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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Scarpa Mustang Boots > Test Report by James E. Triplett

SCARPA MUSTANG GTX
MID-WEIGHT HIKING BOOTS
SCARPA Images

Test Series By: James E. Triplett
INITIAL REPORT: 19-March- 2007
FIELD REPORT: 29-May-2007
LONG TERM REPORT: 31-July-2007


Personal Biographical Information:

Name: James E. Triplett
E-mail: james_triplett@hotmail.com
Age: 47
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Gender: male
Height: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
Weight: 198 lb (89.80 kg)
Foot Size:
12 US (as measured on a Brannock Device)

Backpacking Background:
I am an experienced hiker, backpacker, and camper, and am gaining more experience with winter camping every year. I hike every day, and backpack when possible, which leads to many weekends backpacking and camping each year. I try and take at least one annual week-long backpacking trip in addition to many one to three-night weekend trips. My style can best be described as lightweight, but not at the cost of giving up too much comfort. I generally sleep in a tent, and seem to be collecting quite a few of them to choose from.



SCARPA Mustang GTX in the snow
SCARPA Mustang GTX Boots

INITIAL REPORT
19-March-2007

Product Information & Specifications:

Manufacturer: SCARPA North America, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.scarpa.com
MSRP: US$169
Date Item Received: 14-March-2007
Color and Size received: Pewter/Smoke - Size 46 (European)

Listed Weight: 1,390 grams (49 oz -or- 3 lb 1 oz) for Euro size 42
Measured Weight: 1,530 grams (54 oz -or- 3 lb 6 oz) for Euro size 46


Additional Product Information:

From the www.scarpa.com website:

Description:
  - Robust and versatile for hiking, trekking, and backpacking.

Technology:
  - Gore-Tex® to keep you dry
  - Bi-directional ankle flex
  - Reinforced toebox
  - Easily tensioned lacing system
  - PU wedge for shock absorption, microporous wedge for lightness
  - Vibram® sole offers excellent traction

Other details:
  - Upper: Suede
  - Lining: Gore-Tex®
  - Midsole: Comfort-flex
  - Sole: Vibram® Megane Lite
  - Last: BX

Sizes:
  - Men's 38-48 (Euro half sizes)
  - Women's 36-43 (Euro half sizes)

Color:
  - Men's Pewter/Smoke, Cactus/Khaki
  - Women's Ice/Green, Chalk/Ginger
  -
Product Code: 60120G


Societ Calzaturiera Asolana Riunita Pedemontana Anonima
(Associated Shoe Manufacturing Company of the Asolo mountain area)

Reinforced SCARPA Mustang GTX toe
SCARPA Mustang GTX Reinforced Toe

Initial Impressions:
The SCARPA Mustang GTX mid-weight hiking boots arrived in a typical shoe box, with a Gore-Tex tag attached to the boots, and a Gore-Tex guarantee card, and SCARPA owner's manual.  The boots I selected are the Pewter/Smoke color, and are attractively highlighted with orange in different areas as visible in the pictures in this report.  From the website I preferred the colors available only on the women's Mustangs, but I am pleased at the appearance of the boots I received.  The boots came with multicolor laces, and the insides of the boots are lined with patterned material which reminds me of a suit coat.  The uppers of the boots are Nubuck leather, except for the mesh area for the ankle tensioners.  The Vibram Megane Lite soles have moderately aggressive treads.  The biggest surprise for me is the weight of the boots.  Each boot weighs and identical 27 ounces (765 grams) and they seem quite light compared to the conventional leather boots I have been using up to this point.  The boots appear to be well made and there is no indication of any flaws in the material or construction.  Curiously, the speed-hooks on the upper part of the boots appear to be plastic.  I typically have experienced that the metal speed-hooks on my other footwear get bent easily, so it will be interesting to see how the SCARPA speed-hooks perform.

SCARPA Seped Lace Hook
SCARPA Mustang GTX Speed Hook

Instructions:
The SCARPA Mustang's are made in Italy, and the owner's manual starts off in Italian.  The second half of the booklet is in English, with some amusing translations such as "...we hope the following information will help you get the best out of your boots and advise you of the best way to look after them."  The care of the boots is detailed by material type, and the manual references that one should look at the label of the box to determine important information on materials used in the specific boots received.  However, the guide to the label in the manual is quite different from the actual label on the box, so I am confused as to what exactly all the numbers and codes mean.  Beyond the color, model, and size, I believe the Mustangs are suede leather with Gore-Tex linings.  SCARPA lists in their literature that Nubuck leather is defined as "full grain leather where the outer surface of the leather has a finely sanded, texturised finish which gives the boot an added appeal.  Nubuck is a full quality leather and should not be confused with suede."  Unfortunately or not, the Mustang GTX model is suede.

SCARPA Upper Suede
SCARPA Mustang GTX Suede material

Initial Fit:
Slipping the SCARPA Mustang GTX mid-weight hiking boots on, they feel soft and comfortable.  One of the various size-chart conversions I found on the web showed that a European 46 1/2 = 12 1/2 US.  Another chart showed European 46 = 11 1/2 US, while yet another chart showed European 46 = 12 US.  I went with the size 46, as my feet measure precisely size 12 (US), and the boots are ever so slightly larger than I would prefer.  That being said, I haven't hiked in them yet, and with possibly thicker socks, and slightly swollen feet after being out on the trail, I am comfortable using the boots in the size I received.  I should also point out that I am able to tighten the laces sufficiently without them totally closing the gap between them on the top of the boots.

Inside the SCARPA
SCARPA Mustang GTX Gore-Tex Lining

Test Plan:
I will be using the SCARPA Mustang GTX mid-weight hiking boots for all my hiking, backpacking, and camping needs throughout the test period.  There was snow here until a couple of weeks ago, but with the Spring Equinox only two days away, rain and mud are more likely than snow at this point.  I plan to use the SCARPAs on daily hikes of 2 to 4 miles (3 to 6.5 km) and multi-day trips of up to 10 or 12 miles (16 to 19 km) per day.  I expect the SCARPAs to see dry dirt trails, wet grassy trails, as well as mud, pavement, and most imaginable surfaces.  The current plan is for these hikes to take place here in Eastern Iowa.  The elevation here is around 860 feet (262 meters) and the temperature and precipitation data can be found in the table below. 

Month
Temp Range
degrees F
Temp Range
degrees C
Precipitation
(inches)
Precipitation
(cm)
March
27 to 46
-3 to 8
2.3
5.7
April
39 to 61
4 to 16
3.4
8.5
May
50 to 73
10 to 23
4.2
10.7
June
60 to 82
16 to 28
4.6
11.7
July
64 to 85
18 to 29
4.2
10.7


SCARPAs on Ice
SCARPA Mustang GTX Boots

Summary:
I am pleased with the SCARPAs as they arrived.  They are stylish, lightweight, and comfortable.  All materials and construction seem to be first rate, and I am anxious to do some serious hiking in these boots.  The only areas of confusion so far are in the owner's manual which doesn't define what materials are used specifically on the Mustang GTX.





FIELD REPORT
29-May-2007


JET on an old picnic table
JET resting in the SCARPA Mustang GTX Boots

Test Location and Conditions:
I have worn the SCARPA Mustang GTX Mid-Weight Hiking Boots on daily morning hikes in the woods and on trails around my home in Eastern Iowa.   I have also used the SCARPAs during three overnight trips to Palisades Kepler Park (twice) and Pinicon Ridge Park (once), both in Eastern Iowa.  Temperatures have been from around freezing to 80 F (27 C), and the elevation in this region is approximately 860 feet (262 meters).   Trail usage has included dirt trails, brush, rock and gravel trails, and a few areas through shallow standing water.  The terrain has been flat to hilly, without any dramatic climbs.  These activities have been predominantly in dry conditions, although the SCARPAs were exposed to some rain, mud, and shallow standing water.

Fit and Comfort:
The SCARPA Mustang GTX boots are easy to put on and feel comfortable.  The interior length is just about perfect - as before lacing them I can wiggle my feet in far enough that my toes touch the end of the boots, leaving a slight gap behind my heels.  The width of these size 12 boots is not as compliant with my feet as the length. I have pretty normal feet, although I would say they are more on the thin side that the wide side.  That is where the slight fit issue with the Mustangs comes in.  I have more than enough width, but the tongue of the boots on the lower part of my foot has so much material for the gusseting that I can't quite tighten them enough.  To counteract this issue I have removed the comfortable but thin SCARPA insoles and replaced them with some thicker Sof Sol insoles I have used in other footwear.  This pretty much does the trick, although I would still prefer to be able to tighten the lower part of the boots more.

SCARPA Original Insoles
Stock SCARPA insoles, which are nice, but thin.


Aftermarket Sof Sols
Aftermarket insoles are thicker and improved the fit for my feet.

The boots in general are quite comfortable.  Initially they seemed a bit odd in that they were light, yet stiff.  I don't really know how to describe it other than they seemed like Styrofoam boots with plastic shells.  Of course that is an exaggeration, but they seemed to be ridged as opposed to stiff.  That being said, they have loosened up and I don't really have that feeling about them any longer.  I should mention that the uppers, the area above the ankles, can be tightened more than sufficiently. 

Trail Use:
I haven't had any issues with breaking in the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots.  They have loosened up with use, but right out of the box I took them on a 5 mile (8 k) hike in to a camping spot and my feet were happy.  I did discover that backpacking down a hill caused my toes to impact the ends of the boots, which was uncomfortable, but later switching to thicker insoles has pretty much alleviated this problem.

Thin / Short Laces
Thin laces slide easily, although they are a little short

The laces that came with the boots are rather thin, which makes them travel well through the boot's eyelets and webbing.  This also has toughened up the calluses on my pinkies from pulling with all my might to get the laces tight.  The laces also slip easily into the speed-hooks, and I have gotten to where I can lace them up in nearly complete darkness for those early trail starting times.  The laces are a bit on the short side, but this prevents the ends from dangling long enough to get walked on by the boots. 

I have, on a couple of occasions, hiked through some standing water which came up roughly to where the ankle/shoelace webbing attaches to the boots.  There has been no leakage of water into the boots under these conditions.

Traction is as expected, which is excellent on dirt, mud, and through vegetated areas.  When ascending rocks, or rocky trails, the combination of the stiff boots and the grippy Vibram soles bodes well for getting up the incline.  Wet rocks are slippery… but again the stability of the boots makes the best of the situation and allows me to proceed without much fear of slipping or falling.  The stability of the boots also provides the ability to proceed with the smallest of toe-holds on the edge of a rock, and also offers substantial protection from ankle impalements.  I generally use boots more for ankle protection than for ankle support, however the Mustang GTX offers both.


SCARPAs after a day of hiking
The Mustang GTX boots after a hike in dirty conditions

Durability:
Durability hasn't really come into play after a couple of months of testing.  I did want to comment though, on the speed-hooks which are ridged and sturdy, and show no signs of deforming in any way shape or form from their original configuration.  This impresses me as on all the boots I can remember the speed-hooks were either getting bent closed to where the laces wouldn't go in, or bent open to where the laces kept slipping out when lacing up the boots.  This is Cool!  Also the suede uppers seem to resist scuffing as I have bashed my ankles into rocks and banged the SCARPAs around quite a bit.

The only other comment I have on durability is that I have had the boots rather caked with mud, and otherwise just plain dirty, and by simply wearing them, or swishing them around in a puddle, they have come mostly clean with little or no effort on my part. 





Summary:
In summary, at this stage of the testing I am quite pleased with the performance of the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots.  I was originally a little concerned with the fit, but that hasn't been much of an issue.  I do wish I could tighten the lower portion of the boots more, but I must say that the design of the laces and speed-hooks is well thought out.  These are light but sturdy boots, and I look forward to wearing them as I continue this test series.



LONG TERM REPORT
31-July-2007

Test Location and Conditions:
The SCARPA Mustang GTX Mid-Weight Hiking Boots have been the only boots I have worn during the four-month testing period.  They have accompanied me on backpacking trips to Palisades Kepler Park, Pinicon Ridge Park, Faulks Heritage Woods (all in Eastern Iowa), as well as on day hikes on both public and private land near my home on the edge of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Temperatures for the entire test series have ranged from freezing to 95 F (35 C), and the elevation in this region is approximately 860 feet (262 meters).   Trail usage has included dirt trails, brush, rock and gravel trails, through lots of tall wet foliage, and a few areas of ankle-deep standing water.  The terrain has been flat to hilly, without any dramatic climbs.  These activities have been in a variety of conditions, from cool and dry, to hot and rainy, with most hiking being done on days exhibiting warm temperatures and typical summer humidity.

SCARPA Mustang GTX at the end of testing
SCARPA Mustang GTX boots at the end of the test period

Performance:
The SCARPA boots have performed at least to my expectations and maybe a little beyond.  They grip the earth as well as any of the other several hiking boots I have backpacked in, which makes sense considering they all have Vibram soles.  The height of the boots is perfect for me, and I have found sufficient ankle support even when traversing a lateral grade which causes considerable sideways ankle bend.  The laces have held up fine, and are thin and continue to slide through the lace retaining devices smoothly.  They do tend to abrade my pinky fingers when I tighten the boots, but my hands have become resistant to that over the test period.  The toes of the boots are sturdy and have been stubbed into rocks, logs, sticks, and roots, and have always provided adequate protection.  When wearing the boots on rainy days, through wet grass, and in up to about five inches (13 cm) of water, the boots remained completely waterproof and seemed to seal reasonably well at the opening when worn with crew-length socks.  Where the boots have gone beyond my expectations is that they have done all those high performing attributes while weighing in at only 54 oz (1,530 grams).  They are just really light on my feet and a pleasure to wear.

Fit and Comfort:
I have become very comfortable with the fit of the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots.  In all honesty they are a little too wide for me, and thus I can't get them as tight as I would like.  That being said, this only seems to cause negative results when I am hiking down fairly steep inclines with a rather loaded backpack.  In that situation my toes tend to cram into the ends of the boots with a moderate amount of discomfort.  Otherwise, I have gotten used to the SCARPAs and find them quite comfortable, especially with the aftermarket insoles as mentioned in my Field Report.  I have worn the boots with crew-length Smartwool and cotton-blend athletic socks, and have not used liner socks.  I have had no blistering or hot spots on my feet, and in fact right out of the box I could wear the SCARPAs without any foot damage at the end of a hike.

Clean-up and Maintenance
I've worn the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots in the mud a couple of times.  With the aggressive tread, they really do hold on to the mud.  I have also worn them seemingly constantly in heavy dew, where the weeds and grasses get the boots very wet on the outside, which then attracts dirt and makes for a gritty, dirty pair of boots.  In both situations I tend to pound the boots together at the end of the hike… and then simply "wear them clean" when conditions dry out.  Using this method the suede has stained, but otherwise the boots look pretty good.  (That is one disadvantage of suede which I have discovered on other items as well.)  Just prior to writing this final report, I did wash and scrub the SCARPAs so that I could inspect for damage and see how well they cleaned up.

Slight wear on the Vibram soles
The tread has worn after many miles of backpacking

Durability:
Durability of the SCARPAs has proven to be sufficient over the four-month test period.  I estimate that I have taken about 660,000 steps in these boots, or 250 miles (400 km), some of which was rough enough terrain that the boots definitely go bumped and scraped.  They have been caked with mud, and submerged in water, and yet they don't show excessive wear.  After cleaning them up with warm water and a brush they look presentable.  I wouldn't say they are new-like, but there are no noticeable severe gashes or abrasions and the discoloration of the upper materials is subtle.  Continuing on with the subject of durability, I would like to note that the eyelets and speed hooks for the shoelaces which I was intrigued by in my Initial Report, have proven to work flawlessly.  The speed hooks are without a doubt the best I have experienced to date.  No bending open and no pinching shut on the laces.  They hold their shape and hold the laces beautifully!

SCARPAs after a little cleaning
Final condition after a wash and dry

Final Summary and Conclusions:
The SCARPA Mustang GTX boots have proven themselves to be capable in the easy to moderate hiking exposure I have given them.  Based on my experience as a backpacker, and with many boots over the years, I am comfortable wearing them for anything I would attempt, short of technical climbing or use in severely cold weather.  The eyelets and lacing system works quite well, and the support is acceptable.  The reinforced areas provide the necessary protection where I usually need it most… that being the toes, heels, and ankles.  The boots have remained totally waterproof throughout the test period without any kind of suede treatment.  The SCARPA Mustang GTX boots are a lightweight, attractive, durable solution for my backpacking needs.

This concludes my report series on the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots. 

Respectfully submitted,

-James T.




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