More boot than trainer the Carn Stratosphere ev Low is perhaps the ultimate example of a low cut boot masquerading as a shoe. It's got the solid build required for long trekking, the grip to take on a bit of scrambling and you wouldn't feel self-conscious putting them on for a walk to the pub. Competitively priced it's a shoe to be taken seriously
Real World Test
The Carn Stratosphere is a bit of a non-compromising beast, which is strange given how well it adapts to a wide range of uses. It looks and feels every bit a boot that's been squeezed into a shoe size and has a touch of Clarke’s shoes from school days about it.
It's principally the tough, durable, fabric upper that gives the impression of solidity, with the one piece toe protector helping give the shoe an almost industrial feel. When it comes to wearing the Stratopshere it's an entirely different matter and more than once I've found myself looking for a pair that are already on my feet.
The terminology of feeling like a pair os slippers is heavily overused and the Stratosphere feels more like slipping under a duvet, adding a sense of security to the comfort. The TPU Heel cradle does its job, preventing the foot sliding around which not only cuts down on blisters but massively increases stability on rough ground.
We've got used to new levels of underfoot cushioning over the last couple of years, particularly from the recent Brasher boots, and the Stratosphere is right up there with the best - and it really does feel like walking on a cushion at times. Fortunately you still retain a good "feel" of contact with the ground despite the cushioning and in terms of grip we found the C1 sole as good as it gets for a multi terrain shoe.
Unlike most of its competitors the Stratosphere uses eVent rather than Gore-Tex for its waterproof lining. In practical terms you're pretty unlikely to be able to tell the difference. With a low cut boot or shoe the main objective is going to be waterproofing and despite all the marketing and positioning over the years the truth is the two brands are almost indistinguishable in performance. Whilst eVent has a reputation amongst its followers for being more breathable, again in a low cut approach shoe with a fabric upper you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference. The main thing is it works! Wet grass and a paddle across a stream failed to penetrate the Stratosphere and yes it was a bit warm when the temperature approached 30C after a couple of hours but to be honest short of wearing sandals anything was going to be warm.
Finally price, and with an RRP of £90 and street price around £80 the Stratosphere ev Low is more than competitively priced.