The futuristic but functional Columbia Facet 45 OutDry might seem to be all about the looks, but in reality there's much more to them than that. While the slip-on style means these don't have the ankle support you'd expect from today's best men's hiking boots, as an urban-hiker crossover, or walking shoe alternative, they have a lot to offer.
The Columbia Facet 45 OutDry is available to buy now, in men's and women's varieties (for more options on the latter, head to our roundup of the best women's hiking boots). There's also a lower version, which doesn't feature the ankle sock.
To see how they match up against another futuristic boot, head to our Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX vs Columbia Facet OutDry 45 hiking boot face off. Alternatively, read on for our full Columbia Facet 45 OutDry review.
Columbia Facet 45 OutDry review: design
There's more than a little Back To The Future about the Facet 45, and those straps do indeed deliver BTTF-style hands-free lacing, or ‘kinetic' lacing as Columbia would have it. Elsewhere, the sock-style fit adds comfort and stops small stones getting into the boot too, merging into the ballistic upper lower down the ankle. On rougher paths and trails with small gravel this is a surprisingly useful feature, making it all-but-impossible to get any debris into the boot.
The ‘facet' welded overlays on that upper add extra protection from sharp edges, as does a harder ‘heel guidance stabiliser' that sits around the base of the heel. Meanwhile the sole unit is stiff enough for long days on the trail, and there's a waterproof membrane to protect from dampness.
In many ways that ticks all the boxes for a lightweight trail boot, but there is more here than meets the eye – a seriously luxurious sole unit and epic internal padding means this will keep you floating over the trail long after many competitors have given up the ghost.
Columbia Facet 45 OutDry review: performance and comfort
In spite of the – arguably – marmite looks, there are plenty of practical touches here that add up to a decent walking boot. Admittedly this isn't a mountain tool, but for more casual rambles or faster, low-level escapades the sole unit is excellent, far stiffer than a street shoe with plenty of shock absorption built in.
The vast heel cushion does an excellent job of trapping the heel, minimising heel lift, which in turn reduces blister-generating friction and general rattling around. Along similar lines, those kinetic straps are more detailed than you might imagine at first sight, elastic ribs stretch as you stride, allowing some flex to the fit without clamping the foot too tightly. Along with the fabric sock, it's a surprisingly effective setup, although it can feel looser than a laced up boot on occasion, as you might expect.
Donning the Facet 45 would be quite difficult were it not for the enormous pull tabs front and rear – easily big enough for several fingers, even wearing light gloves. These provide plenty of traction to get a really robust pull, a necessity to get one's heel comfortably ensconced.
Columbia Facet 45 OutDry review: verdict
The Columbia Facet 45 OutDry marries futuristic looks with comfort and enough practicality to make them the perfect urban/hiker crossover. They'll be able to deal with light hiking duties over the warmer months with aplomb – just don't mention hoverboards…