Kit review: Carn walking boots

Carn boots on the top of Slioch, with Loch Maree in the background

A summit of Slioch (a Munro) on Sunday offered a great opportunity to test-walk a pair of much-renowned CÀRN trekking boots. I wouldn’t normally wear a new pair of boots for a serious mountain walk but when I’d popped my feet into the CÀRN Stratosphere eV Hi women’s walking boots at home they immediately felt comfy. Kind of like sturdy slippers!

CÀRN is a new British footwear company that make a range of boots/shoes for trail walking, running and hill trekking. They are already acclaimed for high levels of comfort and for offering great stability and grip on a range of terrains.

What CÀRN says about the Stratosphere eV Hi women’s trekking boots:

* For those who prefer a fully synthetic trekking boot incorporating the exceptional eVent Waterproof Fabric®, for the complete waterproof and moisture management system.

* A one-piece moulded TPU Heel Cradle and extended Hi-Cut collar provides enhanced stability and support over rough terrain.

* The addition of CÀRN’s unique one piece rubber toe guard provides that all-important forefoot/toe protection.

* CÀRN’s exclusively designed uTRX sole unit provides versatile performance, exceptional grip and cushioning across all terrains.

* AEGIS and TREK-DRY technologies control internal moisture and provide superior comfort.

Carn Stratosphere eV Hi in Alpine Blue for women

What I thought of the CÀRN Stratosphere eV Hi women’s trekking boots: As I said, these boots immediately felt comfortable when I slipped my feet inside. The largest women’s size is a UK8 and while I would normally prefer a 8.5 or 9, the 8s where just long enough for the job of hill walking. You don’t want your toes to be too close to the toe of the boot because, when descending, your feet tend to push forward. (CÀRN have said that they may look into making larger sized women’s boots. I know at least half-a-dozen friends who would welcome such a step!)

Tying the boots tight wasn’t as easy as other boots I’ve tried. It is often helpful to have a double locking system for the laces – one at the bottom of the ankle and one at the top. However, I managed to lace the boots with enough support to head out for the Munro walk. The boots felt light on my feet, yet sturdy enough to cope with a range of terrains, including rocks, gravel, grass, steps and steep-ish slopes. I like a bit of flexibility in the sole, so that I can feel some of the ground under my step, and the Stratosphere’s felt just about right.

Although it was a warm day my feet didn’t ever feel too sweaty and when plodding through puddles and bogs the eVent fabric did a great job of keeping the wet out. eVent fabric is both waterproof but also allows moisture to escape.

It was on the downhill that I most enjoyed wearing the CÀRN boots. Slioch has a well-worn path and in places the rock and gravelly trail could be very slippery. I found the grip of the boots to be superb. Once I’d gained my confidence in the boots I could stride out over small and large rocks knowing that each step would be firm and secure. Because the boots are reasonably light they made fairly easy work of a long descent. I had tired legs from the Bealach Mor cycle sportive the day before so I was grateful for a bit of bounce in the sole, too.

On the downhill, though, I did long to be able to tie the boots a little tighter. While my ankles felt really well supported I suffered a little foot-forward motion. I do have very narrow feet so most other walkers would probably find the boots to be adequately snug. For me, a locking lace system would have been an advantage, as would a few extra lace loots further towards the toes.

Priced at (RRP) £115, the CÀRN high-ankle boots are not the cheapest on the market but they are extremely comfortable. I can see these boots moulding to fit my feet and becoming a favourite for easier hills and lower-level walking adventures. As you’d expect for this price there is a high level of modern technology and attention to detail, including waterproof fabric, cushioned footbeds and Bi-Fit™ insole boards, which are designed to ensure heel stability while increasing forefoot flexibility. These CÀRN Stratosphere eV Hi women’s trekking boots very much did what they said on the label.

There is a men’s CÀRN Strastosphere version and also a lower-ankle Stratosphere boot for both men and women priced at RRP of £90.

* For further retail and purchase information about the boots you can contact LLBDS Ltd Agents for Outdoor Clothing and Accessories covering Scotland and The North of England. Email: donaldaitken@lundin-links.co.uk or tel: 07967 291216.

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