It’s easy to see why the Asolo Ellery might seem a bit gimmicky – with its barefoot style it’s surely too light to be much use as a hiking boot – but, having just spent five days walking and wild-camping across Madeira’s mountainous middle in a pair, I find it hits a certain spot. If, like me, you have narrow feet then Asolo rates among the best and the boots felt well-made and extremely comfortable. With the Ellery (and other footwear from the ‘Natural Fit’ range), it perhaps helps if you are used to a more barefoot style of shoe since you are likely to feel the rock more underfoot and there isn’t as much heel or arch support as in more traditional boots. Personally, I prefer this; I did indeed feel more ‘connected’ to the terrain we were walking on and more stable, treating the ankle support as a confidence-booster rather than a scaffold. The snug heel and wide toe enables the foot to spread, again helping to stabilise and breathe. Since I was going for summer hiking in a warm climate, I decided to sacrifice the Gore-Tex in favour of breathability; given the wet weather we actually encountered, I might have changed my mind! Especially with current discount on the Ellery (June 2013), it’s a big hike up to the Asolo Mesita GTX, which Cotswold are also stocking in an alarming (though oddly attractive) coral pink, but which are probably more worthwhile for UK purposes.
Pros: light-weight, comfortable for both hiking and wearing around camp, breathable.
Cons: waterproofing is basic; arch/ ankle support might be insufficient for more sustained treks.