Let’s cut to the chase. These boots are pretty near perfect for me and my uses. That’s a bold statement but if you’re about to read a review of a potential purpose you don’t want to have to skip all the way to the end. The Charmoz really do rock, they’re also great for snow, ice, scrambling and year round walking.
There are two important provisos to the above statement. Boots are a very personal thing; if they don’t fit then they are useless no matter how good a review they get. Scarpas fit me well but you either need to know that or get somewhere to physically try them on. Don’t just buy them blind on my say so.
Secondly; I only do reviews for companies whose products I know and like. Imagine if I get sent some shiny new, expensive kit and it’s rubbish. I’m then in the unenviable position of either having to spell that out and upsetting the company or, worse still, I can big it up and lose all cred when people buy it and find what it’s really like.
Having worn Scarpa boots, approach shoes and rock shoes for literally decades, I know the products well, know the quality and know they will fit me and do the job asked of them. Having said that, if they are rubbish, or things are wrong then I’m going to call them out.
I’m not 100% sure but think the Scarpa Charmoz were originally launched back in about 2007. I had one of the early pairs but since they were remodelled in about 2017 little is the same apart from the name. Different sole, different uppers and a different waterproof construction.
To refer to them as a “a jack of all trades” may seem a bit of an insult but is meant as a compliment. After all, who wants to purchase lots of expensive boots each for different activities, summer scrambling, easy alpine routes, winter hill walking, gullies and easier grade climbs. The Scarpa Charmoz does the lot, does it well and most importantly does so with comfort.
Remember the proviso about needing Scarpa to fit you…..but these boots ooze comfort. They are light and comfortable and feel almost like trainer level of comfort compared to some more traditional mountain boots. When I’ve been late for a road head meet then I’ve been happy to run in them with a pack on. They might be rated B2 but feel like B1s.
I have to say I’d hoped to get out and test them more but with a poor winter then lockdown coming just as things were looking promising, trails have been put on hold. Sure, they’ll get summer use for walking and scrambling but hopefully more of the white stuff next winter.
However, they have been put through their paces and been used for a variety of trips. Most arduous were a couple of winter two day trips with nights high in the Cuillin. These were in full winter nick requiring axes and crampons as well as carrying substantial loads. All I can say is, the boots done good. Top marks for comfort, feet nice and dry (always a bonus on winter bivis), quick and easy fitting crampons on/off.
For things a bit more technical, winter sections of the Cuillin ridge but never the hoped for full traverse, they were ideal. Light weight yet stiff enough for relatively easy rock and ice climbing they were the winter boot of choice.
They were also used a lot for photography orientated trips, getting up high and onto the ridge either in the dark so as to be in place for sunrise or descending in the dark after sunset. Walk ins under often adverse conditions and in the dark can be challenging at the best of times especially if your footwear isn’t the most comfortable. Setting off from the Sligachan, I often felt like I had a spring in my step. These boots are really comfy even compared to other Scarpa models I’ve worn.
They are as comfortable as the Scarpa Marmoladas I raved about in a previous review but with the added bonus of accepting my Grivel G12 Newmatic crampons. These fit really easily, quickly and are mega secure with plenty (but not too much) front point jutting out. For snow slopes, gullies and general all year round hill walking the boots are awesome and they’d work well for lower grade climbs; just keep in mind they are only B2 so you’re going to want B3s for more specific harder climbing.
I’m not going to go into specifications and technical stuff; you can read that on the Scarpa website. The OutDry waterproof is a big change from the previous model which was the more traditional goretex. I know some people have had problems with OutDry but from my use with the Scarpa Marmoladas, it seemed a big improvement. It may be slightly less breathable but I never found that a problem but it definitely seems more hard wearing and longer lasting. Apparently OutDry is bonded directly to the inside surface of the outer fabric with no seams or gaps.
OutDry worked well on my Marmoladas and I can’t see it being any different on the Charmoz but, I guess, only time will tell.
The uppers seem very tough and robust despite the relative light weight of the boot. I really like the extra protection provide by the high rand made of rubber that encircles the boot. This is definitely a feature I look for in footwear for the Cuillin with it’s rough gabbro and huge scree slopes and chutes. The tough uppers are constructed from Microtech (which is described as a synthetic leather) combined with L-Tech a Kevlar derivative. Despite a reasonable amount of use often on rock and scree the uppers still look pretty good.
Scarpa describe the ankle area as having an “Autofit Collar,” posh words for ample padding, a bit of stretch and loads of support. This seems to work well to counter any heel lift which can be a problem. I deliberately asked Scarpa for a pair one size larger than I wear in their approach shoes, knowing I might want to wear thicker socks in winter. The fit is still great and no heel lift problems so all good.
Somehow the design and construction allows the ankle a lot of support but is supple enough to facilitate a wide range of ankle movement which is great for climbing.
One area where they may be a bit lacking is in warmth though they are not billed as being highly insulated. They are fine for UK winter climbing and walking but I did get cold feet waiting around for photos but given I could be pretty static in fairly adverse conditions, that’s not too surprising.
No wonder Scarpa has kept the Charmoz in it’s line up for so long, going through updates of design and new materials. As I said earlier these are a jack of all trade boots, suitable for a variety of activities. They are durable, light weight, neat and precise and a pleasure to scramble and climb in. Oh, and did I mention unprecedented levels of comfort. Certainly the most comfortable year round boots I’ve worn but still stiff enough to front point in or edge on small holds. People will either love or loathe the bright colours but they’re certainly eye catching and great in photos. Men’s and Women’s models are available so it’d be great to hear from people’s experiences with the Charmoz especially from women since there seem to be less reviews of women specific gear.
NB this review was of the 2019 model has now been replaced by the 2020 Scarpa Charmoz HD which looks to be exactly the same except H-Dry Lamination is used instead of OutDry. Check out Scarpa’s website for big clearance reductions on the 2019 model, reduced from £300 to £175.
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