I’ve decided on running a short series on gear. During the past year I’ve been shaving off weight quite a lot. I’ve bought new boots, new crampons, new axes, new pack and a new jacket. The best of all this is that it didn’t cost too much but the weight savings have been dramatic.
I’ll start the series with alpine boots:
While visiting Chamonix this year I bought new shoes. I bought them after trying on every pair of similar shoes at Snell’s. The shoe had the best fit of all shoes I tried. They had one big defect, though. They were the most expensive. Usually I’m quite price sensitive with gear and I was hesitating for a moment but after a second thought I remembered that with shoes you should always buy what fits best. The price differences are not so important since mountain shoes last for many years if not decades you’ll use them for countless hours. If they don’t fit well you’ll be reminded of your bad decision.
I decided on buying Scarpa Rebel Carbon GTX. It’s a high end alpine boot with semi-automatic crampon compatibility. The shoe is designed by Ueli Steck and it’s best intended for technical alpine climbing. It’s an alpine climbing boot that walks and climbs better than most alpine climbing boots. The shoe weights a mere 650 grams each. It’s only marginally more than the typical approach shoe. For comparison: The Five Ten Guide Tennie weights 410 grams and the La Sportiva Boulder X 480 grams.
The fit of the shoe was perfect out of the box. The lacing system is really tight but still comfortable. I haven’t experienced any ankle movement so far. The shoe is very much like the La Sportiva Trango S but it weights less, the sole is stiffer and the toe box is more wide. In Trango my pinky toe was rubbing against the outer edge of the shoe (very uncomfortable) but in Scarpa Rebel it wasn’t so there is definitely more room in the toe box. The sole of the boot is very stiff but it’s more than ok for approaches and descents since the lacing system is supportive and the ankle is very flexible.
The next day after buying the shoes I took them to a real life test. I went to climb the Traverse of the Grandes Jorasses with them. The traverse is a big two and a half day route in the Mont Blanc Massif. The route is a mixed route with a little bit of everything and, thus, a very good testing ground for new shoes. If there are no problems with this route it’s very likely there will be no problems at all.
The type of terrain where Scarpa Rebel Carbon GTX excels.
Since the first moment of walking with them I was totally surprised how well they performed. They ankle stayed put always and climbing with crampons on was a bliss since the boot was so stiff. On rock I could climb anything one could imagine climbing with big boots. On moderate angled ice my calves weren’t burning like they did with my previous boots. I didn’t notice the boots at all while walking down from Boccalatte hut so they are very nice for walking, too. I was more or less running down the hill with them.
On the route I used the boot with Camp XLC Nanotech crampons. I’ll review the crampons in depth later but with this shoe it’s probably the lightest combination with this kind of climbing ability. The XLC Nanotech is with aluminium frame and steel front points and it weights 650 grams per pair. The crampon fits perfectly this boot.
There was a problem with the shoes, too. The water was getting inside if the snow was slushy. The regular route of the Grandes Jorasses is facing south and the snow gets sun all the day so the snow was just about as watery as snow can get in the afternoon. After I got home I did some testing in kids bath tub and found out the problem was with the Goretex lining. I reclaimed Scarpa and they gave me a new pair which I’ve now tested waterproof in the tub.
Overall, I would say the shoe is by far the best mountain boot I’ve ever used during my 10 years of alpine climbing. There was some kind of manufacturing defect with my first pair but the customer service worked ok so it was no big problem. The price is a bit steep but the shoes are well worth it in my opinion.
– The shoe weights only 650 grams each.
– The shoe has low volume and it packs small.
– Fits like a climbing shoe. The ankle fit is superb.
– Can climb 5.9 and above.
– Great customer service.
– Price, but you get a great design.
– Manufacturing defect with the first pair.
Climbing the crux pitch with both shoes inside a 20 liter pack. You’ll be loving the low weight and the low volume design on moments like this.