Aku Trekker Lite III GTX review: the little black dress of hiking boots

The super comfortable, high-performing Aku Trekker Lite III GTX is a go-to winner for all kinds of hiking and backpacking

T3 Platinum Award
Aku Trekker Lite III GTX review
(Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
T3 Verdict

Ridiculously comfortable, the third-generation Trekker Lite from Venetian experts Aku offers excellent grip, stability, and support. These mid-height, mid-weight hiking boots protect against the elements and deliver reliable performance, whether tackling high peaks or long-distance trails, letting you focus on the terrain, not your feet.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Highly breathable

  • +

    Reliably waterproof

  • +

    Wonderfully comfortable

  • +

    Supportive fit

  • +

    Great grip

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No recycled material used

  • -

    Lugs can collect mud in soft conditions

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I’ll put my cards on the table before beginning this review and admit that I am a big fan of outdoor footwear from the Italian brand Aku, which combines the values, knowledge and attention to detail you would expect from a family-owned and operated company with decades of tradition behind it, with the high-tech materials, components and construction methods found in modern bootcraft.

Interestingly (but somewhat incongruously), the brand’s punchy name is derived from a protective spirit deity found in the traditions of Easter Island in the midst of the Pacific, but the footwear Aku meticulously make is all designed for use in and around the high hills and mountains found in Europe.

The Trekker Lite boot has been around for ages. As the name suggests, this is the third generation of the boot, which has evolved significantly with each new release. I have been trail-testing the Aku Trekker Lite III GTX over the last few months to see how it compares to the best hiking boots on the market.

Aku Trekker Lite III GTX review

Price and availability

The Aku Trekker Lite III GTX is widely available now for men and women at a recommended price of £215 in the UK, $259.95 in the US, and €219,90 across the EU. You can buy it directly from Aku or third-party retailers.


Aku Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: Pat kinsella)
  • Gender: Men’s and Women’s versions available
  • Weight per boot (men's size UK 10.5): 674g / 1lb 8oz
  • Colours: Grey & red / Anthracite & Mustard / Black & green / Dark grey & orange / Green & Beige (US)
  • Upper: Suede + air8000+ welded pu film
  • Membrane: Gore-Tex performance comfort
  • Midsole: Double density die-cut EVA
  • Sole: Vibram Curcuma
  • Sizes (UK): 7–12
  • Best for: Hiking and backpacking, and anything else you want to do, except mid-winter, technical high-alpine stuff

Design and materials

Aku Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

With a classic mid-height cuff extending to just above the ankle (standard for 3-season hiking boots these days), the upper of the Trekker Lite III is made with a mixture of suede and Aku’s proprietary Air8000 [external link] material.

In use for over 20 years now, Air8000 is designed to let your feet breathe more the longer you wear it, and (according to Aku), laboratory tests conducted by Gore-Tex have shown that it makes footwear up to 11 and a half times more breathable than ‘normal standards’.

This works in conjunction with the Gore-Tex performance comfort membrane, a four-layer laminate that claims to combine comfort with high-end weatherproof performance.

The suede, meanwhile, covers the lower part of the chassis, forming a hardwearing and buffering rand that extends right around the boot, rising at the heel and above the toes to provide extra protection to those areas more prone to bumps. It’s also used to strengthen and reinforce the area around the speed laces at the top of the integrated tongue. The heel is well padded, and there’s a pull hoop at the rear to help you pull them on.

Aku Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Supplying the suspension, the midsole is made with double-density die-cut EVA, and the outsole is a component part sourced from tread specialists Vibram. The substantial (5mm+) lugs are arranged in a fairly standard fashion, shaped and angled to provide traction when you’re moving onwards and upwards across a range of terrain and braking control during descents.  

In addition to the standard sizes, the Trekker Lite III GTX is also offered in a wide fit for people with broad feet or bunions.

Performance and comfort

Aku Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Unlike the old days, when it took weeks to break in a new pair of boots, and suffering blisters and skimmed skin was all part of the hiking experience, most modern boots are now made with such a sophisticated mix of synthetics and leather/suede that you can comfortably wear them straight out of the box. But, even with that being a given, the comfort levels of the Trekker Lite III GTX are through the roof. Slippers with lugs, so they are.

Of course, comfort is nothing without performance, but fortunately, these boots walk the walk, too. I’ve been wearing the Trekker Lite III GTX boots while hiking over a broad range of terrain (although, sadly, not in the Italian Alps) and in wildly different weather conditions over the last few months, and I have been impressed.

The Air8000 upper really does breathe beautifully, which is such an important consideration for a 3-season boot such as this. To be honest, for much of spring, summer and autumn, my default hiking footwear of choice is usually a low-cut walking shoe, twinned with good hiking socks, precisely because my feet tend to run warm (and, most of the time, you don’t really require big boots when you’re ambling around the hills).

However, when a boot breathes as well as this one does, overheating isn’t an issue, and when you’re tackling technical trails – especially with a hiking backpack on – then the stability and ankle protection a boot supplies improves the experience and cuts down the chance of injury significantly.

Aku Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The padding around the heel is comfortable and cushions your Achilles without negatively impacting the boot's breathability. The same can be said for the integrated tongue, which further prevents grit, stones, and water from getting inside the chassis.

The lacing system has three pairs of speed hooks rather than the more common two. This allows you to loosen the boot while you put it on and take it off, but you can still get a really firm, secure connection across the top of your foot when you do the laces up.

I found the heel cup to be supportive, too, and the toebox was nice and accommodating without being loose (as noted above, there is a wide-fit version of these boots). The sizing is good, and my foot doesn’t move around at all while I’m hiking in these boots.   

The midsole isn’t especially spectacular, but it supplies adequate cushioning to keep things comfortable during even the longest days on the hardest of trails. Despite the high level of comfort the Trekker Lite III GTX offers, the rigidity along the length of the boot is really impressive, so if you do venture up high and need to do some edging around exposed rocks, these are up to the task.

Designed more for use on reasonably rocky mountain trails, rather than soft claggy mud and bogs (where it can collect quite a lot of dirt between the lugs), the outsole is nevertheless pretty versatile; the compound strikes a good balance between being tough enough to last the distance, and soft enough to provide good grip.

It’s a chunky design and offers more than ample protection from sharp rocks and sticks, but you don’t get anything in the way of trail feedback (which, unless you go for a Vivobarefoot minimalist-style boot, is completely standard for a hiking boot).

All these features and attributes add up to create the perfect all-purpose 3-season+ hiking and backpacking boot


Aku Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

A good-quality hiking boot is a serious investment, and so it is with the Aku Trekker Lite III GTX, which has a premium price tag but comes with some premium promises, too.

The build quality of these boots is excellent (with a minimal amount of TLC, they should last many years), the comfort levels are off the scale (for a hiking boot, at least), they breathe beautifully, and the performance they supply across 9+ months of the year, in a whole range of conditions, is fantastic.

Unless you often venture into the high peaks during the iciest parts of the year, these are the only boots you’re ever going to need, and you will enjoy wearing them (trust me) – which means you’ll get out and do more good things in the outdoors.

Also consider

For another high-performing all-rounder of a boot, one that’s slightly lighter and doesn’t feature any leather or suede, check out the Inov8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX V2.

Even lighter still and considerably cheaper - but with a less robust build and a lower, less-protective cuff – are the NXIS Evo Mid Boots from Keen.

Or, for a mid-height boot that will see you safely through all four seasons and any sort of conditions, have a look at the Mammut Taiss Light Mid GTX.

Pat Kinsella
Freelance outdoor writer

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat Kinsella has been writing about outdoor pursuits and adventure sports for two decades. In pursuit of stories he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked across the Norwegian Alps, run ultras across the roof of Mauritius and through the hills of the Himalayas, and set short-lived speed records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. A former editor of several Australian magazines he’s a longtime contributor to publications including Sidetracked, Outdoor, National Geographic Traveller, Trail Running, The Great Outdoors, Outdoor Fitness and Adventure Travel, and a regular writer for Lonely Planet (for whom he compiled, edited and co-wrote the Atlas of Adventure, a guide to outdoor pursuits around the globe). He’s authored guides to exploring the coastline and countryside of Devon and Dorset, and recently wrote a book about pub walks. Follow Pat's adventures on Strava and instagram.