Gear Review | SCARPA SL Active Boots

Gear Review | SCARPA SL Active Boots

Pete Doonan is a keen hunter / tramper based in Wanaka who enjoys getting back to his home patch in Westland to either explore the many river valleys or to knock off the odd mountain peak. Here are his thoughts on the SCARPA SL Active boot.

While I am no boot expert, I have been through a number of pairs of boots from a handful of brands over the years. Through this process I have built up a bit of a picture of the features that I find work well for me, as well as the features that don’t work so well. I have also found over time that through the warmer summer months I like to wear a lightweight synthetic boot, but through the winter I wear a warmer, more water resistant leather boot.

Over the past winter I have put the Scarpa SL Active boot, quite literally through its paces. As you would expect with any solidly constructed leather boot they took two or three trips to wear in and mould to my feet (I find doing a trip that involves river crossings and wet boots helps this process). Once this process was complete I have found them to be an awesome all-round boot being comfortable and offering all the features I would look for, for the type of hunting and tramping trips I do. I will try to break these features down in a bit more detail…

Rigidity/ Flex:

Myself being on the lighter side at a whopping 75kg, I find I don’t like or need a bulky, rigid boot. I like a bit of flex in the boot to be able to feel what is happening under my feet. The Scarpa SL Active has a good combination offering that little bit of flex for say rock hopping up a riverbed where you need to be able to feel what’s under your feet, while still being rigid enough to hold on its edges and support your weight in snow or on steep terrain.


Boot weight is something that is important to me as my skinny little legs can’t afford to be carrying around heavy boots all day. Any well-insulated, leather boot is going to have some weight. This boot is surprisingly light while not compromising on support or insulation.


As touched on already this boot provides good insulation. A trip into the hills in winter can mean frosty mornings, cold river crossings, snow or all of the above and this boot has handled well in all of them. From a hunters perspective, you often find yourself sitting still and glassing (looking through binoculars) for long periods of time. To add to this you’re often doing it at the coldest times of the day in the early morning and late evening. This can mean cold, numb feet but these boots again preformed well and keep my feet as warm as you could hope for.


With almost every pair of boots I have owned the first thing to fail on them has been the stitching on the seams. The Scarpa SL Active is made more or less of one piece of leather with minimal stitching. This is an awesome feature of these boots as if there’s no stitching then there’s nothing to fail. I have also found that the limited stitching means the boot stays more waterproof.

In the past I have had boots with a very narrow sole and high heel. This resulted in me rolling and tweaking my ankles, something that I never usually have issues with. On this boot the sole is wide enough to offer good stability and support and the high rubber rand that runs most of the way around the boot offers good protection for both the boots and your feet.