Is the strik­ing de­sign of the outer matched by a strik­ing per­for­mance when this Lite ver­sion from the Scarpa Ri­belle fam­ily hits the hills?

Trail (UK) - - GEAR -

The norms of moun­taineer­ing boot de­sign were kicked off the cliff edge in 2017 when Scarpa re­leased the Ri­belle Moun­tain Tech OD. This stiff 4-sea­son, B2-rated boot fea­tured a strik­ing de­sign with an in­ter­nal Sock-Fit in­te­grated gaiter for fast and lightweight alpine use. Hav­ing shaken up the mar­ket, Scarpa has now re­leased the Ri­belle Lite, with a slightly more con­ven­tional an­kle cuff and a softer sole flex but still sport­ing many of the ben­e­fits of its Ri­belle sta­ble­mate.

You can­not talk about this boot with­out first talk­ing about the style, as this is no or­di­nary blue, grey or brown moun­tain boot. This is a stun­ning orange boot that will turn heads on the hill. The strik­ing up­per is made from syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als with an im­pres­sively high tech sound­ing ‘Ex­oskele­ton, TPU Mi­cro-Film, er­gonomic welded cage’, which is enough to send you search­ing for a dic­tio­nary and a mi­cro­scope. But the im­por­tant bit is that the up­per is smooth, with­out too many seams, and there is a TPU rand as well to im­prove abra­sion-re­sis­tance fur­ther. In­side you get an Outdry wa­ter­proof breath­able lam­i­nate which is bonded di­rectly to the in­side of the up­per ma­te­ri­als, mean­ing there is no need for seam seal­ing. The re­sult is that wa­ter can­not gather in the gap be­tween the outer and the wa­ter­proof lin­ing, as there is no gap, so this whole con­struc­tion method im­proves breatha­bil­ity, keeps weight down and im­proves dry­ing times. The only ques­tion per­haps is will this con­struc­tion be as durable as a heav­ier leather de­sign?

Un­der­foot the Vi­bram sole unit has deep, well-spaced lugs, and is well stiff­ened. Scarpa says this can be used with C2-rated cram­pons but it also says it has a softer flex than other B2/C2-rated boots, so it is rated as some­thing like a B1+ or B1.5, be­ing a softer flex than most 4-sea­son boots and is stiffer than most 3-4 sea­son boots. Scarpa de­scribes the Ri­belle Lite OD as ideal for tech­ni­cal trekking, via fer­rata and alpin­ism. So it should be ideal for scram­bling and walk­ing over rock­ier Bri­tish moun­tains from au­tumn through to spring when there can be a mix of snow and ice, rock and scree, or mud and grass un­der­foot.

I took the Scarpa Ri­belle Lite OD to the Lake Dis­trict for some scram­bling be­tween the pop­u­lar lines, and made my own way off-path to the tops. In­stantly I no­ticed how spa­cious the fore­foot and toe box was, some­thing not nor­mally associated with via fer­rata-ori­en­tated de­signs. But while the fore­foot did feel spa­cious, the heel area was far closer fit­ting. There was also a gen­tle flex un­der­foot that al­lowed a fairly nat­u­ral gait when walk­ing for this type of boot.

The deep lugs clawed suc­cess­fully at mud but im­por­tantly the sole flex was

great when scram­bling over rock. The sole seems to grip the rock well and it was easy to feel where my big toe was to al­low a good de­gree of pre­ci­sion when look­ing for toe holds. The sole flex also al­lowed me to use the flat of the fore­foot, rather than hav­ing to rely on an edge when scram­bling. Of course this flex does mean that on more tech­ni­cal ground the toe will roll off smaller holds, but for gen­eral scram­bling and walk­ing on eas­ier snow slopes the de­gree of flex feels great.

The an­kle cuff will flex for­ward just enough to al­low easy scram­bling and walk­ing, yet mag­i­cally also has enough sup­port to make scram­bling and travers­ing slopes easy on the an­kle mus­cles. Over­all I felt the an­kle cuff was ideal for the sort of ter­rain this boot would be used for by hill and moun­tain walk­ers in the UK when scram­bling up a rocky ridge or tramp­ing across a snow slope.

At 1548g (size 46) these are very light for the stiff­ness and per­for­mance, with most other boots in this cat­e­gory weigh­ing be­tween 1700g and 2100g for this size. The price is a lit­tle steeper than oth­ers though, with many be­ing be­tween £210 and £265, so you are pay­ing for the low weight. Heav­ier boots may be more durable for re­ally hard users, but only time will tell.

These are su­perb 3-4 sea­son boots for the Bri­tish moun­tains, with both weight and per­for­mance be­ing ideal for those who want to mix easy scram­bling over rock with walk­ing over eas­ier snow slopes in cram­pons. Bring on the hard win­ter!

The spa­cious toe box is rel­a­tively wide, but it still of­fers the pre­cise foot place­ment needed to scram­ble up steep rock.

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