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In Finland the comic character "The Phantom" (you know, the butch guy who runs around the Bengal jungle in purple tights) is immensely popular. In fact, he's so famous that Jalas went and named a boot after him. And a top-quality boot it is too! We are especially thrilled, as these fit our wide, hairy Finnish hobbit feet well.
When The Phantom leaves the jungle and goes downtown, we're quite sure he wears these, as it's always pretty sloshy and cold there. Like the Finnish army M05 boots, these are full leather, but here's the catch; these have a waterproof membrane. If you're not a Finn, you probably pass this by with a shrug, but we're pretty excited - in a country that lags behind everyone else about 10-20 years, that's something! It's almost like, you know, introducing electricity to Zimbabwe (again).
Now, as us Finns do know something about winter, these have some pretty good qualities for cold weather footwear (along with the membrane): a rubber sole with good traction, strong construction and a proper full leather tongue. Last but not least, these are sized pretty generously to accommodate thick (double) socks inside. Oh, and the insole is super, one of the best we have ever seen.
Full leather construction. This means you can actually polish the leather to keep it in good shape. We recommend using special membrane-compatible polish, regular ones might block the membrane.
Shock absorption in the sole and superior traction - these are meant for Finnish weather conditions and works better than most in freezing temperatures too. The rubber doesn't get stiff easily and can take heat up to 300 degrees Celsius.
Reinforced toe box. Please note that this is not a safety toe. It's the same kind found on most standard military footwear.
Speed-lacing. Now, Jalas made a nifty little thing to make this better: they put small ball bearings inside the tunnel loops. Think about it, which causes less wear and friction, a metal tunnel or a shiny steel ball?
Fits better around the shaft than the standard M05 boot, thanks to the thicker tongue and light padding inside.
The membrane isn't Gore-Tex. Instead, it's something the boot manufacturer, Jalas, calls "Drylock". The manufacturer of the membrane fabric itself is Porelle. If you're confused, no worries - the membrane works just as it should: keeps water out and lets sweat vapour out. Porelle promises some pretty awesome specs for their membrane.
The sizing system is very Finnish - the sizes run big. As this boot is designed for Finnish feet, the last is wide. It probably would be wise to take one size smaller than usual. Of course, this is very individual and should be used only as a guideline.
* This size falls in between half and full sizes of the US system and our chart indicates the larger US-size. The rounding is just 2 mm (0.08") and these have a lot of toe clearance so you'll be fine.
What we have here is an exceptionally comfortable boot. Call me old fashioned, but initially, I was somewhat doubtful of the whole concept of a leather boot with a waterproof membrane, reasoning that since a membrane boot tends to be somewhat stuffy, as does your average leather boot, then a membrane leather boot ought to be like wearing wellies.
I was however proven wrong when, after a brisk 40 km march in the pouring rain, my merino wool socks were no sweatier than they'd be after a light city walk in low shoes. In addition to this my feet weren't chilled by the near-freezing water we repeatedly had to wade through, something that is often the case with membraned boots that have a non-waterproof outer material, such as Cordura or nylon.
I usually dismiss all kinds of "guaranteed to keep you dry and warm" sales pitches automatically, experience having shown that being outdoors just doesn't work that way, but this product came eerily close to doing what it said on the tin. Hats off to the designers, well done! With time I've also come to realize the value of the leather upper + membrane lining -combo; both mitigate the other's weaknesses. Whereas even a well cared for pair of leather boots will start letting water in after some 60+ km without greasing, the membrane will stay waterproof until it's worn through. On the other hand, should the membrane be broken, you can always polish up the leather and have the boots be almost as good as new that way.
Last, but by no means least, I want to say a word or two about the FX2 insoles that come with these. They are a marvel and no mistake! They have the usual plethora of features most high-end insoles have these days, but what really sets these babies apart is their double shock absorption. Instead of just having a bit of rubber under the heel, which is the usual solution, these have two patches of shock-absorbing foam, making walking a whole new experience in comfort. These insoles are to a long-distance walker what anabolic steroids are to a weightlifter.
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