The Scarpa Rebel Pro GTX was one of the early ultralight mountaineering boots that was compatible with an automatic (aka step-in) crampon binding and had a sole with enough fore-to-aft stiffness to perform on technical terrain. Balancing these attributes with weight means that something has to fall by the wayside, and in the case of the Rebel Pro it's winter performance.
The Rebel Pro is an excellent one shoe solution for mild weather alpine climbing in Washington's Cascades.
At 1lb 9oz (708g) in a size 42 this is the lightest boot in our review, barely beating the similar La Sportiva Trango Ice Cube by 0.6oz (20g). Climbers who are used to pretty much any other mountain boot ever made will be pleasantly surprised by the weight. In fact, it weighs less than the Charmoz, Scarpa's uninsulated 3 season mountain boot!
Rock Climbing Ability
The toe of the Rebel Pro (right) tapers at the very end, which is great for bare-booted rock climbing. Ice Cube on the left.
This was our favorite mountain boot for rock climbing. If our chosen route involved easy to moderate snow and rock climbing up to about 5.7 we would bring only this boot, for simplicity's sake. The Rebel Pro has a generous amount of ankle articulation, which is nice for the sometimes awkward footwork of rock climbing in mountain boots. The sole is also fairly thin. This, in combination with the narrow toe profile, allowed our testers to be as precise as one can be on small edges.
Ice Climbing Ability
A rigid sole and good ankle support are two of the most important considerations for ice climbing performance in a mountaineering boot. Both characteristics add weight to the boot. Scarpa had to make a decision when balancing low weight with ice performance in this boot and we think they chose wisely. The Rebel Pro has a pleasingly rigid sole, but not much ankle support for front pointing. This boot can climb steep ice, but climbers will be punished for poor technique and weak calves. That being said, the ankle flexibility allows for proper french technique on moderately angled ice and neve.
The Grivel G12 (top), Petzl Lynx (bottom right), and BD Stinger toe bails on the Rebel. Note that all 3 stick out to either side of the narrow toe. It's possible to accidentally catch points of the other crampon on the toe bail.
Crampon compatibility is an important factor on ice. Not all crampons work well with all boots. The narrow toe and thin sole that let the Rebel Pro climb rock so well means that climbers need to pay attention to toe bail fit on their crampons. It also means that if you're using a semi-auto crampon, you need to watch out for how far forward the toe is driven when engaging the heel lever.
Be careful when using a semi-auto crampon binding with a narrow toed boot, this is not a good fit.
For a boot with such a rigid and not very rockered sole, we were pleased with how well these boots hiked. They were forgiving enough to deal with Sierra talus fields, but we appreciated the stiffness when kicking steps into steep Cascade moraines. And they're light enough that bringing a pair of approach shoes or trail runners for the hike in often doesn't make sense.
Everything has it's costs. Insulation adds weight and bulk to boots. Scarpa has kept the Rebel Pro light with only a minimal amount of insulation. This works well enough for milder days of winter cragging, or more aerobic missions in the winter months. This is not a great boot for colder weather cragging or the stop-and-go rhythm of multi-pitch climbing on colder days, escpecially if you're standing in the snow at belays.
It's worth noting the fit here. Historically, Scarpa boots have been fairly wide in the forefoot. That's not the case with the Rebel Pro. Our testers found it fit more like a La Sportiva boot, that is, narrow in the front. A boot that is too snug will restrict circulation and keep feet unnecessarily cold. Climbers who have always gone with Scarpa in the past should try these on before buying, or make sure their retailer has a good return policy.
Many modern mountain boots have some feature to keep snow out of the boot. This boot doesn't. It doesn't take much snow to make wet feet.
The Rebel Pro is built with a Gore-Tex liner. In our testing it stood up well in water and sloppy snow. The wet foot threat with this boot comes from snow getting in the top. 6 of the 8 boots in our test have either a built in super-gaiter, a gaiter/cuff combo (Trango Ice Cube and Mont Blanc Pro), or some kind of stretchy finish on the cuff (Nepal Cube). It seems like a general trend in mountain boots that as fewer climbers are wearing gaiters, more boots are built to keep the snow out. The Rebel Pro bucks this trend and has an old school finish on the cuff. Walking through deep snow is a fact of life for winter climbers. If those climbers are wearing this boot they should expect some snow to come in the top.
One of the trade offs climbers often make when choosing lightweight gear is durability. Our testers did not find that exchange to be necessary with the Rebel Pro. This boot has been quite durable. The materials are all fairly burly, the hardware on the outside of the boot is all metal, and the lace loops on the lower part of the boot are protected from abrasion.
The hardware on the Rebel is all metal and the lace loops are hidden from abrasion.
One of our testers used the Rebel Pro as his only boot for a multi-day trip to Boston Basin in the North Cascades in August. That trip involved a steep hike on a rough trail, glacier travel, steep snow, and rock climbing up to about 5.6. We think this boot is a great choice for any mild weather alpinism, whether on snow, ice, easy rock, or especially some combination of those. This is also a great boot for any climber who will approach in boots, switch to rock shoes for the climb, but still need boots to go to the summit or descend, as is sometimes the case in Patagonia or Alaska's Little Switzerland.
At $500 MSRP these are among the least expensive boot in our review. Our testing team thinks they will stand up to more abuse than we would expect from a lightweight boot. Given their high performance we think they are a good value for their application. If you've always used a traditional single leather boot in the summer we think you'll be pleased with this purchase (as long as they fit).
This was our favorite boot for mild weather alpine climbing. Canadian Rockies north faces in the summer, The North Ridge of Mount Baker, and Sierra couloirs are all perfect playgrounds for this boot. That's because it's low weight makes the approach and descent easy, but it's stiff enough to perform well on the route. We wouldn't want to make the boot warmer by adding any weight, but we do wish the top of the boot was better at keeping snow out.
Kevin demonstrates how the flexible ankle on the Rebel allows for proper french technique.