Gear Review: La Sportiva Nepal Extreme
La Sportiva Nepal Extreme:
A very popular, full on mountain boot. They are rated B3, thus are fully-automatic crampon compatible, (they fit Grivel’s semi-auto G12 New-Matic very well), with an insulating footbed and Thinsulate lining. These boots are warm, very stiff, grippy and durable. They use a 3mm-thick, one-piece, good quality leather upper and a great heavy duty Vibram outsole.
The boots also possess a full rubber rand, which affords protection for the boots, your feet and additional grip when the circumstance arises. The lacing is smooth, with a good locking system and a wide’ish toe-box, (not Scarpa wide), which allows for decent toe splay.
Size-wise the Nepal Extreme’s have a tongue insert, that by way of hook & loop fastening can be moved to a deeper or more shallow position to modify the volume inside the boot. This system allows the size to be modified up to a 1/2 European size range around the stated size, i.e. for a size UK 10/EU 44.5, the size can be altered to an EU 44/45, or UK 9.5/10.5.
The outsole has a good rocking motion and is just flexible enough to be comfortable for prolonged walking, (which some argue might lower the unofficial and loosely-defined ‘boot classification’ to B2.5). In addition to the recent example at the previous link, I have used them comfortably for winter skills in the Cairngorms, several hikes in the Peak District, and hiking on the Bluff wilderness Trail in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Despite the latter points, I would still suggest some cushioning insoles to ensure longer-distance comfort.
Being a properly stiff boot, I’d advise a period of self-sustained breaking-in, in that, you need to stretch the leather to fit your feet, but you also need to acclimatise your feet to your new boots. This process takes time, (approximately 1-2 months), and a little bit of effort. There are ample examples on how to do this online, but it really only needs that you wear them for a couple hours each evening and during this time you should try bending your feet in ways that might be relevant to when you are walking, this way your feet and boots slowly break-in together. For me this took around 4 hours per day for a few weeks which, for approximately one month, was followed by walking the 1 mile journey to and from work before proper use.
n.b. Boot fit is a very personalised thing. No boot review should be taken as writ, it is advisable to visit a reputable store with knowledgeable boot fitters so as to determine what is best for your feet. Not all boot stores are created equal, though if you’re in the north/north west of England I can highly recommend Outside in Hathersage and Cotswolds on Deansgate, Manchester. Both places have a good range of boots and a bank of good, experienced staff.