“Are these warmer than the Nepals?” “Do they front-point as well?” Lighter? Heavier? More or less supportive? As durable? What about the price?
From climbing blogs to message boards, it doesn’t take long to find someone making a comparison to the La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX boot. And it should come as no surprise that La Sportiva’s Nepal Evo is one of the most popular mountaineering boots of all time; a combination of rugged, supportive 3.2mm Perwanger leather, classic lacing system, lugged Vibram sole with rigid midsole, all lined with insulated Gore-Tex to keep a mountaineer warm and dry (elusive conditions, to be sure) add up to a serious boot that may not be the best at any one thing, but proves consistently strong across the board.
The lowly sock. It’s battered, stretched, soaked, wrung, rolled, crushed and worn through. It is one of the least expensive pieces of our wardrobe, but has perhaps the most significant, sustained contact with the body, whether on the trail, the mountain or the slope. A good sock is remembered only when donning and removing, while a bad sock is at best an annoyance and at worst can jeopardize a trip or even one’s health.
When your job moves you around the world every few years, you get pretty good at organizing a house-full of stuff to be packed, shipped and unpacked at its destination. In the fifteen or so years my wife and I have been living this life, we’ve had a remarkably strong track record of getting the things we want and need to our new home. There is luck involved, too; one hears tales of cargo ships sinking, condemning all of a family’s possessions to The Deep. To make a long story short, we’re pretty good at this.
Then, imagine my displeasure when, after searching the last few not-fully-unpacked boxes we brought with us to Japan, I discovered that my trusty old pair of Asolo backpacking boots were nowhere to be found. Now, they’re not lost and gone forever; I used them a few times during our last stint back in the States, so they doubtless sit safely packed into one of our boxes in long-term storage.
So, when I decided to get back into hiking again after a hiatus, I spent some time online researching boots. But a number of sites, especially those preaching the lightweight and ultralightweight backpacking gospel, said boots were passé, that they didn’t really give support to one’s ankles anyway, and that shoes were the In Thing. I was skeptical, but as I read more, I found that even more mainstream sites were encouraging hikers to consider a low-cut shoe for hiking and light backpacking. Part of the rationale stems from a study by the U.S. Army that finds that among the soldiers studied, “Weight alone appeared to account for 48-70% of the added energy cost of wearing boots.” And that science is backed up by a considerable amount of anecdotal reporting from hikers who have made the switch. So I thought I would give it a try.