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Tim Malacarne

Tim Malacarne

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Tim Malacarne

Tim Malacarnewrote a review of on February 17, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 185 lbs
Size Purchased: 11.5

My use: I have used these for the past 9 months and put a few hundred miles on them. I've used them mostly for hiking on hilly and somewhat uneven (but relatively soft) forest trails with less frequent use on trails with rocky surfaces. Probably about half of those miles have come with a ~35lb pack.

Sizing: I find them to run slightly short. I do have my standard size (11.5), but my toes are touching the front of the toebox. I use them most frequently in the morning. When I wear them later in the day, they're almost too small. I recently ordered a second pair (non-GTX) half a size larger as these are sized well for scrambling but longer backpacking with extended downhills wouldn't be ideal. I do like the bluntness of the shape of the forefoot. They aren't wide, but they fit my somewhat straight across toes well.

Performance: I have loved these shoes. Previous to buying these, I was wearing trail runners/light hiking shoes and was getting pain from plantar fasciitis. I hike every day and increased pack weight over time, but once it got over 30lbs or so, my feet didn't like the trail runners, particularly on more uneven ground. I got these and the plantar fasciitis disappeared and hasn't returned.

These are simply a different class of shoe from a lot of running and hiking shoes. They're essentially low top boots. The stole is much stiffer than most other shoes and the Mulaz sole is more heavily lugged than the trail runner class of hiking shoe. They provide great foot support (which I find more important than ankle support) and great traction on loose surfaces to rock. The stiffness allows for precision when you're using the toes and edges on small holds, though you lose some sensitivity. They're pretty light for the burliness.

I have found them to be very comfortable in the heat for a Gore Tex shoe (though I'm interested to see if the non-Gore Tex version is even better). I have no complaints about the waterproofing.

I'm not tempted to break out into an impromptu trail run in these. They just don't feel like that kind of shoe. They're very much a low cut boot, which is exactly what I want when I'm carrying a pack on uneven ground.

The most comparable show i've tried is the Salewa Mountain Trainer low. I like the looks of the Mountain Trainer better and they appear to be very well made (though I have no complaints on the Millet). I couldn't get the fit to work for me though and I like the Millet's lacing system with the final eyelet being a speed lacing hook, so I sent those back in favor of a second pair of these and can't give a more in the field comparison.

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Tim Malacarne

Tim Malacarnewrote a review of on February 3, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 185 lbs
Size Purchased: 12

My use so far: I've used these boots over about 2 months ago for winter hiking in snow and when I would be wearing microspikes/crampons. On the less intense of these hikes, I'm often carrying a ~35lb pack of gear/toddlers. They have mostly taken place in forested New England hills with little exposed rock, but lots of off camber deer trails, deadfall, etc.. I've worn microspikes with them multiple times, but this winter has not yet merited crampons.

Sizing: I generally wear an 11.5, I bought a 12 in these to allow for thick socks and potential foot swelling. I didn't try the 11.5, so I'm not sure I could have gone down half a size. I have Salewa's Mountain Trainer lows in 11.5 (albeit on a different last) and they fit well, but I wouldn't want to kick too many steps in them as my toes are a little close, so a 12 was probably the right choice.

The Good: The boots are very light for what they are and are not at all clunky. There sole is much stiffer than your average hiking boot, but it isn't rigid and there is a rocker to it that makes walking easy, though a slight adjustment if you're used to really flexible shoes. They're rigid enough to kick steps and to jam the long edge of the boot into to loose snow/ground when climbing descending.

I find them very comfortable. I have fairly normal feet with a slightly high arch and instep and they fit really well. I like the position of the lace lock and if I wanted, I could lace the ankle very loosely and still have my foot stay in place. When laced up, they are legitimately supportive of your ankle (unlike many mid-boots), but not as brace feeling as even higher boots.

My feet haven't yet gotten wet despite walking in the snow. They haven't gotten cold despite wearing them mostly in temps from 10-30 (with this morning's hike done at 0). I wear thick merino socks or smartwool mountaineering socks, depending on the temps. They aren't insulated so I wouldn't want to stand around in them, but for constantly moving they've proved plenty warm.

Neutral: They aren't very cushioned. I don't feel this when I'm walking on snow, but when on hard surfaces and very hard frozen ground I do. If i was going to take them on an extended trek where the trail was largely rock, I might put in a slightly more shock absorbing insole, but the one in now does lend to the precise feel.

The Not So Good: The lacing hooks could be a little deeper/wider mouthed. I've missed them (particularly the lock loop) a lot more often than other boot's lace hooks, particularly when my fingers are cold and the laces are wet/frozen. It's a very minor annoyance, but it would be easy to rectify.

My biggest gripe is the sole that came on the boots isn't the one listed on Backcountry's website or shown on Salewa's page. It's supposed to have a Vibram Mulaz sole and it has a different vibram sole (maybe a Mulaz Evo, which is actually an older pattern). I posted a picture below. I have different shoes with a Mulaz sole and like it somewhat better. I've tested them out size by side and the sole on my Crows is just not quite as grippy and seemingly a little harder. It might wear a little better, but I'd trade it for the softer Mulaz sole. I talked to Salewa and they said that the Crow has only ever had the Mulaz, so I don't know how mine ended up with the sole it did and future buyers will probably have the Mulaz. It's just one of the few things I don't love about this boot.

Overall: I love the boot. I wouldn't buy it as a general use hiking boot. Unless you like a really stiff boot, it's just too stiff for general purpose scrambling. For hiking in winter where crampons/microspikes/kicking steps might be necessary, alpine trekking with a decent pack, light mountaineering where you aren't front point (I presume), they're great.

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