Scarpa Terra GTX Review – Sleek, Sturdy and Superb Value Walking Boots
The Scarpa Terra GTX walking boots are widely rated in rambling clubs throughout the UK – but do they live up to the hype?
Key Positives of the Scarpa Terrra GTX: Waterproof, Good Value, Decent Weight.
We started the test-phase for our review of the Scarpa Terra GTX walking boots over 6 months ago and have been running both the men’s and women’s versions as ‘long-term test units’ ever since. They have been put through their paces on country lanes and mountain tops, through torrential rain and slushy snow. We believe we can now accurately give our verdict on their overall performance.
The reason we have gone the extra mile (literally) with these boots is because they are so highly rated by experts and members of the public alike. We needed to independently verify that the lofty praise which they have received in recent years is deserved.
Firstly a bit of background on the company – Scarpa are an Italian-owned company which now has a large division in the USA and a global distribution network. The word “scarpa” actually means “shoe” in Italian, and so you might hope that the company know a thing or two about designing walking boots, especially having been making and selling them since 1938.
The Terra GTX boots are Scarpa’s best sellers. They are actually amazingly good value for money for a full leather-upper boot with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lining, retailing currently for around the £140 mark. But do they cut the mustard in terms of fit, function and comfort? Read on to find out….
Scarpa Terra GTX boot layout
On opening the packing boxes, it became immediately clear that the Scarpa Terra GTX Women’s boots enjoy an identical design to the men’s version but with a smaller scale/size. This is not always the case as some brands have been known to use different materials and charge very different prices between the male and female versions.
I was immediately struck by the gorgeous nut-brown oiled leather used by Scarpa for the upper portion of the boots. It felt extremely soft and pliable when I tried to flex it and made me believe that these would be comfortable to wear.
The leather uppers of each boot contain six pairs of secure eyelets to hold 140cm laces. The lower four pairs of eyelets are enclosed with the laces threaded through and are equi-spaced. The remaining two pairs are open eyelets and spaced sequentially further apart up towards the ankle top. The open eyelets mean that the boot-wearer can decide whether to tie at the fifth or sixth level for varying ankle tightness.
Around the ankle region of the boot, there is a separate padded cuff having increased rubber content to protect the ankle of the wearer. This region is covered in an almost suede-like leather which feels comfortable and decently ‘squidgy’. By having flex in this way, it means that the sole of the boot can be made relatively more rigid whilst still allowing the wearer to walk in a relaxed manner. The tongue of the boots uses a similar material.
Waterproof and Breathable
The GTX in the name of the boot stands for Gore-Tex, and there is indeed a Gore-Tex layer built into the lining of the boot from the sole upwards. This provides a waterproof technical layer which categorically blocks liquid water from reaching your socks. In addition, the outer leather layer provides considerable water resistance, especially if you keep them polished and waxed.
Scarpa claim that moisture is wicked away by the inner lining of the boots and hot water vapour can also permeate out through the bidirectional Gore-Tex layer. By losing water in this way, the boots don’t get water-logged and stay light-weight. Indeed the weight of these boots is surprisingly low at only around 490g for the size 7 and around 550g for the size 11.
The boots use the new Vibram Energy 2 sole for excellent grip and rigidity. There’s nothing worse than a sole which is too flexible when clambering over rocks as you can feel the edges cut into your feet – the Terras don’t fall into this trap and provide great support, mixed with enough shock absorption to stop discomfort from repetitive slamming of your foot against the ground.
The sole of the shoe is riddled with a maze of deep grooves which are designed to provide exceptional grip on rock or grass.
Inside the boot on top of the Vibram lower sole is what is known as the PU-midsole layer. This is an ergonomically shaped damping section which provides additional comfort to your foot and essentially cushions it against impact. It is hard wearing and was not significantly compressed or worn after 6 months of testing. However they can be replaced if required.
The boots look exceptionally good for this price point. As would be expected there are little Scarpa design cues and insignias located at various points on the boot – the rear side panel incorporates an embossed logo and each tongue a stitched leather label. Actually, it’s worth mentioning the stitching on the Scarpas – it is exquisite and is definitely a match for the more expensive Meindl Bhutan MFS boots which we were also impressed by in a previous review. Overall, they look as good as you could hope for. But how do they feel on?
Scarpa Terra GTX boots - Fit and Comfort
I’m a 6ft3 male and typically wear a size 10.5-11 UK sized shoe (EU 45). I therefore ordered the size 11 men’s version. My wife Ali plumped for the women’s size 6.5 (EU 40) against her normal size 6.
On first slipping my feet into the Scarpa boots I could tell right away that I was going to get on with them. Unlike the Meindl Bhutans, the Scarpas have a slightly wider fit for the same specified size boot. As my feet are wider than average, this suited me immensely. Wearing my usual hiking socks, the size 11 fitted perfectly, with just the right amount of headroom (or should that be toeroom?) inside. Ali reported the same with her size 7s. I would certainly therefore recommend getting a half-size larger than your normal shoe size for this reason if you like to wear thick socks.
We typically ‘break in’ our boots by wearing around the house for short periods of time per day, coupled with softening the leather via waxing/polishing. With the Scarpa boots however, remarkably this was not required because the leather used is so supple. I’m not sure how they do it, but (anecdotally) Italian leather always seems to me to be softer than any other.
In any case, we had purchased some of the official Scarpa HS12 waterproofing cream to apply to the leather in order to aid with waterproofing and further softening. This probably isn’t necessary when you start out with the boots, but is recommended so as to help maintain them as you complete some wet weather walks and/or get scuffs.
Scarpa Terra GTX Hiking Boots - In Use
Over the course of six months, we completed a total of 22 individual, and 8 joint hikes/walks/climbs wearing the Scarpa Terra GTX womens and mens boots. I know this because I logged them all on Strava! The terrain covered Dartmoor, Snowdonia (an amazing climb of Tryfan) and Sutton Park near Birmingham where we live.
The boots coped remarkably well. The EVA/PU mid-sole layer really helps with walking. It provides comfort and additional progressive flex via a novel rib system incorporated into its structure. This coupled with the Vibram Energy 2 undersole offered superb underfoot comfort but with a reassuring rigidity on rocks when scrambling. We felt that we could rely on the boot to provide grip and security on even wet rock, and the boots performed well when the ground was covered in snow on one walk. On ice the soles provided no grip at all but this is to be expected – time to dig out the crampons if you need to cross the arctic circle any time soon!
Walking with the boots on is brisk and unrestricted. Their light weight enables easy pick up of the foot and a relaxed gait to rack up many miles under the belt. Sometimes you may not want to put on a full leather walking boot like this for a local ramble on country lanes, but I must say I never regretted it when I did. Use the right tool for the job as my father used to say!
The leather + Gore-Tex combination on these boots is superb. Our feet were kept dry throughout the six months, even when fully submerged in bog on the foothills of Tryfan. We always seal the top of our boots with gaiters and this helps protect against water entering from above. Equally, there was limited issues with moisture build-up inside. Using merino wool socks must help with this, as well as the wicking properties of the boot inner fabric.
As I look at the four boots now, there is no sign of any exterior wear and tear, even though they have been well used. The mid-sole is removeable and does show a small amount of discolouration. We will probably replace those in a year or two. I can envisage the boots lasting for many many years though.
Scarpa Terra GTX Hiking Boots - Conclusions
So do the Scarpa Terra GTX boots live up to their elevated position in the world of hiking, climbing and rambling. I can answer that with an unqualified YES. For the money I don’t believe there is a better boot available and for that reason I have to give them maximum marks. My wife is very happy with the women’s version too and rated them “5 out of 5”.
With any leather boot, upkeep is essential. If they get covered in mud then I recommend scraping the majority of it off after completing the walk. Let them dry and then brush off the remainder before cleaning with a cloth and letting them dry again. Then apply the HS12 waterproofing cream and separately polish if desired. They will last a lifetime if you follow this process.
It's always difficult to award maximum marks to any product because nothing is perfect in this world right? Wrong! The Scarpa Terra GTX walking boots are fantastic from top to bottom, and we wholeheartedly recommend buying some if your size (+ 0.5 for thick socks) is available. Go for it!