In recent years SPIKA, an Australian-owned company, has expanded its range of outdoor-oriented products to include hiking boots. I gave the Kosci model hiking boot a good test run and liked what I found. This review was originally published in the October 2018 edition of the SSAA Australian Shooter.
SPIKA first entered the market with advanced gun safes and other shooting accessories. SPIKA’s range of products are designed in-house and are not just another example of badge-engineering. Their focus has been on producing quality items for the Australian market, using feedback from customers. Topping that off, SPIKA has a customer-centric focus with an extensive and robust warranty commitment.
Straight out of the box the Kosci boots looked well-finished and stylish. Several stand-out features were obvious at first glance. The wrap-around, broad band of protective rubber between the soles and leather uppers is a very useful aspect of the design. Here is a boot that is certainly built for navigating the harsh rubble of stony ridges without tearing away at the leather finish. That 360o band of rubber armour also adds to the waterproofing. The second immediate impression was the deep, aggressive tread pattern and Vibram soles, another essential for serious bush work and the best possible grip in steep terrain with varying surfaces.
I turned the boots over in my hands. The leather quality and finish looked to be very good. I liked the embossed deer head symbol shown at several places on the boots; quite appropriate for a hunting boot I thought. There were thick synthetic laces, the kind that wears well and long. The boots featured four pair of eyelets and three sets of hooks for speedy attachment and release of boots. The tongue was well-padded and sewn to well over ankle height; no problem with wet feet when wading ankle-deep streams there. The surrounds and back of the boot were also well padded, in bright day-glow orange, to ensure wearer comfort. They did not seem unduly heavy, and the label states that the pair weighs 1.45 kilograms; not bad for a robust and solidly constructed boot intended for heavy duty hiking in tough country.
Before trying them on, I read the information that came packaged with the boots. Waterproofing is an important aspect of hiking book construction. The Kosci boots feature SPIKA’s Hydroshield waterproofing technology. This provides a breathable but waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry from water ingress and sweat in any weather. The Kosci boots are just as capable in the snow as they are in tropical mud. The uppers are 100% Nubuck leather while the tongue is of Yak Nappa Leather. The footbed has a 4mm nylon insole heel support for additional comfort. The midsole is a layer of polyurethane while the outer sole, as already mentioned, is Vibram. The boots are available in sizes from US7 to US13, which includes the majority of general shoe sizes. Each pair comes with a washable bag for transporting dirty boots at the completion of your hike.
Pulling the brand new boots on, they initially felt stiff, as all new boots do, especially heavy duty hiking boots. Overall, the immediate fit felt comfortable, albeit with a couple of tight spots at the ankle. From experience, I expected these to disappear as I broke the new boots in, and that is what happened. After a cumulative couple of hours wearing the boots about the yard, they felt quite comfortable.
Happy with the fit, and having done the necessary photographs, it was time to get dirty and muddy! I wore them out on a few close-by hunting trips. Each trip was only of a couple of kilometres but presented a good range of varying terrain. I plodded up and down some steep ridges, both grassy and rocky. There were no problems with the grip of the Vibram soles and the high ankle support was most welcome. The big test is always some walking through the ankle-deep mud of a wetland foreshore before walking back up a shallow, flowing tributary. I managed to wash most of the mud off before heading back through long grass to the vehicle. My feet remained dry and comfortable.
Once home, I did a bit of care and maintenance to the Kosci boots. Good hiking boots can be expected to deliver years of faithful and comfortable service, particularly if some simple care is given along the way. With a clean cloth, dampened in luke-warm water, and no detergent, I wiped away some of the persistent mud. I then left the boots to dry in a shaded, breezy spot on the patio. Later, in the afternoon, I used a stiff bristle brush to flake off the last of the dried mud before giving the boots a final wipe over with the damp, warm cloth. It is as simple as that. In time, with a lot of use, it may be necessary to apply a good leather dressing. I will only do that once I see the first signs of leather drying and damage, or I experience any water ingress.
SPIKA’s Kosci boots and other products are available through leading gun stores. The retail price of the Kosci boots can vary but was about $300 at the time of testing. SPIKA also offer a similar hiking boot, the Tarvos, which costs about $250.