Sunday, 29 May 2011

What Boot?

Just got back from a slog around Dentdale. Great little trek, but was made slightly miserable by my feet hurting. At the back of Dent Station is Great Knoutberry Hill, which at 672 m is a fairly tough climb due to a path over high tufted grass, bog, and heather. I walked right over the top of the hill, and along the base of it, and back towards the road. The idea being then to scale near by Aye Gill Pike and eventually Crag Hill. But after Great Knoutberry, my feet felt like they had been sand papered. The boots I was wearing were, what I call my wet weather boots, these have great grip in wet conditions, and have been great on previous treks, including recently to Cadair Idris, although my feet hurt quite a bit the next day!

I've got the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge coming up on July 16th, and the last thing I need is my feet nearly dropping off after just Pen-y-ghent! So the time has come to buy a new pair of really good quality boots, which are good for long distant trekking, have substantial souls with good grip, are waterproof, and can be used over and over again on any terrain, and at any time of year! Not much to ask :)

After browsing various shops, I have narrowed down a few which I tried on, look good, and I would seriously consider buying...

Mammot Mountain Trail XT GTX...

I have read quite a few reviews of these monsters. They look great, and these Spring 2011 versions have a substantial rubber rand all the way around them. I tried them on and loved them, after buying two pairs of boots in the past which have both let me down in different ways, I wanted to make sure I was walking away with a top quality pair of boots that will enable me to walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks in a level of comfort, can be used with crampons (it's nice to have the option) and have good grip in bad weather. These also have a good looking Vibram Soul unit which felt grippy in store, and the assistant said he owned a pair, of which he had used for hiking the Black Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye, and had owned them for two years with no bother!
 After a while, I ended up with one of the above boots on my left foot, and a range of others on my right in order to get an idea comparison. And I have to say for comfort, traction and design these looked like the winners. But at £185 was a little more than I wanted to pay, so I'm still looking. And apart from that the only other let down is the weight coming in at 825 grams.

Scarpa SL M3 BXX -extra wide fit

I do like the look of these. Old school design, but with modern boot making standards: 2.8mm thick Sherpa Leather, Vibram M3 Sole, and can take a B1 Crampon!
 But overall, when tried on the real quality is felt. Scarpa have been making mountain boots for over 50 years, and with just one try on, you can tell. Just total quality.
 These are a good cross over boot too, they can be worn on long treks, but can also be taken to the mountains, seemingly also in winter. The only downside is the lack of a rubber rand to protect the leather a bit, and the fact there a bit on the heavy side.
 The boot is classed as waterproof, but doesn't have a waterproof liner such as GORE-TEX or eVent, which according to some reviews - is a good thing. These boots rely on their thick, silicone injected Sherpa Leather to keep the moisture out, and looking at on-line reviews - seems to do the trick. These are looking very impressive, a truly first rate, good cross-over pair of mountain boots.

Berghaus Terazed GTX...
 The question for me in regards to walking boots has always been, why didn't Berghaus jump on the Vibram bandwagon? Well now they have with these beauties. Vibram and Berghaus have come up with the 'Opti-Stud', which is a widely spaced set of lugs that look really impressive, and they feet pretty grippy. Berghaus have also built these impressive boots with a Gore-Tex liner, they look the part too. You certainly look like your going to take on a mountain with these on, and the outer material would take a good bashing without looking damaged as well.
 Overall, a good looking, comfortable and affordable, solid walking boot here, and for the price -  perhaps a future classic.

Meindl Lhotse GTX...
 I'm sorry to say it but after trying on the Burma Pro's - also made by Meindl, I wasn't expecting much, although the grip on the Burma Pro's is excellent, really grippy, and the look of them is classic too. These bad boys however have been unleashed upon the market from Meindl. They have a really snug feel to them, the rubber rand looks good, and they are lighter than many of it's competitors. 

The Scarpa Manta GSB Mountain Boot...
I love the look and rigidness of the soul with these. They have come top in many a review, and are a favourite with Mountain Rescue teams and even the military. The rubber rand around the edge of the soul is immense, and a tough looking Vibram soul too. The whole boot just looks epic, but to be fair total over-kill! I like these a lot, but I don't think so!!

Scarpa ZG65 XCR...

These looked awesome in store, and were attracting customers like wasps to a fizzy drinks can. They are also very light to pick up, had a great design and had the new air technology that apparently cools your feet as you hike. But is that a good thing? This would probably explain the 3 season use of these. Again with tsome good, some rial bad. I hope to hear what anyone else would recommend, but at the moment it's a toss up between the Mammot Mou mess around when it comes to boot making, they have a very impressive, and much trusted range of boots to choose from. With these new comers to the market, that trend looks set to continue.

Meindl Softline Men's Ultra GTX...
Once again its Meindl! I tried on a pair of Burma Pro's, which felt a bit hard to walk on, these Sofline Ultra GTX's however felt much better. Yes there synthetic, and so will feel good first try on compared with a leather boot, but they felt snug too. I liked the heel cup, which felt particularly comfy as well, usually if they feel good in store, there going to feel good when your out in them. The grip is awesome too with a really nice Vibram soul unit again. These boots are going to make you look like you know what your doing when taking to the mountains, a good modern boot classic.

 There is a massive range of boots out there, some good, some bad. But most good outdoor retailers won't just try to sell you what ever you've picked up if confused. You need to think about where your going to be walking, are you going to be trekking, back packing, perhaps walking in deep snow? All these factors need to be weighed up and the boot that's right for you will be revealed. I personally was looking for a cross over boot - that could be used for trekking over boggy moorland, but could also be used on craggy mountains, even in snow. Not much to ask!
 I hope you find the boot a you need, and happy walking!
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