Reviewed by Chad Prentice
Via NZ Outdoor Hunting Vol. 08 Issue 2 February/March 2018
Scarpa is an Italian made brand with a big reputation for my quality boots, so I was excited to receive a pair to test and review. During the early stages of my hunting addiction I realised looking after your feet is paramount, so I take boot selection seriously. There is nothing worse than your feet slowing you down unnecessarily.
Putting the boots to the test:
As my previous pair of boots were well worn out and overdue to be replaced, I had no choice but to take my new pair of boots with me straight into the rocky terrain of the Kaimanawas. In the past with various boots I've endured some decent rubbing on my heels through not running them in first, so I was a little worried.
Throughout the roar I endured wet and wild conditions in the central parts of the North Island and after jumping straight out of the chopper I was greeted with my first river crossing, which was waist deep and there was no avoiding getting saturated.
The bar was set for the rest of the trip as I along with my boots were dripping wet. I was pleasantly surprised that over the next seven days in hard terrain these boots fitted like a glove and gave me absolutely no trouble at all. They were a real pleasure to wear and after a week of balancing on rocks my feet felt fantastic, which is the true test straight out of the box. The real measure of any product however is not the first seven days but the months that follow, testing durability to ascertain how reliable the product really is.
As always, I take the whole of April off work each year for the roar, so there was no escaping any issues that may arise wearing these boots. After spending a week on the rocks, there was no obvious wearing on the vibram sole which was impressive as I'm not a light whippet and tend to throw my feet down hard. The soles held their shape nicely and performed very well. I also noted that despite kicking multiple rocks and descending by sliding down some rocky slopes at times, the rubber rim that seals the sole to the boot was also in great condition.
Over the next month, we endured many water crossings, lots of mud and slippery banks but regardless of the punishment these boots endured, they adapted well across all surfaces.
I'm well known for falling on my backside when negotiating slippery rocks along the river beds, so it was pleasing to get good traction on those greasy obstacles.
During winter I spent 10 days on Stweart Island chasing the elusive whitetail while bus stalking. I wore a decent pair of gaiters and tried to keep my boots dry for as long as possible. The leather I must say is greater quality, deflecting water throughout the entire trip which meant I was able to keep my feet dry and warm. This certainly aids when trying to stalk as quietly as possible. The boot is firm, with great ankle support in the high country, but it's also soft on the feet so I personally found them exceptional to stalk in. They are still sensitive enought to feel what you are standing on and correct yourself to avoid unintentional noise by breaking sticks. A very important feature for an all-around hunting boot.
Since this time, I've spent a further six months hunting in these boots and to this day they still look and feel amazing on my feet. The vibram soles, which are well renowned as being exceptionally made, have stood up well across many applications and surfaces and still provide fantastic grip.
The break down:
Vibram Sole: As usual, very reliable, durable and after extensive use has stood up well and maintained great shape and traction. One of many faultless features of this boot.
Active Pro Sole: This feature has truly added comfort to my feet. This is particularly notable after being on the hill for 10 hours and not having sore shins and heels, which is a problem I've had in hard wearing boots in the past. They have moulded to the base of my feet nicely and provide good spring inside the boot.
Rubber rand: Surprisingly, this has held up very well. It is attached to the boot firmly and held great shape. I say surprisingly, because in the past this is one of the first features to deteriorate, catch foliage and become a problem with other brands I've used.
Laces: This is a very simple features where some boots miss the mark. I expect to change my laces once a year as I'm hard on my feet, and these laces have stood up very well. Twelve months later and they are just starting to show signs of wear and deterioration. They are a decent quality thin lace that has been easy to tie.
Leather: WIth any Italian boot you expect quality leather and these boots certainly hit the mark. Over the past 12 months I have thrashed these boots and not added any enhancements to the leather and they have held up well. No tears, no pulls and the leather has held its form nicely.
GORE-TEX Liner: When I've worn quality gaiters to protect the flow of water through the top of the boot and relied on the performance of the boots to protect my feet from water, they have been faultless. The liner has worked a treat.
Boot weight: I would put these boots in the middle class of weight compared with other brands. They weight about 850 grams each which is not too bad but you will notice the weight difference if wearing a quality boot for the first time. At the end of a long day, my legs don't notice the weight though.
Stitching: Probably one of the most important things on a boot. The more stitching, the more room for error and deterioration. By this I mean a boot with excessive stitching usually has multiple fabrics and technologies and this is where boots usually break down first. I would describe the stitiching as minimal, due to the one-piece leather design on each face of the boot, and very strong. Over the past 12 months there have been no faults in the stitching at all, and no water seepage.
The final word
The Scarpa Kinesis Pro GTX is a very good all-round boot and I strongly recommend giving them a go. It is a pleasure to be sent a product and be able to give it such a high rating. I can genuinely state that I have no negatives to report. These boots have really treated me well and held up exceptionally to our conditions.