Three season boots

Scarpa Kailash GTX Hi Trail Lite review
Mammut Impact GTX review
Vasque Bitterroot GTX review
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Our testers donned tramping boots and hit trails in Canterbury, Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park and Fiordland. Here's what they found.

Scarpa Kailash GTX Hi Trail Lite $449.99

Constructed from nubuck leather and webbing, with full ankle support and rubber protection around the toe, The Khailash is a reasonably solid tramping boot for lightweight multiday tramps. 

Not breaking them in before tackling Fiordland’s three-day Hump Ridge Track was a mistake that resulted in heal blisters, but that’s a risk with any boots straight out of the box and up the mountains. Blisters aside, the boots stood up well to winter conditions that varied from beach walking, flat muddy track with slippery historic railway sleepers, irregular rock scrambling and boardwalk.

The boots are fairly light at 1260g and are mid-range price-wise. I own other Scarpa boots and noticed the improved metal lace loops and more leather than webbing on the Kailash compared to earlier versions. The leather is stitched to help hold the shape and make them stronger. These improvements address issues I’d observed in the earlier models with fabric abrasion on the sides after a reasonably long period of use and the laces working their way loose.

As with earlier models, the current Kailash has a Gore-Tex lining and a robust stitched-in tongue. Early usage has shown them to be waterproof, as expected. These boots don’t have a shank but they have a fairly rigid sole. 

All in all, the Scarpa Kailash Hi Trail Lite is a tidy three season boot that you can expect to have a long life. Just wear them in before heading out on extended trips into the hills.
- Beth Masser
Mammut Impact GTX $329.95

It’s not often you find a good performing Gore-Tex-lined boot for a touch over $300, but the Impact is one of them. At only 1390g, it’s a lightweight, strong and firm-feeling boot. Ideal for narrow or low volume feet, the Impact felt stiff out of the box and became increasingly comfortable within a short time.

The laces pull up snugly for a firm fit, and tension the boot nicely even without lace-locking hardware. There’s a nice structure to the ankle, and although they may feel a bit rigid for some the support is exceptional.

This boot is capable of carrying a good load, it’s stable and supportive throughout the midsole, but the boot doesn’t roll well through your stride. Heel placement is good with a nice chamfer where your heel touches down, but the forefoot feels like it’s slapping the ground as it lands, especially on hard surfaces.

These boots handle abrasion and abuse and still looked great after a beating and the ensuing scrubbing. The upper is a leather/synthetic combo that beads water well, and along with the ever-faithful Gore-Tex always kept my feet dry. Toe box room is excellent and toes are protected from bumps and abrasion by the well-formed rubber bumper. The same ‘liquid rubber’ is used around the heel. I deliberately looked for rocks to kick after a while, but they left barely a mark.

Vibram’s Capricorn outsole was disappointing. It performs well in a straight line, but on steep slopes where the surface is muddy the tread clogs quickly. Lateral grip when sidling on wet, loose or clay surfaces is very poor, requiring some crazy antics to stay upright; all other surfaces are fine, but didn’t instil confidence. There’s a good instep and heel brake for rock hopping and clambering over roots.

An excellent boot for multiday tramps on formed trails, the Impact GTX is worth every cent in its price range. It would have rated higher if not for the traction problems.
- Paul King
Vasque Bitterroot GTX $425

Vasque is a North American brand of boot that has been around since 1965. The Bitterroot looks well made with a solid Vibram sole and a rubber protection strip around the front toe box. As is now common in the better quality North American boots, they have a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membrane between the leather and the lining.

When I first unpacked these boots they looked alarmingly narrow in the toe box area (even though the length was spot on) and I later found out that Vasque make this model of boot in three different widths so that customers can get as accurate a fit as possible. I was sent a ‘medium’ and have since learnt the importers are not bringing in any ‘narrow’ fit models, which I think are unlikely to suit many Kiwi feet. The medium was a bit too tight width-wise for my feet, which are not overly wide by New Zealand standards. I suspect many New Zealand trampers will need to try on the ‘wide’ lasts before they are happy with the fit.

The Bitterroot GTX’s are reasonably lightweight at around 1588g and I found them comfortable straight out of the box. I particularly noticed the good arch support, something I’m coming to realise is particularly important with joint functioning as age creeps up on the knees and ankles.

The suede-type leather used in the construction of the boot is relatively soft which made the boot easy to break-in and comfortable inside a weekend trip. Having worn the boots for well over a month now the leather has really softened up; too soft I think for a boot that needs to be used off track or in a trans-alpine situation. I would recommend this boot for on-track tramping and perhaps the mountain areas of places like Nelson Lakes National Park, but any harder terrain further south is likely to be outside what they are designed for and would shorten their life considerably.
- Rob Brown
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