Over the past few months I’ve had to go on a bit of boot buying mission. What with various trips booked and an interest in regular wall climbing coming at once it seems to be every month I’ve got a new specialist boot to break in. So it was after being squeezed into some Scarpa Vantage rock climbing shoes, taking a battering from constant distance running in trainers and then walking round the house in some Sportiva Spantik B3 double boots (for Aconcagua), that these came along to further confuse my feet.
So why have I bought them? Well with a trip to the Alps at the end of July where my regular winter boots (Scarpa Mantas, older style B2 boots) wouldn’t have cut it on the more technical routes and left my feet cold, I had to look at a options for summer Alpine B3 boots. It didn’t take long from reading around, advice from people I know and also notes on what to take for the trip that I was soon set to try on some Nepal Evos. As everyone knows, buying kit is massively important and also quite a treat! I was happy going to Snow & Rock in Birmingham, but you do pay for shopping there and wanted to see what else was around so went to The Outdoor Shop in Stony Stratford (North of Milton Keynes).
I tried on both the old style Nepal Extreme and the Nepal Evo GTX and found the Evo a lot more comfortable. I was kind of suspicious of just how comfortable the boot felt compared with the Extreme, as I expect B3s to feel heavy/cumbersone. The fit on my heel was fantastic and the extra movement above the ankle in the support felt great. The locks to keep laces held before going up the boot to the eyelets work well and so far the inner tongue has made things even more comfortable. After walking around the shop, getting excited about other kit and forgetting I was still wearing them, I was happy enough to make my way to the til and hand over my credit card (these cost roughly around the £290-£350 mark at the moment, not a cheap boot).
Quick thoughts on The Outdoor Shop. I’d rang up and checked on stock which was put aside (the salesman even came over in the morning, saw me looking at the Evos and asked if I’d asked for some put to one side which I thought was great). Advice was good and honest. The stock held was great and surprisingly top end. In short, I’ll be going back.
As they Evos were the same size as the Spantiks I’d bought I was able to transfer my custom footbeds over and start walking around the house and office (up and down the stairwell at lunch) to get used to them and be sure the fit was good. Still feeling comfortable the next step was to find something outside to put them through their paces and get used to them on different terrain.
So first up was a trip to the Brecon Beacons to complete a loop of Cribyn (from Cwm Sere) via its North Ridge and then over to Pen y Fan and back. The boots took a little getting used to on uneven terrain and I had to loosen the laces quite a bit before they started to feel okay. On the steep section of the route to meet the main ridge up Cribyn I found them actually pretty good going side to side to get up. The rest of the day and coming down they felt fine, if not very hot (but these are insulated leather and it was a hot day in the mid 20s).
After a nice grassy/worn trail route in the Beacons, next up I wanted a really rocky route. So off to Snowdonia for an early morning scramble on the Glyders, up Tryfan’s North Ridge and then up Glyder Fach via Bristly Ridge. Whilst being too big/stiff to be really suited to scrambling, they felt absolutely fantastic. The grip was good and they dealt with everything the grade 1 scrambles threw at them. No trouble from them all day, apart from the laces coming undone on my right boot (but that’s my fault) as I came down off Y Garn.
Before taking them to the Alps I’ve got a couple more similar weekends to wear them on but even after just two days out I’m really happy with the boots. Christ, I’m looking forward to wearing them again and I’m not even in the snow yet! If they’re anything as good on snow (which I’m sure they will be and more) then I’ll be completely won over by them. Thank you very much Sportiva!