Will Dave ditch his beloved Rebel Lite’s for the new Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX mountain boots?
The Tech model, is a new generation of mountain boot for the super weight aware. The sock fit Plus construction adds extra cuff protection, preventing dirt and Morraine from disturbing its awesome fit.
The new Scarpa Zodiac range has 3 models: the fully redesigned 2016 Zodiac, The Zodiac Mid GTX and Zodiac Tech GTX. The first two offer comfort on climbing approaches and hiking whist the more mountain orientated Zodiac Tech GTX offers a versatile mountain boot suitable for a range of mountain sports both summer and winter.
I’ve been using the great Scarpa Rebel Lite’s for a couple of years now and have had plenty of great Alpine adventures in them. Although my tagline is catchy – there is a distinction between the two boots. The Zodiac Tech GTX have a much more sturdy feel to them even though they are 37g lighter than the Rebel Lite, which is brilliant considering they are made from 1.8mm Perwanger Suede.
The fit is what I would call performance, that is a very tight and precise fit so the usual warning goes out that it is best to go to a specialist boot retailer and try them on before making a purchase. The test size was my usual EUR42/UK 8, Scarpa do not do half sizes in this range. I found I needed quite a thin sock when wearing them, especially in hot weather when my feet swell up. The fit is excellent though for technical mountain work, scrambling and even easy rock climbing was fine in the Zodiac Tech’s and I could wear them all day long without my feet feeling tired.
The Zodiac Tech GTX has a full rand for those wide cracks and muddy approaches as well as a rear lip to take a new matic (rear heel bale) crampon – I used them with the Grivel Air Tech crampons and they worked perfectly together. The Zodiac Tech GTX is a B1 rated boot, so flexible enough for all day hiking but stiff enough for a trip out onto the glacier or non- technical peak.
The lacing worked well and kept the boots tight without having to stop and retighten them and the tongue is much better than the Rebel Lite tongue as it is more comfortable on the front of your foot and doesn’t stick out at the sides. The toe box is soft, which gives for a nice feel when rock climbing.
There is a rear ankle cuff to help keep out minor bits of grit and dust, but don’t expect it to work as a gaiter and keep out water – you’ll be disappointed. That said it is comfortable enough and doesn’t rub on the back of my achilles heel. The rest of the ankle section works on the Flex Point System which offer full ankle flexibility, which is crucial for comfortable hiking.
There is some memory foam in the ankles too, Scarpa call this Ankle Padding. It acts as a buffer against scrapes and knocks, gives some insulation and generally makes the boot more comfortable. There is also some small amounts of insulation throughout the rest of the boot and so far I have tested the boot in Alpine glacier terrain, UK scrambling and hiking so I’m waiting to test them in UK Winter and will report back via the comments section. I don’t think these will be a deep winter mountaineering boot like the Scarpa Manta Pro’s I tested last winter but will be fine for fast and light trips and I can see them being great for springtime hits on Ben Nevis ridges and other snowed up ridge routes. The Zodiac Tech have a fully Gore-Tex lining, so does the Zodiac Mid so if you want a non Gore-Tex option you’ll have to opt for the straight forward Zodiac shoe
The sole unit is built on the BZ last, which is a precise fit it also has a Pro-Fibre midsole which Scarpa fit to their technical mountaineering boots. Impact is moderated using what Scarpa are now calling the Pentax Precision II XT, this is a combination of EVA (a rubber like and soft plastic which acts as the cushioning) and TPU (a harder, mouldable polyurethane plastic used in the heel bale lip). This provides super comfort and durability to the Scarpa Zodiac Tech. The sole is then fitted with a good quality Vibram sole, which have proved great on dry rock, snow and neve. As I always state – nothing works on wet slippy rock except nailed boots – but hey who wants to have those on their feet!
In conclusion – would I swap the Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX for my Rebel Lite’s? Probably yes, I have found the Zodiac Tech a better fit for climbing and hiking in and although the Rebel Lite’s have a B2 rating so will be better for front pointing the Zodiac Tech have proved a more versatile summer mountaineering boot and would be better value for money.
Sizes – 40 to 48 and available in a Women’s specific fit. Colour: just the Orange (for men) which Scarpa are naming Tonic.
Available from the Scarpa website and various retailers.