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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Scarpa Kailash GTX > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

SCARPA KAILASH GTX BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT
October 30, 2008

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: TheMiddleSister@usaring.com
AGE: 57
LOCATION: White Lake, Michigan USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

I started hiking in 1998 after an eye-opening climb up Hahn's Peak in Colorado. Hooked, I return to Colorado often. I've hiked/snowshoed glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in domestic and exotic locations, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. At home, I plan for 2-3 hikes of 6-8 mi (10-13 km) weekly and one weekend hike monthly. Weekday hikes take place in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a mixture of heavily-wooded moderate hills and flat terrain. Weekend hike locations vary. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) including food and water


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: SCARPA
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.scarpa.com
MSRP: US$ N/A

Listed Weight: Men's 49 oz (1390 g) (42); Women's 40 oz (1124 g) (38)
Measured Weight: 37 oz (1049 g)
Sizes: Men's 38-48 (half sizes); Women's 36-43 (half sizes)
Size Tested: 39.5 women's
Color: Men's Pepper/Stone; Women's Light Gray/Ginkgo
Color Tested: Light Gray/Ginkgo

Other details: (from SCARPA Website)
Upper: Suede
Lining: Gore-Tex®
Midsole: Comfort-Flex
Sole: Vibram® Hi-Trail Lite
Last: men's BX/women's BXD

"Ideal for trail hiking, rugged day hikes, and regular abuse; a medium-weight boot with maximum comfort."
SCARPA Kailash Women's Boots
SCARPA Kailash Women's Boots

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS - May 08

SCARPA Kailash Heel
SCARPA Kailash Heel
The SCARPA website features a great graphic of the Kailash GTX boot, so I wasn't at all surprised by the look of the boots. The green accents on the women's version of the Kailash are just as striking in reality as they are on the website! I was additionally prepared for the color combo as it is pretty much the same as the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots I tested last year; only the Mustangs' color is called "Ice/Green" and the Kailash is labeled "Light Gray/Ginko".

The SCARPA Kailash boots are good-looking boots. They are predominately gray suede through the mid-foot, changing over to gray woven material above the ankle supported by green suede bands which also wrap around the sole. A nice touch is the matching green suede band on the tongue of the boot which lines up to complete the outside bands.

A black suede strip of material forms a support over the heel of the boot with "arms" that wrap around the sides to cradle the heel of the boot. A gray hard rubber-like "SCARPA" is imbedded on the outer ankle band of each boot. A tiny "GORE-TEX" tag is the only other advertising on the body of the Kailash and is positioned just near the top of the outside boot. A generous black suede toe rand completes the style.

The interior of the Kailash boots is lined with a smooth woven material in a dark pattern. The gusseted tongue has an ink stamped size, model number and "Made in Italy" on the interior. (There is a fabric "SCARPA" tag on the exterior of the tongue.) An additional glued-in label on the tongue carries size conversion for EU, UK, USm and USw. The stock inner soles are smooth and thin.

The tread on the SCARPA Kailash's sole is quite different from my 2007 SCARPA Mustang boots. The tread is thicker with larger spaces between the "grips". There is a very interesting graduated heel grip which I'm hoping will add grace to my slippin' and sliddin' style. The soles sport the familiar yellow "Vibram" logo.

A close examination of the SCARPA Kailash boots found no obvious defects, loose threads, excess glue or any other irregularities.
SCARPA Kailash Sole
SCARPA Kailash Sole
SCARPA Kailash Sole

Since my test reports of last year, SCARPA has added a shoe size conversion chart which is handy when ordering the proper size. However, having tested SCARPA boots before, I knew to request a 39.5 which customer service suggested previously as the size equivalent to my US size 8-8.5 Women's. SCARPA's suggested 39.5 is slightly smaller than my other boots which range from 40.5 to 40.66. However, it was right on as far as my foot length is concerned. The boots fit me perfectly.

I had no trouble slipping my feet right into the Kailash boots without having to undo the lower laces. The laces traverse through metal eyelets for the first four holes. They then loop off a bit to the side of the boot through a fabric loop before finishing up crossed over and fastened by two sets of "quick lace" eyelets. This lacing system allows me to don the boots, lace them up as tightly as needed high around my ankles quickly and efficiently. Removing them is just as easily accomplished by just pulling out the gusseted tongue after only the top two eyelets are loosened.

The laces are round and just long enough to form a bow. No need to double-bow or worry about overly long laces.

After wearing the Kailash boots indoors for several hours, I am pleased with the fit and feel of the boots. I don't think I will need any break-in period with them and am anxious to get out on the trails as soon as possible.



TESTING STRATEGY

Hiking will take place in terrain that will include the alpine forests of Colorado in the Rocky Mountain National Park, the high desert areas in the Cooper Mountain range, and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range including the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Elevation will range from 5,000' up to 14,000' (1,524 m to 4,268 m) and temperatures over the rest of spring and summer will vary from 38 F to 88 F (3 C to 31 C). I'm sure to experience mild to very warm temperatures, wind and rain and still some snow in Rocky Mountain National Park and in the Sangres.

Hiking in Michigan will take place in terrain that will include the sandy lakeshore dunes of Lake Michigan in western Lower Michigan and the rockier lakeshore of Beaver Island in Lake Michigan over the Fourth of July weekend.

Additionally, in Michigan, I day hike 2 to 3 times on weekdays in local parks and recreation areas near my home near Pontiac, Michigan. Elevation ranges from 700 to 1000 ft (213 to 305 m) with some grades as steep as 50%. July temperatures to be expected in Michigan will range from an average low of 54 F (12 C) to 84 F (29 C) with 28 in (71 mm) of precipitation.


SUMMARY

I love testing boots! A gal can never have enough footwear, IMHO, and that includes boots. So, I'm definitely ready to test these babies out.

In Colorado, boots are the footwear of choice and since I will be Colorado for most of the testing period, I will be wearing boots almost all the time. This means I will be vigorously checking out all aspects of the boots, including fit, comfort, performance and durability. Rocky Mountains, here I come!

This concludes my Initial Report on the SCARPA Kailash GTX Boots. Please see below for the results of my first two months of testing.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS/CONDITIONS - Sep 08

I am lucky enough to live, for most of the year, on 35 gorgeous acres (14 hectares) in southern Colorado. I spend as much time as is possible outdoors in all weather conditions. Every day, I at least take a hike around the hogbacks surrounding our building site and most days, I make a 5 mile (8 km) round-trip trek down our dirt road to our mail box. I wear boots almost daily and since I actually received the boots in late May (before the other two testers) the Kailash boots have been in service for almost 90 days.

During the month of June, in Colorado, there was very little rain, and only the rain we had occurred after dark. I watched many storms rage over the Wet and Cooper Mountain ranges to the south and north, but the Arkansas River Valley has been dry.

The temperatures over the last three months have ranged from a cool 58 F (14 C) to a very warm 104 F (40 C). We have had lots of wind, more than normal according to longtime Canon City residents.

Most of my trail time during my field testing thus far, has been in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands controlled by the Royal Gorge regional offices. This land is very rugged with little or no real trails. The terrain is varied from dust to sand to gravelly, and then there are the medium to large rocks and huge boulders. We pretty much just pick a ridge we would like to end up on and bushwhack our way to it. Sometimes we make it, other times we get sidetracked or we reach an impasse. Either way, we usually start at 5600+ feet (1700 km) and go up to 7000+ feet (2100+ km).

The vegetation is prairie grasses and Cholla cactus in the lower elevations and pine and juniper predominates as the mountains rise.

I also did an overnight in mid-August in Badlands National Park in South Dakota where the trails ran the gamut from nicely maintained wooden boardwalks to barely discernible hard-packed trails to just plain wandering through the landscape. The non-maintained sections were hard-packed earth, small pebbly ground and wonderful high prairie grass. Altitude in the Park is listed as 3018' (3018 m) and the temperatures were in the mid-90s F (35 C) during the daytime.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have been wearing the Kailash boots a lot. I wore them hiking, walking and just plain hanging around the house. They have become my favorite pair of boots.

Putting the Kailash boots on is like sliding on a comfortable pair of slippers. The cushion-y feeling of the inner sole is comfortable and supportive. The toe box is wide enough for me to wiggle my feet, but not so wide as to make me feel lost in them. The lacing system enables me to lace up as tightly as I feel is necessary to support my ankles. And the best thing is they stayed comfortable no matter how long I wore them during the field test.

I was especially happy with the toe box of the boot. I wore heavy hiking socks for almost all of the testing done thus far, so I was thankful for not having cramped toes. Plus, my feet usually would swell in the late afternoon after hiking in the heat all day. I have worn boots in the past that were fine at the start of my journey but too tight by the end. The Kailash allowed for the increase in my feet's girth and nary had a blister ever appeared. Plus, the tough toe rand protected my toes nicely from the numerous cacti and boulder-bashing I experienced while on the trail and off-trail.
Badlands National Park
SCARPA Kailash in Badlands National Park
I've done a lot of elevation changing hiking the last couple of months. It seems like I was always going uphill or downhill with minimal flat ground trekking in-between. This kind of terrain caused me to be very cautious of my ankles. I routinely stopped to tie my boot laces more tightly when going downhill and more loosely when going uphill. This gave me confidence when descending and comfort when ascending. A more tightly laced boot helped me stabilize my ankle and minimized twisting on the scree or sandy landscape in Colorado. The more loosely tied boots on the uphill portions of the trail allowed my ankle to flex and bend into the forward motion. The Kailash boots laces were very easy to adjust quickly. In the lower portion of the boots, the laces stayed constant and I only had to loosen/tighten the last two hooks. Thanks to shorter than usual laces, I never had to take the time to double-bow the laces. The laces are just the right length for me.

Even at the highest temperatures, I never felt the boots were too hot or sweaty and I never had noticeable foot odor from the boots.

I was particularly impressed by the cushioning provided by the Kailash inner soles. I spent most of my time on uneven surfaces, small stones and scree. At no time did I have a problem with soreness or bruising on the soles of my feet. The boots protected me from feeling jagged edges yet my feet remained sensitive enough to the terrain to keep me aware of the terrain. I also noticed on some of the hard packed trails in the Badlands National Park that pounding on flat surfaces didn't result in the sore feet I sometimes experience as a result of "flat-footed" striding.

The tread on the Kailash has scored an "A" on all the various trail surfaces I've encountered so far - sand, scree, small stones, boulders and hard-packed dirt. Off-trail, I've been happy with the performance on cement (wet and dry) and asphalt as well as dug-up earth. While it wasn't on a hike, I spent 10 days on a construction site in northeast North Dakota and much of it was in newly dug-up soil. I had to walk through huge clumps of overturned fields. The Kailash boots not only handled this comfortably, but I was pleased to see how easily I was able to shed the moist dirt from the bottom of the boots. No scraping needed for me!

After 90 days of near daily use, the SCARPA Kailash boots are none the worse for the wear - just dusty, is all.



SUMMARY

I can't say enough how comfortable the SCARPA Kailash GTX Boots are. I feel like I am wearing slippers! There is enough room so my toes don't feel squished, yet the ankle support is tight enough so I feel confident I won't suffer undue strain. The tread has held me firm on most occasions with any slipping most likely my own fault. Dirt easily scrapes out from the soles, although the boots haven't met up with our famous expansive soil here in Canon City. And up to now, wear on the boots have been minimal which is very commendable considering the amount of time I've already got on them.

TESTING STRATEGY

I will continue to wear the SCARPA Kailash GTX Boots on every possible occasion, most days, in fact, over the next two months. A planned trip to Arizona early October will put the boots through some heavy use, including an overnight at Grand Canyon National Park yeah, only an overnight, bummer). I suspect I will be seeing some cooler weather and most likely some snow before the testing period is only. I am anxious to see if the SCARPAs hold up to that challenge.

Please see below the results of two more months testing these great - so far - boots.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

For most of the last two months, my testing locations have been basically the same as detailed in my Field Report above. The lone exception was a one-week trip, the first week of October, to Arizona where we base-camped in the Mogollon Rim country. We capped off the week with a two-day side trip to the Grand Canyon.

Temperatures ranged from a high of 80 F (27 C) a couple of days to an unseasonably low of 45 F (7 C) at the beginning of a 4-mile (6 km) day hike into the Grand Canyon. Most of the terrain was very steep sort of trails through heavy deciduous forests, including sections of the Arizona Trail near Payson, Arizona. The trail was not very well maintained in spots and was very rocky overall. Some sections followed an old utility service road. Fording small streams was a novelty for me, since my corner of Colorado is very dry.

The highlight of our trip was hiking the South Kailab Trail to O'Neal Butte. Elevation started at 7200 ft (2195 m) and we descended to 5720 ft (1743 m). This doesn't sound like much of a hike, but with all the picture-taking and gawking along the way, it took us the better part of a day. Plus, we had our 7-year-old granddaughter along for her first week of REAL hiking and while she was a real trooper, 4 miles (6 km) were quite enough!

The terrain on the South Kailab Trail was very hard packed dirt. I expected nothing less due to the popularity of the trail and the hordes of hikers and pack mules. Oh, and the Trail was steep, very steep!


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During the last two months, I have continued to wear the SCARPA Kailash boots almost daily. I've come to depend on them for comfortable support while hiking particularly on the shale-y slopes of the lower Cooper Mountain range southwest of Pikes' Peak. I love this area and spend no small amount of time exploring its ridges and canyons. The slopes aren't necessarily steep, but the hazard of slipping due to loose rocks compounds the grade. I'm happy to report I haven't fallen once yet while wearing the Kailash boots! The tread of the Kailash has held firm on hikes where my companions were slipping and sliding all over the place.

My ankles haven't had nary a wobble, either. The lacing system of the Kailash helped to stabilize my foot especially on the down slopes. I really like how easy it is to adjust the tightness of the laces depending on whether I am going uphill or down. This has saved me from black toes, I'm sure. This was particularly noticeable while hiking the Arizona Trail where I swear there were no flat spots at all!

While most of my hiking time was spent on dry land, I did have to ford several streams on the Arizona Trail. The SCARPA boots stayed perfectly dry. My family (and hiking buddies) all stood around exclaiming over the beading up of the water on the boots. My husband was not as happy as the boots he is currently testing soaked through in the same streams! So, I suffered no wet feet in the Kailash from neither external forces or from sweating feet. Nice! That meant that I did not have overly smelling feet from the boots. Though I can't say my socks were as fortunate.
Kailash on Shale
SCARPA Kailash on Shale Slope

The comfort level of the boots continued to be that of very cushiony slippers. On the trails in Arizona, I didn't feel sore from the rock climbing we often had to do. I never felt the prodding of sharp stones through the soles of the boots. Even though the rest of my group were pulling off their boots as soon as the hikes were over, I didn't feel the same urgency. I did have to loosen laces by the end of the day due to swelling, hot tootsies. That was all that was required.

I have not done more than brush off the dust and scrape off the mud from the tread of the Kailash boots thus far. They have held up exceptionally well. The laces have remained tight, there are no signs of pulled or loosen stitches. The inner sole of the boot is still unwrinkled or stretched or pulling away and the tread is barely worn.

These boots are well made and I expect to be wearing them for a long time.

SUMMARY

This has been my second test in two years of SCARPA boots and I have to say, while I thought, at the time, the SCARPA Mustangs couldn't be beat - they were - by the Kailashs! These boots are comfortable, supportive and quality-made. The light-weight of the boots doesn't compromise the cushioning nor the grip of the soles. I don't slide on our shale ridges, I don't get wet feet when crossing streams, I don't sweat, get blisters or black toes! I can't think of a single negative aspect of the Kailash boots. Kudos to SCARPA! I can't wait to see their next generation of boots!

CONTINUED USE

I will definitely continue to wear these wonderful boots whenever the weather is warm enough to utilize lightweight boots. As I spend most of my time in mild (more or less) southeast Colorado, this means I will be wearing the SCARPA Kailash boots for most of the year. The quality of the boots is so good; I expect them to last for some years. And until SCARPA comes out with a better boot, the Kailash will remain my favorite.

Thank you to backpackgeartest.org and SCARPA for the opportunity to test and wear the Kailash GTX Boots.

Kathleen Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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