Happy feet are essential if you are going to enjoy your walking. A painter paints with his hands a singer has his voice and all a walker has are his two feet. Keeping them happy really counts.
New boots are a major investment for any outdoor goer. If your boots aren’t right you know instantly and the pain they can cause can spoil a whole day or even a whole holiday. You might buy the wrong jacket or maybe a rucksack that isn’t right but they won’t tear the skin off your feet like badly fitting boots.
Over the years I’ve progressed through all kinds of boots and my feet are now part of mountaineering history. In my early years I was the proud possessor of Galibier Super Pros. These boots were bullet proof and probably constructed in a ship yard. They were rigid boots designed for ice climbing and were so heavy if you couldn’t climb a mountain you could kick it down with them.
After these plastic shell boots came into fashion. They looked like something the astronauts used for stepping on to the moon. They were much lighter than my old Super pros, were totally waterproof and needed no maintenance. For many years plastic boots were the weapon of choice for the serious climber and on the cliffs of Ben Nevis everyone walked about with the characteristic squeak plastic boots made with every step you took. It was like being followed around by an invisible penguin chick.
A couple of weeks ago I stepped into a puddle with my fabric and leather summer boots and felt that unmistakable coldness of water seeping in. I had sprayed them with every waterproofing product on the market, and still they leaked. I’ve concluded that fabric and leather boots just leak. Gortex or no Gortex you get wet feet and that’s not something I want. So began my quest for new lightweight leather boots.
My travels in the far north take me through miles of bogs so my boots need to be able to resist a soaking. I chose Scarpa Men’s Delta GTX Walking Boots because they looked rugged enough for my purposes and seemed a reasonable price. I think you have to try on a pair of boots before you can decide if they are right for you but, the truth is, it’s always hard to be certain if boots are right for you as it can take six weeks before they mould to your feet and you find they fit like slippers or rip your feet to shreds on every outing.
Here’s the boots at GoOutdoors
I use this trick to get most of my gear and I rarely pay full price. Go outdoors, and I think some other retailers, offer a price match guarantee which works like this. If you can find the same article in another store cheaper than it’s offered by them they’ll give it to you for the same price less 10%. For these Scarpa boots Go Outdoors were asking £189. In a quick look around the internet I found them at WalkOutdoors for £173, although the price has now increased. I pop round to Go outdoors with my little ipad and they knock 10% off £173 and I pay around £157 saving me £32. Simples, as the meerkat says! The only catch is that it has to be exactly the same item down to colour, size, model etc. Close is not good enough.
Choosing the right size is always a bit nerve wracking as once you’ve worn boots outside, which is the only way to decide if they really fit, you can’t return them. One trick is to remove the insoles from the boots and place your feet on them as if they were in the boot. This lets you see how much room there is in the boot. With the Scarpas I had to take a size 9 which is larger than my usual size 9.
I use shock absorbing insoles, rather than those supplied with boots, so I took those along with me to the store and fitted them into the boots before I tried them on. The boots do feel slightly large but, as your feet swell when you walk, I think they’ll be okay with thicker socks.
Moment of truth!
I headed out to a bothy in Sutherland, a place noted for the ferocity of its bogs and its trackless wastes that challenge any pair of boots. I was amazed by how waterproof these boots are. Most boots claim to keep out water and then capitulate after a few miles of bog and let it seep in. Indeed this was the reason I abandoned my fabric boots. These boots did exactly what they said on the tin, nothing got through them. I tried proofing them before I went out but it just ran off. If they stay as waterproof as they are right now for the next year, I’ll be delighted.
So far, they are pretty comfortable although, like most leather boots, they need a little breaking in.
All in all I’d give them 5 stars. A rugged buy lightweight boot, ideal for the rough areas of the Highlands hills.