Hunting Boot Review: Crispi Briksdal Pro SF GTX Insulated
I’ve been using Crispi Boots for years and I really like them. They’ve yet to let me down. I’ve found them to be comfortable, durable, and always up to the task. My favorite Crispi model for the last several years has been the Briksdal SF. I prefer a very stiff boot, so naturally, the Briksdal SF quickly became my favorite. I’ve used them all over and put many miles on them. When I found out that for 2023 Crispi was revamping many of their boots, including this model, I knew I was going to end up getting a pair.
The new Crispi Briksdal Pro SF GTX has a lot of the same great aspects that the Briksdal SF model had: Crispi’s stiffest sole (5 out of 5 stiffness rating), their proprietary Ankle Bone Support System (ABSS), a VIBRAM outsole, a full rubber rand, a nubuck leather upper, and 200 grams of synthetic insulation. A few of the changes are a leather tongue, the boot height went from 9” to 10”, and the colors changed.
When I ordered a pair of the Briksdal Pro SF GTX boots, I actually ordered 2 pairs: a size 10.5 and a size 11, and my plan was to try both on and wear them around the house and return the one I didn’t want to keep (I checked with the seller before placing the order to ensure that this course of action would result in a full refund for the pair I wasn’t going to keep). Not all boots fit exactly the same, so I wanted to ensure I was going to end up with the size that fit me best. I normally wear a size 10.5, but I’ve recently started to size up a half-size in my boots. When going downhill, your feet will slip forward slightly in your boots no matter how tight you tie them, and if you don’t have just a little extra room to accommodate this shifting, your toes will be rubbing and contacting against the inside of the toe of your boots and this can contribute to blisters, discomfort, losing toenails, and potentially severe pain. This is a potential problem I do not want to have to worry about. After wearing both pairs around the house in the evening for several days, marching up and down the basement stairs several times each night, I decided to keep the 11s. The 10.5s fit me just fine, but they did not provide quite enough extra toe space for when I’m coming down steep hills with a heavy pack to ensure my toes don’t push up against the inside of the toe of my boots.
Some of the features I love about these boots are the stiffness, the ankle support, and the comfort right out of the box. Even though these are rated as the stiffest boot Crispi offers, they do flex just a little right underneath the balls of your forefoot. This to me shows attention to detail. Even though I like really stiff boots, I don’t want to feel like I’ve got a board for a sole. There needs to be some flex for the boot to move with your feet. And so far, I’ve found that this slight amount of flex in the forefoot is the same whether I’m walking on flat ground or up a steep incline with a loaded pack.
The ankle support on these boots is great. I feel very fortunate to have not had ankle issues thus far in life, but when it comes to navigating steep, slippery terrain with a pack on, I’ll take all the extra support I can get. The 10” height of these boots is comfortable and gives me peace of mind when navigating steep and uneven terrain.
My first impression of the boots after trying them on for the first time was that they were really tall compared to what I was used to, even though that was just one extra inch. They just felt a lot taller. There was an additional lace lock hook on each side going up the leg compared to most Crispi boots (4 total on each side instead of 3). It took me a bit to get used to, but after just a few miles in them I didn’t even notice the added height anymore.
Whenever I get new boots, I always wear them around town and to work every day for a few weeks to break them in as much as possible before I take them into the mountains. I’ve found that this really helps to mitigate the likelihood of blisters once I start hiking in them.
Another thing I did as soon as I’d decided on which size of boots I was keeping was I cut my insoles to fit accordingly and put them in the boots. I’m a fan of Superfeet insoles and have had really good experience with them. When I ordered the Briksdal Pro SF GTX boots, I also added a pair of Superfeet insoles to the order. I think having a good pair of insoles that you like makes a great pair of boots that much better.
My first real test in the mountains would be hiking the Teton Crest Trail in mid-July 2023. Over 3 days of hiking we logged roughly 36 miles, all done with a loaded backpack probably in the range of 30-35 pounds. This was the perfect trip to really put my new boots to the test, all while hiking under load. Initially, I was a little apprehensive to take them since I hadn’t logged quite the time I’d hoped to have wearing them around town to break them in before leaving. But by the end of the trip, they still felt great. No uncomfortable rubbing or hot spots. To be totally honest, by the end of the hike I could feel some slight soreness in the balls of my feet, but I fully attribute this to doing so much hiking over 3 days, with a loaded pack, that my feet simply were not accustomed to. The boots performed really well and I’m glad I chose to wear them on the hike.
Even when hiking in the middle of summer, I’ve never found the 200g of insulation to be too much. There have been several times when I’ve been more than glad to have it when the temps drop and there’s snow on the ground. What I typically do in the warmer months is just wear thinner socks to offset the insulation.
Crispi is also finding ways to lighten their boots without any compromise to craftsmanship or functionality as far as I can tell. For example, the Briksdal SF boots are listed as weighing 1.9 pounds per boot in a size 10. The Briksdal Pro SF GTX are also listed as weighing 1.9 pounds per boot in a size 10, and they are 1” taller than their predecessors. This shows that Crispi is finding ways to continue to produce great boots and keep them as lightweight as possible.
If you like stiff boots, you definitely need to give these boots a try. And even if you have never tried a pair of boots like these, you still should consider giving them a try. I have loved mine so far. When I first started buying Crispi’s, I was not a huge fan of really stiff-soled boots, but now they are by far my preference. Don’t let something you’ve never tried scare you away from such a great pair of boots! They fit great, the break-in period was pleasant, just like all the Crispi boots I’ve owned so far these boots are durable and show very little wear, and most importantly I feel confident they will handle any terrain and/or conditions I might end up in. You will not be disappointed with these boots!