AKU Pilgrim GTX Combat Boots

AKU Pilgrim GTX Combat Boot
British Army AKU Pilgrim GTX Combat Boot on the Bridge Over the River Kwai

The British Army AKU Pilgrim GTX Combat FG M Boots Combat High Liability (BCHL), are good but not excellent. They are designed for temperate and hot conditions. Tested in typical UK summer conditions continuously from May to July they were temperature comfortable, and for twelve months in semi-tropical and tropical climates in Indonesia and Thailand they have also proven comfortable in hot, humid conditions. The boots have proven to be robust though not waterproof. Made mostly from synthetic materials the rigid construction results in less comfort and less adaptation to foot size and shape than equivalent leather boots.

[Photos to follow]

After wearing the impressive British Army Karrimor SF Cold Weather Combat Boots from January to April, warm weather required a change of footwear. A pair of AKU Pilgrim GTX Combat boots in unworn condition were purchased via ebay.co.uk for £50 + P&P, (retail price £182.40).

Comfort: 5/10. These are not all-day comfortable boots for this tester. A lack of flexibility in the predominantly synthetic materials means the boots do not conform to foot shape like leather boots. Worn for two to three hours without problem. Longer duration wear result in blisters and abrasion on the toes as the toe box flexes against them. On the positive side, the AKU Pilgrim boots are lightweight and comfortable in hot conditions. One size 43 boot weighs average 656 grams.

For running the boots transmit more shock to the legs than the much heavier Karrimor SF. The soles feel slightly thin in comparison to heavier boots although we note they are Mil-Spec quality. We would rate them average to good for shock absorption. The boots' lateral stiffness aids comfort over rough ground and where deliberately tested running over rough and uneven stone the boots' lateral and torsional rigidity felt very good to excellent.

This tester has worn the AKU Pilgrims regularly for more than one year. They have not become more flexible with use.

Sizing: Purchased in size 10M. Normal foot size UK 9.5 or Euro 43.

Ventilation: 8/10. The AKU Pilgrims ventilate the foot sufficient for use in a semi-tropical climate, in temperatures from 10C to 34C. Socks exhibit some damp patches after use in hot conditions greater than 30C. Note the boots tested have an integrated Goretex liner. They are also available without a Goretex liner for greater ventilation.

Drying: 10/10. On every occasion where the boots have got wet they have dried quickly. The interior of the boot dries more quickly than any other boots we have tested.

Grip: The level of grip is very good, as expected for a Vibram sole. They perform well in dry and wet conditions. They grip much better than average boots and their high torsional rigidity makes them comfortable on rough ground.

Waterproofness: 0/10. The AKU Pilgrim's have leaked on two occasions around the toe box section of the boot. This occurred in tropical rainstorms aboard a motorcycle. For wading across streams and in light rain where the boots do not "wet out", the boots have remained dry.

Durability:  The AKU Pilgrim GTX boots are holding up to a modest regime of urban wear four times a week from a one to three hour duration. They are used mostly for motorcycling and walking in an urban setting where off bike comfort is important. They have been tested in undemanding country walking in the UK, and in steep, mountainous conditions in Indonesia on earth and rock paths and trails. The heels are beginning to show some sign of wear (see photo.)

Durability Note: Boots manufactured in Europe are required by legislation to use non-toxic glue. Experience with many boots in tropical conditions raises the issue of high humidity that undermines the class of glues used in Europe. In all cases, over time we have noticed separation between the sole and the upper where glue is used. We expected a similar problem with the ACU Pilgrims though it has not occurred after one year in Indonesia and Thailand where humidity is continuously above 45%. There is no sign, so far, of any separation of any part of the boot. Please check back for an update in 2023. If it exists, we would expect this problem to have shown itself by then.

Other: The supplied laces felt thin and were difficult to keep tied. For testing purposes we changed the laces to thicker though still slippery Timberland laces. The lacing system is comfortable and it is possible to adjust the laces with different levels of tension on either side of the "lace lock." Note that if the upper section of the lace is not under tension tie a proper knot to prevent the laces from undoing.

Overall, the build quality of the AKU Pilgrim GTX is high. It is disappointing the boots are not 100% waterproof since they are lined with Goretex and are advertised as waterproof. Nonetheless, the "almost waterproof" nature of the boots may be useful in light rain when they do not get entirely saturated, and in tropical conditions when rain-showers are intense but brief (an hour or less duration).

In sandy conditions we note that an advantage of a semi-permeable liner is that it keeps even the finest sand out of the boot.

In terms of fit, the non-stretch selection of materials do not yield to individual foot shape. This discourages continuous wear for this tester. Either these boots will fit or not although one might need more than a walk around in a shop to check they fit you.

Recommendation: Try before you buy. Do not expect to these boots to be waterproof. 

For temperate, semi-tropical, and tropical conditions the boots are temperature comfortable and good over rough ground. If they fit and you do not require waterproof boots, they are well made.


  • Upper "AIR8000®" panels with full grain 2.2mm leather (published spec at time of purchase April 2021. We note spec as Aug 2022 has changed to 2.0mm leather.)
  • Options exist for both Goretex lined and unlined AKU Pilgrim boots.
  • Upper protection bycast. We don't know what this means.
  • Outsole: Vibram Foura anti-static nitrile compound, heat and polxxxx resistant.
  • Midsole: Die cut 4mm to 6mm Nylon last for stiffness with EVA Microporosa for shock dissipation.
  • Sanifit fast drying, breathable lining
  • Weight (as tested): Left: 658g., Right 653g..
  • Size range (UK): 3 to 15 (no half sizes)
  • Width fitting options not available.
  • Colour: MOD Brown
  • NATO Stock Number: 8430-99-670-1164
  • Price as tested: £50 + P&P, (retail price £182.40)

Model Tested: Colour: MOD Brown, British Army AKU Pilgrim GTX Combat FG M Boots Combat High Liability B (BCHL). The GTX moniker indicates a Gore-Tex inner liner. FG stands for Full Grain.

D.O.M. JULY 2019. Made in Serbia.    M.P. Size: 290/284    Contract No: LSL/DC/0034

Also available in multiple different models with different colours, sole and upper specification including high leg, and without Goretex lining. https://www.aku.it/en/shop/tactical-en/pilgrim-gtx-combat-fg-m-marrone/

We note that small sizes in half-fittings may be available marketed as, "Pilgrim GTX Combat FG - Small"; https://akuoutdoor.us/products/pilgrim-gtx-combat-fg-small

Alternatives: Altberg Sneeker® Microlite Aqua or Altberg Warrior Aqua Boot https://www.altberg.co.uk/boots/lightweight-tabbing-boots16/sneeker-microlite