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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Scarpa Mustang Boots > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

Test Report: SCARPA Mustang GTX BootsTM
July 31, 2007


Contents:
Biographical Information
Product Information
First Impressions - March 23, 2007
Field Report - May 28, 2007
Long Term Report - July 31, 2007

Tester Biographical Information    <back to top>

Name: Kathleen Waters
Age: 56
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)
Weight: 124.5 lb (56 kg)
Boot Size: 8 US Women's
Email: kathy at bysky dot com or
TheMiddleSister at usaring dot com
City, State, Country: White Lake, Michigan USA

Backpacking Background: My husband and I started hiking in 1998 after climbing Hahn's Peak in Colorado.

Hooked, we return to Colorado often. We've hiked/snowshoed glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.

At home (Michigan), we plan 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. My current pack weight averages 25 lb (11 kg) including food and water.

Product Information     <back to top>
http://www.SCARPA.com

Manufacturer: SCARPA
Year of Manufacturer: 2007
Model: Mustang GTX
Weight: Men's 49 oz (1390 g) (42)
Women's 40 oz (1124 g) (38)
Sizes: Men's 38-48 (half sizes)
Women's 36-43 (half sizes)
Color: Men's - Pewter/Smoke, Cactus/Khaki
Women's - Ice/Green, Chalk/Ginger
MSRP: N/A
Warranty: N/A

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

  • 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
  • Upper: Suede
  • Lining: Gore-Tex®
  • Midsole: Comfort-flex
  • Sole: Vibram® Megane Lite
  • Last: BX
  • SCARPA Mustang GTX Boots and Packaging

    Product Information (from tester)

    Size: 39 1/2
    Weight: 42 oz (1191 g) per pair Color: Ice/Green

    First Impressions    <back to top>
    March 23, 2007

    Thanks to a very accurately depicted graphic of the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots on the SCARPA web site, there were no surprises when I received my test boots. The SCARPA web site also features a 360º view window which allowed me to preview the boots front, sides and back for even more advance information.

    While the SCARPA web site does not have a US/European conversion size chart, a quick phone call to SCARPA customer service provided me with their suggested size equivalent to my US size 8-8.5 Women's. SCARPA's suggested 39.5 was 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 first time I put the Mustang GTX boots on, I was concerned they might be too big! However, after I laced the boots up tightly, I realized I had the proper fit. It's just that the boots are wider through the mid-foot area than I am used to wearing.

    Pulling on the SCARPA Mustang GTX Boots was an easy glide of my foot into the boot. There was no need to loosen the laces. I have plenty of wiggle room in the toe box even with my heaviest socks on and the mid-foot area does not feel overly confined even with the laces pulled as tightly as I could. My ankles feel securely supported with the laces tied so high up on my leg.

    A quick walk around the neighborhood makes me think I might have to break-in the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots though. They feel a bit stiff. I also noticed some movement of my heel which I will be mindful of when actually hiking. Otherwise, the boots are good-to-go.

    SCARPA Mustang GTX Boot

    The first thing I noticed about the appearance of the SCARPA Mustang GTX Boots was the color. The green, which wraps around the heel and hugs the foot edge to the toe rand, is a little more striking in person and despite my husband's opinion, I like it. The green is a little less vivid than a "spring green", but a bit brighter than a "sage green". The "ice" (gray) main boot body is nicely accented with a black toe rand and ankle collar.

    The fabric is nicely sueded, except for the toe rand and the ankle collar.

    All stitching appears to be tight, straight and even with no loose, pulled or cut threads.

    The lacing system on the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots is a tensioned system with just enough laces for me to feel comfortable. No need to double and triple bow the laces so as to not trip on too-long laces. The laces are smooth, round and show no signs of snags or unraveling.

    A smooth woven material lines the interior of the SCARPA Mustang GTX boot. The tongue is gusseted to within 2 in (7.6 cm) of the top of the tongue.

    The Vibram sole of the SCARPA Mustang GTX is securely attached to the boot body via a gray PU wedge for shock absorption and a snazzy green striped microporous wedge. The tread on the SCARPA Mustang GTX is quite aggressive for such a lightweight boot. The depth of the grooves from the ball of the foot through the mid-heel area range from 1/8 to 1/4 in (.32 to .68 cm) deep. The pattern is very distinctive and will certainly make a CSI guy's job easy! :)

    The sole is free of any defects that I can discern, including extra glue, scratched or cut material and ragged edges.

    SCARPA Mustang GTX Tread

    Logos are discreetly sized and placed so I won't feel like a walking billboard advertisement. There is a teeny tiny Gore-Tex cloth tag at the outside ankle, a 1 in (2.5 cm) rubber-like SCARPA logo also on the outside ankle and another SCARPA logo slightly larger and of the same material on the back of the boot. The gusseted tongue has a sewn-in cloth tag with the SCARPA logo and a "Go Up" slogan. And that's what I can't wait to do in these boots - GO UP (mountains, that is!).

    Field Report    <back to top>
    May 28, 2007

    During the Field Report stage of my testing, all of my "technical" wear of the SCARPA Mustang GTX Boots took place in either the Cañon City area in Colorado or southeast Michigan. There was much supplemental casual wear during this period as well, while walking my dog, doing outdoor chores, etc.

    Terrain in Colorado ranged from elevations of 5343 ft (1629 m) to about 6747 ft (2056 m) and consisted of rocky to dirt trails up to a 35% grade, including a good deal of rock scrambling in Cañon City's Red Canyon Park and the BLM district near Cooper Mountain. This area is primarily high desert with lots of piñon pine, juniper and cactus. While it was a wetter than normal winter in this area, I rarely encountered any snow on the ground and not once was hiking in wet conditions during this stage of testing.

    In Michigan, most of my testing was in deciduous forested areas of rolling hills and flat meadows with little or no elevation gain. There was little or no snow on the ground during the last couple of months and no precipitation.

    First, let me say, I generally hike "hot". And during the latter period of this test, the weather got warmer at times, up to a high temperature of 80 F (27 C). The low temperature I encountered was about 30 F (-1 C). At no time were the boots ever uncomfortable due to either cold or heat. I worry whenever I wear "waterproof" boots about sweaty feet and up to now, that has not been a problem at all. Conversely, even though, the SCARPAs are light weight boots, they have been warm enough in the colder temps. I've worn every kind of sock I own from thick wool socks with silk liners to thinner wicking socks with no liners. Mostly, I wear a pair of light weight Thorlo hiking socks.

    SCARPA Mustang GTX boots on the trail in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area

    The SCARPAs are easy to put on and take off with the speed lacing system easing the chore. I find I can lace the boots with a double bow at the top and have enough lacing to do it comfortably without overly long laces to possibly tangle with the underbrush. The boots are also comfortable enough that I'm not frantic to get them off my feet at the end of a long hike or the end of the day. They don't feel heavy and/or hot.

    And they look quite nice too! I've had several people comment on how "cool" the SCARPAs look.

    I've been quite pleased with the ankle support the SCARPAs give me. I am not the most graceful person in the world and while I'm sometimes literally tripping on the trail, I need to be assured that my ankles are protected. When the SCARPAs as tightly laced - as I'm prone to do - I have had no wobbling or twisting of my ankles. This is very important to me especially on the very rough shale-y trails I bushwhack through in Colorado. I'm often too busy oh-ing and ah-ing over the scenery to notice the loose rock just waiting to send me lurching. So far with the SCARPAs, I've escaped the swollen ankle or two!

    Tightening the laces of the SCARPAs also has an added benefit. It keeps my toes from banging into the toe box tip when traversing downhill while slipping and sliding on the aforementioned shale-y trails. My foot stays firmly in place with no bruising of the piggy toes which has been a problem for me in the past with other boots.

    I've experienced no blisters as a result of any hot spots or rubbing from any seams or looseness in the boot. The only discomfort I've encountered so far, is a bit of soreness in my arch. The arch support is not high enough for me and after several hours on the trail with a full pack, I feel some soreness there. I plan to exchange the stock insole in the very near future (before my next overnight or long hike) for something a little more supportive.

    Traction is one of my main concerns when considering a hiking boot. As I previously mentioned, I'm clumsy! This means I need all the help I can get keeping my feet planted firmly on the ground. The SCARPAs have been very good to me in slick mud, dusty trails and in pretty much everything else in the way of rock, gravel, etc. I have felt fairly nimble when climbing steep hills where I needed to use my hands to help my ascent. The SCARPAs not only held on well, they even flexed a bit to give me more of a toehold. This was a surprise to me because my first impressions were that the boots were rather stiff and unyielding. Yay!

    SCARPA Mustange GTX boots on the trail in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area

    After two months, there has been minimal wear and tear on the SCARPA boots. Even though I've scraped against rocks and trudged through miles of dust, the boots after two months still look almost new. There is no shredding on the soles, no gashes in the uppers and the laces haven't started to unravel. So far, so good. On to the next test period!

    Long Term Report    <back to top>
    July 31, 2007

    During this phase of my testing of the SCARPA Mustang GTX boots, I was pretty much confined to day hiking in southeast Michigan. My pack weight was generally in the 10 lb (4.5 kg) range except for my roughly every-other-day "training" hikes of 6-8 miles (10-13 km) when my pack was loaded down with 25 lb (11.3 kg). (I'm preparing for a two day trip up Pike's Peak in late September.) The hilly-to-flat terrain was a mixture of packed dirt and loose sand with just a bit of rocks to make it interesting. Temperatures were generally between 80 F and 95 F (27 C and 35 C) under cloudy to very sunny skies. Other than an occasional light shower, no appreciable moisture was encountered during the last two months.

    I did get to test the SCARPAs' ability to cope with water when on one hike I had to ford several streams. As long as I swiftly moved through the water and the water did not go over the top of the Mustangs, my feet remained high and dry. The one time that the water did go over the tops and my socks soaked through, I stopped and changed my socks. Using a dirty t-shirt, I wiped the insides of the boot dry and was relatively comfortable for the rest of the hike.

    Even with my 25 lb (11.3 kg) pack on, I never experienced any excessive leg fatigue while wearing these boots. The slightly achy arches I endured during the field testing portion of my report was solved by replacing the stock inner soles with more supportive custom soles.

    After 4 months and at least 200 miles (322 km) of trail use, my Mustangs are still in great shape. The tread shows no unusual signs of wear and while the toe box looks a little banged up - I'm clumsy - there are no tears or objectionable gouges. Cactus spines haven't torn or snagged the uppers nor have the laces unravelled. I expect many, many more miles/kilometers of use yet!

    So far, the only care I have given to these boots is a good brushing with a stiff bristle brush to remove excess dust and sand. On a couple of occasions where the insides of the Mustangs received a soaking, I used my Dri-Guy (a boot air-drying appliance) to successfully dry out the boots, but for the most part, surface wetness from rain or shallow water was not given any special treatment.

    Sadly, out of 9 pages of English language care instructions in the enclosed SCARPA pamphlet, a scant one paragraph is devoted to "suede" boots. The Mustangs' uppers are suede. Apparently, SCARPA didn't spend much time or ink on their boots that "are made from cheaper priced materials than full grain leathers." However, just recently per SCARPA's suggestion, I did treat my boots to Nikwax Nubuck & Suede treatment in anticipation of possible snow on Pike's Peak. (My son encountered snow on Mt. Elbert just last week!) The application was easily accomplished although it did slightly darken the suede.

    My Favorite Things:
    1.) Light weight, both in actual lb/kg and in keeping my feet cool.
    2.) Good fit.
    3.) Ankle support.

    My Least Favorite Things:
    1.) Stock inner soles are a bit thin for my arches.
    2.) I honestly can't come up with anything else!

    The SCARPA Mustang GTX boots have quickly become my go-to boots for my summer hiking. Their light weight makes them a pleasure to put on and my feet stay drier both from less sweating and from the GoreTex protection from the elements. The tread while it could be more aggressive - which would make it heavier - is plenty sufficient for the dirt, sand and rocky scree trails I've tested on. The ankle support is very stabilizing without being overly restrictive. Lastly, with custom inner soles to correct my higher than average arches, I now have the cushioning arch support to make the Mustangs the most comfortable backpacking boots in my gear closet.

    This concludes my Test Report on the SCARPA Mustang GTX. Thank you, SCARPA and BackPackGearTest.org, for the opportunity to test this neat product.

    Kathy Waters



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