Scarpa R-evolution GTX
$239, 2 lb. 14 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 40-47, 48, women’s 37-42
Boot makers are trying harder to design footwear that bridges the divide between lightweight, nimble shoes and heavier boots that have traditionally delivered more support and protection, but have also been stiffer and less sensitive. I personally applaud that trend, and based on what I hear from readers, I suspect consumers will like it, too. Scarpa’s new R-evolution GTX represents a step in this direction. Curious about how well they achieve this lofty goal, I wore them on a four-day, 86-mile backpacking trip in northern Yosemite National Park last September, and for three days on the 37-mile Kepler Track in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park in March.
Scarpa’s Sock Fit Technology distinguishes the R-evolution from similar, midweight models. Scarpa replaces a traditional tongue made of synthetic fabric or (often in a boot like this) leather or suede with a single piece of stretchy, Schoeller soft-shell fabric. What I noticed immediately is how it helps the upper conform nicely to the shape of my foot. My sense is that Scarpa’s correct that the Schoeller also improves breathability precisely where your foot is releasing the most heat. Still, I don’t recommend these boots for warm, summer hikes, like I had in Yosemite, where my feet got uncomfortably hot—they just weren’t right for a hot-weather trip cranking 20+ miles a day.
While I only carried a max of about 25 pounds in my pack on both treks, the R-evolution has the support and cushion for 40- and 50-pound loads, with a high-density EVA midsole, an internal stiffening plate for underfoot support, and a solidly firm, unbending heel cup. The boot strides more like lighter footwear, with a fairly aggressive forefoot flex—unusual in a model that’s nearly three pounds (per pair men’s Euro 42/US 9)—and a smart swatch of fabric replacing suede at the front of the ankle, creating a flex point exactly where you want it. And yet the midsole’s substantial torsional rigidity protects against rolling ankles. The fit embraces my midfoot and arch, gives my toes adequate wiggle room, and allows a bit of extra space for hikers with wider heels.
The R-evolution is better suited to a trip like New Zealand’s Kepler Track, where I encountered plenty of rain, wet trailside vegetation, some mud, and moderate to cool temperatures—my feet did not overheat in temps from the 50s to maybe 60° F. A TPU toe cap wraps around the toe for enhanced protection and durability. (The R-evolution Plus GTX, $279, has a full, wrap-around rand and nubuck leather uppers with fewer seams.) The widely spaced lug pattern in the Vibram outsole bites into sloppy ground like mud, gravel, dirt, or snow. The Gore-Tex membrane kept water out and breathed well enough in moderate temps, but contributed to my feet getting hot in Yosemite. The boot has superior construction, down to the stitching and metal lacing hardware, which helps the upper conform more precisely to your foot: The laces slide smoothly through the forefoot lace rings, but lock in the midfoot lace hooks, allowing you to adjust the upper lacing independent of the lower lacing.
Overall, the R-evolution is a solidly built and supportive, yet comfortable boot for backpacking in cool, wet places with a pack of moderate to heavy weight.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to buy the men’s or women’s Scarpa R-evolution GTX boots at backcountry.com.
See all of my reviews of backpacking boots, my reviews of other Scarpa boots, and my reviews of backpacking gear at The Big Outside. See also my stories “Buying Gear? Read This First,” “5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear,” “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun,” and “Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?”
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.
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