this moisture has made it beyond the waterproof membrane inside. These are actually one of the driest leather boots I have ever used, but you wouldn't necessarily be able to see that after a few hours in damp grass! After the initial review photos had been taken I opted to use a leather waterproofing agent that darkened the leather - but also repelled water for much longer.

Summary

That internal foam contouring took a little getting used to, but other than a few moments of minor irritation in many hours of use I cannot complain about the fit, nor indeed the performance on a selection of British upland terrain.

The waterproofing is more than adequate, although they will probably require more aftercare to prevent damage and softening of the leather. The design decisions that were intended to keep the foot dry and cool seem to work, and certainly I have lighter boots that are sweatier and less pleasant to be around after a hard day in the hills.

As a 2-3 season boot that keeps your feet dry, planted and comfy, the Ordesa does the job, and on easy-to-moderate terrain it's probably all the boot you'll need. If you have wider feet and sometimes struggle to find something to fit then I would definitely suggest trying them.

Boreal say:

Ordesa Style is a stylish premium quality nubuck leather walking boot with a lower ankle height and soft flex. Exceptionally comfortable and easy to wear, Ordesa Style is ideal for hiking paths and trails at home or abroad.

Ordesa Style prod shot

  • Weight: 1150g / pair (size 7)
  • Upper: One piece premium quality waterproof 2.4 mm Nobuck leather with Teramida SL. HFS padded heel system for a perfect fit
  • Lining: Boreal Dry-Line® for absolute waterproofness + stay cool breathability
  • Midsole: Boreal Plite
  • Sole: Vibram Lite Wolf. Rubber sole with shock absorbing PU rand
  • Usage: Trekking, backpacking, fell walking, 2-3 season use

For more info see borealoutdoor.com




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