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Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Review

For rock scrambling, alpine approaches and moderate snow travel, the Zodiac GTX is a light weight mountain boot disguised as a hiking boot.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $269 List | $201.94 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Best choice for rock and snow travel, durable, breathes well
Cons:  Wider fit, not the best lace locking system
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 16, 2017
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Stability - 20% 9
  • Traction - 15% 10
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX is part of a new line up in Scarpa's catalog this year, including the Zodiac Tech GTX. The Zodiac Plus 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. It also has the chops to venture off trail onto demanding technical terrain no matter the weather conditions.

We found this boot to be the best combination of attributes for off-trail scrambling. Other models such as the La Sportiva TRK GTX have stickier rubber compounds and perform slightly better in the vertical realm, but fall short in other key metrics. We recommend this model without reservations as a durable and capable boot for mountain travel.


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Pros Best choice for rock and snow travel, durable, breathes wellComfortable out of the box, fast and nimble, great stability, support, and water resistanceAmazing comfort, stable, great tractionComfort of a trail runner with more support and stability, good all around performanceComfortable collar, great support and stability, lightweight for its class
Cons Wider fit, not the best lace locking systemPotential durability issues with many seams, not as good for warm or hot environmentsNot as capable in off-trail terrain, rockered sole feels unnatural at firstNot as breathable in warm conditions, not great traction on smooth rockNot our favorite lacing system, lots of upper seams
Bottom Line For rock scrambling, alpine approaches and moderate snow travel, the Zodiac GTX is a light weight mountain boot disguised as a hiking boot.Our Editors' Choice Award winner blends comfort, stability and traction in a boot that fits well right out of the box and provides top-notch performance.Feels like you are wearing pillows on your feet. With cushy soles and hi-cut protection, they are a great choice for those who value comfort on the trail.This boot brings the comfort of a trail running shoe but adds in the support you would expect from a hiking boot, resulting in a capable performer in all trail conditions.This boot is a midweight hiker that weighs just under 3 lbs, while its high collar provides excellent stability and water resistance.
Rating Categories Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX HOKA ONE ONE Sky Kaha Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
Comfort (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Stability (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Traction (15%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Weight (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
5
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
Durability (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
7
Specs Scarpa Zodiac Plus... Salomon Quest 4D 3... HOKA ONE ONE Sky... Salomon X Ultra... Lowa Renegade GTX...
Weight per Pair (size 11) 2.66 lbs 3.3 lbs 2.5 lbs 2.28lbs 2.90 lbs
Boot Type Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight/Lightweight hiker Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Narrow, Regular, and Wide
Waterproof Lining Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Performance Comfort eVent Gore-Tex Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX
Upper 1.8mm Suede Perwanger Nubuck leather and textile Waterproof leather Waterproof PU coated leather Nubuck leather
Last Board/Shank BZ last 4D Advanced Chassis None Molded shank Full length nylon shank
Midsole PU + 3D EVA-MP Dual density EVA EVA Injected EVA DuraPU Monowrap Frame
Sole Vibram Drumlin / Mont ContaGrip Vibram MegaGrip Non-marking ContaGrip Vibram Evo
Warranty 1 year 2 year 45 days 2 year 1 year
Sizes Available 37 - 48 EU 7 - 13 7 - 14 7 - 13 7.5-15 US
Color Options No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The 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.

Performance Comparison


When hiking through 2nd-4th class terrain  the Zodiac kept impressing us with its performance
When hiking through 2nd-4th class terrain, the Zodiac kept impressing us with its performance

Comfort


The 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
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. 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.

Stability


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
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.

Traction


This boot is the best performer in the traction metric, and it expresses a strong preference towards being in steep mountain climbing situations.


The Scarpa Zodiac Plus has more versatile usefulness in a variety of conditions that require high traction capabilities.

This mid-weight boot combines stability and above average traction.
This mid-weight boot combines stability and above average traction.

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.

Weight


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
En route to climb the ridge on Thor Peak in the Scarpa GTX boots

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.


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.
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.

Durability


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 one issue with durability is the soft suede. Jam these boots into enough cracks and you might see wear along the sides like this.

Best Applications


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 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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.
This is a really comfortable boot for walking with moderate loads on trails as well as on scrambles.


Ryan Huetter