'I'm after an approach shoe, size 9.5, the funkier the better' were the words I said to Alex at Keswick Boot Company. A few minutes later he returned with a few boxes, with the Boreal Drom being one of my options....
Looking at the Southern Ridge of Tryfan
In recent years I've not really had a good approach shoe and I've been spending most of my time recently guiding in Salomon Speedcross fell running shoes. They fit me well, they dry fast and they're lightweight, but after an intense few weeks working in a busy post-lockdown world I made the time to get to Keswick Boot Co. in order to treat my feet.
I've never owned any Boreal shoes and should my trusted brand Aku have been in stock in my size I probably wouldn't own these right now, but every cloud has a silver lining as I have stumbled upon a great shoe here.
I've had these shoes for about 4 weeks now so this is very much an initial thoughts review. As time goes on I'll make comments on how durable they are, but for now I thought it was worth my time to spread the word.
In my time of owning these I've worn them on all types of path, but most notably on scrambling routes such as the North Ridge of Tryfan, Bristly Ridge, Sphinx Ridge and Striding Edge. These routes all hold the terrain for which a shoe like this are really suited. So how have I got on?
What's Great? (apart from the colour of course!!)
They're waterproof! So far so good with the Dry-Line technology. On our way into Great Gable the other day I didn't need to be too precious about dodging some of the puddles or bogs.
Stiff without being uncomfortable. For added performance on scrambles a stiffer shoe will always be better than a more flexible one - however striking that balance is key as you've still got to walk to the scramble and get back again. I find there is a perfect balance in this shoe and I'm even happy to wear them on walks where I know I won't be scrambling. I've also worn these working on the Via Ferrata at Honister, for which they are perfect.
Protected. Just look at that rand! When worn with a trouser anyone could be fooled in to thinking you've got a full boot on. Such a sizeable rand won't be for everyone, especially if it's going to double up as a pub shoe, but for me I love that they can take a smashing from every angle and I'm expecting them to last longer as a result.
Grippy. Immediately I felt confidence in the rubber under my feet. I don't think I've felt that 'stuck to the wall' feeling I got with my approach shoes from Adidas but then they did utilise the market leading ' C4 Stealth Rubber'. The biggest difference is that these shoes actually have a decent tread profile so they are great when walking down steep grassy terrain (such as Lingmell nose). Some of the more climbing oriented approach shoes on the market have such a low profile tread to offer better grip when scrambling they're lethal when trying to get off the hill!
Out of the box comfort. I pretty much got straight into wearing these on guiding days. No hard cushioning that needed breaking or anything. Ideal!
What could be better?
My main gripe with this shoe is a fit issue, which is obviously very specific to me. The shoe is a bit on the high side volume wise so I find I have to pull the laces tight to get that secure fit. Fortunately, and this should really be in the positives section, the shoe features lacing right down to the toe so getting a tight fit right down the foot can be achieved. Wearing some slightly thicker socks would help solve this small issue also.
So there it is, my initial thoughts on the Boreal Drom and as you can see I'm pretty happy! You can read more about them on the Boreal site or try a pair on at Keswick Boot Company
This review was written by: Matt Le Voi
Matt has been working in the Outdoor Industry for over 10 years and has worked on and off in outdoor retail for roughly the same length of time. This combination of both being on the 'sharp end' using and abusing kit and also working in-store means Matt has a great knowledge on what should be expected of kit and how it compares to other options on the market. Matt, as the Managing Director of Lakeland Mountain Guides, is proudly an affiliate with Cotswold Outdoor, The Keswick Boot Co, EDZ Performance Layering, and supported by Aquapac.