What is it that turns a hiker into a happy hiker? Perhaps it’s that special kind of chocolate, powerbar, that one tune that always gets you going or those delicious Trident noodles for dinner. We all have our own yearnings, but I do think every hiker agrees that having happy feet is one of the most essential. This is at least the case for me; over the past 6 months I’ve gone through 2 pairs of boots with the 3rd pair still holding up, throughout those months I’ve had both happy and quite angry feet.
I bought these boots in Norway the summer before starting the TA and I absolutely love them, I love them so much that they have been known as “my beloved ones”.
Upper: water repellent nubuk
Insole: differentiated structure and antitorson system
Protection: rubber band
Sole: Vibram sole with Supergrip compound and shock absorbing mid – sole
DTL (Dual Tech Lining) technology
A.B.S.S: Ankle Bone Support System
Gore – Tex insulated comfort footwear lining
Weight: about 2.2kg (size 42)
Comfort & support
Thanks to the A.B.S.System these boots are by far the most comfortable ones I’ve ever worn. The way it works is that the foam surrounding your ankle reacts to heat produced when walking and then moulds around your ankle, creating perfect fit, support and comfort to your feet. So far I have not come across any other system that works better, of course my feet felt sore after a long days hike, however, never to the extent of any pain being present. My reasoning for hiking with a boot with high ankle support is the fact that I twist my ankles quite easily, therefore, strong ankle support is for me paramount. I found the boots to do their job very well, I had quite a few close calls on seriously injuring myself, but the boot would always support my ankle from failing underneath me.
The shock absorbing mid – sole is another great feature found in the Crispi Skarven. Even with a heavy pack my knees were not troubling me, not even after a full days walk on tarmac.
The first sign of discomfort presented itself after Auckland, 600kms from the start. Nevertheless, the reqson for the discomfort cannot be put too much on the boots seeing that I made the mistake of replacing the insoles. These new insoles did not provide the same support for the soles of my feet and felt thinner than the origional Crispi insoles, resulting in less shock absorbance.
Dry feet = happy feet = happy hiker. I can honestly not recall having wet feet once while wearing these boots, something which is rather remarkeable. Especially when considering the amount of times I was standing in the middle of mud, streams, rivers or lakes reaching well above my ankles, without wearing gaiters. Of course the boots became drenched in these conditions, nevertheless, the outer nubuk leather never let water inside of the boot. In addition, I found them to be rather fast – drying as well.
I have a tendency to stump my feet against pretty much anything that comes in my way, therefore I’m in need of proper protection. The Crispi Skarven has a 360° rubber band which goes well over the toes, creating superb protection for the toes from all possible angles. I was greatly appreciative of this when I kicked my toes into a rock or tree root for the umpteenth time. Without it my toes would have been given a real beating.
Like most of the worlds shoe/boot manufacturers Crispi uses Vibram soles, these soles has Super Grip Technology which is said to combine superior traction and high wear resistance. According to themselves Vibram is “a guarantee to end users and the world leader in rubber soles” – I used to agree to that statement, but now I find that Vibram is no longer the measurment for quality.
From the very first time I wore the boots on a wet surface I could feel that something was not as it should be, I’d slip more easily on wet grass and rocks than before. Before purchasing the Crispi Skarven I had heard that Vibram had had a bad batch for these particular boots and from what I was told was that Vibram refused to withdraw them from the market. Resulting in the retailers having to sell lesser quality boots and customers ending up with a product with a known fault by Vibram – I was less than impressed by Vibrams standard and policy regarding providing quality to its customers.
As mentioned, the soles provided poor grip on any surface that was slightly wet, meaning that I didn’t fully trust my boots in these conditions. I must admit that the amount of grip provided became slightly better as the first few layers of the Vibram sole wore off, nonetheless, they never provided the traction in order for me to trust them completely.
When it comes to the statement regarding the soles having a “high wear resistance” I must admit that, again, the Vibram soles disappointed. The sign of this was quite visible after roughly 800kms when the heel section on both boots had lost almost all of its treading. This resulted in even more slipping and eventually falling, one fall in particular could’ve ended my journey through New Zealand. It was difficult to part with the boots seeing that they were in perfect condition to continue except for the fact that they had almost no treading left. Altogether the soles lasted roughly 1300kms, which some might applaud, however, with a higher quality sole I could’ve kept hiking in them for much longer. It is truly sad that a perfectly well – made boot becomes so limited due to poor manufacturing of the soles by Vibram – bad batch or not.
At 2.2kg for the pair (size 42) they are by far not a boot for the ultra -, or even the lightweight hiker. However, if you’re like me who prefers a sturdy boot with superb ankle support and that can protect your toes from the elements, then this is the boot I would recommend. Except for the worn down Vibram soles the only sign of wear and tear visible are two tiny cracks in the leather due to lack of waxing (poor maintanence on my part). If Vibram could provide a sole with proper grip on wet surfaces combined with an actual high wear resistance, then the Crispi Skarven will be a boot you’ll treasure for years.
written by PJ Strand