After years of hunting in a range of budget boots in some very unforgiving alpine conditions, I decided it was time to upgrade. Losing footing and a few slips on a recent hunting trip made me take the plunge to spend the money on a piece of kit that could save me from serious injury or worse. That’s where the Kuiu Scarpa R-Evolution boots came in.
Kuiu teamed up with Scarpa to design a series of boots specifically for the ultralight hunters. Kuiu has a very solid reputation in the outdoors and hunting community for producing some of the best designed and manufactured hunting clothing and gear in the world. We have repeatedly been impressed with the design and performance of Kuiu gear on our trips where you depend on your gear to perform.
Kuiu’s use of high-end waterproof and breathable materials as well as the lifetime guarantee on all products have made them a leader in outdoor and hunting gear and one of our favorite gear brands.
Kuiu offer three different boots with the major difference between them being the level of insulation, ankle support height and the stiffness of the soles. The three boots are listed below with these major differences listed, however this review focuses on the R-Evolution K 8 HD.
For my use, I didn’t need an insulated boot as thick merino socks keep my feet warm and as these weren’t just for climbing mountains I opted for the more flexible sole of the R-Evolution K 8 HD.
Started in 1938 and based in Italy, Scarpa are passionate boot makers. Almost every outdoors store stocks Scarpa boots for good reason, the brand has a strong reputation for well-made and durable boots.
The benefits of a synthetic boot such as the range on offer from Kuiu is that they dry faster and require less maintenance than an all-leather boot. On extended backcountry hunts your boots will eventually get soaked and leather boots will stretch. All leather boots then dry and often shrink and can change the fit of the boots. The synthetic material used in the Kuiu boots mean that the boots dry quicker and wont change the fit of the boot when dried.
The ‘HD’ in the name of the boots on offer from Kuiu comes from the ‘HDry Technology’ waterproofing. The boots are designed with a one-way waterproof membrane that has no seams or gaps for water to penetrate.
With all the stream crossings, rain and wet ground our pair have been through we haven’t had any issues with water leaking in. Even though these boots are waterproof, we usually combine them with gaiters to stop any water coming into the boot especially when crossing streams. Gaiters also help to keep rocks and other vegetation out of your boots.
The durable construction of the boots mean that they will last most users for a very long time, depending of course on how much use they get. As they are a lot more durable than the average trail boot, they will last a lot longer and you won’t find yourself having to replace those hiking shoes every year.
The traction on the R-Evolution K’s was one of the most important feature in choosing these boots. It’s not unusual to lose your footing at some point when coming down a mountain after a long day of climbing up them.
You want to give yourself as much of an advantage as you can and the grip when wearing these boots feels like you are glued to the ground and have full control. The Vibram soles have a long-standing record in the outdoors world and having boots with these proven soles gives you confidence that these boots will perform well.
The Kuiu Scarpa R-Evolution is a semi-narrow fit that is flat soled. Kuiu attribute the comfort achieved in their boots to ‘Sock-Fit’ which is a system that stops tongue folds within the boot and helps keep a consistent fit and feel. From spending a lot of time in these boots, I can say that they do provide a consistent fit so maybe that’s attributed to the ‘Sock-Fit’ design.
Being high cut, the range of boots gives great support to the ankle. Additionally, the lacing used on the boots is smooth, well designed and has been simple to use.
An additional consideration when purchasing these boots was the overall weight of the boots, with ultralight backcountry hunting being the primary use of the boots, Kuiu had to design boots with the weight conscious user in mind. The synthetic material used in the boots makes them substantially lighter than traditional all leather boots.
For example the Scarpa SL Active leather boots come in at 1.6kg where as the Kuiu R-Evolution K 8’s are 1.3kg’s. This advantage means burning less energy in each step of the hunt.
The boots are sized with a traditional mountaineering fit. Kuiu recommend ordering a half size up or if you are between sizes go up one full size which we did and they fit perfectly. I’m lucky I read that before purchasing as I would have hated to have to post them back and wait for the next size to arrive.
What’s hard to believe about these boots is that there wasn’t a breaking in period which is usually normal for brand new boots, these felt great right out of the box. There wasn’t even any rubbing or hot-spots after the first 10k outing in the boots.
Reading some reviews on Kuiu’s website it looks like a lot of other people experienced the same thing, of little to no breaking in needed.
Kuiu teamed up with Scarpa to produce one of the best designed boots on the market. These boots have performed exceptionally in alpine conditions and truly are made for harsh, cold and wet environments. I like the minimal wearing in period, their water resistance and just how comfortable these boots consistently are.
Consider these boots for hiking, backcountry hunting and where ankle protection, grip and keeping your feet dry are important. These are an expensive choice but you are getting what you pay for with these boots and they’re worth the investment.