Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX hiking boots: Tested

By Justin Walker 26 October 2023
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Scarpa is renowned for producing tough, reliable hiking footwear. Do the new Kailash Trek GTX boots maintain that reputation? We find out.

For years I have been a dedicated Scarpa hiking boot wearer, with my last pair of boots from the iconic Italian boot brand lasting me around 15 years and, really, only expiring due to me being so neglectful in their care over that ownership period. Indeed, my previous pair’s suede leather construction proved nigh indestructible during treks to the top of Mt Kenya, Kilimanjaro, along the NT’s Larapinta Trail, Tassie’s South Coast Track and Mt Anne Circuit, as well as a traverse of Canada’s rugged West Coast Track. It was a sad day when the boots finally expired, but not for long; enter the hand-made Kailash Trek GTX, in a smart Shark Grey/Blue colour scheme… 

Design of the Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX

The reason for my original Scarpa boots’ longevity, in the face of my lacklustre care and maintenance regime, is simple: that boot was built incredibly tough – and this Kailash Trek GTX is, albeit only after a couple of months’ use, looking to provide the same robustness (with my new enthusiasm for care of my gear), with some additional comfort, and at a distinctly lighter weight (my previous pair were predominantly leather in construction). This is the wide-foot variant of this boot that, for this shovel-footed hiker, is great news; my previous boots fitted well but were always ever-so-slightly snug in the forefoot. Not enough to cause any dramas, but still, even in this initial test period, I can report that the little bit of extra wiggle-room has been welcome.

The Kailash Trek GTX is constructed of a 1.8mm suede leather/nylon combo upper (with waterproof Gore-tex lining) and a tough TPU toe-cap. The boots aren’t all that heavy; the supple suede leather upper and lightweight PU mid-sole helps here, and that combo also aids in ensuring there is ample flex in the boot. The polyurethane (PU) mid-sole is further supported by the tough Vibram outsole, which is designed for optimum grip and durability.

A nifty feature of the outsole is the high number of self-cleaning channels that, again, ensures that the sole does not get ‘clogged up’ with track debris, which could otherwise inhibit the base of the sole’s effective contact with the track surface. The extedned TPU toe-cap is a welcome design implementation as well. The lace hooks are all robust and, overall, the boot’s physical design reflects its intended use, i.e., day-hikes, longer multi-day treks, etc.

In the field

In the past month or so, the Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX boots have seen a mix of day-walks (predominantly) and two overnight hikes. The boots have been comfortabel since day one; the mix of leather and synthetic upper, with just the right amount of flex, has no doubt helped, but the wider foot-base has also been a welcome revelation. One concern I had – and this applies to all boots with waterproof membranes – was my feet getting overly hot due to a lack of breathability thanks to that extra layer. This has, to date, not been an issue; the mesh areas of the outer seem to help and the fact the boot is quite light overall (635g per boot for a size 42) means I am expending less effort while walking.

The medium density mid-sole works very well to absorb impact and also combines well with the tougher, and very grippy, Vibram outsole – this, in itself, reaffirms my confidence when tackling rugged and uneven terrain, allowing me to spend less time looking down, and more time enjoying the surrounds.

Those wide channels of the Vibram outsole shed rocks/dirt/mud easily, ensuring all those lugs stay stuck to the ground for optimum traction.

I have always been a fan of a high-cut ankle has proved welcome with its additional aid to stability on rougher terrain, as well. The wearer’s foot is protected on more rugged and technical tracks thanks to the moulded TPU toe-cap, which helpfully extends back quite a bit, too – that additional protection is something always welcome. It’s early days still for these boots – summer trekking will be a tougher test of breathability and comfort, I believe – but this first six weeks have proved that Scarpa has not lost its touch when it comes to boots that simply work.

The final word on the Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX – for now

As mentioned above, it is still relatively early days for the Kailash Trek GTX. The next six months will see these boots well and truly tested, with a few multi-day treks on the horizon, the biggest being a seven-day jaunt through NZ’s Southern Alps in February.

Even at this early stage, I can see no negatives to these boots. For those looking for a sturdy, reliable and comfortable hiking boot, the Scarpa Kailash GTX is a worthwile consideration. The build quality, smart design implementations and the fact you know that Scarpa has been making hiking/trekking boots for decades, all point to these being a smart, long-term purchase for the keen walker.

Look for another online update in December and then a full long-term report of these boots in Issue 11 of Australian Geographic ADVENTURE.

RRP: $519.95 See Scarpa for more info.