I've always preferred a leather boot to a fabric. My last set of boots (Meindl Burma Pro) were very comfortable and lasted very well, almost 7 years or trekking, hiking, scrambling, etc. The time came to replace them though and like everything that needs replacing, I look at what I liked in and what I didn't in the old boot. The only thing that I didn't like was the goretex linging in the warmer months as I find it too warm and my socks were always wet with sweat.
Trying to find a leather boot without a goretex lining is increasingly difficult, but after a lot of research I decided that the Scarpa SL was worth a look. The extra large rand around the toe was also essential for me as this is a high wear area on all of my previous boots, and I like the stiff sole for climbing as well as walking.
I visited my local Cotswold and got fitted with a pair of SL's. After wearing them around the house for a week I found they had a bit too much heel lift and despite many lacing options (demonstrated by the staff in store) decided to go for a size smaller boot. This one fitted perfectly and my first day out in them was a scramble and walk over Pavey Arc (Langdales). The boots performed flawlessly, with excellent grip and stiffness for scrambling from the sole, and exceptional comfort right out of the box. The biggest surprise was at the end of this very hot, sunny day. I removed my boots whilst enjoying a pint and found my socks to be almost dry o touch, and certainly dry by the time I'd finished my pint! I've never had that in a boot before.
My worry with an unlined leather boot was that it would leak water and require lots of regular proofing. This is not the case with the SL's. I have now used them for 6 months and in that time have completed my ML training in Snowdonia, climbs in the Cullin, and countless walks in the Lake District. Not once has the boot failed to impress me, and not once has it leaked or become too warm. Just to prove the point, yesterday during a training exercise I spent 45 minutes stood in the bottom of a gorge with water flowing over the boots and my feet remained completely dry. I never expected that, especially as I have only waxed them once in 6 months (simply with G-Wax)!
I don't consider these to be a winter boot, I consider them to be an all-year boot. Don't be put off by reviewers focusing on the weight or the stiff sole or the lack of goretex. Light, flexible and fabric isn't always the right option. Supportive, long-lasting, comfortable, good traction, waterproof and breathable are all that matter when they are on your feet. These boots score 5 out of 5 in all of these areas.
Never again will I buy a goretex boot, and I doubt I'll buy anything other than Scarpa when these finally wear out.