Here at Gearflogger we've always appreciated the companies that focus on one kind of gear and consistently produce great products as a result. Garmont is one of those companies, focused like a laser on building great footwear and nothing else. Based in Northern Italy, it's no surprise perhaps given their location in the shadow of the legendary Dolomites.
Unboxing the women's Toubkal GTX provoked a response that's pretty normal with Garmont: damn, that's a good-looking boot! Full disclosure: having spent a month banging around in Morocco, we are slightly biased given the reference to Toubkal, the highest peak in the Arab world. But good looks and fond memories aside, having tortured a number of other Garmont shoes and boots we had high expectations and looks and feelings of any kind weren't going to alter that.
The Toubkal GTX is built for fast hiking of the serious sort, for when a running-shoe based platform just won't cut it. If you need support, protection and reliability in your boot, but still want to balance those features with waterproofing and light weight, the Toubkal has you covered. About the only thing you don't get is step-in crampon compatibility, but strap-ons will work just fine. The Toubkal is constructed using Garmont's Anatomically Directed Design, featuring things like asymmetric cuffs (higher on the outside for better edging), a tongue that's thicker on the outside to help it stay in place, and a positive heel lock. Lacing starts with plastic-reinforced cord loops and ends with two sets of lugs, so the laces pull tight easily and stay in place for easier tying.
So they look great and are feature-forward, but how do they hike? In a word, great. The high, solid rand provides full armor against the nastiest scree and talus, while the deep Vibram lugs give you secure traction when the going gets muddy. We won't say the boot fits like a glove – because that would be weird, right? – but the fit definitely feels custom: tight where it should be, around the heel and midfoot, with room where you need it in the toebox. We found the Toubkal to be stone cold solid on unimproved trails where the footing ranged from grapefruit-sized rocks to fine gravel. At the end of the trail we have no problem highly recommending the Toubkal as a quiver of one for serious hiking.