OR Summer 2016: Footwear

Among the hundreds of pairs of trail runners, light hiking boots, various approach shoes, numerous rock climbing shoes and a few technical alpine boots, it’s two pairs of alpine boots that stood out: Zamberlan’s Eiger Lite GTX and Scarpa’s Zodiac Tech GTX. Interestingly, both fill a similar niche: a low-cut, light, technical boot for summer alpine days.

The Eiger Lite GTX from Zamberlan immediately stands out as ‘different,’ especially when compared to its bigger brother the 4000 Eiger Evo GTX: the much lower gaiter height is immediately apparent. This is a much smaller, more compact boot than the full-size gaitered single boots, with a lower inner boot to correspond with the lower gaiter. Think summer alpine instead of mid-winter ice climbing. Fit is absolutely fantastic, and these feel wider than any other boot of this type I’ve tried (I have really wide feet). Unfortunately, other than the superficial, I don’t have any more details on the Eiger Lite at this time: the Zamberlan 2017 workbook doesn’t have the boot in it, and they had no info on it at the show other than the sample pair to look at. More info as soon as I get it, these look fantastic for any summer alpine that requires a technical boot.

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The other boot we all got very excited about is Scarpa’s Zodiac Tech GTX. Again, it’s a low-cut, lightweight boot with a 3/4 shank and heel bail for semi-auto crampons. Reminds me of the Rebel Carbon, actually. At 620 grams for a size 42 (claimed weight) they feel nearly non-existent on your feet, and the low-cut cuff feels airy and vented but supportive. Very, very exciting new boot for those big summer routes where you don’t need a full-shank boot but an approach shoe just won’t cut it.

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Continuing with the alpine boot theme, there’s a replacement for the La Sportiva Batura 2.0 — the new G5. The design is more of an evolution than a revolution, the G5 gaining a Boa lacing system for the forefoot and a wide Velcro strap for the ankle. It is slightly lighter (claimed 857 vs 879 grams, size 42) and loses the Gore-Tex in favour of a proprietary Sportiva-developed waterproof-breathable membrane. So, slightly lighter, better lacing, new waterproofing.

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Also new, and ice climbing and alpine focused, is the Mammut Magic Guide High GTX. This is, interestingly, a lightweight full-leather full-shank boot. It feels great, if a touch narrow for my hobbit feet. Insulated Gore-Tex, multiple lace-locks, a single-piece tongue that nearly reaches the cuff, and a solid sole make this boot look like a solid piece of all-mountain footwear. 891 grams claimed weight for a US 9.5 is quite light, indeed.

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There’s also an updated Scarpa Charmoz, featuring new midsole and sole construction for better cushioning and less weight. The sticky Vibram Mulaz S sole remains, as does a synthetic outer. Solid upgrades for a popular boot. Men’s and Women’s version available.

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Somewhat unsurprisingly, there’s also a new three-season alpine boot over at the La Sportiva booth, this one, the Trango Tower, a replacement of the venerable and much loved Trango S EVO. It loses some weight (20-odd grams) but gains the somewhat stickier Vibram ONE sole (from the Trango CUBE). Other features stay the same: Gore-Tex, synthetic outer, etc. Again, looks like a good update of a popular boot. As before, Men’s and Women’s versions will be available.

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Filling out the three-season alpine boot announcements is Lowa’s Alpine Pro GTX. It also features a Gore-Tex lining, a Vibram outsole and synthetic upper construction, though the fit is typically Lowa-wider. Men’s only, however.

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And that rounds out the alpine boots. Moving on to approach shoes…

The coolest innovation is the ‘Adaptive Fit’ on Arc’teryx’s new Norvan VT trail shoe (VT for Vertical Terrain… I know, yet another Arc-ronym to keep track of!). The Norvan has a clip on one of the lower lace hooks that can be either ‘laced’ or ‘unlaced.’ In the ‘laced’ position, the forefoot of the shoe is tightened up for more technical scrambling sections, while in the ‘unlaced’ position the shoe is more splayed out for comfortable movement over more varied terrain. In theory (we didn’t get to try this out properly) the shoe is laced up only once, and the adjustable lace-hook can be operated without undoing the laces. Pretty cool, and as always I appreciate someone thinking way outside the box. Fit, as with other Arc’teryx shoes, is excellent if a touch narrow (but, again, I have super-wide feet). There will be regular and Gore-Tex version available, in Men’s and Women’s versions. The look is typical Arc’teryx-industrial, though alongside the typical slate-grey there will be some rather garish colours available (I didn’t take a photo of these to spare your eyes. Seriously.)

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In other Arc’teryx news, the Acrux AL approach shoe gains a leather brother — these look awesome for around-town use (I love the fit, but sometimes modern industrial design just doesn’t fit into semi-rustic mountain town feel, right?) Anyway, the leather version looks awesome, and the colours look solid too.

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Moving on, the Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo sports a trick dual speed lace, with one set of laces for the forefoot, the other for the rear of the foot. I have never seen this before, but it makes total sense, and thanks to the Speed Lacing system is super quick to tighten or adjust. Nice one Lowa.

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Moving on, alphabetically, Adidas has updated their approach shoes.

The Adidas Terrex Solo is an update on their regular approach shoe, which I absolutely love. The update brings a lower-profile toe, and more abrasion resistant upper. Same sticky Stealth outsole remains (as-in, Five Ten Stealth Rubber stuff.)

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The Swift Solo is a lighter-weight version of the Solo, the notable difference being a less cushioning and supportive midsole. They come in at just 245 grams per shoe, though, and that’s pretty awesome for an approach shoe that you might need to haul along on a multi-pitch day.

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Five Ten’s Approach Pro looks suspiciously like the Adidas Terrex Swift Solo above, albeit with a round tread pattern instead of the triangular Adidas sole… (Coincidence, given that Adidas owns Five Ten? I wonder who’s copying who at this stage?). Either way, the Approach Pro looks like a great shoe.

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Rounding out the approach shoes is La Sportiva’s TX4 Mid GTX, which looks to be a cross between a heavy-duty approach shoe and a light-weight backpacking boot. The perfect shoe for those long, dewy, approaches? The sole looks ridiculously grippy and the lacing system wraps around your foot for minimal slippage. They’ll come in Men’s and Women’s versions.

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And finally, on to rock shoes! (It’s starting to get chilly here in the Canadian Rockies and the leaves are turning colours so I’m starting to think of a fall and winter filled with ice and mixed climbing, excuse the last position of the rock shoes…) In alphabetical order:

Funnily enough, the shoes I’m most excited about happen to be first in line alphabetically! From the get go, Butora’s signature design is to have their shoes available in a regular and wide last. For someone with feet approximately 15% wider for their length than someone who is already considered a wide-footed person, you have no idea how awesome that sounds. (Case in point: my size 9.5 US feet are WIDER than my friend’s size 14 US feet…) So, Butora’s new Narsha is a single-strap slipper with a downturned last that comes in a regular and a wide last. Absolutely amazing, as I can finally get a high-performance shoe that actually fits my feet. Not to mention the fit is spot-on, and the Narsha’s unique seamless heel construction ensures less pressure on the Achilles tendon while still maintaining a performance fit. The rubber feels awesomely sticky, too. Can’t wait to get my feet into a pair of these. (The Orange ones, that is, Blue being the ‘regular’ width version, as the ‘orange’ is extra wide and high-volume.)

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The Five Ten Blanco makes a return as the stiffest shoe in the Anasazi lineup. Stealth C4 rubber, a fully lined synthetic upper and to-the-toe lacing, what more could you want? Just try not to get them too dirty…

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La Sportiva’s Kataki is the spiritual successor to the much-loved Barracuda. It’s a fairly downturned shoe with a new S-Heel construction that minimizes heel distortion and Vibram XS Edge rubber for solid grip (the Women’s features XS Grip 2 for even stickier performance).

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Perhaps the most interesting rock shoe is La Sportiva’s Miura XX, the signature edition of Adam Ondra’s shoes. Seems that Ondra really likes the Miura but wanted better heel retention, hence the P3 version of the venerable Miura was born. Available for one year only (I was told to get my size pre-ordered asap to make sure they make enough) the Miura XX features XS Grip rubber and comes in Men’s sizing only. (Despite appearances, I highly doubt each pair is signed by Adam Ondra himself…)

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Next up in the La Sportiva booth was the Maverink, a No-Edge slipper designed with younger climbers in mind (or those with smaller feet). Available in EU 32 – 42 only, the Maverink is unlined, has an XS Grip2 sole, no midsole, and a P3 system heel for precise fit. These actually sound really awesome. People with smaller feet, I envy you (though I will still try to squeeze into a pair of 42’s…)

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Rounding out the La Sportiva visit is the Mythos Eco. Just in time for the 25th anniversary of the Mythos, the Eco version is 95% recycled, from the laces, webbing and tongue down to the rubber, and even the box it comes in will be fully recycled. It also comes in really cool earth-tones. Design is unchanged from the regular Mythos.

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Lowa’s Rocket appears to be a great, downturned, single-strap slipper with XS Grip rubber and a split leather upper. Unfortunately sample size was too small (or too big) to fit any of us, but we’re told it’s typically Lowa-wide. Looking forward to trying out a pair of these!

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Coming back to Scarpa, there’s a new Force V, replacing the Force X. With a lighter and slightly softer construction, the Force V promises to be more comfortable than the Force X, and to that end also has less padding in the heel area (the Force X has almost too much padding in the heel / Achilles area).

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Up next is another iteration of an existing shoe, the Instinct VSR. It is identical to the Instinct VS save for the change from XS Edge rubber in the forefoot to XS Grip2 rubber throughout (the VS has an XS Grip2 heel). The change in rubber results in a softer, more supple shoe. Whereas the VS is offered in 34-45 half sizes and 46-50 whole sizes, the VSR will only come in 34-42 half sizes (I wonder if I can fit into a 42?!).

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Last but not least is the Scarpa Origin. Aimed at the beginner climber (we were all there once!) the Origin combines Scarpa’s design knowledge with a durable 5mm-thick Vision rubber sole, an all-Suede upper and two-strap closure to create a rock shoe for less than $90 USD. I’m pretty sure my first pair of rock shoes was around the $90-100 mark, and these look way better than what I got!

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2 thoughts on “OR Summer 2016: Footwear

  1. Justin Fisher says:

    I’m excited about all these three-season boots coming up, especially for the Bugs! When are they releasing?

  2. Travis says:

    I have wanted to check out that new version of the Charmoz ever since I saw it on the Scarpa Italy website. SO happy it is coming to NA. That should be a fantastic summer boot in the PNW. I have been reticent to buy the new La Sportiva boots with the ONE sole as the rubber in the toe seems to wear out incredibly fast.

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