AFTER many years wearing heavy-duty (and heavyweight) hiking boots on 4x4 camping adventures, I took the plunge a while ago and tried out a lightweight (440g per shoe) pair of low-cut outdoor shoes: Scarpa’s Oxygen GTX.
Scarpa is one of the most wellknown and highly regarded outdoor shoe manufacturers on the planet, and I have been a long-term wearer of the brand. My old pair of heavyduty hiking boots provided excellent service in a variety of conditions (everything from three weeks of overland 4x4 touring in the NT to climbing Mt Kilimanjaro) over their 12 years, so I was very interested in the brand’s latest offering.
Scarpa claims the Oxygen GTX uses Gore-Tex Surround technology to offer improved breathability in the shoe. The technology is based around the movement of the collected inner moisture (primarily sweat) out of the shoe via a “revolutionary breathable spacer”.
From this spacer, it then pushes the moisture out through the suede/ mesh outer.
I was initially intrigued as to how the ‘sweaty feet’ problem of boots with waterproof/breathable layers would be addressed, but this new technology seems to provide more ventilation – especially in hot, humid parts of the country – and still keeps dirt and water out.
More impressive is the shoe-fit. The Oxygen GTX has an elastic collar that makes for a much faster wearing-in period – I received these barely three days before heading off on a big multi-day hiking trip to Canada, which included plenty of scrambling over mountainous ridgelines and following rocky tracks, and I suffered no blisters, aches or pains.
Since that first breaking-in trip, the boots have done plenty of camping with the family. On these trips I usually only take the Scarpas, as they’re comfortable enough to wear around camp but tough enough to handle any hikes from base, where they invariably get stubbed into rocks, branches and whatever else my gumby feet connect with.
Scarpa’s Sock-Fit DVL construction system is designed to adapt to the shape of your foot to assist in minimising potential arch pain. Again, this all sounds super-high-tech, but the proof was definitely in the fact that I’ve never felt discomfort with these boots.
Over the p ast 12 months I have transformed into a big fan of these lightweight, tough and versatile shoes. The only time I’d ever reach for a heavier, high-ankle boot would be if I were heading up high into the mountains on an extreme climbing or trekking expedition. For everything else, these blue beauties are my first choice.