Reviewed by Louise Totton
One thing that I think we can say with absolute certainty now we’re well into November is that the weather is turning. It’s getting darker, colder and most certainly wetter – we’ve had nothing but rain for the past couple of weeks and the winter coats and shoes are out, along with the woolly hats and thick socks. There are few things more miserable that cold, wet feet so a good pair of winter shoes are essential, especially when you spend a lot of your time on your feet and walking.
We are lucky enough to live in a village on the edge of the Yorkshire countryside and it seems like such a shame to write off some of the wonderful walks and scenery that we have just because the weather has turned. So decent winter apparel is key, especially a good, sturdy and grippy pair of shoes that will keep your feet warm and dry. I was fortunate enough to be sent a pair of Black Eagle Adventure GTX shoes from HAIX to try out recently, so have been busy making sure that they can stand up to the winter here in deepest Yorkshire.
HAIX are known for the outstanding quality of their footwear, making military boots, emergency service and safety workwear boots as well as walking and adventuring footwear. I was looking for a sturdy and comfortable, waterproof walking boot that would go on easily enough for popping to the shops yet still stand up to some of the rough and wild terrain that is on our doorstep. I have larger than average feet for a woman (I normally buy a size 8), so often end up having to buy men’s shoes which is less than ideal as they’re proportioned differently, can be too wide and, possibly most importantly of all, aren’t usually available in the pink or purple colours that I love.
Well, the HAIX Black Eagle Adventure 2.1 GTX WS appeared to offer everything that I was looking for. They are specifically a women’s show (there is a men’s version available too), and they are available from a size 3 all the way up to a size 9. Not only that, but as well as full sizes, they also come in half sizes, which is great as it’s particularly important with a walking shoe to get a fit that is spot on. They are fully waterproof, with a GORE-TEX membrane, feature a fast lace system that ensures the perfect fit in just a few seconds and is available in a range of colours, from the pinks and purples that I wanted so much to bright blue, black, and a lovely grey/mint option. We were sent the gorgeous purple/rose option to try out and I was delighted to be able to order a size 7.5 instead of my usual 8s, which can be a little big.
First thing is first – they look fabulous. Because I was able to order ladies’ shoes in a larger size, they really stood out from my collection of Docs and CAT boots that, whilst comfy, are distinctly masculine looking. They have a lovely mid-purple upper with contrasting black and pink detail, pink laces and a white and pink sole. Because I had been able to order a more exact size, the fit was perfect, and I have had no need to wear with overly thick socks to get a better fit.
I am a massive fan of fast-lace systems; our house is a ‘no shoes inside’ house and putting a pair of boots on every time you want to go outside gets a little boring after a while. The fast lace system allows you to just slip the shoe on then tighten with a toggle which is an awful lot easier and faster but provides a fit just as secure and comfortable as traditional laces. There is even a little pouch on the tongue of the boots so you can stow away the toggle and excess elastic lace, should you want to.
I have been wearing my shoes for a few days now and have well and truly put them through their paces. They have kept my feet warm and completely dry through two cloudbursts of simply biblical proportions whilst on the school run, our village winter fair and Christmas light switch-on (again, in the pouring rain) and a number of walks through our local countryside. This includes hiking round a riverbank and some pretty steep terrain and not only have my feet stayed toasty warm and dry, they are also ache-free, and I have found the shoes to be incredibly grippy. They are super light, very flexible, and are quite simply some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. The cushioned insole provides support, stability and comfort whilst allowing your feet to breathe, and we also loved how the insoles can be changed to ensure an even more exact fit. They come with a red insole (medium) as standard, but a yellow insole (wide) or blue insole (narrow) can be ordered separately to make for a truly comfortable and supportive bespoke fit.
I am over the moon with them and they will absolutely be my shoe of choice through the winter. They are so quick and easy to put on and they look fabulous too. As well as a treat for yourself, these would make an amazing Christmas present for anyone who loves the outdoors. We are on our feet for a large portion of the day and it doesn’t make sense that we don’t look after our feet and buy good quality, functional and comfortable shoes, and I reckon that these would be appreciated by anyone who loves being outside. Good shoes never come cheap, and at £124.90 these are no exception. They are excellent shoes and, if your budget will allow it, I would highly recommend them – your feet will thank you for it!
For more information or to buy visit www.haix.co.uk.