The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX wins our Top Pick Award for those venturing off the trail into mountain terrain where they might find rock scrambling, moderate snow travel, or technical terrain where excellent traction and stability are required. Costing $269, the second highest priced boot in our review, you will get long-term durability and high performance in terrain where you don't want to settle for anything less.
When hiking through 2nd-4th class terrain, the Zodiac kept impressing us with its performance
The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX boot is a practical boot that is designed to excel in off trail and mountain travel. Able to be taken on long hikes entirely on trail, the Zodiac performs when taken into terrain where edging ability and stability are a priority over all day hiking comfort.
We docked this model a few points, coming in behind incredibly comfortable models like the Salomon Quest 4D 3. This lower score was a result of its stiffness in general hiking terrain, leaving our feet rather sore at the end of a long day on the trail. We feel that you pay a reasonable price to get the performance where it counts.
Approaching the climbs at Washington Pass, the Zodiac is at home
The Zodiac Plus GTX has a trim, performance fit that likely will fit those with slightly wider feet better, especially if you are looking to fit on the snugger side, 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 like the Terrex Scope High. The outer is made from 1.8mm thick suede Perwanger leather, which is more supple than the full grain leather outer used on the Asolo Power Matic 200, but it was difficult to draw the material tightly around the forefoot for those with narrower feet or those preferring a thinner sock system.
The Zodiac scored high in this metric, alongside the heavyweight contender Asolo Power Matic and high cut Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX.
While these other two models did quite well overall in stability, we preferred the narrow, technical fit of the Scarpa boot anytime we traveled on terrain exceeding 2nd class. The performance fit of the Zodiac allows for confident edging on rock or kicking steps in snow or firm dirt without letting the user feeling like the sole will roll.
The perfect terrain for the Scarpa to shine in
This model 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 the La Sportiva TRK GTX as its rockered sole allows for more forefoot flex.
This boot tied for highest traction with the Adidas Terrex Scope High GTX. We found the Adidas model uses a much stickier rubber compound called Stealth, which makes it more useful as an approach shoe in more vertical terrain.
The Scarpa Zodiac Plus
has more versatile usefulness in a variety of conditions that require high traction capabilities.
The durable sole and leather upper make this our top choice for rock scrambling
Scarpa uses the Vibram Drumlin rubber compound for this boot, which is sticky, but not as much as the slightly softer Vibram Mulaz compound (which the La Sportiva TRK GTX uses). Scarpa does make a higher end version of this boot called the Zodiac Tech GTX that uses the Mulaz sole. We used this Top Pick winner in firm snow and found it to be the most effective in kicking steps. We achieved the best fit when we paired this model with a strap-on crampon, a frequent need on early season thru hikes when microspikes just don't cut it. Heavy lugs cut through mud, and we had no issues crossing streams on top of water-worn river rock.
Weighing in at 2.66 pounds in size 11 US, the Scarpa Zodiac is not the lightest in the review, a designation that easily went to the fastpacker friendly Hoka ONE ONE Speedgoat Mid WP, but the performance that you get is well worth the extra weight.
Previously, 3 season mountaineering models like the Scarpa Charmoz or La Sportiva Trango Evo S were the best option in this category, though they weighed at least a full pound more.
En route to climb the ridge on Thor Peak in the Scarpa GTX boots
On this boot, Scarpa has used a 1.8mm thick suede Perwanger full leather outer, along with a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort footwear lining.
Right out of the box, the boots shed 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.
The high flood height and one piece suede leather outer kept the water from getting inside the boot.
Users will note that without aftermarket treatment, however, that the suede leather will begin to wear and will wick water, rendering the Gore-Tex liner less useful. Read up on the proper care of full leather boots in our Buying Advice article so that you get the most use out of your investment and keep your feet dry for longer.
The Zodiac Plus GTX is made with suede leather. With proper treatment, this award winner should last for years of use.
Lots of exposure to rough granite rock, getting jammed into cracks, and kicking steps into firm dirt will reduce the 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.
The one issue with durability is the soft suede. Jam these boots into enough cracks and you might see wear along the sides like this.
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 Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX shines brighter than any other boot in our review. 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.
At $269, the Zodiac Plus GTX is expensive. We feel that it is worth it to pay this premium price for the high performance and durability you will get in return. The next best model in this category, the La Sportiva TRK GTX costs less, but is notably less durable or water resistant.
For those adventurous hikers going off the beaten path to scramble peaks or traverse ranges, our testing determined that the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX cannot be beaten for its combination of durability, stability, and traction that is often only otherwise found in a much heavier mountain boot.
This is a really comfortable boot for walking with moderate loads on trails as well as on scrambles.