Now, I am a bit of a nerd for gear and gadgets. Its not as though I have to have the most up to date, or trendy items; I definitely don’t and am, mostly, quite antiquated in my approach to life. I love to find value and bargains, and when I find something I like, I will get as much use out of it as possible. The longer something serves me, and serves me well, generally, the happier I am.
As such, I’ve decided to try my hand at writing gear reviews. Obviously, the best reviews will be after I’ve squeezed every bit of value out of the item. I’ll try my best to revisit after a suitable period of time. Just kidding…probably.
I recently decided to invest in another pair of hiking boots. I am nostalgic with boots as they are a pivotal part of the hiking experience and go on every journey with you. The more use you get out of them, the greater the story they tell and, somewhat sadly, the more the ravages of age become written upon their façade.
After some research and, honestly, a need to be somewhat financially sensible, I opted to buy the Scarpa Kailash GTX.
Now, the first thing I would say about the Kailash is that, as a boot, they are definitely sturdy, and they definitely require a sensible break-in period.
The outside of the boot is tough and robust, the sole is strong and the tread has impeccable grip. They have stiff ankle protection and on relatively instable ground I didn’t detect even a hint of the threat of ankle rolling. While this strength is definitely welcome, it does require a well thought out break-in process. The outsides are so thick that with tight lacing, I found that there was quite a bit of pressure and some rubbing on my heel. While the boot is made well and your foot doesn’t move inside it when walking up or down hill, the sheer strength of the construction means that the rigidity itself may cause discomfort. It is also definitely worth making sure you know how to size the boot, or having the shop assistant help. While the old index finger down the back of the boot may be a good indicator, it is definitely worth feeling where else the boot exerts pressure. One pressure point for me, for example, was just above the toes; while it didn’t tear my feet to shreds there was definitely a little snugness there that needed to be respected.
However, when broken in, the Kailash work like a well oiled engine. Once your foot and boot have been properly introduced, the strength and durability of them only serves to benefit your experience. They should be respected and broke in accordingly; if that is done correctly you have a fine boot for a relatively affordable price. They are a little on the heavy side, but that shouldn’t be a deterrence.
I always like to keep a couple of boot options going at the same time, however. The Kailash has / will now become my go to boot when I need the strength and durability. However, I do like to keep a softer, less intense hiking boot around for short, flat and simple walks. I’ve had Quechua’s Forclaz 500 hiking shoe for well over 18 months now, they’ve served me in Latin America and Europe across many hiking trails, some of which were probably a little more intense than I may have appreciated.
The Forclaz hiking shoe has proven to be an amazingly, and surprisingly, resilient, tough and comfortable boot. There was barely any breaking in period and they are, in truth, probably a size too big but they do not feel badly sized and have never caused any blisters or rubbing that I can remember. At only £40 they have proven to be a real bargain. I am always a bit weary of gear that is too cheap. I like the old Stella Artois tagline of “Reassuringly Expensive” however, the Quechua brand have really impressed me. I’ve bought some more Quechua brands recently, so lets hope they serve me as well!
If you’ve got any experience with the above brands, or just general tips / advice on breaking in boots, I’d love to hear your thoughts!