Of the many activities that I’ve done over the years, hiking still is one of my favorite. Being out in the mountains either alone or with friends is something special. Getting lost in your thoughts just gazing at the picture Mother Nature gives you. But enough of the philosophical me and get on with the review. After 6 years of faithful service, my Lowa Terrano needed replacement. The Vibram sole was completely worn out, the leather was scuffed and torn and they weren’t quite as breathable as they used to be. I was on a budget and couldn’t afford another pair of Lowas.
Enter the Scarpa Kailash GTX to the picture. Scarpa is well-known in the backcountry skiing scene for making some of the best ski boots out there. although they might not be as well-known in the hiking scene they are just as well made and quite affordable. At a price tag of $220 USD you get a boot loaded with features and Goretex lined too.
Although my first choice would have been a full leather boot, I was quite surprised at how the Kailash were rigid for synthetic Nubuk constructed boot. That is thanks to a rubberized cross-piece stitched across the heel portion of the boot. This means even with heavier load your feet will not tend to shift sideways on uneven trails. Add the many cross stitches all along the sides also means a more rigid boot.
One of my requirement was a Vibram sole. I’ve tried other types of soles but nothing comes close to the quality and durability of Vibram. Considering these boots will serve me 4 seasons in the mountains, traction was a key factor for me. The pattern of the sole maximizes the evacuation of debris while still giving you plenty of traction be it in mud, on rocks or on snow. Vibram also means all these attributes will last you for years.
This might sound less than important but the positioning of a rubberized patch on the toe cap means your boots will last you longer as this toe-cap will take the beating and not your boots itself getting scuffed and scrapped on the rocks.
I have had them for a little over 6 months now with about 5 to 6 trips to the New Hampshire White mountains. I also used them on several occasions to train with my rucksack. At first I must say the break-in period was longer than most other boots I had in the past. The fact that they are so rigid meant the first hike my feet took a beating (and I am used to walking a lot with heavy loads), but now they feel very comfortable while still retaining the level of stiffness and support I need in a hiking boot. The Goretex lining is also very effective for such an affordable boot. One of my first hikes of the year was during the so-called ”mud season” and to be honest I question myself all the way for hiking at the time. I was ankle-deep in mud most of the time and had many river crossings. Still not a single drop of water got through. I will add that I had OR gaiters on too.
While Scarpa and many other brands offer better and lighter boots, I feel that for the price this is a really great boot that will get you through many hikes. They can even be found cheaper online than the MSRP of $220 USD (I paid mine 240CAD).