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Scarpa SL ACtive Hiking Boots

Review: Scarpa SL Active WMN Hiking Boots

Mega comfortable 3-4 season leather hiking boots for winter hiking, scrambling and hill walking.

They’re tough, comfortable and highly technical. Plus, the oh-so-classic looking Scarpa SL Active WMN hiking boots are specifically designed for female feet. They are the ultimate hiking boots, for rough mountain walking in cold conditions, providing a good balance of warmth and robustness, without being overly heavy and cumbersome. They are also crampon compatible and a winner for low level scrambling excursions.

Scarpa SL Active WMN: The stats

Weight:1.35kg / 2.97 lb per pair
Waterproof:Yes
Uppers:Leather
Outsole:Vibram Biometric Trek
Eco info:Currently, 92% of Scarpa’s global energy needs comes from primary, non-renewable sources. The boots can be resoled.

Features of the Scarpa SL Active WMN

Uppers

Side view of hiking bootsThere’s no waterproof membrane to keep water from getting to your feet. Instead Scarpa use extra thick 2.8mm Sherpa leather. They claim that it is the “toughest and most water-resistant full grain leather” that they use. It is constructed in one piece and is impregnated with HS12 – a tanning process that adds durability, scuff-resistance and water-resistance.

Outsole and midsole

Sole of hiking bootThe SL Actives boast Vibram Biometric Trek soles. These comprise 4 layers of techiness that in combination provide lightweight cushioning underfoot, stability and support from their anatomical design. This results in semi-stiff soles with a B1 grade for rough mountain walking and low grade scrambling. They are crampon compatible and their deep lugs provide a ton of traction and support on challenging terrain.

Laces

Boot lacesWith a “speed lacing system” and tough metal eyelets, the laces are a breeze to do up. Because the laces extend right down to the toes, there’s a ton of adjustability to get the fit just right. You may need to play around with some alternative lacing techniques for a truly customised fit. The laces themselves also stay done up. A small but highly crucial detail!

Cushioning and ankle collar

Collar of hiking bootsA lot of thought has gone into the technical design of the ankles and collar to make them as comfortable and supportive as possible. This includes memory foam ankle padding, an Autofit Collar, a Heel Tension System, and a V-Flex System. Long and short of all that is comfort, performance and a boot that seems to work with your feet, not against them!

Toe box

Toes of hiking bootsScarpa footwear aren’t renowned for spaciousness in the toe area. However, these boots are not restrictive in this area either. There is enough wiggle room for your toes, but certainly not much space to spare. The protective rand over the toes is a real asset to these boots, adding durability and suitability to tougher terrain and scrambles.


Scarpa SL Active WMN review

The Scarpa SL’s have been roaming the hills and mountains of the UK and Europe for as long as I’ve been alive! They first hit the market in 1983 and have undergone many changes and improvements over the years. The newest version is as popular as ever to those looking for 3-4 season leather boots that will deal with almost everything that you can throw at them.

The ‘SL’ stands for super light. Yes, 1.35kg / 2.97lbs (women’s) for a pair of hiking boots may not scream feathery, floatiness when compared with the many options under 1kg that are available. But for crampon compatible leather boots with moderate stiffness, their title is more than valid.

Robustness and warmth

These things are made for tough mountain days, hill walking in cold conditions and low grade scrambling. The deep lugs, relatively stiff soles and supportive ankles deal with stomping through snowy patches well. And when the going gets tougher than that, their crampon compatibility adds an extra level of versatility during winter excursions.

I’m a cold-footed person. So although the luxurious lining provides more warmth than 2-3 season boots, my feet still get a little chilly when hiking in the snow. For prolonged use in snowy mountain terrain I would prefer a little more warmth. However, those with normal circulation to their extremities will probably find the warmth the boots provide sufficient.

Scarpa boots in the snow

Comfort and fit

For relatively stiff boots such as these, I was really impressed with their almost immediate comfort. The plush cushioning around the collar and tongue contribute to this. But the memory foam padding around the ankle also adds to their comfort levels, allowing the uppers to mould to the shape of the foot with each wear.

I’ve read that some folk have needed to break the boots in before reaching optimal comfort levels. Yes, they have certainly become more comfortable the more I’ve worn them. But I didn’t feel the need for a dedicated break-in period and have had zero problems with blisters or hot spots from day 1.

Fit-wise, the boots are true to size. However, if you have low volume feet then you may find it a little tricky to lace the boots tightly enough over the mid foot. This depends, to a degree, how much wiggle room you like through that part of the foot. I like very little movement and do struggle to get the fit as snug as I would prefer over my low (ish) volume feet. Heel lock lacing helps.

Despite that, and regardless of how I lace them, my heels stay firmly in place, even through steep ascents. On the descents there is a little movement forwards if I don’t lace with a heel lock. But laced well, my toes stay well away from the fronts of the boots.

As mentioned, the ankles, with all their plush luxuriousness, are stupidly comfortable. However, I find that there is a little too much room around the collar for me, which tends to get more baggy the longer I walk for. I do, however, have slim ankles and calves. For those with a full calf and normal to large ankles this wouldn’t be a problem and the fit would actually be ideal.

Walking boots on grass

Waterproofness and breathability

I have had zero issues with breathability when hiking in temperatures ranging from -2ºC to 10ºC. Bear in mind that my feet are on the cold side most of the time. I’ve yet to wear them in warmer conditions so I can’t comment on their breathability yet. But will update later in the year.

Their waterproofness is impressive. So far, the leather has performed as it should, preventing water from seeping into it even after prolonged wear in wet conditions. Plus, the gusseted tongue provides protection across the laces right up to the second from top lace hook, allowing you to stomp through streams and bogs with confidence.

This waterproofness won’t last forever. So it’s important to treat the boots periodically with wax or a leather waterproofing treatment.

Woman walking on cliff edge

What I love the most about the Scarpa SL Active WMN

Their simple design is highly appealing to me. There are very few seams on the uppers which means less scope for them to lose waterproofness and to fray/degrade etc. The design is also pleasing from an aesthetic point of view. However, I mostly love how tough these boots are. Yes, the leather needs looking after, but I feel like I can throw anything at them and they’ll bounce back with more to give.

What I don’t love so much about the Scarpa SL Active WMN

Yes, they’re ideal for moderate winter hiking and low grade scrambling. For wear in warmer conditions, however, they’re heavier than I’d prefer, on the warm side, and a little cumbersome. I like to feel light and free when on the trail in the summer. That said, I tend to wear hiking shoes or trainers during the warmer months, so their suitability for winter hiking actually complements my preferences rather nicely!


Woman hiking by the sea

Verdict

For winter hiking, low grade scrambling and hill walking, the Scarpa SL Active WMN hiking boots are a mega popular option that provide unrivalled, lightweight comfort. Look after them well, and even resole them, and these stylish, leather hiking boots will last for years and years of 3-4 season hiking adventures.

Find the latest price at:
Scarpa | Cotswold Outdoor | Backcountry | Amazon

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that Scarpa SL Active WMNwe love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

author-joey

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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