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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Scarpa Rebels..... Part One "The Ultra!"

dbl click for a full view of the boot

Scarpa introduced the Rebel GTX Carbon last year.  Great boot for its intended purpose.  Which was alpine rock.   In Oct of 2010 I had already seen  "what was coming" on the feet of  Ueli Steck doing some hard alpine mixed and steep ice around Chamonix.  I had wondered if "that" boot would only be "on Ueli's feet"  or ever make it to market.    We now know that answer.  It has indeed made it to market!  The new Scarpa Rebel boot is called the Rebel Ultra GTX.

The other two boots in the Rebel  line are the Rebel Carbon GTX, introduced last year.  The newest Rebel Pro GTX introduced at the Winter 2013 OR show.  I'll review each boot in turn.  The Carbon GTX I've been in a year now so that one I'll rehash a bit later.  The newest Pro GTX I have yet to handle outside the OR show.  The new Ultra?  Those I now have in hand.  And for me, well worth the wait.  Thrilled, is hardly an over statement.

The original Batura on M6 2009

Boots? Fruit boot technology is catching up to the Mtn. boot technology. You’ll climb different in them but you’ll also climb better. Ice becomes more like rock climbing in the soft ankle boots. Haven’t found one I want to send 1000m of hard 55% alpine ice in (until now) but it is entertaining trying to figure out how to rest the calves with French technique at every opportunity. More time in soft boots will likely encourage me to take them on endurance alpine ice.

Now we have both warm boots and soft ankle boots that have a rigid sole for even my size 12 feet. They can be amazing. Check out the usual suspects to see what fits you. I like the Batura for cold stuff close to the road (they are hard to dry out) and the Spantik for anything over a day out. There are much lighter boots I could be climbing in. We’ve only just seen the beginning to the newest boot technology. In the future look for a dbl. layered fruit boot that is warm enough for Denali which you’ll actually want to use for that M10 at your local crag. "

I wrote that 5 years ago almost to the day now.  And it is true the technology is just beginning to filter down to what is possible.  As I said above "until now".

The drop in boot weight for similar warmth and a lot more performance?

La Sportiva Batura (45) 1st gen. 2# 7oz / 1106g   (one boot)
Scarpa Rebel Ultra GTX (45)  1# 13oz  / 822 (one boot)

And by today's best for weight and warmth?

La Sportiva Batura 2.0  GTX   2# 2oz / 970g

Scarpa Phantom Ultra (2012)   2# 4oz / 1020g

Scarpa Phantom Guide (2012)  2# 7.5oz / 1120g

*Scarpa Phantom 6000 (2012) with Baruntse liner 2# 8oz / 1134g

It is coming....

I know I'll take some heat for the next few comments.  But anyone with a clue will realise what I am saying next is not a diss to any one's abilities, but simply a recognition of where technology takes us next.

In the pre sticky rubber days, pre-Fire', climbs were harder.  If you were good at your craft the sticky rubber made a difference on what you were now able to climb.  It was in instant jump in your abilities.  That is fact.  When Friends came along just prior, those too allowed any one to climb things they might not have done other wise, safely.   The eventual change from a curved pick to a reverse curved pick was a huge jump on what mere mortals were capable of ice climbing.  Stretch garments that were also warm enough...another jump in technology and what would eventually be climbed.

Anyone that tells you gear doesn't matter is clueless. (no matter what your/his/her skill level)  From the RURP to the Nomic...gear matters.  You just need to be able to take advantage of the gear.  That I can't help you with.

Boreal's Mutant, "fruit boot".

So the boots?  There is a reason the hardest modern mixed gets sent in Fruit boots.  I have a pair myself.  Boreal Mutants in fact.  With crampons they weigh 2 # even per boot in my size 12.

My newest  Rebel Ultras with my lightest steel crampon 2#  9oz. total per boot.

The original Kolflach Ultra @ 3.5# with crampons. 

From April of 2010
"I'd really like to see a sub 3# dbl boot and fully technical crampon combination for my size 12 feet.  Size 12, Koflach Ultra, Aveolite inner boot, circa 1980, Chouinard hinged crampons, Beck/Chouinard straps. Total weight 3# 9oz."

The Rebel Ultra is most certainly not a double boot, but it is more than a simple single boot.  More importantly it is a 4 season (for many areas but not all) ice boot that has finally dropped a almost a full pound off the equation.    In comparison for hard technical climbing, the boot and the crampon have both been improved and now @ the 2# 11 oz. total weight.  The Rebel Ultra isn't perfect.  And it isn't as warm as it might be.  For the weight and performance right now, as in today?  No wishful thinking here.  Nothing even in the same league.   I have no doubt the industry is headed in the right direction with this boot.  Super low profile and volume for a full on mountain boot.  Rigid enough and most importantly,  supportive enough to climb endurance ice in,  as the Phantom Ultra has already proved prior.  The newest Ultra is a better boot yet for fit and support.  I'll be able to climb harder in this boot.  Most will.

 Dave in the Phantom Ultra on les Droites
When you are testing boots in the field, with the same crampons and go from 1210g boot to a boot that tops the scale at 822g there is a huge difference on your feet.   I did just that today.  Using a TLT5 P on one foot and the new Rebel Ultra on the other.  You couldn't easily pick a pair of boots that are so totally different in every way.   To start with almost a full pound difference per foot!  But both boots offer some real strengths.    Comparing them side by side was really interesting.  The first was just how warm and supportive the Rebel Ultra really was by comparison.  Big surprise!!  And only in really good ways.  The Ultra is a lot of boot @ 822g for a size 45.

On the newest Ultra I had not originally liked the gaiter.  I've climbed in almost every gaitered boot in existence to date.  Back to an original pair of Trappeurs.  Some were/are better than others.  The Rebel Ultra is very, very good by any comparison to any of them.  It also begs the pant to be stuffed into them to clear your feet and crampons.  Think true Fruit boot performance here.  Even if the boot will breath better with a pant over the gaiter, not in it.  Save the over the pant use for big, cold north walls.  It will keep the boot drier.   For that hard project, tuck the pant and clear your feet and crampons.  Nice option I had given up on a while ago in my other gaitered boots.

The ankle, tongue and lacing system on the Ultra is unique.  More importantly I am not sure that I have ever had such good ankle support, ankle flexibility and heel fit in a boot, ever.  Support and flexibility in one boot?  How does that work?  Not sure myself, but in this boot, it does.  And very well indeed.

The unique and excellent ankle wrap and support on the Ultra.

The tongue and ankle  is wrapped and locked via Velcro and the laces..  It makes an exceptionally supportive and well fitting boot.

The Rebel Ultra's volume compared to the Batura 2.0.  Don't let the looks fool you, it is a warmer boot than it might first appear with such low volume. 

The Ultra has a very snug and technical last.  It is a tight fitting boot.  Biggest complaint I heard of the Rebel Carbon last summer is that it fit on the small side.  I saw a number of used ones being sold early on because the tight last of the Rebel wasn't for every one's feet.  This boot will have a very similar last so buy accordingly.   But I suspect they will fit most if you size them correctly first time around.  I have a narrow foot but seem to fit Scarpa generally better than La Sportiva.  I find the fit in the Rebel line exceptional for my feet with enough room in the toe box and exceptional heel hold down.  The Ultra the best of the bunch on all counts so far.
Ultra is 10oz lighter per pair than a Batura 2.0 in a size 45.  With a precision fit like no other ice boot in existence to date.  The difference in volume and warmth should be clear in this picture.
The mid sole on this boot is close to being perfect IMO.  Rigid with the right crampon (Petzl) and flexible enough to walk in easily.
Crampons?  No surprise I suppose that the Petzl Darts fit perfectly with an asymmetrical connecting bar.  And they are a dream to climb in for overall weight and performance.  It is  slick combination.  The sole toe profile is tiny so good luck getting a great fit with out a Petzl front bail on your choice in crampons.  I am having a hard time telling you just how impressed I am with this boot.  I am running out of ways to say juts how good this boot really is.  How long will it last?  Not sure...don't care:) 
I venture to guess that the newest Rebel Ultra will grab the majority of market share in light weight  alpine and ice boots (including the Batura and Phantom Guide) and dominate the market in just its first full season.  Move fast enough and this boot will be warm enough.  And the drop in weight might just allow you to move "fast enough".  The other boot builders?  Take note.  You are looking at the future in performance.   The boot is insulated for warmth and Goretex lined for weather proofing.   As good as this new boot is the technology could so easily be bettered.
That prediction is so easily given.  Steck used the prototype of this boot to free the Nomine Crack in the Dru Coulior, mid Oct. 2010.  How many guys have been on the Dru Coulior in a virtual fruit boot?
"Italian Korra free'd this pitch, at M7+.... Good effort to Ueli onsight freeing this in the dark!!"  Will Sim
The Dru Coulior
Photo courtesy of Dave Searle
In case you missed it?   Feb.  2010.  Ueli Steck, Ben Nevis, on the Secret,  X-10.  Scarpa  proto type boots.  Fruit boots again. Take a look at the lack of boot soles about 22:50
If you have ever dry tooled in rock now know the difference this boot will make in the alpine.   The new Rebel Ultra GTX is going to change the game...again.  And for the better.   Save your pennies.  You are going to want this boot.  My bet is they will be hard to obtain the first year.  No guarantee but the link below might help if you are in North America.
The current Rebel Ultra, that is reviewed above.
The newest Rebel Pro GTX introduced at the Winter 2013 OR show.
Both of the newest boots are insulated for warmth and Goretex lined for weather proofing.
The original Rebel Carbon GTX on alpine rock last summer.
This boot deserves high marks in use.


Cale Hoopes said...

Dane! You're killing me! LOL. Anyhow, I've just purchased the Batura 2.0's and the Salewa Pro Gaiter's to test from Backcountry. I actually found so far that I think the Salewa boots might fit better. Now it looks like I might have another option. Is the insulation between the Batura's and the Rebel Ultras super different? Also, I believe the Salewa insulation is even more. I just want to know if it's a huge difference or just slight.

PK said...


I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on socks related to these boots. Given the progression you're noting towards a more technical, precisely fitting and lower profile boot (i.e., fruit boot-like), I'm beginning to rethink the idea of a thick, traditional mountaineering sock and consider using boots like these with a single, thinner, ski-like sock.

Too, for nearly 30 years, I have used a combination of very thin poly liner sock next to skin, with the thick wool sock over it. I credit this for a life time of blister-free hiking. However, for the first time outside of ski boots/socks, I'm considering abandoning this approach in the interest of a really precise but relatively comfortable fit.

Obviously, sock choice has huge implications for correct boot size and fit.

Your thoughts?

PK said...

By the way, I should add that I finally got out on my Quarks with your hammers installed + the Petzl massolettes, and it was a beautiful combination. Notable improvement over stock.

Dane said...

Cale, there is a lot of difference in the volume of these boots. A full boot gaiter adds warmth as well.

PK..I too have used something similar to what you describe for sox combos. I am using a single mid weight ski sock in all my boots now. With or with out a silk weight liner, depending on the boot and how long I need the socks to last for insulation. The last on the best boots these days allows least for me a totally blister free fit.

Erik W said...


What's your impression on flex as compared to the Phantom Guides?

Dane said...

OK, this will sound weird but my take on it. I spent one season in the Guide and 3 or 4 now in the Ultra. More in the 1st Batura and now the new Batura 2.0.

Mid sole on the Rebel Ultra I think is slightly more rigid than a Guide or Phantom Ultra. But with rocker and flex easy enough to walk in. May be easier than the others. They are rigid as far as I can tell with a pair of Petzl Dart/Dartwin crampons on them. Crampons obviously add a lot to the soles' rigidity. More flexible side to side and back than the Guides. Less flexible forward and more support for your calf. New ankle wrap is the difference there I think. Even better heel hold as well because of the same unique ankle wrap. I've never seen/felt anything like them.

DJ said...

Hi Dane
This boot looks like a killer boot for sure. But I guess by the look of it that the last might not be wide enough for my wide Sami-feet! Jorasses PRO fits me, phantom ultra pretty good but the phantom guide is way to narrow. Whats your exp. of the fit compared to other boots?

Dane said...

It is a closer fitting mtn boot than anything I have seen to date. Best compared directly to the Rebel Carbon GTX that has been out a year now. More like an old school rock shoe fit. As I said, closer fitting, not to be read as "narrow".

Kevin Senefeld said...

Really looking forward to these. Love my Scarpa Rebels for the Sierra and I'll admit "closer fitting" is a great way to describe the fit. The Scarpa NAG last is more dialed in than Sportiva's Trango - like many others, I'd been a red Trango person for years, and the fit was great. I describe the Rebels as fitting like a glove - there's no extra volume, takes a bit of wiggling to get into, and for all sorts of reasons feels more like a rock shoe than a mountaineering boot. Not a revelation compared to the red Trango, but a worthy progression in weight, fit, and (most importantly) performance - I'm looking forward to seeing Sportiva's answer after leaving the Trango series alone for so long.

The Ultra looks like it takes the Rebel concept to the extreme. A great basic platform is given a toe welt, insulation without bulk, and an innovative (game-changing?) gaiter. We'll see if I can get my hands on a pair before it gets warm…

Dane said...

Hey Kevin, thanks for the comments. FWIW it isn't the big deal there really. It is the ankle wrap/tongue and how it laces that is part of changing the game with these on ice. I saw these boots 6 months ago and thought I knew what they were about. I don't use the term "game changer" lightly. Nomic was a game changer. This will be as well. Hard to believe from the review and just playing with them. It took actually using them to realise the difference. The weight, the profile, the fit...and the support...that is the game changer. Get back to me once you get in a pair and use them some. I'd liek to hear your comments. Nothing at all like the Rebel GTX except the primary foot fit....after that I *think* things are quite different.

JP said...

Dane, as always, it's a pleasure to read your reviews.

Have you tried them with the Lynx crampons? How's the fit?

Dane said...

Thanks JP. I did not try them with the Lynx. Lightest steel crampons I own are the Grivel G20 and the Dart/Dartwins. Those seemed more appropriate fro the Ultra to me.

Steven K said...

How warm are these say compared to the Nepal Evos? Could you stand around in a belay in these in -15C to -20C, or are you going need to be active in those conditions? I climb in the Canadian Rockies and I strongly considered getting a pair of Phantom Guides until I saw this review.

Dane said...

No way as warm as a Nepal or something I want to hang out on a cold day belaying in at Hafner. But no problem taking them on a solo of Professors or PC on a cold day either. But they are about as light as I will ever go for warmth on a winter ice boot.

zoso said...

Dane, I have noticed on pictures that the leverlock on your petzl crampon is turned around. Could you please explain what are advantages/disadvantages of this setting?

Dane said...

Hi Zoso, the lever isn't turned around. But I can understand how you might think so from that picture. I have simply moved the strap's attachment point to the upper part of the lever so the leverage is better to keep the latch closed. And make it easier to get the crampon off at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane,

I have recently started mountaineering and am in the market for some boots. I have been reading a lot of your reviews with great interest: Phantom 6000, Guide, Ultra, and now the Rebels. I am an ambitious 28yo and will do some 4000m peaks in the Alps this summer (glacier technique, mixed climbing), but want to go as far/high as possible in the future.

From what I read the boots nowadays are ever more light but all the options make me dizzy. As a newcomer my goal is to get something to serve me well in as many situations as possible, so here comes the question(s):

How can I match all these boots to my specific needs in what regards warmth? Do I consider altitude/season or temperature? Or location? It's difficult to find precise ratings of boots for either of these criteria.

Otherwise put, how far/high/low-temp will a 'single boot' take me? What about a double boot?

A more 'complete' question would be, what conditions are 'too much' (too cold) for a certain boot, and for what condition it is overkill? For example, I'm considering the Scarpa Phantom Ultra, will that get me to 6000m? What about Aconcagua for example? On the other side, would them be OK for summer in the Alps? When should I start considering a double boot? Is it 'reasonable' for your first boot to be a double?

Many thanks,

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane... love the Rebel Ultras... they climb absolutely amazing and are so light. The only downside I encountered so far: they don't walk well downhill. For me it seems based on their construction the foot is not held back firmly enough. I start hitting the toes at the front after some downhill walking. Have you encountered a similar issue? Or are they simply too small? I fear that a larger size might be too big for my foot and I start moving side to side...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Dane said...

I bought my Rebel Carbons a full size larger than my Phantom Ultras and 6000s. 45 to 46. The Rebel Ultra I went 1/2 larger (likely my proper size 45.5) and haven't had a problem with toes bumping. But with such a tight boot it was the first thing I worried about trying them on. Which is the reason I went to a bigger size than normal from the git-go.

I think originally a lot of people bought the Rebel Carbon too small and more of a rock shoe fit than a mountain boot fit. And then paid the price on their first decent. It was a trend I noticed early on and made a note to my to avoid it. Most of those early mis-sized boots saw the secondary market very quickly.

smantani said...

Hi Dane. I just got a pair of these. They fit my foot perfectly, but they don't seem to fit my Lynx Crampons at all. How were they with the Dartwin? Did you make any modification to the Dartwins to make them fit well. I am a 41.5 so idk how well yours will relate to mine anyway, but worth a shot. Thanks!

Dane said...

Had the same problem with the Lynx. Dart and Dartwin work with no mods...likely as good as it will ever get even with a 41.5. Small feet has got to make that Ultra a stiff soled boot though. I'm jealous! Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Dane, Have you figured out what the difference is between the Ultra and the pro? Is it as simple as with/without the gaiter? Why would you choose one vs. the other? thanks!

Anonymous said...

Follow up question, how would the Rebel Ultra or Pro stack up against the La Sportiva Trango Extreme evo lt. Rebels are lighter but Trangos are cheaper.

Dane said...

More ankle support by design and the gaiter on the Ultra. Not as simple as it might appear. LS or Scarpa? It really depend on how any of these boots fit your feet. Sole flex is also totally different between brands.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I'm looking for a lightweight boot to use for both ice cragging and fast alpine routes. Occasional use on spring/summer 3-4 day technical trips in places like the North Cascades. I've never had a boot with integrated gaiter. I understand that the gaiter can make the boot warmer and drier. When would I want the gaiter and when would I hate it?

Unknown said...

I just received a a pair of the Ultras and they feel awesome. I'm a little concerned about potential lack of warmth. How do you think these would pair up with an overboot, like the Forty Below K2 Ultralights. I plan on using these on some winter climbs in the Sierras like Whitney. Am I asking for too much from these?

Dane said...

Hi George, Likely asking too much of the boot if you want/need to use a overboot. Better yet just pick a really nice day and go really fast on Whitney :)

Josh...most people will want a gaiter or add one anyway.

Guys this is a very special boot, but you can't expect it to do everything. It isn't super warm but it is super light. I really like the boot but if I don't have warm feet I am NOT happy!

You ever seen Ueli's gear room? He has 5 different styles of mtn boots that I can see....each model adding warmth. The Rebel Ultra is one of the lightest...and one of the least warm in his selection.

Cameron said...

Hey Dane,

Just picked up a pair of these and really love the fit and lightness! Thanks for putting up this review, really enjoy reading your blog.

My question is about crampon fit. I'm coming from a traditional plastic double boot using Grivel G12s that have a solid fit. Going to this is a huge leap as far crampon fit. I have gotten them to the point where there is no gap in the toe underneath the boot. However, there are gaps on the side, as the bail for the crampons is a decent amount wider than the boot. Similar situation in the back. It doesnt seem to be causing an issue, but I haven't been out kicking ice with them yet. Is this ok? Are there narrower crampons? What are your thoughts?


Dane said...

Hi Cameron, Thanks for reading the blog. Much appreciated. I've had great success with a G20 right out of the box on mine as have others.

Stefan said...

Hi Dane,

Terrific reading and very informative as ever!
I have a question on sizing, as I think we may be similar size feet and I need a favour!

With my heel against a wall, my feet (no socks) are 28.2cm. I wondering how you measure and which size fits you best in the Scarpa Rebel/Ultra GTX and Sportiva Trango models?

Sadly I live in a part of the world where trying them is difficult and I get one shot at ordering a pair in the right size.

As background I once ordered a pair of Sportiva Nepal's in 45 and they felt fine on first fit but I ended up with a black toe -- so I suspect I'm 45.5 or 46...
I usually use a mid-weight sock with super thin liner.

best Stefan

Dane said...

Hi Stephan. Sorry this took so long for me to back to you. My long foot is 28.25 my short foot 28.

I fit best in a 45.5 Rebel Ultra I think. But have used a 45 in the Phantom Ultra. 45.5 is best but a 46 is good as well in the Rebels. With a good insole...which I don't use in my climbing boots, my feet get more narrow and shorter with good arch support. With nothing but the factory insoles I really need at least a 45.5 in my singles.

In my climbing boots these days I use a mid weight wool and a thin wool liner. Good luck! As they say.."go big or go hiome;_)) with sore feet! If you got black toe I'd suggest a 46 in any of the singles mentioned.

Stefan said...

Hi Dane,
Nice to know we are pretty much exactly the same size!
Many thanks for taking the time to reply, really appreciate it very much.
Keep up the terrific work!
best Stefan

Anthony said...


I wear a 45 in the rebel ultra and currently have g12's that work just fine, however, my wife has begun climbing and I'll need another pair, both for my use and when we both climb she can use the 12s. I am looking at darts and g20s, which has the superior fit on this boot? I seem to be getting mixed impressions, some saying its fine and others saying the g20 has too big of a wire up front. I would prefer the g20, but if the fit is not suitable to this boot then I may go for the dart. Thoughts?

Dane said...

Easy one Anthony. The G20 looks big but works fine. I think the G20 is a better crampon. And I like the Dart a lot.

Anthony said...


sparsons said...

Hi. I have the Rebel Carbon GTX. They are light and comfortable but the tongue is not Gortex lined and leaks badly such that your feet get wet in wet snow or rain. I think the newer boots have the same tongue and this is a serious flaw. Hope this helps, Simon.

Unknown said...

Trying to get an idea of length sizing on the Scarpa Rebel Ultra GTX's. About to pull the trigger on a size 42. I always wear a size 9 or 9.5 US, but have experienced cycling shoes that I need a 42.5. How is the sizing accuracy compared to US sizing?


Dane said...

Sorry, no clue on US sizing. These come in true half sizes. I can generally get away with a 45 in anything but with these I needed a 45.5, It is a very tight, technical last.