Performance ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Durability ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ so far!
Value ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
CGR test out the new ultralight Rebel Ultra Gore-Tex boot from SCARPA to see if it will transform them into fast moving, Ueli Steck style, winter climbing wads…
Weighing in at a claimed 1460g per pair (yes that is under 1.5kg!!) for a pair in UK size 8, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Rebel Ultra Gore-Tex B3 rated mountain boots from SCARPA, boots that they say are: “ideal for mixed and cascade, fast alpine and alpine rock climbing.”
I’m forever obsessing over the next piece of lightweight kit to come along, always looking at ways of shaving grams off my clothing system, rack, pack and my footwear. There is a method in this obsession though, as the more your stuff weighs the stronger and fitter you need to be to carry it all and also, the more energy you expend. This is particularly the case with footwear. I remember reading once that as a rule of thumb, “one pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back.” There appears to be some evidence to support this too, and some of this has been collated in an article on FJÄDERLÄTT, a Nordic lightweight backpacking website . Basically though, when thinking about energy expenditure, the lighter your footwear the better.
What SCARPA say:
“This B3 rated boot is ideal for mixed and cascade, fast alpine and alpine rock climbing. A specifically designed carbon mid-sole is tough but very, very light and allows a little bit of progressive flex to enhance climbing sensitivity and approach comfort.
Talking about comfort, the Sock Fit Plus with built in RIBS and the new NAG last offer a fit and comfort level more associated to a pair of snugly fitting slippers than some hard-core mountain boots.
Weather protection, durability and insulation is taken care of by the new KCN-TECH Fabric on the outside, which is constructed from Kevlar, Nylon and Cordura, and a full GORE-TEX (Insulated Comfort Footwear) liner on the inside
An all new sole and updated sole unit produce plenty of traction and help save energy whilst on approach with the Re-Active AC sole which utilises Scarpa’s Activ impact Technology.
Look at the weight 730g per boot! (size 42/ UK8).”
So far I have mainly used the Rebel Ultra Gore-Tex for Scottish winter climbing. A mixture of ice and mixed routes, and also some technical scrambling in North Wales. Prior to using the boots my main concern was how warm they would or wouldn’t be. Friends mocked, telling me I needed to prepare for cold toes unless I was going to be moving fast. So were they correct?
Well, yes and no. Firstly I’d like to say that the Rebel Ultra Gore-Tex boots are light and comfortable. They feel like you are winter climbing in ‘fruit boots’ and walking in lightweight hiking boots. They really are that precise and comfortable.
When climbing rock the boots feel very precise and I would quite happily tackle technical rock climbs and easy scrambles in these. As it says on the SCARPA website: “The Flex Point System allows your ankles complete freedom of movement, even in the stiffest of boots, whilst maintaining support and confidence on all terrains.” And it is this ankle flexibility that provides excellent freedom of movement on technical rock, ice and mixed ground. Team these boots up with a technical monopoint crampon such as Grivel’s G20 or Petzl’s Dart and you’re looking at almost rockshoe like sensitivity and precision on ice and mixed ground, with low weight too. The lightness and sensitivity are aided by a carbon insole which gives a tiny bit of progressive flex. The downside of the ankle flexibility is that there is less support for the ankles on scree and uneven ground and I probably wouldn’t want to frontpoint up a 60 degree ice slope for 1000 metres in these, as it would probably give my calf muscles quite a hammering! They are incredible to walk in and climb technical ground though.
So, back to the warmth question…how warm are they? Well, I suppose this is a little subjective. I tend to suffer more than my friends when it comes to cold hands and feet. And during this past winter in Scotland, I did find that I got cold toes when wearing the Rebel Ultra Gore-Tex. How cold depended upon how far below zero it was (obviously) and also how long I was stood still. In short, I found them bearable (definitely not warm) for Scottish winter routes but although I didn’t use them for continental ice and mixed climbs in the winter season, I am pretty sure they would have been too cold for me. I would stick with the Phantom Guide for day routes, or the Phantom 6000 for multi day alpine routes in winter. This said, I have yet to use these boots for Summer alpinism and for this, I feel they will be perfect. Look out for part 2 of my review at the end of the Summer.
One concern I have with kit that is becoming increasingly lighter and lighter in weight, is how well it will wear. So far I have found no durability issues with Rebel Ultra Gore-Tex, the outers are still in perfect condition and there are no signs of premature wear on the soles. They also survived the stream ‘watertight’ test on their last outing! In terms of sealing out the elements, the integrated gaiter does a very good job and works well with trousers tucked in or over the top. I did find the laces a little short when trying to get a good secure fit around the ankles, and the velcro tongue was a bit snug and fiddly but maybe once fastened they worked well.
So the overall conclusion so far is that for UK winter climbing, easy rock and scrambles, the SCARPA Rebel Ultra Gore-Tex is a great boot. It is quite specialist and won’t suit everybody’s needs but for technical ice and mixed, scrambles and easy rock, it is a boot that climbs fantastically. On the downside, some may find that the ankle is not as supportive as a conventional B3 boot and don’t expect to have warm toes!
Look out for part two of this review in a July when I’ve put them through the test in summer alpine conditions.
- RRP: £449.99
- Find out more and buy these from the SCARPA website.