Scarpa R-Evo GTX Review

The new R-Evo from Scarpa is a midweight walking boot that's built for comfort. While it looks at first glance like any other suede-upper boot, it's a very modern take on that basic idea. I was impressed from the word go, and after only a couple of months of use it's fair to say that this has become my new favourite non-winter boot.

This is a brilliant all-round walking boot for spring, summer and autumn on the hills  © Dan Bailey
This is a brilliant all-round walking boot for spring, summer and autumn on the hills
© Dan Bailey

Weight and remit

At 1650g for a pair in size 47 (Scarpa say 1320g per pair, sze 42) the R-Evo isn't light by summer boot standards. A couple of other suede-and-fabric models we reviewed in recent months both came in around 1200g, while the obvious alternatives to boots, approach shoes or trail running shoes, would typically weigh about half as much as the R-Evo. At the opposite extreme you've got chunky 3-4 season full leather boots such as Scarpa's SL Active, which I weighed at 1980g for a pair of size 47 in a review last year.

In terms of both weight and remit, the R-Evo occupies a middle ground - more supportive and padded than your average lightweight summery footwear, but more nimble and forgiving on the foot than a traditional full leather boot. It's a positioning that I think will make sense if you're into summer Munros or big backpacking/trekking routes on rough terrain - and that's exactly how Scarpa are selling them. With no crampon compatibility, this is very much a three season model; I'll be putting them in the cupboard when the snow arrives.

Comfortable out of the box on Beinn a' Chrulaiste  © Dan Bailey
Comfortable out of the box on Beinn a' Chrulaiste
© Dan Bailey

Fit

These boots come in both standard and women's/low volume fitting.

I have struggled in the past with some of Scarpa's more technical footwear, which I've found too asymmetric for my relatively square-ended foot. But no such issues here. Built on Scarpa's BAG last, which is said to have a medium volume but a slim heel, the R-Evo is all about comfort. As promised, I've found it does indeed lock the back of the foot firmly in position, eliminating heel lift without pressure on the achilles.

Volume, though, feels variable. At the instep I'd agree it's middle of the road, but towards the toe the boot actually feels pretty deep, and I've experimented with adding a second pair of insoles or a thicker sock than I might normally wear in summer. I'd call the width at the front more 'relaxed' than 'technical', a round-ended shape that gives welcome room to my broad-toed foot and makes allowances for a bit of foot spread over a big hill day. It's long distance walker-friendly, then, but clearly not optimised for precise footwork if you're scrambling; for that a less compromising fit at the toe is generally better.

Testing their edging ability on grade 1 ground  © Dan Bailey
Testing their edging ability on grade 1 ground
© Dan Bailey

Scrambling on the Pink Rib of Beinn a' Chrulaiste  © Dan Bailey
Scrambling on the Pink Rib of Beinn a' Chrulaiste
© Dan Bailey

The 'sock fit' - which consists of a stretchy, padded softshell tongue - hugs snugly across the top of the foot, and has a good bit of give to accommodate different foot shapes. This feels softer and less obtrusive than a traditional tongue, and with no fold to cause pressure or ruubbing it's one of the key reasons I find the R-Evo so damn comfy. On past experience such a soft tongue can mean the laces dig into the bony top of your foot when you've fastened them up extra tight, but in this case that just doesn't happen.

At the end of even a short hill day I'm normally glad to get my boots off; but I can pretty much forget I'm wearing the R-Evo, and that's probably the biggest endorsement I can give them.

An autumnal day out for the R-Evolution GTX on Beinn Sgulaird  © Dan Bailey
An autumnal day out for the R-Evolution GTX on Beinn Sgulaird
© Dan Bailey

Upper

Most of the upper is a 1.8mm suede. This seems of a good quality, but it's clearly softer and more prone to wear and tear than a full grain leather, and there's a lot of (largely cosmetic) stitching on this boot too, which never inspires confidence in terms of ultimate longevity. In my experience, summery suede boots simply don't survive as much prolonged abuse as chunkier full leather alternatives, and I suspect the relatively soft upper of the R-Evo will be no exception. This is still a well-made boot, and there's a decent hard rand at the front where the heaviest wear is likely to be. That said, a boot with less stitching and an all-round rand would probably have the edge in terms of durability if you were going to be spending a lot of time on rougher, rockier ground.

The mid-height cuff gives sufficient support without seriously limiting ankle mobility, and this relative dexterity goes a long way towards making up for the fact that the R-Evo is not the lightest. I love the slight stretch in the cuff, and the softness of its padding - this really is a comfortable and forgiving boot.

Fabric/suede upper and Vibram Biometric Trek sole  © Dan Bailey
Fabric/suede upper and Vibram Biometric Trek sole
© Dan Bailey

Inside, Scarpa have gone with the near-ubiquitous Gore-Tex lining. On a full leather boot with minimal stitching I'm not a fan of waterproof linings (except in winter) since I find them sweaty and more or less redundant in terms of keeping out the water. With a heavily stitched suede upper, though, it makes sense to add the barrier of a lining since it would otherwise leak like a sieve. Does this make the R-Evo sweatier in warm weather than they'd otherwise be? Of course; but having used them through the tail end of summer I'll admit that it's less of a thing than I would have first assumed. The breathability of any boot depends on all the other layers that make it up, as well as the built-in waterproof bag - and in this case Scarpa have managed to keep things relatively cool and comfy.

They're not too sweaty in summer weather  © Dan Bailey
They're not too sweaty in summer weather
© Dan Bailey

Sole

For grip on the full gamut of summer hillwalking terrain from rock to mud and wet grass, the Vibram Biometric Trek sole unit has a decent deep tread, with well-spaced lugs that don't tend to get too clogged. You get a pronounced heel breast for downhill traction too. If you get on with these boots, and want to keep them going long term, it's good to note that they can be resoled.

For a light-ish summer-oriented boot the sole is relatively stiff heel-to-toe (though this is only relative), and there's plenty of lateral stiffness too, to give you a solid and supportive platform for the foot when carrying heavy loads on rough ground. While the rocker isn't as upturned as many, you do get a nice spring under the toe, which makes for a natural and non-clumpy feel. This is great when walking, especially as the miles begin to go by, but it does compromise edging ability when you venture onto scrambling ground. In these boots I'd stick to easier scrambles. Better to play to their strength - all day comfort on long hill walks.

The midsole soaks up a good bit of impact on harder surfaces  © Dan Bailey
The midsole soaks up a good bit of impact on harder surfaces
© Dan Bailey

Summary

The £200 price is at the upper end for a suede 3-season boot, and it's not the lightest, but the R-Evo GTX feels well made and supportive for its weight. It wouldn't be a brilliant choice for regular harder scrambling, and there are more durable alternatives if you're spending a lot of time on really rough and rocky ground, but for an all-round boot that can eat the miles without chewing your feet up too, it would take some beating. Above all else, for me, the crucial thing is that this is one of the most comfortable walking boots I've worn in years.

Scarpa say:

The R-Evo Gtx is designed for maximum comfort on technical hikes or multi-day backpacking trips. The R-Evo Gtx is built around a new re-designed softshell sock-fit tongue which not only offers instant comfort for a wide variety of foot shapes, but also gives great security across the middle of the foot. A suede and Gore-tex upper offer durability and protect from any weather. The comfort flex midsole gives just the right amount of torsional support, and the Vibram Biometric Trek sole unit offers great traction on challenging terrain.

  • Weight: 1650g/pair size 47 (Scarpa say 1320g size 42)
  • Sizes: 41-48 (men) 37-42 (women)
  • Sole: Vibram Biometric Trek
  • Last: BAG
  • Upper: Suede Water Resistant 1.8mm + S-Tech Fabric
  • Lining: GORE-TEX® (Performance Comfort Footwear)

For more info see scarpa.co.uk

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