Hanwag Ferrata II GTX
If you want a versatile B2 boot for scrambling and high mountain via ferrata as well as summer Alpine routes and Scottish winter mountaineering, then the Ferrata II is a top contender, says Dan Bailey.
The Charpoua Gore-Tex boots from Millet are a B2 rated flexible walking and easy mountaineering boot. They have a fully waterproof Gore-Tex liner, can take a flexible or semi-rigid crampon (C1 or C2), and weigh 1400gm per pair.
I've tested them for the last six months on a variety of terrain including summer hiking and scrambling, easy rock climbing, winter walking and on alpine snow slopes wearing crampons.
I have found the French Millet brand in general to have a slim, athletic fit with its clothing range. With its roots in Chamonix, the Millet products are very much aimed at active mountain users, and the clothes are definitely designed for the mountains, but are the boots a similar low volume design? Not quite.
The Charpoua are sold as a narrow fit, and in general I would agree with this, however boot fitting is much more complex than just wide or narrow, so here is a more in depth run down of how I found the Charpoua fit:
The heel of the Charpoua is medium / narrow in width, but is not hugging in its design at the rear, giving the heel some room for movement. I found the shape of the back of the heel allowed some space between the boot and my Achilles area, but the sides of the heel area were nicely snug on my small heel. If you have a particularly pronounced Achilles area then this boot could be an ideal fit.
The Mid Foot:
The middle area of the Charpoua is narrow in width and medium in volume. I found to lace the boot up comfortably, I didn't need to cince the laces together too much, however the boot is certainly not low volume in this area and those with a very shallow foot may fing the fit to be quite roomy.
The Toe Box:
Whilst continuing on the slightly narrow theme (although not the narrowest of boots I have tried) the toe box is of a high volume. This gave my toes a lot of room to wiggle, and meant that comfort in the front of the boot was not an issue.
A generally narrow boot with medium volume in the heel and mid foot and a high volume toe box.
NOTE: Personally I have medium to narrow feet with very small heels and very low volume. This fit guide is from how I found the boots.
The uppers of the Charpoua are made from a leather-like synthetic material with flexible carbon fibre reenforcement panels and a Gore-tex membrane. They have a high, strong rubber rand, and a very solid and high quality feel and finish.
In the six months of use I have had absolutely no issues with the uppers. They have been 100% waterproof, have easily coped with rocks, mud, water and snow, and after a good clean just now are looking almost as good as new. Thumbs up for the construction and toughness of the uppers.
The boots are easily warm enough for winter walking, and have a comfortable and neatly stitched inner liner.
The rubber of the sole is Vibram and is of a very high quality. The sole pattern has been great on muddy trails and snowy hikes. The lugs, especially at the heel are deep and aggressive, giving confidence on slippery ground. The rubber is fairly hard and therefore hardwearing, and adds to the overall feel of the boot - solid. There is an area of less deep tread around the front of the boot, giving more friction when rock scrambling, however I felt that this boot was more at home on the trail than on the crag.
The boots have an EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) mid sole which I found quite stiff and solid. The shock absorbing nature of the boots is on the harder side, and the stiffness level of the boots is quite high. The flex came at the right point on the ball of the foot, and the stiff mid soles also gave a lot of lateral stiffness to the boot, supporting the foot on rocky ground and giving a good firm base for a crampon.
The whole feel of the boot was more 'mountain' than 'ramble'. They felt tough, and at home on scree and difficult mountain walking terrain. The bots have a rear step that can take a crampon, and with a crampon on had enough rigidity to give confidence on snow slopes. The accuracy and nimbleness of the boots was lower than some other designs with a lower volume toe box, however these did give the toes room to wiggle, adding to all day comfort.
If you are looking for a tough, solid and fairly rigid pair of mountain walking boots and you have a foot shape that fits these well, we would highly recommend these hard wearing and sturdy boots from Millet.
They are a good all round mountain boot that will comfortably take a crampon, and also take on all that Scottish winter walking could throw at them.
For precise summer scrambling perhaps try a more nimble boot, and for summer rambling a softer boot might be a better option.