SCARPA Charmoz Review Facts
The SCARPA Charmoz mountaineering boots are a quality investment in keeping your feet safe and securely under you as you climb to new heights. Having so many state-of-the-art construction components and materials in their corner, SCARPA is able to provide a quality piece of equipment that will serve you well for years to come.
Editor's Pros & Cons
-EVA foam, polyurethane, Vibram Mulaz, and Outdry tech inside and out
-sizing is tricky
The outsole of the SCARPA Charmoz is made of a special kind of rubber called Vibram Mulaz. It is designed for keeping grip on the ground or during a climb, keeping you safe from slipping or mis-stepping. Being designed with rocks, ice, and snow in mind means they come prepared to take on the elements and keep you hiking onward and, if applicable, upward. The sole can be broken down into several different areas: at the heel of the sole is a crampon insert that is compatible with various types, specifically mentioned are semi-automatic versions. If you already own a different kind of crampon, make sure that it will function with these shoes before purchasing. As your eye travels from the heel, along the length of the sole toward the arch you will be looking at the high-density grey-colored section made up of high-density polyurethane, and you may notice there is a different-colored insert visible at the side of the heel area. This is a blending point, which is comprised of a low-density EVA foam insert for more shock absorption. Continuing forward along the length of the boot to the arch area there is another separately-colored portion of the sole that is made up of a medium-density EVA material for more stability. As the eye moves to the ball of the foot and toes, the third color is another section of high-density polyurethane for more precision in the forefoot area.
The Charmoz is a three-season shoe of the alpine variety, and as such you are expected to encounter three things when wearing them: ice, snow, and rocks. You will shiver, but once you begin your hike you will sweat. You will gaze out over the expanse below you and think it is beautiful, and then you will wish for sunglasses, if you forgot them. When you are a beginner, you may find yourself wondering halfway up the incline ‘why did I do this?’ and then you will reach the summit and feel alive. Terrain does not just mean the kind of surface beneath your boots; it also means what kind of sights you will see, and how breathtaking it will all look as it lays out beneath you. The Charmoz can get you there.
As mentioned, the bottom sole of this mountaineering boot is of a rubber composition to avoid slipping or sliding on rocks, snow, or ice. There are areas of the heel, portions of the arch, and some of the ball of the foot that are designed for braking. A different portion of the heel, along with the outside edge of the forefoot, is designed and used for thrusting forward into the next step. The area with the most grip I the u-shape area of the toes, around the front of the boot. Interspersed between these sections of grip and traction tread there are self-cleaning grooves, which are large enough gaps in the shoe to let debris you might pick up fall out and away or be pushed to one side as you impact the ground during a step. These are all good things that help you to have good traction when traversing, but even rubber with the best grip ever may not stand up to snow and ice. Luckily, this particular model of boot is also compatible with certain types of crampon, and when it comes to being sure-footed on ice there are few things that compare. Having a compatible boot that works with and without the extra accessory is just one more reason to choose the Charmoz: versatility. Just always remember to watch where you are putting your feet – all the gear in the world cannot save you if you are not paying attention during a hike, trek, or climb.
The upper of this SCARPA boot is composed of Nylon and Microtech synthetic materials in order to keep you safe and supported. The laces, tongue, and sidewalls of the outsole are all dotted with bright spots of color to draw the eye and give your step some pep. There are panels of water-resistant materials, different colored cross-stripes, and a full rubber rand for climbing and foot support. The insole is made up of moisture wicking pro-fiber XT 20 material, and the entirety of the upper has lining made with Outdry material, which forms a waterproof breathable membrane to keep your foot dry but ventilated. Keeping moisture off of your foot is the name of the game with this particular boot, and from heel to toe you are, in a word, covered.
Size & Weight
The weight classification of this particular boot is considered “lightweight” at around 770 grams, or 1 pounds, 11 ounces. This is important, not just because you will want footwear that does not resemble concrete, but because you will be in them for hours – depending on your trek – and you want to know that they are not making themselves a needless burden. They are a hefty price tag, but in terms of boots they are only a little bit cumbersome. The sizing for this particular mountaineering boot is the least likable thing about it. Unfortunately for those mountaineers that live in the states, these boots are usually sold in European sizes – being Italian in origin – but thankfully conversion charts are widely available. Try to stick to the chart provided by SCARPA, if at all possible, because every company can be a little different. There are even different shoe sizing models, so do not assume that any old conversion chart you find online will be exactly the same. The SCARPA line also runs somewhat small, and recommendations vary between ordering a half-size larger, and ordering a full size larger. Or, in some cases, going one-and-a-half sizes up. This can all be somewhat confusing, because if your foot is even the slightest bit between sizes you might not know what to purchase. If you manage to find a pair that you can try on before purchasing, by all means do so. Otherwise you may have to do your best and hope your measurements and conversions were spot on, and that your estimation of up- or down-sizing was correct. It can be frustrating, and this is not exactly a good selling point, but knowing where you stand will help you wear the right boot while doing so.
Airflow & Waterproofing
Much of the upper and insole of this boot is made of moisture-wicking materials for the purposes of keeping your feet dry after sweating on a long trek. Even the outsole and rand are made of rubber and rubber-like materials that are geared towards keeping your feet from swimming in their own sweat, and likewise keeping outside moisture from sneaking in to find your toes. It is a rough balance to find, between moisture-wicking and waterproofing; the feedback from users is that the SCARPA Charmoz has found that happy medium between the two. Most users reported that snow and water stayed out, and any sweat that they felt staying inside the boots would go away if they stopped walking for a quick ten-minute break in their travels. Ultimately, you know what you are most comfortable with, but if you are worried about your feet sweating and being uncomfortable the whole trip, the short answer is that this should not be an issue.
Comfort & Cushioning
All of the combined moisture-wick and net-texture micro-fiber in the world is wonderful, but the truth is that you need interior comfort for a boot to be completely thought through. The interior of the upper portion of the Charmoz is cushioned and padded for protection and safety, meaning there will be no sharp edges. Assuming you purchased the correct size, there is no risk of rubbing or blisters on that score. Beneath your foot, however, there are only so many layers between the sole of your foot and the sole of the boot, and whatever you might be trekking over, so you are going to need some cradling to keep your foot in good form. To that end, the insole is made up of several layers. The topmost layer is the location of most of your comfort, being made up of an EVA coating over the more supporting features. This combined with the EVA and polyurethane layers of the outsole working to give you just the right amount of squish means quite a bit of thought was put into these shoes being made for long-wear and comfort.
The SCARPA Charmoz comes in two color patterns for men (gray and orange) and the women’s cut comes in a blue-tone color referred to as Maldive. All of these options have an all-black rand, a three-color outsole, a blue crampon connecting area at the heel, and two-tone laces. Your choices are a bit limited, but please remember that there are plenty of other areas where you can purchase brightly colored gear, such as coats or ear warmers or gloves. Boots are here to keep your feet safe first and foremost – and frankly, you are making more of a statement by being a mountaineer than you are with specifically colored footwear. Their moisture-wick and comforting support are far more important than their aesthetic, so try not to sweat the small stuff.
Longevity & Overall Quality
The Italians are top quality shoemakers; SCARPA was founded in Northern Italy in 1938 and has been going strong since. A name does not last eighty years because they are bad at what they do. That said, the longevity of these boots is subject to a number of factors, beginning and ending with how often you wear them. If you trek up Mt. Rainier once a year, they are likely going to last you a good number of years; if you pick another mountain every other week to traverse, you might get little more than a couple of years instead. Take care of your boots and they will last you; users reported these boots lasting them years in good condition.
The structural support of the Charmoz is where most of the safety features come in, though it could be argued that the bright flashy color options might be a means of eye-catching help if you find yourself in need of rescuing for any reason; brightly colored boots do not blend into the snow and rock, for example. Hopefully that will never come up, but luck favors the prepared, as they say. There is no built-in extra protection such as a steel toe reinforcement, but there is a portion of toe-protectant rubber that is independent of the rand, giving you a second layer of defense on that portion of the shoe. Additionally, the heel of the boot has an extra sewn layer on the exterior of the upper. This is an anti-abrasion layer of protection.
Like most sturdy boots to the untrained eye, mountaineering boots appear woefully stiff and even clunky. While it is true, you cannot do certain things in these boots, consider what you intend to use them for: hiking, possibly climbing, an alpine region. That is not the kind of pastime that has a lot of leeway when it comes to your footwear. The purpose of being an over-the-ankle boot is to keep a sturdy level of support on your lower leg. The layers of EVA foam in the insole and outsole put some spring in your step, adding a bit of flexibility, but overall a flexible boot is not going to protect you as well as a solid one.
Support & Balance
Having an over-the-ankle boot is always going to feel sturdier on your leg than a below-ankle boot. Inside the boot, there is the added support of the nearly-invisible insole. This insole is comprised of a top EVA coating for comfort, but beneath that is a layer of polypropylene and fiberglass made to keep you sturdy and in place. Beneath that, the base of the insole has a coating with anti-stretch compressed felt for the purposes of extra squish without compromising support. Always take into consideration your comfort level, but do not discount this boot because it might look bulkier than other models. Know your needs and give them a chance, if at all possible.
The top three lacing weaves (near the ankle) are a bi-component hook made up of steel and auto-lubricating plastic for maximum precision and sturdiness without wearing out. The lowest of these three hooks locks in, to hold your laces in place and distribute tension evenly to keep your foot secure and comfortable. The lower section (near the toe) is a series of loops that are integrated into the pop-color of the upper, to allow for an adjustable fit without bulking the top of the boot. The laces that come with the boots are a woven multi-color cord and are easily enough replaceable if you desire a different material or look but be sure that anything you acquire will not compromise the stability of the boot’s design.
Cost & Value
The cost of a pair of Charmoz mountaineering boots is $300 (in U.S. dollars). That might make some people blanche – especially those of you who have never purchased mountaineering boots before – but consider not just the price tag, but the value of your purchase. You are not just shelling out for a pair of shoes because they are pretty. You are investing in a specially engineered mountaineering boot that is going to keep your foot warm, dry, protected, and supported as you climb to heights you have never achieved before. If these boots were not worth their price due to not standing up to the needs of their purpose, they would not be a good value. These boots, however, are not missing the mark, or falling short. These boots will help you reach the peak. If the somewhat common opinion that these are a beginner’s mountaineering boot are true, you may outgrow them in terms of skill or need before they ever wear out, but they will have helped you to that success; that sounds well worth the price. These boots may cost $300, but they are valued far higher, to the right heart and spirit.
-EVA foam midsole and insole layers
-ankle support and crampon compatible
-EVA foam midsole and insole layers
-ankle support and crampon compatible
The simple fact is that the SCARPA Charmoz is going to serve you well on the mountains you plan to trek. For some, though, that might not be enough. Some people can get superstitious about their pastimes. If you needed a sign in order to acknowledge that this is the right boot for your mountaineering passions, consider this: not only is “scarpa” the Italian word for “shoe” but it is also an acronym. Translated to English, it reads Associated Shoe Manufacturing Company of the Asolo Mountain Area. If you wanted a sign, there it is. If it helps, it is also written across the boot’s rand.