I’ve been really impressed with these boots this fall and early winter. I’ve been wearing the same pair of mountaineering boots for a few years but I asked SCARPA for a test run on the Charmoz to see how they would work for me, and I’m sure glad I did. Immediately I noticed a significant improvement in fit as the Charmoz has a nice roomy toebox without allowing too much slop in the boot. Room in the toe box becomes more and more important to me every year, as a slowly but surely beat the life out of my feet by making them live in ski boots, cycling shoes, and mountaineering boots. My feet are rebelling by refusing to tolerate toe bang, blisters, and too-small lasts anymore, but they still insist on a nice snug heel cup to keep everything in place. Picky, picky. I found the Charmoz more than satisfactory on all counts, though I had to double-wrap the ankle laces to prevent loosening (this can be a real culprit if you get toe bang. Cinch those puppies back in the boots by double-lapping your laces over the first set of hooks, and all will be well).

SCARPA’s buzzwords for this boot are “light and versatile” and I’ll co-sign with that. They’re billed as being compatible with semi-automatic crampons and they seem to work OK with my Rambos too, which I think are automatic but are labeled as “cramp-o-matic.” Okay, whatever – the Charmoz has a bit of a smallish toe-bail “shelf” that seems to keep the toe bail pretty secure, though it’s not as secure as it would be in a bigger, ice-climbing-specific boot. For that reason I hesitate to tell you to count on these boots for technical ice, even though I do – I think it’s going to depend on your crampon choice, and whether you’re married to the idea of only using totally stiff soles for ice climbing. Me, I’m kind of over the whole burly boot thing and I consider comfort just as important as performance, so I’ll take a bit of flex in exchange for reducing the agony in my feet. I can wear these on weekend ice climbing jaunts and on our daily 5-mile hikes around the local mountains with the dog; not something that’s too easy to do with super-mega-stiff boots. I think these will make it to my “mountain rescue mission” shelf too; on those missions one needs technical performance and serious comfort because there’s no telling how long you’ll be out there. Mostly, mountain rescue boots need to be able to be walked in for long periods and these fit the bill.

Some wearers might object to the fuschia. If you don’t like fuschia, well, get over it, it doesn’t really matter what color your shoes are. The only time the color makes me cringe is when I find myself wearing a jacket of the same shade with pant and gloves with the same accent color(purely accidental, thanks heaps “color consultants” who are really the ones who run the industry, pay no attention to the people behind the curtain with all those swatches!), and I look like some dummy posing for one of those adventure photography types. But I get over that, because it still looks pretty cool.

Great boots, no complaints, and that’s hard to come by around here.