Archive for February, 2019

Asolo Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots – Toe Cap Failures :(

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots – Toe Cap Failures

My 15 year-long love affair with the iconic Asolo Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots has come to a tipping point. In late 2003 I was about to purchase my first pair of Asolo boots but was told to hold off because something special was about to be released for the Spring 2004 season. Well, I’m glad I waited because I ended up being the first person in North American to proudly own a pair of the Asolo Fugitive GTX after a two-year span where this great Italian boot brand disappeared off the U.S. radar because they were not being brought into the States.

My first impression… WOW! These boots were amazing and fit my foot like a glove! They offered the quality and durability I expected from Asolo, but most importantly the fit was critical. I have a medium to low volume foot and nothing on the market fits me properly like the Fugitive GTX boots. While Asolo was known for making a more narrow boot, this boot became so popular, that eventually, they offered a Wide width version which was something I requested in order to make everyone happy. I’m also the one to request more urban color-ways, besides just the standard boring brown. I was so happy with my first pair of Fugitive GTX boots that I ended up purchasing and owning a total of 6-pairs over the years. I even convinced my girlfriends to get the women’s version, the Stinger GTX, because they were a really great boot. Over the years I recommended Asolo to more people than I can remember who was looking for great footwear that will last because they make high-quality waterproof 4-Season boots.

Fast forward to 2019, unfortunately, I’ve been experiencing an issue with the toe caps with the most recent past 3 models I purchased and it’s time I called out my favorite boot brand to find out what’s the deal. On three pairs of my Fugitive GTXs and one pair of the women’s Stinger GTXs, the hard rubber toe cap is prematurely dry rotting resulting in major cracking and splitting. The protective toe caps with their bright yellow logo is a major feature of Asolo’s hiking boots and one of the features they are known for. But while newer boot models have had nicer redesigned toe caps with newer more durable hard rubber composite material. Unfortunately, Asolo has yet to update the toe caps on the iconic Fugitive GTX boots.

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots – Toe Cap Failures

My first two pairs of boots did NOT have this splitting/cracking issue on the toe caps whatsoever. I only recently had to retire and recycle those first two pairs which actually lasted me 14 years. The Fugitive is my go-to all-around boots which I wear for casual lite hiking, motorcycling, and 4-Season work boots. So I definitely get years of use out of them.

But for the past couple of years the one issue I seem to encounter repeatedly with these boots is the excessive splitting and cracking of the toe caps. While I never had any water seepage due to the awesome Gore-Tex liner, unfortunately, due to this splitting and cracking, the toe cap’s strength and durability have now been compromised. Also with the most recent pairs, I have had issues with premature delamination of the midsole and soul which is due to Asolo now utilizing a subpar glue.

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots, Graphite/Stone – Toe Cap Failures

I’ve contacted Asolo about this issue and asked if they changed the material of the toe cap. They told me no, not to their knowledge, but I don’t buy that. If I only had this happen to one pair, then I would have assumed it was just a one-off fluke. But it’s happened to my last three pairs of boots. This ongoing problem could seriously jeopardize the brand’s reputation and the iconic status that these awesome boots have achieved over the years. If you’re a die-hard fan of this boot, then you will know what I mean.

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots, Grey/Black/Mandarin – Toe Cap Failures

I’ve made repeated requests to Asolo to address this issue, but they don’t seem to want to mess with the boot. I’m not asking them to change the design or the fit whatsoever. All I am asking is that they change out the toe cap material to something that is not going to split and crack within a couple of months of light use. Believe it or not, the most recent pair I purchased actually arrived with cracks already forming on the brand new toe caps :(

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots

Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots, Black/Gunmetal – Toe Cap Failures

I don’t like having to call out one of my favorite footwear brands, but it’s time something was done to fix this problem! It’s a material defect and it doesn’t seem to be going away. While the Asolo USA reps that I spoke with mentioned that extreme conditions have a lot to do with the material’s fatigue factor, which I am well aware of, my last three pairs of boots have never been subjected to any extreme conditions that would contribute to the material’s fatigue factor. The fact is I don’t know how long these boots may have been sitting in a hot or cold warehouse waiting to be shipped out to the customer. Who knows if that could be a contributing factor causing the defect in the material.

Will I still purchase these boots? Yes. But spending $265 bucks on something that you know is going to fail doesn’t make you feel good about the footwear brand you’ve trusted for years. They have extended the warranty to two years and if you need to put that warranty to use, expect to have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get them to even consider honoring their warranty. Supposedly there’s also a five-year warranty for the soles, but I never had any issues with the outer soles. I just wish they would REPLACE the toe caps on the Fugitive GTX boots, that’s all! I’ve looked into their newer high-end models but they are wider and won’t fit my foot. As a long time end-user, maybe by writing this, Asolo will get the point and update the toe cap of this amazing boot and tend to the material defect which is unacceptable for the ever-increasing $275.00 + New York Sales Tax pair of boots. CG

5/15/2019 Response from Marisa Zanfranceschi of Asolo S.p.A –

“We took note of your comments. The rubber toe cup has the function of protecting the toe and the upper from scratches, cracking does not compromise the shoes functionality.” …

This is total bullshit and completely UNACCEPTABLE response! I’m highly disappointed :( My/these boots ARE compromised regarding safety and waterproof-ness. This is a totally unacceptable material and manufactures defects on multiple pairs of these expensive hiking boots. Asolo USA hasn’t even responded or took the time to return any of my phone calls, their customer service is pathetic and unfortunately, Asolo USA doesn’t stand by there workmanship of their products. I want to know what Asolo S.p.A / Asolo USA is going to do for me regarding these clearly defective boots? Clearly nothing!

You would think any reputable company/manufacturer would want their defective product back to look into and see what is actually going on so they can diagnose the systemic problem. But NOT Asolo S.p.A / Asolo USA, unreal!

SUMMARY / CONCLUSION

Until Asolo S.p.A, in Italy and Asolo USA addresses this ongoing systemic issue regarding the premature dry-rotting and disintegrating of the Fugitive GTX’s – Toe Cap material, I hesitate to be loyal anymore. I give a lot of credit to the Design Team that designed the Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots, they did a great job in designing and making a high quality stable durable all-around 4-season hiking boot! The Fugitive GTX is their most successful boot of all time. But 15 years later Asolo pretty much has stopped innovating besides for the Patrol GV and Freney Mid GTX. Perhaps it is time to look elsewhere to find the dream all-around hiking boots that are more innovative and more comfortable underfoot.

As someone has played and taken part in all kinds of team sports, extreme sports, and Designed Apparel & Athletic Footwear for Adidas, I know what it takes to make good quality and fitting footwear and apparel.

Do I still recommend the now-iconic Asolo: Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots, yes. BUT, Asolo’s reputation is on the line regarding a clear systemic subpar toe cap material defect and lesser quality midsole and sole glue, and their non accommodating and weak U.S. customer service. I vote with my dollar!

What I’m looking for from Asolo.

The well designed Asolo: Freney Mid GV is exactly what I’m looking for in a hi-tech modern hiking boot, but it does not have the softer EVA midsole for the intended use of hiking and every-day workwear. Pretty much something identical to the new La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX and the Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX.