There are two types of outdoor gear I cannot get enough of: packs and boots. I recently got a new pack and so naturally I had to get a new pair of boots – and I needed to replace my recently deceased mountaineering boots. After weeks of scouring the internet, talking to a few friends, and emailing several companies, I decided to get a pair of Salewa Rapace (pronounced Sail-uh-wa Ruh-paw-chee) mountaineering boots. They had all the features I needed and I was excited to see if they could live up to my expectations.
After extensive searches online I discovered that these boots were not available online or in any local stores in my size (I even looked at retailers in the UK)! Finally, I resorted to contacting Salewa directly and in a few short days I heard back from them and a pair of Rapace boots were in the mail headed my way. (Now the boots are available in almost every size).
Opening the box
I was like a kid on Christmas day when the boots arrived. I tore into the packing tape without reservation and after figuring out how to open the shoe box there before me lay the most eloquent concoction of leather, rubber, and synthetic material I had ever laid my young eyes upon. The grey, yellow, and blacks flashed in harmony throughout my sensory system causing goosebumps and shortness of breath. In my opinion this is one good-looking boot. Yellow stitching on grey leather with thin silver wire criss-crossing the boot. A rugged black sole with red highlights where the crampon attaches to the heel was all flawlessly engrained into the boots’ topography. Instantly, my other shoes were off and I was sliding my feet into the warm caress of my new mountaineering boots; images bounding through my imagination of epic ascents, daring rescues, and flawless descents all pulled off solely because of my Salewa Rapace boots.
On my feet and the trail
Monday (Day 1)
After tightening the laces it became immediately apparent that these boots would require a break-in. I have high volume feet (high arches) and after wearing these boots for about a half an hour they became quite uncomfortable. I had to take the boots off every hour or so to massage my feet and give them a break.
Tuesday (Day 2)
I was no longer taking the boots off every hour or two. They were nowhere close to being comfortable to hike in but they were now bearable. After removing the second insole the boots became infinitely more comfortable. I could flex my toes and shift my feet ever so slightly inside the boot. It was like night and day. If you have lower volume feet this feature is great as it will allow you to fine tune the fit of the boots.
Friday (Day 7)
Fast forward to the end of the work week and after wearing the boots to work everyday (a desk job) the Rapaces were beginning to feel very comfortable. My toes did not jam no matter how hard I kicked and my heel did not lift on the numerous stairs I climbed. I was ready to baptize the boots by fire and the perfect opportunity presented itself when a cold storm blew in and dumped a foot of new snow in the local mountains. As I drove into the mountains after work the roads were icy, the snow was blowing in violent flurries, and the temps were well below freezing; perfect conditions for my Salewas’ first adventure.
It was well after sunset so once I turned off the car I was all alone in the forest, my headlamp slicing through the dark. I sprinted up the road to warm up. My feet felt secure on the slippery and uneven surface covered in ice and snow and obscured by the night. The beginning of the trail was buried so I opted to climb a short section of rock to gain the ridge line and the trail. The cliff was covered in a thin layer of snow as it was too steep for much to stick. My boots edged, smeared, and stuck impeccably to the cliff face and soon I was kicking step through the forest loam as the angle eased back and I again entered the trees.
The rest is history
Since that first day in the dark and the snow I have taken these boots on nearly every adventure. From the white out summit of Mt. Pilchuck, to the 3rd and 4th class scrambles in the deserts of the southwest (while carrying a 30 pound pack), to the grassy hillsides dotted with conglomerate cliff faces of the Channel Islands off the coast of California I have thrashed these boots. They have withstood sharp rocks, scree skiing, rock climbing, post holing in knee-deep spring snow, heavy packs, and even a few rides on my mountain bike. The soles still look brand new, the upper is in great condition, and the boots continue to impress me with their capability and durability. The stiff sole and the TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) insert make this boot perfect for attaching crampons to go up and down steep snow and ice fields. It also allows one to confidently kick steps and edge on steep rock but is still supple enough to hike comfortably in. The lacing system coupled with the Y system, or the wire that criss crosses the boot, gives the user flexibility, support, and a precise fit. When the temps dropped into the 20s and my feet and legs were almost constantly surrounded by snow, my toes began to get cold but a little toe wiggling inside the boot helped significantly to warm them back up. In wet conditions the boots keep your feet dry and in warm conditions they breathe quite well. Overall, there are not any shortcomings (big or small) with this boot. It is truly a great technical piece of gear.
Salewa was founded in 1935. They actually started by making saddles but in the early 1980s they branched into mountaineering. Now they make all kinds of gear such as boots, packs, tents, etc. They are a family-owned company that puts a high priority on sustainable business practices. The Rapace reflects this high level of competence, responsibility, and development and is a great all-around boot suitable for any type of adventure. Just make sure that you have a suitable break-in time before taking these boots out on their first adventure. They are a very light boot – weighing in at a scant 1.45lbs per pair, you will hardly notice them on your feet. If you will be heading out in sub-zero temps and deep snow you will probably want to opt for a boot with more insulation. However for spring, summer, and early fall multi-day and single day ventures where you need excellent mobility and support these boots are an excellent companion.
* Crampon compatible
* Long break in time
* Can be hard to track down boots in the US
Date available: Currently available
Manufacturer’s Website: Salewa
MSRP: US $259
Listed Weight: 660 grams per boot
Actual Weight: 1292 grams pair of size 9.0 with 2nd insole removed
Materials: Suede, Cordura, and Rubber
Size/Model tested: 9.0
Requirements: Needs to be broken in
Warranty info: N/A
Colors Available: Grey, Yellow, and Black only