I have a range of boots I can select from for any trip, dependent on the nature of the terrain I will be walking in. I have pull-on elastic sided boots for when I will be mostly in an ATV or 4WD with only limited walking over good terrain expected. When a fair bit of walking is involved I can select from light trekking boots through to proper rough country hiking boots.
In recent times I have undertaken extensive foot hunting in rough range country, where the slopes and gullies can be quite steep, and the ground is carpeted in awkward, ankle-twisting rocks. Typically, these rocks range from ping-pong ball through to grapefruit size. Even when you can see them clearly they represent a challenge to hiking through such country. When hidden in grass and short brush they pose a significant challenge, and risk, to the hiker. That is even more so if you are trying to negotiate a steep slope while carrying a heavy backpack and a rifle.
After a few difficult trips in those rocky ridges I was looking for a particularly robust hiking boot with extra ankle support. The Falcone boot manufactured by Gaerne looked to tick all the boxes in my list of selection criteria. For anyone seeking even more rigidity and support there is a more robust boot called the Jasper. These are the two main models in Gaerne’s Caccia range that was developed specifically with the hunting fraternity in mind. The Falcone is made from a lighter grade of leather and also features DryTech protection. It is said to be a popular boot amongst New Zealand deer hunters and for those who take on the Kokoda Trail.
Gaerne is a well-known Italian manufacturer of shoes and boots. They were established in 1962 and initially produced quality hand-made leather footwear for the European trekking, hiking and hunting fraternity and, later for the military. In later years they are probably best known for the high quality footwear used in the cycling, motorcycle racing and motocross sports.
Gaerne manufacture their range of footwear in Italy and still employ a significant hands-on artisan component in the process. One thing I look for in my hiking boots is stitched on soles that cannot peel off and leave you in a tough spot. The Falcone has such stitched on soles and also features the particularly robust Blake stitching method in their overall construction.
First fitting of the Falcones was comfortable, but the boot did seem stiff and rigid. In correspondence with the importer, G Walking, I had been told to expect that. The quality of the build is such that it takes a few wearings for the solebed to loosen up and flex. Likewise there was a protective coating on the sole that quickly wore off, as intended. Like any new footwear, especially hiking boots, I initially get used to them by wearing them about the yard and for any trips into town. Once they have proven to be comfortable I go on a few short walks in wilderness terrain.
The first real test of the new Falcones came on a recent Chital deer hunt. It is a favourite location of mine where a few of these beautiful, and fine eating, little deer can be stalked on the rough and stony ridges they live on. The ground is covered in well rounded rocks that roll and slip underfoot, making hiking there a challenge. That is even more the case when it is time to descend the rough slope while carrying a rifle and a backpack full of prime, boned-out venison.
I am pleased to say that the Falcones were everything I hoped for in this application, giving me a sure and well supported grip on the treacherous terrain. With confidence in the boot’s attributes I was not fazed by having to make an evening descent after a successful sunset hunt. If I had not been wearing the Falcones I would have called the hunt off half an hour earlier so that I could make the descent in good light.
While my main purpose for the Falcone boots will be ridge and escarpment hunting, I did also subject them to my other usual test criteria. That was wading through some ankle deep jungle streams and plodding around the muddy edge of a big wetland. A cloth soaked in warm water was all that was needed to clean the boots after that outing. The Falcone’s leather is waterproofed and the manufacturer says it requires no further treatment. Personally, I suspect that after a few years of hard use a bit of leather dressing will probably not go amiss, but until then nothing further is required. The DryTech lining is breathable too, making for comfortable wearing in warm conditions.
Having put the Gaerne Falcone hiking boots through their paces (no pun intended) I was more than happy with their performance and am happy to endorse them to anybody looking at hiking in rough, mountainous terrain.
Uppers,Nabuk HS 3mm waterproof leather
Lining,Hydro & DryTech calf leather
Sole,Vibram 125/P Werewolf
Sole Colour,Deep Black
Size range (European),41 to 48 (7.5 to 14 Australian equivalent)
Australian RRP (2017),$440
Web site for more information,http://www.gwalking.com.au/