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Salewa Vultur Evo GTX Review- by MAD Ambassador Graham Uney

Words by Mad about Mountains

on 25/02/2021 20:59:46

I don't often lust after a pair of boots. But when you spend most of your working life in them, and you see someone wearing a pair that really look like they should be on your feet, it's hard to not want to go out and buy some.

A mate of mine bought a pair of Salewa Vultur Evo GTX mountaineering boots back in the summer for an Alps trip, and he raved about them all the way up Mont Blanc. The thing that caught my attention was that he struggles to find boots that are the correct shape for his foot. He has a broad foot across the ball, but very narrow around the instep and heel. I took particular notice of how he got on with his new boots because this is exactly the same issue that I have. Usually, to find a boot that's wide enough to fit the front of my foot I have to go up a size and invariably find that there's then too much movement around the heel.

As we came towards the start of the winter season - actually my busiest time of year what with winter climbing, running skills courses and working as fell top assessor too - I started to think about buying new work boots to see me through. I wanted something that would be instantly comfortable to wear all day on long mountain walks, whilst being stiff enough to get into some of the grade II and grade III gullies on Helvellyn so that I could write a knowledgeable conditions report for climbers. My mind wandered back to the Salewa Vultur Evo GTX, and how Andy had raved about them in the summer.

I had a look on the Mad About Mountains website, as I prefer to buy from a small, independent retailer, and I know that these guys always offer a great service, and often have the kit I need at an outstanding price.

An important consideration for me when buying boots, especially winter boots, is the durability. I know that most people wear their winter boots say, every other weekend from mid December through until the end of March, so that's about 10 - 15 times each winter. Lots of folk I walk and climb with expect to get something like 3 - 4 year's worth of use out of their winter boots, which I think is quite realistic.

I wear my winter boots pretty much every day, so mine might get the same amount of wear in just a couple of months.

I'm writing this on 8th February, and bought the Salewa Vultur Evo GTX from Mad About Mountains at the start of January, and they've so far had 27 days use out on the hill. So, now I've bashed around in them quite a bit, are they the perfect work boot for me, and how are they standing up to almost daily use? More importantly, will they see me through the rest of the winter season? Will I still be wearing them in the Alps come the summer months?

First of all, let's look at the fit. The heel box on the Vultur boots is very snug, which suits me perfectly, although it may not be as comfortable if you have a broad heel base. It's worth noting that these boots come with a multi-layer footbed which is interchangeable, giving a lot of flexibility for different foot shapes. This also gives the option of wearing thicker (or thinner) socks according to conditions.

At the front of the boot the fit is ideal for my broad toes and ball. The lacing is very adjustable, featuring Salewa's 3D Lacing system. This enables the laces through the first three lace-holes to be locked on a tiny ratchet on both sides, giving real precision. It's easy to tweak this whilst wearing the boots too, and I have found that I can pull the laces in a little tighter around the toes when wearing crampons, then easily loosen them off again for more comfort for general walking.

Two lace-loops higher up you'll find the more standard midfoot lace-adjuster, given you even more flexibility. I think it's fair to say that initially I had to play around with both lacing and footbed combinations to find the ideal. Now I've settled on the best footbeds for me, and know exactly how best to lace the boots up, they are easily my most comfortable work boot.

It's been a wet winter so far this season, in that most of the snow I've been working in has been wet and slushy. This would normally give me some cause for concern, and I would expect to have damp and cold feet after a day on the hill in such conditions. So far, admittedly after only 20-odd wet days on the hill, the Vultur's have kept my feet dry throughout. In terms of warmth, I would rate the Salewa Vultur Evo GTX boots as suitable for Scottish winter mountaineering, and Alpine peaks up to 4000m+. On very cold days in the hills, I do need thicker socks to keep my feet warm enough to be comfortable.

So, how useful are the Vultur's for winter mountaineering? 

They are a very good, stiff B2 boot. I find them particularly good for step kicking. The TPU toe cap and rand give good protection for kicking pigeon-hole steps, and the edge of the Vibram WTC outsole is well-defined and good for side-ways slashes.

Being B2-rated, they do take a C2 (or C1) crampon, although I do find that the heel rand could do to be a little bit wider for a Petzl crampon heel-clip. The rand is deep enough, but the Petzl Sarken clip only just fits. But it does fit, so that's not really a complaint!

I've climbed quite a few routes up to grade III in them this season, and spend a lot of time on grade I and II ground too. There is just the right amount of stiffness in the sole for front-pointing, whilst not compromising on comfort, and I've also climbed pitches of grade IV in the Vultur's this winter. I'm overall very happy with their performance on this type of ground, but if climbing anything harder I still go for a B3 boot for extra stiffness and rigidity.

So far, the Salewa Vultur Evo GTX is easily standing up to my expectations. They are supremely comfortable on my feet, after a bit of initial tweaking, and I find them great to wear every day for winter walking and climbing up to grade IV. 

After 27 days of hard use they are not showing any signs of wear and tear, and I'm confident that they'll easily get me through the rest of this winter season. I've got an Alps trip booked in June to go mountaineering on 3000m and 4000m peaks in the Ecrins National Park, and I'm pretty sure these boots will be heading out there with me.

All in all, the Salewa Vultur Evo GTX come highly recommended. Mad About Mountains currently have them on sale at a special web price of £250, which is an absolute bargain! To order yours now, go to Salewa Vultur Evo GTX, and tell the guys and girls at Mad About Mountains that I recommended them to you!

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