Field Tested: Scarpa Rebel GTX Carbon

Note: As of July 2013, the Rebel GTX Carbon has been discontinued by Scarpa North America. It is being replaced by the Rebel GTX Pro which, while built on the same last, is insulated, has a front crampon bail and features a different sole. Should you need a pair of three-season alpine boots, if you can find a pair of the Rebel GTX Carbon in stock, buy it, they are worth every penny!

It’s hard to describe this boot. It fits like a sock. It walks like a stiff trail running shoe. It climbs rock like a full-shank rock shoe. With crampons, it climbs rock almost as well as a mixed comp boot. Again, with crampons, it climbs moderate ice as well as any mountain boot I’ve ever used. It’s waterproof, light and comfortable.

It is the best all-around light mountain boot I’ve ever used, and I absolutely cannot wait to try out its bigger brother, the four-season Rebel GTX Ultra, on some ice. But that’s another story for another time…

REV_Rebel_Carbon_01The Carbons in their alpine element.

Over the course of the past summer and fall, and into this summer season, I’ve used the Carbons on 10km+ approaches, climbed 5.10 rock, scratched my way up M8 and front-pointed up WI4. I’ve waded streams, walked muddy trails and slipped over frozen puddles. I’ve yet to find a situation in which the Rebel Carbon doesn’t completely surpass my expectations of what a lightweight three-season boot should be capable of.

The unique flex pattern creates a boot that walks as well as my trail runners, yet climbs incredibly well. The toe area of the boot flexes at an angle: put your weight on the inside, big toe, edge and the sole barely moves. But step on the outside edge and the whole toe area flexes allowing a natural stride and avoiding the typical mountain boot flat-step.

Strap a pair of crampons to them, and the whole boot becomes a rigid front-pointing platform. Light weight, close fit and low sole height combined with a flexible ankle cuff create the sensation of a ‘fruit boot.’ Being a three season boot, it is only semi-automatic crampon compatible (rubber front bail, regular rear bail), however I’ve had no problems fitting either Petzl Lynx or BD Contact Strap crampons securely enough to torque them every which way without issue.

REV_Rebel_Carbon_03With lightweight crampons, BD Contact Strap SS in this case, the Carbons make a great summer alpine boot, climbing snow and ice with ease. Here we are resting atop the Silverhorn on Mt. Athabasca.

The cuff is thin and while this allows almost unrestricted rotation, the thin padding does sometimes bite into my ankles and upper instep. Though this is easily remedied with a thicker sock, this solution does in turn compromise the fit and performance.

The sole is Vibram’s Mulaz, a platform created specifically for three-season alpine boots, with a flat edging area on the inside toe edge, the rest filled with typical mud-shedding traction lugs. The rubber is a special, softer compound optimized for climbing traction, thereby sacrificing durability. How long they’ll last I couldn’t say, but after a few months of use, mine aren’t showing much wear.

REV_Rebel_Carbon_02They climb rock equally as well as snow and ice. On a recent attempt on Deltaform, my partner and I wore the Carbons on both the climb and the approach.

Though their price, at $459, is stiffer than either Scarpa’s own Charmoz ($295) or La Sportiva’s Trango S EVO ($325), I feel that both fit and performance are far above either of those two boots. They are warm enough to be used into late fall, and comfortable enough to wear for a whole day of hiking (er, approaching).

Pros: climb exceptionally well, comfortable, light

Cons: not very warm, could use more padding on the cuff

Overall: Awesome. By far the best fitting and climbing boot I’ve used. Well worth the extra cash.

6 thoughts on “Field Tested: Scarpa Rebel GTX Carbon

  1. Wil says:

    Would you recommend fitting these loose and use thick socks, or snug like a running shoe?

    • Raf says:

      I sized them like a running shoe, for use with a mid-weight sock. If I were to kick into ice or front-point, my toes would hit the front of the boot. However, this way, I ended up with a boot that climbs rock better, and I’m not planning on using them on ice, so don’t mind the closer fit.

  2. Richard says:


    This is definitely one of the best reviews I have ever read in mountain gear.

    I got a pair of Scarpa Carbon Rebel, and they are great , really fit nice , more like La Sportiva

    I didn’t have good experiences with scarpa before , too wide and not so comfortable

    I only got these boots , because of your review, and it’s so accurate .

    Thanks for accurate real easy to understand information , .

    • Raf says:

      Thank you so much for checking out the site, and for your feedback. I’m always excited to hear from visitors, but your comments really confirm what I’m trying to do. Thanks, and enjoy the boots!

  3. Marina says:

    Nice review of the bd lotus. But i was wondering if it’s a good option for general mountaineering.can you were the hipbelts of a backpack nicely when you have the bd lotus on.

    • Raf says:

      While the Aspect/Lotus have slightly thinner hip belts than most harnesses, they are not comfortable under a traditional pack hipbelt (they work fine with light-weight strap-of-webbing style hipebelts). For general mountaineering, I would recommend either a dedicated harness (BD Couloir, Blue Ice Choucas) or one with an ultra-thin hip belt (All new Arcteryx, some from Mammut, Edelrid, etc.)

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