Rule number 0.5 in mountaineering is look cool and the reflective piping and orange stripes of the Scarpa Ribelle Mountain Tech OD certainly draw attention to themselves. Whilst the only time I have looked cool was stuck in a blizzard in Alaska, wearing these boots is about as close as I will get to cool chic as opposed to cool freezing.
I have used a pair of the Scarpa Ribelles for a couple of winter forays and found them pretty impressive. They are certainly light and warm. I spent a day standing around in the recent cold snap in a pair of Scarpa Charmoz and my feet had gotten pretty cold, but a change of footwear to the Ribelles saw toasty tootsies instead. That’s not an exactly scientific measure, but the wonderful folk at Outside told me they had the same insulation levels as the Mont Blanc pro, so it would make sense.
On the weight front, the Ribelles don’t quite compensate for the increase in my girth due to rather too much training for Christmas, but I weighed my size 45’s at 720g each (1440g per pair) which compared to my usual, I might /will need crampons boot, the Scarpa Charmoz at 874g (1748g per pair) is a reasonable weight saving and you can definitely feel the weight difference when walking.
Given their weight and amazing comfort (no breaking in required for these little beauties), I was surprised how well they took a crampon. They are rated as B2 and whilst I suspect their lack of ankle support will make them feel less secure on steep ice, their precision (from a technical last) and their lightness will probably be a boon on more mixed ground allowing more precise placements. On a typical UK turf / snow / rock route they felt very precise and secure although I did notice I could feel the crampon heel clip on my Achilles. I would happily use these on the easier grade winter climbs. For scrambling they are awesome, being rigid enough for edging and giving much more protection than an approach shoe yet being only fractionally heavier.
The biggest difference between the Scarpa Ribelle and other B2 rated boots was when walking. It’s not just the marketing blurb, you do genuinely stride easily even on hard surfaces, with none of the heel toe smash often associated with the more rigid boots. The gentler rolling I put down to marginally more flex and a slightly enhanced rocker. Downhill, on snow, rock and grass, the sole unit is very positive and the lightness and general feel tempt you to speed up.
The integral gaiter is the one area I can foresee some problems, with the snug fit of the gaiter requiring a reasonable amount of force to get a foot into. This is absolutely brilliant at keeping the water out if you are just perhaps doing a navigation assessment in a horrendous mix of driven snow, rain and sleet and just maybe forgot your waterproof trousers. The water ran down my leg but didn’t get into my boots and my toes stayed warm and dry despite my stupidity. However, I can see this integral gaiter being damaged and the pull on tags ripping unless you are careful. The integral gaiter obviously negates the need for a normal gaiter, so it could be argued you save even more weight.
The Outdry lining certainly makes them waterproof and because its outside the insulation (unlike the Goretex lining of other boots that was next to the foot) it will keep the whole boot dry rather than just the foot.
Overall my initial impressions are very favourable and whilst it will take the winter season to see how robust they are and gain a full impression, I can see my Charmoz’s languishing in the cupboard and the Ribelle’s adorning my feet for much of my winter mountaineering activities.
If anyone has got this far, Rule number 1 is don’t fall off.