The Salewa brand has been around since the 1930s, first in Germany with packs and ski equipment. By the 1980s, it was recognised worldwide for its range of technical climbing, skiing and tramping clothing and equipment – including boots.
When I first saw the Rapace, while on an expedition to Nepal, I thought it looked a bit gimmicky. It has a funky-looking external wire structure – something called the Salewa Y Support System – which wraps around the ankle and heel of the boot. But, now that I’ve actually used the boot through a wide mix of terrain, I have completely changed my tune.
In New Zealand, the boot is pitched at the 3-4 season off-trail market, including transalpine travel and lightweight summer mountaineering.
It has a suede leather and nylon upper, with a Gore-Tex lining and a full rubber rand, which I love.
The sole is Vibram and rated with a mountaineering rubber. The tread is not particularly deep, so doesn’t hold as well in mud or soft snow, but the forefoot has a nice flat edge and sole for scrambling on wet rock. The sole is designed to take a heel clip/front strap crampon, although I would probably stick to a front and back strap because the boot is so light in the upper and a heel clip might create a bit too much flex for the crampon to stay attached.
Nylon plates are built into the midsole, giving the boot a surprising amount of stiffness and torsional rigidity, especially when considering how light it is (1320g; w 1100g). Whether this translates to a long-lasting durable boot or not is to be seen, but in the meantime my feet love the lack of weight.
I now think the Y Support System works well in both locking the heel in place and adding extra rigidity when the laces are cranked up tight. This adds extra pressure on the ankles, but that’d be the last thing on my mind if I need to frontpoint a short section of firm snow.
It’s what I would call a technical boot, which may not suit everyone’s needs in the 3-4 season boot range. But I am certainly giving it the double-thumbs up.