User Review: Scarpa Inverno
Use: winter hiking/mountaineering
Break-in Period: they need some break-in
Weight: 5 1/2 pounds
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $125
A good general purpose mountaineering boot. After a few years, I purchased insulated high-altitude liners that substantially increase their warmth. Because they are stiff, it is very important to lace them while leaning forward to avoid shin bang. heavier and more clunky to walk in than the more recent leather mountaineering boots, but more likely to keep your toes intact in persistent sub-zero temperatures.
- very warm with high-altitude liners
- very durable
- stiff outer shell
a year or two after I wrote the original review below, i purchased the insulated liners. they make a huge difference in keeping your feet warm. they also occupy more volume, meaning I tend not to wear them with expedition-weight socks for the most part. i think the Inverno is only sold with insulated boot liners now.
what i learned over time is that the key to avoiding 'shin bang,' a known bugaboo with these boots, is that it's best to lace the upper section of the outer boot while leaning forward, bending your knee. that gives you enough leeway to keep your shins happy and helps them feel a little less like walking in ski boots, especially in the snow. I also find it helps to lace them up and go for a couple of walks at home in the weeks before using them on a trip, so my feet and legs get used to them. i have never gotten blisters in these boots but have occasionally lost toenails when i laced the lower section too loosely on a very cold day with a lot of down-hiking.
with the warm liners, i no longer use these with overboots in the White Mountains and feel they can handle virtually any weather lower 48 states can dish out. Laced as described, these work nicely not only for climbing in crampons, but also snowshoeing in very cold conditions. If I were inclined to climb something very cold at high altitudes, i would feel compelled to pair these with a pair of forty below overboots and would think hard about one of the boot/gaiter combos like the scarpa phantom 8000, millet's everest boots, or lowa's expedition 8000.
my original review appears below.
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I purchased these lightly used for winter hiking and climbing. they are a double boot, plastic exterior shell with an inner insert, similar construction to a downhill ski boot. the inner boot laces up separately from the outer boot and can be easily removed used to walk around in a cabin, tent, or snow instead of a bootie.
My primary use has been at and around Mount Washington, the Presidentials in New Hampshire. i have used them to walk on snowy trails, with automatic/step-in crampons, and with snowshoes, and they work extremely well at all three of these.
The only place they don't work so well is dry trail, where the stiffness tends to feel clunky and uncomfortable. if you anticipate any significant amount of dry trail walking, bring a light pair of hiking shoes.
Fit is a little tricky, important to try them on. The sizing is not exactly the same as normal US sizes, and the plastic shells are sold in whole sizes only; variation of the size of the inner boot accounts for their availability in half-sizes.
In terms of comfort, these boots are significantly stiffer than a normal heavy hiking boot, so take the time to get used to them. they don't really 'break in,' but your feet and shins need to get used to them. shin bruising can be an issue; i have successfully avoided that by loosening the inner laces or not using the top set of eyelets on the inner boot, and that works fine. keeping them too loose can leave your toes banging the front of the boot on steep downhills.
for the coldest weather, well below zero, the regular inner boot isn't warm enough for me, and i tend to run warm. i have worn them on hikes in -20 fahrenheit without frostbite, but my toes were pretty numb.
Scarpa sells a fairly expensive 'high altitude' or 'alveolite' liner that is probably a lot warmer - i wonder whether it would take up more volume and change the sock combination; it's worth testing if you get the cold-weather liners.
i have, so far, opted to use insulated overboots instead (mountain hardwear absolute zero, but outdoor research and forty below have great overboots too). with overboots, i think these boots will probably work in just about any conditions. one issue with overboots generally, step-in crampons don't work too well, so better to bring strap-in crampons if you may use overboots.