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Hands-on Gear Review
Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid Review
Cons: Heavy, sweaty feet, collects water inside boot, not very durable
Bottom line: This burly midweight hiker strong choice for difficult terrain, providing great stability, traction, and foot protection, but lacking in breathability.
Of all of the different boots that we included in this review, the Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid stands out with its double boot system. Integrating a removable inner neoprene bootie, and shaping the upper so that it is virtually seamless, Arcteryx has made a hiking boot that is quite futuristic, but it fell short of its modern competitors in many of our metrics. We wore this boot from the trails of California to the scree covered summits of South American volcanos. The Bora 2 Mid succeeded at providing great traction and were very stable negotiating this loose and rocky terrain, but we found the there were durability concerns. Other boots, like the Top Pick Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX had above average performance in these metrics but were much lighter. The weight of the Bora 2 boots was noticeable on long hikes.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Costing a whopping $350, the Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid is the most expensive boot in this review by $100. While we found some features of this boot to be great, we struggled to find many reasons to choose this model over other, less expensive ones. This boot does exceptionally well gripping all types of surfaces and will keep your ankles protected. However, we had some issues with its durability, water resistance, and the level of comfort it provides.
At times, we were very impressed with the comfort this boot provides, and other times we wished for another model underfoot. The Gore-Tex bootie kept our feet snug throughout the boot cavity. It also proved to be an asset as an extra layer inside a sleeping bag when camping in frigid temps above 14,000 feet. The bootie can even be worn around smooth terrain without the boot, such as in a hut or cabin, a welcome benefit after a long day of hiking.
Arc'teryx sells two other versions of the bootie separately, one a low-cut liner, and the other an insulated mid-cut. This makes it the only model that can adjust to different climate needs, but also adds to the already hefty price of this model.
The bootie is surrounded by a thick upper of leather, and it didn't breathe well at all. Our feet sweat uncomfortably when active in warm temperatures, and still generated unwanted moisture inside when hiking in colder climates. This struck us as a significant hindrance to the comfort of this boot. When bombing downhill on the descent of El Misti, the reviewer developed a hot spot, then large blister, on the big toe of his left foot. We attributed this to the damp skin of sweaty feet rubbing against the front of the bootie, which slid forward to the front of the toe box. For a more breathable midweight, the Quest 4D 2 GTX is an excellent option.
The toe, arch, and heel protection were great in this boot, with a rubber rand going around the entire perimeter above the outsole. The stiff sole also kept our feet from getting fatigued when hiking up rock-filled slopes. The boot made our feet feel invincible. We also liked the lacing system, which consists of six lower, one middle lock, and two upper hook eyelets. The large radius on the central locking eyelet was great for ease of use, but we found the locking teeth within the hook to be so strong, we often had to rip the laces out forcibly. The thick leather upper takes significant breaking in before the lower part of the boot tightens easily under the laces.
This boot doesn't rock forward like the Vasque St. Elias GTX, Lowa Renegade GTX Mid, or several other models in this review. We tended to prefer models with rockered outsoles. Although this model gives a strong feeling of protection from the elements, it also felt very fat and heavy on our feet.
The Bora2 Mid features rigid torsional stability to help bear hefty loads, thanks largely to a strong TPU chassis. After 8+ hours of an uphill battle through rough terrain with a heavy pack, these boots performed extremely well regarding stability and support. The ankle is wrapped very snugly in one of the thickest ankle collars and just feels sturdy.
Measuring from the footbed to the top of the collar, though, this boot was the shortest of the mid weights, and its forefoot width was one of the narrowest we encountered in this review. For taller boot shafts, check out the Quest 4D 2 GTX or Renegade GTX. Still, our in-the-field use pushed the stability and support of this model to the max, and it protected our ankles beyond the shadow of a doubt, leading us to grant it a high score in this metric.
This Arc'teryx model also scored very well regarding traction. The Vibram Arc'teryx Hiking sole gained superb purchase on wet and dry rock, stuck in well when climbing and edging, and rocked up scree fields very well. When running down scree fields, the bootie did a better job than all others in keeping debris outside the boot. It's only average performance was in muddy terrain.
The Bora2 Mid ties the St. Elias GTX for the heaviest boot in our field of competitors. Compared to more lightweight models, it certainly tired out our legs faster. If you don't need to the ruggedness provided in this model, we recommend checking out our favorite lightweight model, the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra Hi WP.
This product's flood height is 6.875, the highest by far of all boots in this review. We were stoked to get that deep into the water with a hiking boot. It passed our five-minute lake edge test as well. However, we were very disappointed that, although our feet stayed dry, water collected inside the outer shell of the foot cavity. After water breached the leather upper just around the toes, it seeped inside and stayed there. We had to remove our boots to pour out this excess water after wading through water.
Also not our favorite part of this boot, the booties absorbed large amounts of water readily and took ages to dry out. We prefer the midweight models from Salomon, Vasque, and Lowa for their performance in water resistance.
We must admit, sending the volcano El Misti was the most rugged terrain we faced over the course of this review, so this Arc'teryx boot was faced with a formidable challenge in many ways. That said, it costs $350, and we expected it to hold up better than it did. After the two-day ascent and descent, the Bora2 Mid had small chunks missing from the outsole, multiple scratches, and scuffs in the leather upper, and the glued-on rubber rand around the perimeter was just beginning to peel away. For a comparable model featuring a leather-heavy upper and much better durability, check out the St. Elias GTX.
The Bora2 Mid is designed for multiple days in rugged terrain, and it certainly provided the necessary stability, traction, and foot protection for this type of hiking. However, we did have some issues with its comfort and durability in such environments, and would generally grab another pair over this one. We would also recommend avoiding warm to hot temperatures in this boot, as it does not breathe well.
The staggering $350 price tag that accompanies this boot is enough to make anyone hesitate before buying. Considering its drawbacks in comfort, water resistance, and durability, we don't feel this contender is a good value.
We were excited to try out the Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid, as its unique design piqued our interest. Throughout the testing period, though, our enthusiasm waned for this product. We would be lying if said we didn't appreciate the stability and traction this boot provides in difficult terrain. However, it would also be untruthful to say we enjoyed it as a comfortable, water resistant, and durable boot. And it's heavy. The lack of quality performance in multiple metrics, coupled with its expensive price, made it tough to fully fall for this midweight hiking boot.
— Ross Robinson
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