I’ve been called naive for believing that a ‘fashion brand’ could produce gear worthy of the great outdoors. Despite the truth of this statement I remained defiant in my naivety allowing blind faith to lead the way. I felt most comfortable indulging my stubbornness with the Whymper boot, an outdoor repro which on the surface has all the hallmarks of a proper hiker.
Named after Edward Whymper, the first to ascend the Matterhorn, this boot paid homage to classic European mountaineering. Nakamura developed this boot in Zermatt while working with Moncler. Inspired by a pair of boots worn by a local guide Nakamura had a bespoke pair made in Fiesch nearby Zermatt. This served as the prototype for the Whymper Boot. The idea was to create a manufactured product while maintaining the personalized production of a handmade boot.
The upper is a 4mm single layer of veggie tanned leather with a double layer midsole. The Goodyear Welt features the added touch of double welted chain stitching, a relatively new approach for the brand at that time. The boots featured here use a UK cowhide suede outer.
Personal use have put these boots through moderate to difficult treks clocking in just under 100 miles. First the cons – like most other vis boots water impermeability is zero and soaks through instantly. Waterproofing spray, Saphir or otherwise, prove useless. Next is a sole adhesive which does not stand up to moisture nor moderate impact with rocks or stumps. This has created some hairy situations traipsing around mountains with floppy soles. To remedy this I drilled in screws to keep the sole in place as I have no intention of re-soleing them when they’re worn out. Lastly descents cause toe friction resulting in minor blisters and this problem persists to this day.
The pros are incredibly comfortable ascents, light weight for easy ambling and of course breathability. Foot and ankle support is solid and the Vibram lug is as reliable as ever. That said, in my estimation, the cons outweigh the pros giving the naysayers the edge.
Included in the pics below is a trail map of the Zermatt ski area where you can see where the names of a few vis boots came from.