The three-season Salewa Raven Combi GTX walking boots are aimed at winter hikers and climbers.
My life-long hunt for walking boots to fit my long, narrow foot brought me to Salewa this summer. Trying on a range of boots in a Tiso store I found that the Salewa Women’s Mtn Trainer Mid Gtx in a UK size 8 actually felt comfortably neat in the width. This doesnâ€™t happen very often.
Most boots become far too wide as they grow in length and I have spent most of my life in shoes and boots that are too roomy.
I also discovered that some Salewa boots are designed in medium or narrow width fitting, including the three-season winter Salewa Raven Combi GTX walking boots. There is a menâ€™s version, too.Â What I had heard is that Salewa make solid, high-quality boots that easily compete with some of the big names in Italian mountaineering footwear. Certainly, the boots are well built, robust and stiff.
Raven Combi GTX boots are meant for more serious and technical winter hiking and climbing. They are crampon-compatible as well as featuring winter essentials such as Gore-Tex waterproofing, stiff soles, excellent grip and secure lacing.
Salewa Raven Combi features
The grip comes from the stiff Vibram Mulaz sole with â€œClimb Zoneâ€. Many competitor brands use a similar Vibram sole because it is tried-and-tested grippy in snowy and icy conditions.
A plastic lug on the heel offers semi-automatic crampon compatibility (these are the type that I use in Scottish winter conditions because you can easily put them on and off when required).Â While they are stiff and robust on the outside the boots are surprisingly comfortable inside. Salewa have paid lots of attention to the bootsâ€™ interior for out-of-the-box comfort.Â For example, the boots are fitted with Salewaâ€™s â€œMultiple Lastsâ€ system, which means that the foot beds are made to suit the differing shapes of the male or female foot.
The boots also boast of â€œfreedom of movementâ€ . This doesnâ€™t mean that the foot will move around all over the place inside the boot but that the design supports and holds where required, while allowing for flexibility in other areas.Â Salewa guarantee no friction or blisters. If your boot is correctly sized and â€œused in an appropriate mannerâ€ and you still get a blister, you will receive a free exchange.
The Raven is fully lined with a Gore-Tex waterproof/breathable membrane and is lightly insulated. In addition there is a neoprene trim at the top-back of the boot to act as a makeshift gator. It is meant to hug the back of the ankle and this works well for me.
The Raven has what Salewa calls a 3D System EVO, which is meant to give more versatility in how tight you can lace different areas of the boot, for better comfort and performance. This works by using two types of lace locks at various places on the boot.
The first style of lace lock, which holds the lace via a spring-loaded lever system, is located at the third lace-eyelet position (moving from the toes up). This works like a one-way ratchet system and it locks automatically as the laces are pulled tight. To unlock the lace, you have to press a very small lever on the lock.
Because I normally need to make good use of the full length of the laces to keep the boot tight around my foot I found these lockable eyelets useful. They are a bit fiddly to use but they work well.
A second style of lace lock â€“ located at the sixth and ninth eyelets â€“ are hooks that act to narrow the lace channel and pinch the lace into staying put.Â This type of hook is fairly good at the job and allows for an even lacing up of the boot, especially around the ankle. Overall, the 3D System Evo works well.
The Raven also features Salewaâ€™s 3F System EVO technology. This is a cable system that integrates the ankle lace lock (the sixth eyelet) with the heel pocket on the boot to give a more natural range of motion, while still keeping the heel in the heel pocket. (Are you keeping up with all this technical stuff? Take a look at the picture for further assistance.)
Suffice to say, when laced up the whole boot feels stable and comfortable, supportive yet flexible.
My view on the fit of the boots is that they feel neat and comfortable without being too roomy. I do not want my foot to swim around inside my boots although I do want some freedom so that they do not feel cramped.
Salewa seem to have got this right for me with their narrow-fit boot. My heels feel secure and the footbed is supportive. The width is just right and there is enough forefoot volume to move my toes around. When laced up my feet feel just right.Â Salewa do seem to have paid a lot of attention to the detailing of the Raven Combi GTX walking boots.
Three-season boots are stiff walking boots. They need to be to cope with the winter conditions and are meant for more serious adventures.Â I have never found a pair that feels stiff and up to the job yet also as comfortable, well-fitting and â€œkind ofâ€ flexible as the Salewa Ravens.
A bit about Salewa:Â Salewa was founded in Munich in the 1930s and since then has been growing in product range and exports around the world. In 2015, the UK will see widening collections of products including sleeping bags and clothing.