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Gear Guy

Are all Italian-made boots the se?

I would like your opinion on the Grigna 2800 trekking boots by an Italian company ned Armond. My main concern is the long-term quality of the boots since Armond is not a well-known brand and their boots cost about a third less than those made by more popular companies. I intend to trek to the top of Kilimanjaro this year. Ngoc Dung Phung Montreal, Quebec

A: Armond is one of those Italian boot companies that have sprouted up everywhere in the past 20 or 30 years. They don't have much presence in the U.S., but have done pretty well in Europe and Australia. They certainly make a line of footwear that at least from a specification standpoint matches up well with Scarpa, La Sportiva, or any other well-known Italian bootmaker.

The Grigna 2800 you mention is a tall mountaineering/trekking boot, with thick waterproof leather and a rubber rand that encloses most of the lower portion of the boot. It's crampon-compatible, and in overall usage I'd say is comparable to something like Scarpa's Cerro Torre ($319 U.S.). I can't find any U.S. distributors for the Grigna, so can't offer a comparable price for it.

My best advice is this: Be your own judge. Set the Grigna and a Scarpa or La Sportiva boot side by side and look them over. Check the stitching, to ensure it's clean and tight. Look at how well the pieces of the boot seem to fit together. Try some on and feel for rough spots or places that pinch inside. Make sure the sole is tightly bonded to the midsole. My guess, based on the usual high quality of Italian footwear, is that the Armond will stack up fine.

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