Scarpa R-Evo GTX Women’s boots: first impressions

Choosing a new pair of walking boots can be hard: at first glance there is a huge variety of possibilities across a wide range of prices, but these options can quickly become limited as you start to think about what exactly you want from the boot. Having suffered the hardships of Scotland for five years, my old boots came to the end of their life, when the sole fell off one of them on a day out on Ben More and had to be duct-taped back on for the remainder of the day.

I have another pair of boots that I bought second-hand for winter (Scarpa Charmoz GTX men’s size 41) when I couldn’t face another day in the boots borrowed from Glenmore Lodge during a winter skills course.  So I wanted my new pair to be suitable for everything else: I wanted them to be lighter and less clumsy than my previous pair (also a men’s), comfy for long days and multi-day trips, cool enough that my feet wouldn’t boil in the British summer and tough – that was very important, I definitely wanted something with a toe rand so they wouldn’t be destroyed by rocky terrain or hours of heather bashing on the Scottish hills. However, I was not fussy about leather or synthetic material as I have had both and not had a problem with either. I also wanted to be able to use them for scrambling if I needed too, so I didn’t want too thick a sole or too much of the rocking motion that can come with some very comfortable boots designed for walking long distances.

I have quite wide/large toes so Salewa and Meindl boots were too narrow and Salomon felt too clumpy. I had been fairly happy with my Scarpa Charmoz, although being men’s they are a little spacious, so when I spotted the Scarpa-R-Evo GTX boots on sale, I thought they were definitely worth a try.

Out of the box

My first impression was that they were very pretty: I love the splashes of colour. They were also instantly comfortable: I felt like I wanted to walk in them straight away. They seemed to have everything I wanted. I bought a size 41 and there is plenty of space for thick socks and toe wiggle room.

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Just arrived

Two months later

They are designed using Scarpa’s sock-fit technology, and so far I like it. I have found other boots to hurt my ankle bones when done up tightly but these just feel so snug and comfortable, as if they are part of your ankle: it’s a nice reassuring feeling.

I’m not going to repeat all the technical features, you can check them out on the Scarpa website, but I’ve now been using them for two months and I am extremely happy with them! I feel confident going downhill: the Vibram soles are grippy and I don’t feel clumsy in them. Their first outing was a five hour walk in the French Pyrenees in July, where they were hot, but that is not what I intend to use them regularly for. Since then I have been using them on long walks across the Scottish hills (nothing less than 4 ¾ hours) and they have always been comfortable. My feet haven’t been too hot for Scottish summer walking but they feel sturdy and my feet feel well-protected. I have slipped a bit on wet rock but I don’t think any worse than in other boots. They have got very muddy but a brush under water has brought them up fairly clean again. We basically walked up a stream two weeks ago and no water came in so I feel positive about the waterproofing. The lacing system works very well and allows for good adjustment.

Overall, I love them and think we will be very happy together – I’ll give you an update in a year’s time to see how well they last! In the meantime, if you are looking for a fairly robust 3 season boot, I would definitely recommend giving them some consideration.

Women’s Berghaus Helvellyn Gore-Tex trousers: waterproof trousers for short legs

I am a girl and I have short legs; this makes it difficult to find good quality waterproof trousers that don’t break the bank.

About five years ago, just before going on field work, I panic bought a pair of Berghaus Paclite Gore-tex trousers and was fortunately very impressed. However, after a lot of use, they are now heavily patched up with duct-tape and I needed some new ones. I scoured the shops and the web for some time: in the shops, choice was often very limited, usually to a couple of cheap pairs and perhaps one or two very expensive options that would only come in regular length: I need a short (I’m around 5ft3 /162cm with short legs). Few of the big outdoor brands do short options online and those that do were out of my price range. So, in the end I came back to Berghaus, which seem to be one of the only brands that do most of their range in a short leg length and also have a broad price range.

I was looking for trousers that would stand up to Scottish winter conditions and rough terrain: the Helvellyn trousers looked like they might do the job. Importantly they have kick patches at the ankles, which was I was keen on for use with crampons, and long (3/4) zips down the side, which is essential for getting them on and off when wearing walking boots, and good for ventilation too. They also felt a lot tougher than my previous pair, which I was always worried about damaging. The only thing I was sceptical about was the mesh lining, which I didn’t think was necessary.

They aren’t currently available from Berghaus, as you may have noticed from the link above, but they are available elsewhere, e.g. Absolute-rock and Taunton Leisure 

I’ve now had them for over six months and they’ve been out in the snow in Scotland and in some terrible rain and wind in Snowdonia. I am very pleased with them: they have kept me 100% dry, and very importantly for me, not too sweaty! I enjoyed them in the snow, where I felt well-protected and comfortable, and they have really kept out all the rain Wales and Scotland have thrown at them. I like the red flap under leg zips, it adds a nice splash of colour and reinforces the waterproof zips; they pack down small enough to carry around (approx. 374g), just in case (so always in Scotland!), and the inner mesh hasn’t bothered me at all, if anything it probably helps against condensation, which I suffer from.

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Being lashed with rain on a ridge in northern Snowdonia ….shortly after this I had to descend on my bum as the wind knocked me over. My legs stayed dry though!

The only negative point for me is that they are very generously sized; the size 12 leaves me with lots of space for layers and for movement, but means they are large around the legs so I found that after a long walk, the material rubbed between my legs, which was irritating. Furthermore, despite being the short version, they are only just short enough!

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Almost identical I know but this is Scottish rain….we walked most of the day in snow, sleet or rain, but I was warm and dry…until we had to wade across a river, but the winter boot-gaiter-waterproof trouser combination did keep out most of water despite it being almost knee deep!

However, overall, I am very happy with them and would recommend them for anyone looking for some fairly hard-wearing but not overly expensive waterproof trousers, particularly if, like me, you have little legs!