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Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Review

For rocky alpine approaches and moderate snow travel, this model is a lightweight mountain boot disguised as a hiking boot
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Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Review
Credit: Ryan Huetter
Price:  $349 List
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Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 25, 2023
80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 17
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Support - 25% 9.0
  • Traction - 15% 10.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 5.6
  • Durability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX excels in mountain terrain where excellent traction and stability are essential to keep you safe and secure. Less than an actual mountain boot, this mid-weight hiking boot will handle trail miles with ease, whether on day hikes or extended distance backpacking trips. The Sierra High Route. The Haute Route. The Bailey Range Traverse. Mount Whitney's Mountaineer's Route. These iconic and popular treks involve lots of on-trail travel and off-trail boulder hopping, scree slogging, snow walking, and rock scrambling. These types of terrain are where the Zodiac Plus shines most brightly. If you need the stability and traction of a mountain boot with the weight of a mid-weight hiking shoe, then this model is for you. Check out how it compares to the competition in our men's hiking boot review.
REASONS TO BUY
Best choice for rock and snow travel
Durable
Breathes well
REASONS TO AVOID
Wider fit
Not the best lace locking system
Very expensive
Editor's Note: This boot review was updated on October 25, 2023, to include updates from continued testing and new product comparisons.

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Bottom Line For hikers venturing off trail into rocky or snowy terrain, this boot offers stability and traction that no other boot doesThis high-top boot is one of the most stable we tested, and with plush cushioning is perfect for big backcountry missionsThis flagship hiking boot is our first recommendation for a hiking and backpacking boot, achieving remarkable performance in all terrain types and conditionsThis is a high-performance boot that eats up demanding off-trail terrain thanks to its above-average stability and tractionThis inexpensive boot is super comfortable and is a great all-around option
Rating Categories Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Salomon Quest 4 Gor... La Sportiva Ultra R... Merrell Moab 3 Mid...
Comfort (25%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Support (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
10.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Water Resistance (15%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (10%)
5.6
6.0
4.5
8.0
6.8
Durability (10%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Salomon Quest 4 Gor... La Sportiva Ultra R... Merrell Moab 3 Mid...
Measured Weight (per pair, size 11) 2.65 lbs 2.54 lbs 2.90 lbs 2.08 lbs 2.36 lbs
Upper 1.8mm suede perwanger Waterproof nubuck leather Leather and nylon AirMesh, microfiber, TPU Pigskin leather, mesh
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular, wide Regular, wide
Waterproof Lining Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Gore-Tex extended comfort Waterproof membrane
Boot Type Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Lightweight hiker/day hiker Midweight hiker/backpacking boot
Last Board/Shank BZ last Not specified 4D Chassis Nylon molded flex TPU Molded nylon
Midsole PU + 3D EVA-MP 2-density CMEVA (rubberized EVA) EnergyCell Injection-molded MEMlex Super Rebound Compound
Sole Vibram Drumlin / Mont Vibram Megagrip rubber Contagrip TD FriXion XF 2.0 Vibram TC5+

Our Analysis and Test Results

We took the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX out on some serious adventures, hiking and climbing in such iconic mountain ranges as the Sierra Nevada and the North Cascades. Scarpa developed this boot for precise footwork in mountain terrain, where stability and traction are paramount. We give it our hearty recommendation for scrambling across boulders and talus due to its outmatched performance in 3rd and 4th terrain travel.

Performance Comparison


scarpa zodiac plus gtx - when hiking through 2nd-4th class terrain, the zodiac kept...
When hiking through 2nd-4th class terrain, the Zodiac kept impressing us with its mountain-travel performance.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Comfort


The Zodiac Plus GTX is a purpose-driven boot built around the needs of serious hikers and mountain climbers. It has a rockered sole and hikes reasonably well on trails, though it does not perform to the same standards as some of the luxuriously cushioned models we feature in our boot review. Comfortable enough, the Zodiac places a higher value on stability and traction, and we are fine with that trade-off in this niche model.


We docked this model a few points, coming in behind more comfortable models. We found that after many miles wearing these boots over hard surfaces like granite slabs and rocky trails, that our feet were pretty fatigued by the end of the day.

The Zodiac has a trim, performance fit that likely will fit those with slightly wider feet better, especially if you are looking to for a snugger fit, which is what we would recommend for a boot of this type. The ankle collar is built with soft foamy material that hugs the ankle tightly without biting in. The outer is made from 1.8mm thick suede Perwanger leather, which is more supple than the full-grain leather outer used on the models that most closely resemble classic backpacking boots, but it was difficult to draw the material tightly around the forefoot for those with narrower feet or those preferring a thinner sock system.

scarpa zodiac plus gtx - en route to climb the ridge on thor peak in the scarpa zodiac boots.
En route to climb the ridge on Thor Peak in the Scarpa Zodiac boots.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Support


The Zodiac is a top performer when it comes to stability, and we award it high scores in this important metric. This boot has a narrow width, which fit our medium volume feet quite well, and when laced up, felt snug and secure, leaving little room for rolling ankles. This snug fit gives more control of the boot's edges, which improves their climbing prowess when all you get for a grip is the toe edge. The soft suede leather conforms to the foot, making these reasonably comfortable to walk in, though the stiff midsole and shank keep these from having a smooth and natural gait. Rather, these traits aid in their abilities to tackle uneven slopes.


This boot has the highest torsional stability for its weight, a quality often only found in heavier mountaineering boots. Thus, the torsional stability is a result of using a polyurethane and 3D EVA midsole that provides a similar amount of stiffness as a shank design but without the weight. The only place we found the Zodiac Plus to falter was in extended travel through terrain requiring smearing, as the stiff sole felt clunky for slabby moves. For this type of terrain, we favored a boot that offered a bit more rocker shape to the sole as this will allow for more forefoot flex.

scarpa zodiac plus gtx - tried and true in real terrain, this is the environment where the...
Tried and true in real terrain, this is the environment where the Zodiac is all about business.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Traction


This boot is one of the best performers in the traction metric, and it expresses a strong preference towards being in steep mountain climbing situations. That doesn't make it less useful when taken out on less serious or demanding hikes, however. Even on the local trails, we find this boot to be exceptional in holding a secure grip in all conditions.


The Zodiac Plus has more versatile usefulness in a variety of conditions that require high traction capabilities, so whether you need to get good footing in loose or dry conditions, mud, snow, or high-angle rock, you can be sure that you won't slip. The boot features a Vibram Drumlin sole, a rubber compound that is firmer and thus will be better at biting into soft surfaces and also will be more resistant to wear over the long term. Scarpa does make boots with a softer rubber compound, which would be more useful if you plan on smearing and doing higher-level rock or mountain climbing with your boots, though most users will find the Drumlin to be a perfect balance of traction and durability.

Climbing mountains is what the Zodiac is meant to do. Excellent traction in all terrain types make this valuable to hikers and seasoned alpinists alike.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Water Resistance


On this boot, Scarpa has used a 1.8mm thick suede Perwanger full leather outer, along with a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort footwear lining. Without aftermarket treatment, however, the suede leather will begin to wear and will wick water, rendering the Gore-Tex liner less useful.


Right out of the box, the Zodiac sheds water like a duck while walking through fast-moving snowmelt streams. The Gore-Tex lining performed effectively and allowed our feet to breathe well despite wearing medium thickness socks in above-average temperatures.

scarpa zodiac plus gtx - the high flood height and one piece suede leather outer kept the...
The high flood height and one piece suede leather outer kept the water from getting inside the boot.
Credit: Ryan Huetter


Weight


Weighing in at 2.66 pounds in size 11 US, the Zodiac Plus GTX is not the lightest in this review, as our favorite lightweight model comes in at nearly a pound less per pair, though we are comparing apples to oranges in pitting these two types of boots against each other.


The Zodiac is a lot more boot, capable of holding its own in much more diverse terrain than lightweight models, and will last for far longer thanks to the heavier-duty materials used. This is a great example of how the score reflects the weight alone, but not necessarily how the weight translates into overall utility.

scarpa zodiac plus gtx - carrying heavy packs on a 4 day traverse in the sierra nevada, the...
Carrying heavy packs on a 4 day traverse in the Sierra Nevada, the boots need to be sturdy but not overly heavy or bulky. The Zodiac is a good compromise.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Durability


The Zodiac Plus GTX is made with suede leather. With proper treatment, this award winner should last for years of use. Our testers have continued to use the same pair for several years and are happy to report that they are holding up very well despite blatant abuse.


Lots of exposure to rough granite rock, getting jammed into cracks, and kicking steps into firm dirt will reduce longevity, but, like most tools, when used correctly, they will last a long time. High-quality Italian craftsmanship is evident in this boot, and we experienced no abnormal wear, lace breakage, or sole/rand delamination.

scarpa zodiac plus gtx - this is a really comfortable boot for walking with moderate loads on...
This is a really comfortable boot for walking with moderate loads on trails as well as on scrambles.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Should You Buy the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX?


This is a perfect boot for those who do a lot of hiking with a heavy backpack or plan to get into rough and rocky terrain. If that sounds like you, these boots are second to none. They're pricy, sure, but we feel that their cost is worth it for the high performance and durability you will get in return.

What Other Hiking Boots Should You Consider?


If you still want a super rugged boot with great stability but a bit more comfort, the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex is a great bet. For someone looking for another good boot for scrambling peaks but who would like a bit more trail comfort, then we really like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX.

Ryan Huetter