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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Scarpa Charmoz GTX Boots > Owner Review by David Baxter

SCARPA CHARMOZ GTX BOOTS
BY DAVID BAXTER
OWNER REVIEW
April 01, 2007

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: David Baxter
EMAIL: binkly99@yahoo.com
AGE: 26
LOCATION: Seattle, Washington, USA
GENDER: m
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 180 lb (81.60 kg)

Backpacking background: I have been hiking for four years, and backpacking for three. I get out on the trails or snow every weekend, regardless of the weather. My trips range anywhere from fairly short dayhikes to longer multi-day backpacking trips. In the winter I snowshoe or snow-climb in moderate terrain and occasionally participate in a glaciated climb. My typical winter pack is about 15 lb (6.8 kg) for a day trip, and 35 - 45 lb (16 - 20 kg) for a glacier climb with an overnight camp. In the summer my pack is around 25 lb (11 kg).

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Scarpa
Year of Manufacture: 2005
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.scarpa.com
MSRP: N/A
Listed Weight: 1480 g (3.25 lb) Based on size 42
Measured Weight: 1580 g (3.5 lb)
Sizes available: 37 - 48 EU, available in half sizes (5 - 14 US)
Size tested: 43.5 EU (10.5 US)
Colors available: Silver with blue (2006 colors)
Color tested: Silver with yellow (2005 colors)

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The Charmoz is a lightweight full-synthetic climbing boot. It has a nylon upper reinforced with Lorica synthetic-leather, Pro-Fiber midsole, and a Vibram Mulaz sole. It also has a Gore-Tex liner for added waterproofing. A nylon shank provides stiffening. The inner lining is a firm but soft padded material.

The laces pass through eyelets integrated into the Lorica upper over the toe-section of the boots. Near the point where the ankle begins are two metal quick-wraps. The boots can be laced with or without using these depending on comfort preference. The laces then pass through a thick nylon loop and are wrapped around two thicker metal quick-wraps on either side of the upper ankle area. Eight total lace-connection points on either side of the boot: four integrated eyelets, a metal quick-wrap, the nylon pass through loop, and two thicker metal quick-wrap hooks. The tongue is fully gusseted for added waterproofing. On the back of the boot is a thick loop suitable for hanging the boots on a pack or up for drying. These boots are compatible with semi-automatic crampons.
Charmoz GTX
Boot side profile
Lacing detail
Lacing detail

FIELD TESTING

I have used these boots for the past year in various conditions and on dayhikes, snowshoe trips, snow-climbs, and with crampons on a glacier. They have more than 100 miles (160 km) on them. They have seen temperatures from about 90 F (32 C) down to about 10 F (-12 C), elevations from 1000 ft to 14400 ft (305 m - 4390 m), and conditions varying from rain, to snow, to sun.

Comfort

These boots fit my feet quite well. I have a slightly wide foot and there is plenty of space in the toe box. When laced well I do not have a problem with my toes hitting the end even when kicking steps. They perform very well on uneven terrain from rocks to snow and ice. The stiffness of the boot does make long trips on packed trail or concrete uncomfortable though, and when traveling longer distances on dirt I do tend to get blisters on my heel. However for trips entirely on snow I have not had one yet. The stiffness seems adjusted for a variety of conditions. They do feel too stiff for long stretches of rough rock though and left my ankles feeling sore. On moderate to steep snow they worked fantastic. Over time they have softened up a bit, but that softening seems to be more in the upper than the sole.

Support

The boot does not bend easily and can support my weight plus pack when kicking steps and edging. I have used them with a pack up to 60 lb (27 kg) and felt very confident. They have enough ankle articulation that I can move without feeling too awkward over rough terrain. The collar cinches flat against the ankles and does a good job of keeping snow out. The upper parts of the collar can pinch a little when traveling on extended steep pitches, however.

Sole

The Vibram soles offer very good traction, as good as any other Vibram equipped boot I have used. The tread is quite deep which works well on rock and dirt, but also has a large flat area at the toe, imprinted with the words "Climbing Zone" that adds some stiffness in the toe and added traction on packed snow and ice, as well as aiding kicking steps. I have felt very secure traveling over dirt, mud, rock, snow, ice and through streams.

Warmth

These are most definitely not the boots one would want for deep cold or standing around in the snow. Because they are so light they don't carry much insulation. They do warm up quickly when moving, but once stopped cool down just as fast. I wore them to the top of Mt. Rainier in July with a thick pair of SmartWool socks and silk liners and did not feel a chill. However during my climbing training trips after extended periods of standing around in slushy snow my feet did become cold.

Durability & waterproofing

I have had no issues with damage to these boots over the last year. They have held up well to everything I've put them through, and I tend to be hard on boots. The tread shows only limited wear and the rest of the boot appears nearly new. There is a thick, wide rubber wrap around the front of the toe, down the sides, and low on the back of the boot. This has taken the brunt of any impacts with rocks, ice, trees, and crampons. There is visible scuffing and a few small gouges but nothing has penetrated the rubber. At the back of the ankle the plastic shelf where my strap-on crampon attaches there is some gouging, but again only appears to be typical wear.

I have yet to get have any leakage. I have walked up creeks, through wet slushy snow, mud, and even hosed them off while wearing them without getting my feet wet. Several times I have broken through into a creek, the boot going into water over the tops, and my feet still stayed dry. The cuffs at the top seal against the ankles quite well and the ankle is high enough to handle most mountain streams. I did not seam-seal these boots.

Personal Experience

These boots were purchased for a glacier-climbing course and subsequent climbing use, the end goal being a summit of Mt. Rainier. They were not my initial purchase however. I first purchased a similar pair of lightweight climbing boots based on a recommendation of a climbing partner. After one trip though it was apparent they were too narrow for my feet. I returned them for the Scarpas after a little searching and they were a great fit!

My first trip out the boots were very stiff and I ended up with light blisters on the backs of my heels. This usually happens to me with new boots. They did break in quickly though and my next trip out I had no blister problems. I was worried about my feet getting sweaty because the boots seal so well against my ankles and wore a thinner pair of socks than usual. The boots turned out to be quite breathable and my feet stayed drier than I expected.

The first serious test of these boots was an ascent of Mt. Baker via the Coleman-Deming route. We had a fairly long approach via trail and I found this to be quite jarring stomping along in such stiff boots. I had an easier time of it than some companions with plastic boots however. When it came time to start on the snow they were much more comfortable. The stiffness helped greatly in keeping the sole in contact with the snow through my entire step, aiding in traction. Despite the hard snow I had no traction issues.

For the ascent from camp at Black Buttes I wore crampons. I use strap-on 10 point crampons, which fit very well on the boots. The uppers are thick and rigid enough that I can cinch up the crampon straps tight and not feel it bite into my foot. The heel is also well shaped for this type of crampon and prevents slipping.

When it came time to ascend the Roman Wall the snow was very hard and we switchbacked up the lower portions. The boots did allow some slight side-to-side ankle flex but were supportive enough that I felt comfortable on the steep slope. The flex actually helped a bit with fatigue allowing me to lean more on my ice-axe. Higher up we ascended straight up, front pointing for a while. The boots were plenty stiff for this and did not pinch my toes at all. The crampons also did not change position or slide off at the heel. The descent also worked very well. I worked my way down by switchbacking in some previously worn track. At times it was narrower than my boot, but the boots were stiff enough that I could land confidently on them without fear of twisting an ankle.

In short, the boots performed very well. I have since taken them up Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, various smaller Cascade peaks, and of course Mt. Rainier. In all cases the boots quietly did their job without intruding into my climbing.

Summary

The Charmoz's are lightweight, full synthetic mountaineering boots with a Gore-Tex liner. They have a crampon-compatible Vibram sole and a stiff nylon shank. I am very happy with these boots. They are well constructed and have performed as expected with no serious problems. I can feel the terrain well through these boots and have a better sense of what conditions I am traveling through. I feel comfortable with their support over a wide variety of conditions and would not hesitate to bring them on milder-temperature trips anywhere in Washington state. The wear has been excellent so far, however most of their use has been on snow and glacier. I cannot say if they would stand up to heavy use on rock and trail. Because they are lightweight, uninsulated, boots I would also not bring them on cold winter excursions or, say, to Alaska.

The good:
-Ankle support
-Sole stiffness
-Lightweight
-Waterproofing
-Breathability

The bad:
-Lack of insulation
-"Astronaut-boot" styling

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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