When I moved to Washington it became quickly apparent that my footwear was inappropriate. For years I had worn the same pair of Asolo Cerro Torres, which were a fantastic boot (they are no longer offered), but they were not going to take me to the places I wanted to go. So the search began.
I wanted a boot that would be able to take a lot of abuse, would be crampon compatible, and was not Gore-Tex (more on this later). After doing some searching I came across the La Sportiva Karakorum. Immediately I was smitten.
The Karakorum was at first glance a very handsome boot, deep green rough out leather, a high rubber rand, and a heel grove for crampons. I thought that this might be a great boot for summer alpinism and heavy duty backpacking, and I was right.
Over the summer of 2012 I put over 100 miles on these boots in various locations and conditions – the flanks of Mt. Rainier in snow, on the Sahale arm in August, deep into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in October, and even on a rainy hike up to Heather Lake in January. Only once did I get a blister, and that was do to using a pair of ill-fitting socks. The Karakorums performed best in the talus and scree of the alpine. I always had confidence in my foot placements and felt secure on the downhill, even with a heavy pack.
As for maintenance I try to clean them after every trip. I use a toothbrush and cold water running from a tap. After the boot dries I spray it with a waterproofer, I do not use Nikwax because the boots documentation said that anything other than a spray could damage the waterproofing impregnated into the leather.
I chose to stay away from Gore-Tex because I was tired of having sweaty feet in the summer and figured that it was worth a try. It can be so easy to assume that Gore-Tex is the only way to go, and though I do enjoy having it on my ice climbing boots, I think it may be a little overkill for a summer boot.
The fit was great on these boots. I had a little trouble with foot pain this last summer but I think that was caused by a pair of my street shoes and only flared up when I was in the mountains. I use a pair of orange SuperFeet and have found those to be very comfortable.
The boots look great even after a year of hard use, and I look forward to lacing them up again soon.