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Adventure, Alpine, Climb / October 2, 2016

Gear Review: 3 adventure-ready boots

Written by: Renee Howard

Few pieces of gear are as essential as a good pair of boots. But each adventure places its own unique demands on footwear.

In my years of hiking, hunting, and climbing in the Alaskan wilderness, I’ve tested my fair share of boots. Of all the pairs I’ve tried, these three made the best showings.


Scarpa Wrangell GTX


Price: $379

Rating : A+

The Scarpa Wrangell GTX is well-suited for almost every mountain mission. It can withstand a brutal hunt or a summer of serious trail building.

The boots are fitted with a Vibram® M4 Tech outsole, which is sticky on slick rock and won’t fail even after several seasons of abuse. That sole is attached with a double rand, which offers an extra buffer for boots that often receive a thrashing for weeks on end. 

The boot cuff is a bit taller than other comparable hiking boots, which adds critical ankle support for heavy pack loads in rough terrain. A flex zone in the lower boot  adds comfort and helps the wearer avoid achilles tendonitis during long trips.

A sturdy, gusseted double tongue makes the boots ultra-waterpoof. One-piece, rough grain leather construction affords dry feet simply by eliminating leaky seals. Inside, the Wrangells are lined with GORE-TEX® to keep feet dry and breathing.

The DL boot is high volume, and is designed with a broad fit. That makes it great for extended adventures, particularly for wearers with wide feet.

They Wrangell isn’t ultralight—the boot weighs in at 2 lbs 6oz—but it makes up for it with extreme durability and serious waterproofing.


La Sportiva Karakorum


Price: $305

Rating : A

The Karakorums will take you just a little further than the Wrangells. When you need to put on crampons and traverse a glacier or venture into moderate mountaineering and mixed climbing situations, this boot is the answer.

Weighing in at 1.8 lbs, and with a 3/4 shank, the Karakorums aren’t short on burly sole stiffness—the boots have a high density nylon insole with an anti-torsion plate. Those features give it the stiffness needed for technical alpine climbing and very heavy pack loads. They’re also fitted with a grippy Vibram® Couloir sole. 

The ankle cuff on the boots are made of cushy and breathable Cordura, which helps keep feet dry. The rest of the boot is constructed of stiff 2.8mm Idro-Perwanger Roughout Leather, which doesn’t weaken after a season of climbing.

Like the Wrangells, the Karakorum keeps water out with a double tongue. With the right pair of socks, these boots can keep feet dry even when trudging through miles of swamp.

Overall, the Karakorums are extremely high quality boots and would be a great choice for mixed alpine ascents and technical mountain scrambles.


Alico Sport Tahoe


Price: $160

Rating : B

The Tahoe‘s manufacturer, Alico Sport, is Italian. So it’s no wonder the boot is as stylish as it is functional.

The Tahoe is made from full-grain Nubuk leather, and is designed to look and feel like a boot from the 1970s. It’s made without excessive seams or tech embellishments, giving it a simple beauty.

The boot’s sole is stitched on instead of glued, which makes it far easier to repair or replace. Unfortunately, that also leaves some room for leaks if the stitching wears out. 

A gusseted tongue prevents most water from getting into the boot, and the relatively lower ankle cuff provides enough support for moderate pack loads and weekend camping trips.

The Tahoe has a standard half shank support, and Vibram Roccia Block sole, which is solid but slick on wet rock (not all Vibram is equal).

These boots are ideally suited for arid weather, and are a classic choice for the weekend hiker or  backpacker.

about the author

Renee Howard

Renee is a photographer and writer based out of South-central Alaska. Her interest in bridging gaps between all manner of outdoor sports, philosophy, folk culture and backwoods artistry is a significant motivation for her work.

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