Scarpa is a brand of outdoor footwear that has been around for a long, long time. The company can trace its roots back to 1938 in the Asolo region of Italy. That was an area well known for its shoe craftsmen, many of whom specialized in creating the best footwear possible for mountaineering. Today, Scarpa continues the tradition of designing and building some of the best shoes possible for the outdoor athlete, and while they now offer everything from trail running shoes to loafers for kicking around town, their legacy remains in the high altitude mountaineering boots that have made them so famous.
That legacy can be seen in other shoes across their line as well, including the new Kailash GTX hiking boot. Rugged and durable, these boots have an aggressive styling that hints at the company’s decades of mountaineering history while still being designed from the ground up with the serious trekker in mind. The shoe features a rigid sole that provides great protection for the foot, while still offering a surprising amount of flexibility too. And the high ankle support gives the wearer a reassuring amount of stability with out impeding movement. The tension lacing system makes it easy to secure these boots around your feet, providing a snug fit right out of the box.
This combination of features was most welcome while putting the Kailash GTX boots through their paces on the rocky trails of central Texas. The ground here is greatly lacking in top soil and as a result, the hiking paths can be really punishing on the feet. But these boots handled the challenges of those rocky trails with ease, keeping my feet comfortable and well protected for miles on end. The solid toe-box was also a welcome design choice as it saved my toes from getting bashed on outcropping that threatened to trip me on more than one occasion.
The sole of the boot holds a tight grip on just about any surface, even when wet. On two occasions while testing these boots I was caught out on an afternoon hike when a sudden rainstorm sprung up, coating the trail in a mixture of slick rocks and greasy mud. But both times I slogged on without really noticing much of a change. It is nice to know that you can depend on sure footing, even when conditions take a turn for the worse.
My feet also stayed nicely dry during those unexpected downpours thanks to the Gore-Tex lining that Scarpa has incorporated into the Kailash GTX. Gore-Tex remains a wonderful option for waterproofing our footwear and it is a welcome addition to any boot of this caliber. It also happens to breathe well most of the time, although I will admit that my feet did get a little warm on a couple of abnormally hot spring days.
Scarpa’s boots are a great option for the serious hiker or backpacker. They are an extremely well built shoe that will hold up well even after hundreds of miles on the trail. But before you set out on that epic hike that you’ve been planning for years, make sure that you break these shoes in first. On my first few outings in the Kailash GTX’s I found that things started off well and my feet quite comfortable. But after an hour or so into a hike, I started to develop a couple of blisters, even through excellent hiking socks. Considering how stiff the soles of these shoes are however, I knew that they had to be well broken in before I could get a legitimate look at how they performed. After two or three moderate-length hikes, the boots began to finally loosen up and my feet started to get far more comfortable in them. Another hike or two and they were very comfortable to wear indeed. If you’re planning on buying a pair of Kailash GTX’s for yourself, know that you’re buying an excellent pair of boots, just be sure to show a little patience while you go through the break-in period.
These boots carry a price tag of $209, which is actually far less than I expected when I first set my eyes on them. That price is a real bargain for a pair of boots that will see you through many years of adventures. Scarpa has built a high quality, versatile boot here that is sure to please any outdoor enthusiast. Whether you’re hiking, backpacking or bagging a peak, these boots will see you through the challenge and then some.
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