While I admit I generally reach for my adventure sandals first when heading out for a day hike and my super light Altra Lone Peak shoes for weekend backpacking trips, some excursions require a bit more boot to protect, support, and keep you truckin’ along after miles and days of rough trail, mountain summits, and creek crossings. Which is what the Altra Tushar hiking boots were made for. Altra released the Tushar, their first true hiking boot this year, and it’s already been featured in Backpacker magazine for its comfort and design. But we wanted to check it out for ourselves, especially since we love Altra’s FootShape toe box and the fact that almost all of their shoes are completely vegan (i.e. more sustainable than leather). So here’s our Altra Tushar review: A full breakdown of performance, comfort, and design!
The Altra Tushar Hiking Boot: Features
Right off the bat, you may notice this boot looks a bit more…serious…that the Lone Peak (if, that is, you’re familiar with Altra’s popular hiking shoe). That’s because it is. The Lone Peak is more of a trail shoe while the Tushar is a sturdy boot designed specifically for serious hikes and backpacking. It features an ultra flexible but compression-resistant midsole, eVent waterproofing, plus that classic FootShape toe box. And just like all their other shoes, it’s still zero-drop (which means your forefoot and heel are the same distance from the ground), and the women’s version is specifically designed for a woman’s foot. It even comes in two colors for men (black or green) and two for women (purple or beige). They also come with nice thick laces that loop all the way over to the sides of the boot to lock in your forefoot. Plus, they’re entirely vegan!
We also learned that the lugs on the DuraTread outsole are “decoupled,” which, put together with the flexible midsole, help prevent you from twisting your ankle. See, when your foot falls on something uneven on the terrain, the individual lugs compress independently of the rest of the sole and the sole moves AROUND the rock or stick or whatever instead of just tipping your whole foot to one side or the other, which is how you end up with a twisted ankle. Of course, there’s also the token Gaiter Trap and attachment points so you can strap on some gaiters if you need them.
The Altra Tushar Hiking Boot: Performance
So that’s the boot. Let’s talk about how it performed. We tested it out on multiple day hikes on varying terrain, from rocky paths to dirt tracks to trails covered with roots, mud, and puddles. We wore it on hikes in Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks and Sam Houston National Forest, plus shorter walks here and there around Austin. We really wanted to test them out on a backpacking trip, but right about the time we got them and started planning, the excrement, as they say, hit the fan, and just like that, backpacking was off the table. So a whole bunch of tough day hikes are gonna hafta do!
First, let’s talk about how they feel. When we first put these boot on, right away we found them super comfy. Springy, even. They definitely have more cushioning on the footbed than the Lone Peak, which is certainly welcome, especially if you’ll be carrying a heavy load. There’s not a lot of arch support, but it actually didn’t other me at all.
There was, of course, plenty of room in the toe box, even on the downhill. I Wear an 8-ish in running shoes, so I usually size up a bit for hiking boots, but I got a size 8 and it fits perfectly. Same with Josh. He typically wears a 9.5 and ordered the same size instead of sizing up and neither of us had any problems with toe cramping or mashing, but there was still plenty of room inside for warm socks. All the space in the toe box is fantastic (I realized after hiking in La Sportiva trail shoes that my toes don’t like narrow toe boxes), but the Tushar hiking boots still felt really snug and secure around my heel and midfoot, which is what you want in a boot.
That said, they are a bit heavier than we usually like. Not as heavy as some other serious hiking boots in their class, but they’re not winning any awards for ultralight boots, either. They’re certainly heavier than the Lone Peak mid-rise, though.
And fair warning: they do take some breaking in. The tongue gusset especially created a bit of a pressure point on the front of our ankles that was difficult to manage at first. The gusset is designed to keep water out of the boot, of course, but we both had to fiddle with a bit to get it to bother us less. We tried pushing the gussets to the sides, but loosening the laces on the upper portion of the boots was the only thing that made it tolerable. If only one of us would have experienced this problem, we may have chalked it up to personal preference, but it seems like a bit of a design flaw. However, after talking to others who have owned the boot, the general consensus is that after a bit more breaking it, that bothersome spot kind of takes care of itself.
As for the waterproofing, it pretty decent, but not stellar. We hiked through dozens of streams, went on a 12-mile trek over very soupy trails covered with puddles, and stood in running water, just to see what would happen, and our feet did get a little soggy. They were far from sopping, and we certainly weren’t pouring puddles out of our boots, but our synthetic socks were damp after hours of hiking–and not just from sweat. But the socks did dry out pretty quickly when we stopped for lunch and kicked off our shoes for a bit, and when we put the Tushar hiking boots back on, it didn’t feel like inserting our feet into wet shoes, so it was a minimal problem at best.
The boots felt very secure on rocks and crossing streams, even on muddy banks. They have nice aggressive tread, so you really felt like you had a solid foundation. And we didn’t twist an ankle once, possibly due to those decoupled lugs, so that’s a plus.
Altra Tushar Review: The Takeaway
The bottom line: We’ll definitely be keeping the Tushar hiking boots in our gear closet, especially because their such a solid vegan boot that’s still flexible and supportive. We would have loved to have them when hiking in Denali and North Cascades National Parks and will definitely be breaking them out for some backpacking in the Colorado wilderness, hopefully this summer.
That said, they’re not for every hike. Our feet got a bit swampy in warmer, humid climates where breathability is an issue, but our feet were NOT cold on chilly early morning hikes!
Want a breakdown of pros and cons? Sure ya do!
- Lots of space for toes to move
- Snug and secure on the heel and midfoot
- Flexible sole
- Decoupled lugs
- Gaiter Trap
- A bit heavy
- Not 100% waterproof
- Takes time to break in (the tongue gusset)
- Stuffy in hot weather
Not bad, huh? What do you think? Have you tried the boots out? Do you have any questions about them that we didn’t answer? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll see if we can’t answer them for you! If you’re ready to score yourself a pair, get a pair on Moosejaw (women’s and men’s) or REI (women’s and men’s)! And if you’re looking for more vegan boots, check out the list we compiled in this post of vegan hiking boots and shoes. Now lace up those boots, get outside, and wander on!
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Alisha is a freelance outdoor journalist and photographer based in Ogden, UT. She loves backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding (even though she’s terrible at it). She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com