By Murray Taylor

4stars

Scafell XER Boots Review

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Review of the Scarfell XER chainsaw boot by Arbortec Forestwear

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Review of Scarpa XER boots
I have put a lot of considerations into the replacement of my old Klima Air Tirols, as these boots have lasted six years and proved to be very comfortable and hard wearing. So the replacement boots have a lot to live up to, and I am a great believer in K.I.S (Keep It Simple), so I am after a boot with a minimum of things that can go wrong i.e. one piece of leather, and the least amount of stitching. Currently my work is about 50% tree surgery, and 50% forestry, so I would like a boot that will do both
Having seen the adverts for the scafells these boots seemed to be contenders as a possible replacement because of the one piece construction, the removable stainless steel instep, and the deeply treaded Vibram sole.
I decided to wait until the Arb Show before I bought any new boots, as this meant that I could try out a number of different boots to see how each felt on my delicate pinkies. It must also be noted that at the time I had a blister the size of a golf ball on my right heal from spot spraying trees on a steep slope in wellies on the only hot dry day in May. Of the three types that I tried including a pair of Tirols, it was only the Scarpas that did not aggravate my blister. Because of that fact I was about 90% sure it would be the Scafells that would be coming home with me. The other feature that I liked was the steel insole, as I am sick of slipping on wet logs and trees in the woods.
In use.
Stiff stiff stiff. I think bar my old plastic mountaineering boots these are the stiffest boots I have ever worn. Their first outing was in the woods using the tractor to pull out trees, cross cut and stack. The deeply treaded sole provides fantastic grip, and the steel instep does provide good additional grip. Getting in and out of the tractor was a different matter. Because of the extreme stiffness of the boots, and the limited foot room in the cab of the mighty Nuffield, I kept getting my boots stuck. That aside these boots were still comfortable all day even with the remains of a large blister.
The following week was the boots first outing up a tree, a cut and drop Ivy riddled Ash tree in the rain. Once in the tree the boots provided good support; with the help of the steel instep good grip on wet slippery Ivy, which made positioning myself much easier. But here is my quandary; on the bare branches the steel instep is very aggressive, that removed large areas of bark. If the tree was only being pruned the steel midsole will cause large amounts of unacceptable damage. The following day it was some wibbly wobbly fun dismantling a 40’ Cypress. These boots are comfortable with spikes as their stiff nature helps to spread the climber’s weight. On this day it rained all day, and my feet were the only part of me that was still dry at the end of the day.

One month on.
The stiffness is definitely starting to ease, the boots have caused no problems, the comfort levels are high, and the steel insteps have not yet been put back on. The grip with these boots is very good, and in some ways too good; it is very easy to damage thin barked tree species. Driving the Land Rover is now becoming easier now that the boots stiffness is easing.
The one feature that I have not mentioned is the OutDry® waterproofing system. The manufactures claim ‘A seamless, pre-sealed laminate treatment applied directly to the leather, OutDry® completely removes the need for a traditional membrane system’, added to this Arbortec add a material layer that incorporates high tensile aramid fibres such as Kevlar® and Cordura®.
What this mean, and more importantly how long will it last?
You will have to watch this space as to date I cannot answer this question. So far my feet are dry, but the boots are still newish. I will update this review in six months time.
Overall I would give these boots nine out of ten, based on their performance so far. I am very happy with these boots despite forking out £200 for them (I hate spending money, as it is so hard to come by).
I have only one concern and that is all the stitching. Most of this stitching is in the highest areas of wear and it is all ready starting to come undone. (See picture on the left)

What I cannot decide is whether these boots are aimed at arb work, or forestry work. These boots with the steel instep screwed in, do neither. If you are working on the ground in the woods and not climbing in and out of machinery, then you will like the extra grip that the steel instep provides. The rest of the time they are a hindrance.

Six months on.

My boots have now gone back to Arbotec. The stitching around the yellow leather has now started to come undone as well. Arbotec have gone out of their way to be helpful and resolve this matter. As I sit and type this I have a new pair of Scafells on my feet. These only have one seam at the back of the boot, so I have high hopes for these new boots.
Only time will tell.

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