So anyway, here’s what happened to my new boots. In summary, be cautious before buying Salomon Alp 7 GTX boots, because in my opinion they aren’t that great. To be fair, my opinion’s probably been influenced by the problems I’ve had with getting them fixed under warranty.
This trip was the first proper trip that I took them on. I had a couple of blisters by the end of it, but otherwise they were okay. On the following weekend though, I went for a daywalk over the Skyline Walkway, and by the end of it, I noticed that some glue was coming un-stuck around a seam in the rubber lining on the inside of the base of one of the boots. What was worse was that having come un-stuck, the loose bit of rubber was catching on the hook for the lace of the other boot, which made the problem even worse. On closer inspection, it also became apparent that a very similar seam on the outside of the other boot was also coming apart.
I took them back to the retailer on the following Monday who took a quick look and agreed about the problem, took some details, and arranged to get them fixed with an estimated time of about 5 days. This was a bit annoying to hear, because it’d mean I probably wouldn’t have them for my High Ridge trip the following weekend, but there wasn’t much option so I just lived with it. In the end, I waited two weeks without hearing anything, and it was only because I’d drowned my phone in the Rimutakas that I went in again on Monday and asked to leave a different phone number, that I found out they’d just arrived. So essentially this flaw in the boots cost me two weekends of trips, pretty much so they could fly to Christchurch to get a dab of glue, then fly back.
I finally had them back again for the trip to the Pinnacles in the Aorangis, and they worked okay. As I was in the middle of the Lewis Pass trip the following weekend, though, I noticed that one of the seams had come apart again. So on Tuesday (Monday was a public holiday), I took them straight back to the retailer, wanting to get them fixed as quickly as possible, as I had another trip planned two weekends later. I was told that they were too damp though, and that the distributor in Christchurch would growl at them if they tried to send them back in that state. For as much as I don’t really blame the retailer, being told this was incredibly frustrating. I was basically being told that having used them for exactly the purpose for which they were marketed, and having them fail due to what seems increasingly like a design flaw, that the manufacturer wouldn’t fix them immediately. To add to this, nobody except me would probably count the extra four days that it took to properly dry them out.
I finally returned them on the next Saturday and asked for a refund, but I don’t think I’ll get it. Two weeks later, I’m still waiting to hear anything and I’m about to go overseas. For me at least, Salomon Alp 7 GTX boots have lasted an average of two weekend trips before needing to be returned for maintenance, and then I lose between two and three weekends. This is very very frustrating, and I’m regretting ever having bought them.
I’m not 100% sure if it’s because I’ve been walking up and down a lot of steep hills, or if it’s because they’re not really up to getting submerged and mudded up a lot on a weekend (after which I dry them out during the week). Both of these are common things in New Zealand’s back-country, and any boots sold here under the guise of “tramping boots” should be fine with that, but these ones don’t seem to have handled it very well. It’s possible I may have just been unlucky and ended up with a bad pair. My confidence in them is gone, though, and I wouldn’t buy the same pair again unless the glued seam problem is properly sorted.