Scarpa Mustang GTX
Price Paid: $168.95
It all depends on your foot. I have always gotten a wonderful fit from Scarpa and the Mustang is no exception. I got a good fit right out of the box.
I now have many hundreds of miles, ranging from too many day hikes to list, to Sierra backpacking trips, to a 10-day trek in Bhutan. I am still very pleased. They remain reasonably waterproof.
Best for a low-volume foot.
Materials: Suede leather plus gore-tex liner
Use: trails with pack
Break-in Period: some, but not too much
Weight: just over 3 lbs per pair
Price Paid: $189
I've had these boots now for several weeks. I have been wearing them around to try to break them in. Finally, I was able to use them for my first real hike this past weekend (May 2009). I have a very mixed review.
Generally, I was very happy with the overall fit of the boots on my feet. They feel pretty good all around, and I'm not getting any heel lift. I replaced the stock insole with SuperFeet black insoles. I also like the weight of the boots. They feel very light on my feet, but they still feel very supportive. Traction on trail (spring conditions - mix of mud, dirt, leaves, rocks, etc) was pretty good. The goretex lining did keep external water out of the boots. However, on a warm spring day my feet were still very damp from sweating (wearing merino wool hiking socks). Goretex simply does not breath as well as claimed.
On the negative side:
Major complaint: These boots pretty much shredded the backs of my heels while going uphill on my hike. Upon closer examination, there is a prominent line of stitching going right up the internal sock liner on the heel! What genius thought of putting a seam or line of stitching right up the internal heel of the boot??!!?? Anyway, I've got nasty blisters on both of my heels now.
I checked some of my other boots to see if any other boots were built this way. Most were not. But, to my surprise, I did find one or two other boots in the house with a seam there; but, in those cases, the seam was much less prominent than in these Scarpa Mustangs.
Minor complaint: The boot soles have a fair amount of 'rocker.' The soles are pre-curved a bit to give you a more natural stride as you walk down the trail. In general a nice feature. However it does have a down side.
On this recent hike, the upper section of the mountain was open rock. It involved me having to walk up (and later down) some moderately steep granite slabs, and climb up over overlapping 'steps' of rock. When going up (and perhaps more importantly when going down), you want to have as much rubber in contact with the rock as possible. In rock climbing, this is referred to as friction, or smearing. With these boots, with the amount of rocker (pre-curved shape) that has been designed into these soles, you give up a fair amount of the rubber that you'd want in contact with the rock.
The end result is that I did not feel nearly as confident - especially walking down steep slabs - as I do with other boots. I felt dicey on sections of rock I would normally feel totally confident on. And I slipped on a couple of occasions where with other boots I believe I would have been able to 'smear' more and keep my footing.
This is the kind of hiking I like best (above tree-line, exposed ridges, etc). So, I am thinking of not using these boots any more. Too bad, because they do have a lot going for them. But if they're going to shred my heels going up, and not give me the level of traction on steeper rock that I expect, then they do me no good.
Use: long, rough day hikes with significant elevation gain
Price Paid: $156
These boots looked great and felt great in the store. I wore them around town and at work and they were ok then too. Unfortunately, once I started wearing them on the trail and climbing they quickly started giving me heel blisters and pains in the balls of both feet. Plus they leaked in water at the first hint of rain. They have a very hard sole which seemed slick on rocks.
They got worse instead of better as I continued to try to break them in. I came home from a 6 mile climb one day and the boots were soaked from stepping in a few poodles and both my feel were killing me. I tried all kinds of inserts, blister pads and ball pads but nothing worked.
Hugely disappointing after what I'd paid for them. I got them from Zappos and they actually took them back after I told them my story. Zappos simply gives the best customer service on earth - period.
Use: mix trails, steep terrian, 50lb pack
Price Paid: $155
PROS: Support is superb, stable w/ 50lb pack on my back. Grip is good, weight is ok, don't really feel it at all. Breathability is ok, but does warm up in hotter weather. I have put probably up to 50 miles with the Mustang and they are holding up fine.
CONS: There is only one con really. But it's a BIG one. After 50 miles with these shoes one would think all the discomforts that comes with breaking in shoes would be over and done with by now (if not after the firs 10 miles or so). Not with these pairs. The back of the heel hurts like hell! It constantly digs into the back of my heels causing sharp pain. I have to really pad my feet up with blister pads and moleskin. The extra padding resolves the issue even if I can still feel the pressure... but at least there is no pain.
SUM: I realize footwear is a personal thing, what fits one well may not fit the other... The Mustang for me though is disappointing. It is disappointing that such a supportive boot is let down by the shear pain of wearing it.
Materials: suede with fabric accents
Use: Go-to 3 season mid/light boot for up to midweight loads
Break-in Period: nil
Weight: about 3 lbs.
Price Paid: $169
I bought these to replace a pair of REI Monarch GTX boots (old style, full leather, made by Merell - the new ones didn't impress me). They fit my medium width, medium to low volume foot well, and seem to accommodate a decent array of socks - thick, medium w/liner and medium alone.
Break-in time is nil. Since August '07, I have worn these boots hiking, backpacking, hunting and snowshoeing in Wyoming, the UP and Wisconsin, respectively. They have performed well in all situations so far. The sole is as stiff as I've seen in a light/mid boot and should hold up to a bigger load than the weekend-sized pack I've used them with. Although waterproof, treatment is a must as the suede seems to suck up water.
Nitpicks: After one of the first hikes I wore these on, a corner of one of the lugs came off. After many more miles, it is still the only one, so that seems to be an isolated incident. Suede is a magnet for dirt and mud, making them hard to keep clean. They are a little "sporty" visually for my taste--I'd prefer solid brown or black.
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