ProView- Salewa Women’s Alpenviolet Mid GTX + (bonus) Pedroc Windshell
Often times, the legacy of the brand is a major factor in consumer trust, and people are generally attracted to brands with an attractive and established track record. Salewa is a brand I had interacted with very little – I had owned a pair of their approach shoes awhile back, but I didn’t really know a lot about them as a company. During the process of reviewing the Alpenviolet GTX boot and the Pedroc Wind Hardshell, I became acquainted with a thoughtful, family-owned company that designs specific, quality products.
Salewa Women's Alpenviolet Mid GTX
Product Description: A women’s modern, versatile and athletic mid-cut hiking boot with waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® weather protection.
Offer price: MSRP: $169.95
To wrap-up, I was thoroughly impressed with Salewa as a brand. The Alpenviolet boot is well designed and comfortable. The female-specific ergonomics were not what I would personally prefer, but a thoughtful design for those who are looking for specificity. The other technologies of the boot were functional and relevant. I was impressed with Salewa’s sustainable manufacturing processes and the thoughtfulness clearly evident in their designs. The products I tested were not only high quality and functional, but ethically produced and carefully thought-out. A current leader in sustainability, I would recommend their products to fellow outdoor enthusiasts.
- Thoughtful features
- Athletic style
- Heel cup feels flat
- Cannot be re-soled currently
Under the European conglomerate Oberalp, Salewa’s fellow subsidiaries include Dynafit, Wild Country, and Pomoca. Although each of these companies has their own story, Salewa has a unique set of roots in the alpine equipment world. Quite literally ‘born in the Dolomites’, Salewa has been making quality outdoor equipment since the 1930’s. The original inventors of the tubular ice screw and historically partners with Reinhold Messner, Salewa has only been a part of the North American market since 2007. Shifting their focus and redesigning the brand in 2014, Salewa now aims to be a global leader in mountaineering equipment.
Salewa has been manufacturing shoes since 2005, but the Alpenviolet GTX is a completely new model. Also available in a low rise, the Alpenviolet is a modern, women’s specific lightweight hiking boot. Designed for steep and rugged terrain, the boot features a lugged Pomoca® outsole and an Ortholite® midsole. Ortholite®, a manufacturer of sustainable midsoles for over 20 years, uses recycled rubber and bio-oil as an alternative to petroleum, as well as open-cell foam, which reduces weight while maintaining rigidity. Between these two technologies, the sole of the boot is impressively light. The boot upper consists of suede and PU-coated leather with a weather resistant fabric and GORE-TEX lining.
Previous to testing the Alpenviolet I had never worn a GORE-TEX shoe and now I am a devout convert. The boots were warm but never felt overly insulated and the fabric uppers breathed well and kept my feet dry. I hiked in them in a variety of climates from red rock desert to Pacific North West spring floods and was continually impressed by their temperature regulation. The blister-free fit was indeed blister-free, and the lace-to-toe system was very secure. I’ve found other brand’s lacing systems to be harder to adjust and even harder to loosen once adjusted; the 3F system is exceptional.
The Alpenviolet fit integrates the Salewa 3F lacing system, which provides flexibility and heel support while eliminating hot spots. When laced up, the ankle portion of the boot flexes forward and backward easily without any pinching or rubbing. The tongue of the boot is exclusively fabric without any leather, so forward flexion is comfortable and unrestricted. The arced heel shape is designed to mimic the natural rolling motion of the foot when walking, and the heel cup itself is set slightly back to provide support on steeper terrain. The ergonomic design of the shoe includes a heel stack height of 14mm – this is the ‘female specific ergonomics and biomechanics’ advertised. Designers intended these features to alleviate tension in the Achilles, particularly in females who habitually wear high heels (more info here). While wearing these boots I could definitely notice the high heel stack over time and would caution women who prefer a more neutral sole away from these. However, I would highly recommend them for women who prefer stability or have Achilles tendon issues.
Room for Improvement
My only fit-related complaint is the back of the heel cup feels flat and rather stiff when walking up steep, loose ground. Perhaps this would break in with even more use but it was slightly irritating to my heel. It is evident Salewa designers have invested a lot of thought into the intended fit of the boot. The boot exterior has a sleek, athletic style and is very durable. A suggestion to make the boot even more durable would be to offer re-soling (they can currently be repaired but not re-soled in North America).
The Pedroc Windshell was sent to me directly by Salewa to accompany the Alpenviolet. Little did they know that I was actually shopping around for a similar layer at the time, and the Pedroc quite frankly blew away the competition on functionality. Although there are a variety of brands who make an ‘ultralight’ wind shell, some of the heavy hitters I looked into include the infamous Houdini (Patagonia), the new Black Diamond Distance, and the Ultimate Direction Moonlight (the Outdoor Research Helium II is a bit too bulky to make the cut).
You can’t talk about ultralight wind shells without mentioning the PFC dilema. All four jackets (including the Pedroc) are 100% nylon with a DWR finish – however, not all of the DWR’s are PFC-free, meaning the chemicals used to treat the jacket contain fluorocarbons. In 2015, Patagonia announced it was switching to a less toxic version of PFC, and invested 20 million into the effort and documenting it here. They have since developed a PFC-free treatment and use 100% recycled nylon. The Distance shell also features a new PFC-free DWR treatment developed by GTI (Green Theme International). The Moonlight is not advertised as PFC-free or recycled.
The Houdini comes in at 96g, the Distance at 72g, the Moonlight 62g, and the Pedroc at 95g, so unless you’re a religious gram counter all alternatives are comparable. As far as features, of course, they all stuff into their own pockets, and most have carabiner loops for stowing on a harness (bar the Moonlight, as far as I could tell). The zippered pocket comes on the chest for all three jackets except the Pedroc, which has the pocket located on the lower back – similar to a cycling jersey (the zipper is minimal enough to not cause problems if you’re wearing a larger pack). This allows one to effectively use it while wearing a running vest or small day pack, or on a bicycle if you’re into that sort of thing. The Pedroc also has featured a different cuff, integrating a soft, flexible fleece rather than just an elastic seam, which is super comfortable if you pull your sleeves up just a touch. The elastic waist seam has a small rubber band around the inside, so the jacket doesn’t get sucked up under your running vest over time, which is a very thoughtful design feature.
As far as fit, I can only speculate when it comes to Black Diamond and Ultimate, but I am relatively familiar with the Houdini fit and I prefer the Pedroc. As with most European brands, it’s more tailored and has long enough sleeves and torso for a taller person (I am 5’10”, and a Patagonia medium is reliably too short in the sleeves). I am very impressed with the Pedroc in the categories of fit and function, and the fact that its sustainably produced only adds to its appeal. I would highly recommend it for trail runners, hikers and cyclists.
A fair-wear® and bluesign® approved company, Salewa actively associates with the need for environmental stewardship and collaborative action towards carbon neutral industry. They operate a full-service repair shop and are committed to recycling and upcycling several of their products. In 2016, the company was awarded the fair-wear® best practice award and has been a fair-wear® foundation leader since 2017, ensuring practices such as a living wage, reasonable hours, safe conditions and a legal contract are upheld and maintained in all of their manufacturing facilities. Information on fair-wear certification and other topics such as animal welfare, microplastic fiber containment, and chemical management can be found on their blog. As a company built and maintained by outdoor enthusiasts, they remain committed to protecting the places we all love to enjoy.
Final Word (on both items)
To wrap-up, I was thoroughly impressed with Salewa as a brand. The Alpenviolet boot is well designed and comfortable. The female-specific ergonomics were not what I would personally prefer, but a thoughtful design for those who are looking for specificity. The other technologies of the boot were functional and relevant. The Pedroc jacket takes the cake for the ultralight wind shells with an unbeatable complement of functions and a sleek fit. It now happily lives in the back pocket of my running vest. I was impressed with Salewa’s sustainable manufacturing processes and the thoughtfulness clearly evident in their designs. The products I tested were not only high quality and functional, but ethically produced and carefully thought-out. A current leader in sustainability, I would recommend their products to fellow outdoor enthusiasts.
About the Gear Tester
Sarah is a firefighter for the USDA Forest Service, an avid backcountry skier, trail runner, climber, and a grad student. She is also a contributor to backcountryskiingcanada.com and an RMU brand ambassador.