Càrn footwear has appeared on the shelves just when the coat tails of some brands are being dragged into the jaws of the credit crunch. But, unlike most brands available in the UK, Càrn is a home-grown outfit, which makes it about as rare as a quiet day on Snowdon. The brand name is the Gaelic word for cairn, the pile of rocks adorning most summits of hills and mountains in the UK and abroad.
As the name suggests, Càrn appears to be aiming for the top of the mountain. It describes itself as a premium brand alongside the likes of Scarpa, Brasher, inov-8, Meindl and Lowa.
With such an obvious British mountain theme flowing through the veins of Càrn it is perhaps surprising to find that its product range consists of a running shoe, two multi-purpose shoes, three approach or trekking shoes and two mid-cut boots. The range is certainly designed for outdoor countryside use, but for me it does not quite match the rhetoric.
The most mountain-friendly model in the range is the Storm Chaser eVent Mid. This is a mid-cut 3-season boot, with an eVent waterproof lining, leather upper and rubber toe bumper. It weighs in at 1400g (pair, size 11), which is reasonably light.
On the foot it has a springy, forgiving fit that made walking on hard surfaces bouncy. Moving onto looser rocks and typical paths that lead to hills, the boot was less supportive than others, causing my foot to work harder as it flexed and twisted over boulders that distorted the Storm Chaser’s soft flex and minimal torsional rigidity (the amount the shoe twists from side to side).
Some walkers like this level of support, and for them the boot will be a good light option. But if you prefer stiffer, more supportive boots for crossing scree and scrambling up loose rocks, you may want a stiffer sole and upper.
While yomping over grass fells and walking along river banks the Storm Chaser eVent Mid performed quite well. The waterproof liner kept my feet dry and the outsole lug pattern was aggressive enough to get a grip in the mud. The flexible sole and not so supportive upper were ideal on smoother paths, while that bouncy ride was ideal when the valley path ended at a road, requiring me to slog along a pavement for a mile or two.
The Càrn brand is certainly a welcome range of footwear to the UK market. I’m not convinced the boots live up to their own image, but use these for valley outings and easier hill-walks where clear paths lead to the top, and you’ll soon be standing on a cairn in your Càrn footwear.
Upper 1.8/2.0mm nubuck leather and textile; eVent waterproof lining
Sole Càrn uTRX sole unit
Sizes 7-13 (men’s); 3-8 (women’s)
Weight 1400g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stockist details tel. 07725 077149; www.carn-uk.com
Verdict: The Càrn Storm Chaser eVent Mid is relatively lightweight; low-priced, excellent cushioning; eVent waterproof liner; durable leather upper. But other boots are stiffer and so may be preferable for rockier terrain. In summary, the Càrn Storm Chaser eVent Mid is a flexible valley and moorland boot that’s okay on hill paths if you prefer less supportive footwear.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine August 2009