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Gear

Nov 03, 2014

Review: Columbia Helvatia Mid Leather Waterproof Hiking Shoe

The shoes were tested during a nine-day trek on slippery Himalayan slopes and proved to be a sturdy, trusty pair.

WRITTEN BY

Supriya Vohra

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What defines a good trekking shoe? In my newbie experience, comfortable fit, good traction, breathability and water-resistance are the qualities I would look out for.

I recently completed my first trek – a 70km journey on high Himalayan slopes in peak monsoon wearing a pair of Columbia’s brand new, not-broken-in Helvatia Mid Leather Waterproof shoes.

The pair carried me through slush, waterfalls, moraines, steep passes and icy glaciers. By the end, all I had was a couple of blisters, a black toenail and dry feet. Not bad!

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Columbia Sportswear, a 76 year-old American brand that has been primarily known for outdoor apparel acquired footwear makers Sorel Corporation, Pacific Trail and Montrail in early 2000. It opened its first South Asian flagship store in New Delhi last year.

The Columbia Helvatia is a mid-cut waterproof hiking shoe made of leather and mesh upper. At 335 gm per show, I received the pair a day before I was to leave for the trek, and did not have time to break into them. Turns out that was not needed. The minute I wore them, they fit me like a big, warm glove. I felt secure.

The outer part of the shoe is a combination of leather, textile and webbing. While plodding through a slushy bamboo forest, where my feet went ankle-deep in the mud, the mesh upper prevented gravel and mud from entering inside the shoe.

The waterproof-breathable bootie membrane is one of the best things about the shoe. It rained almost 23 hours a day everyday during the course of my journey, and I dipped my feet completely into many-a-creek, but the inside of my shoe stayed dry throughout. Its moisture locking capacity is a win.

The midsole is made of proprietary owned Techlite to provide ‘super cushioning for impact absorption and high energy return’, according to the company’s literature. This, along with the rubber toe-cap protected my feet when I was passing through steep descents on moraines.

The tall shaft height protected my ankles when I tried to walk on nearly vertical inclines in a bamboo forest, an attempt (successful!) to save us a few kilometres of walking.

The outsole has proprietary owned Omni-Grip, with aggressive non-marked rubber lugging. While the shoe has good traction on gravel, mud, loose stones and probably all kinds of dry terrain, it fails to provide a good grip on wet rock. I skidded and fell several times while passing waterfalls.

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The shoes lasted the entire journey, and after a couple of washes, they are ready to be put to use again.

Pros – Comfortable, waterproof, sturdy

Cons – Not so grippy on wet rock

Specifications of Columbia Helvatia

CONSTRUCTION:

  • Techlite midsole for lightweight cushioning
  • Upper made of suede leather, textile and webbing
  • Omni-Grip rubber for optimal traction on all surfaces
  • Combination suede leather, textile and webbing upper
  • Waterproof-breathable bootie membrane to lock moisture out
  • Aggressive Omni-Grip non-marking rubber lugged outsole
  • Waterproof materials and construction method
  • Weight: 335 gm per shoe
  • Price: $100

FABRIC:

  • UPPER
    Suede leather, textile and webbing
  • MIDSOLE
    Techlite
  • OMNI-GRIP OUTSOLE
    High traction rubber

Buy it here

Featured Image © Mansi Thapliyal


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