When Scarpa North America announced they were dropping the Rebel Carbon (see review here) after barely two years on the market I was, to put it mildly, slightly annoyed (because it is an absolutely phenomenal boot and I hadn’t yet bought a replacement pair). And I also wasn’t the only one: retailers, sales staff, even the reps I talked to, were all confused by the move as there wasn’t an obvious replacement in the Scarpa lineup. The closest boot, featuring the same last and similar construction, is the newly released Rebel Pro.
The Rebel Pro continues Scarpa’s partnership with Ueli Steck in designing boots for the uber-light & fast crowd. It’s a sleek, low-profile boot with an amazingly close fit and remarkable performance. The Pro essentially looks like a slightly bigger version of the Carbon, adding Gore-Tex insulation, a front crampon bail and a slightly beefier outsole all for an increase of only 71-grams (761-grams for the Pro vs 690-grams for the Carbon for size 43 boots).
Construction-wise, the two boots look identical with only a change in accent colour: orange vs red, the orange being more in-keeping with Scarpa’s current colour palate for their mountain boots. (If you haven’t read my review of the Rebel Carbon, I recommend doing so at this point as the two boots are essentially identical.)
The inevitable comparison to the Rebel Ultra will naturally come up, so let’s take a look at it now. Both boots have the same insulation, though the Ultra has a slightly thinner TT-Lite sole whereas the Pro has a modified Vibram Mulaz S sole. The Ultra is marginally heavier than the Pro, by 5-grams to be exact (766-grams for a size 43). The construction appears to be identical across all three boots up to the ankle-lacing straps, and above this is where the Ultra differs from the others: it has an integrated gaiter, and its upper-ankle zone is actually detached from the sides of the boot. This construction results in a more flexible boot that still offers vertical support while allowing a lot more ankle articulation and side-to-side flexibility.
My overall impression of the Pro vs Ultra is this: the Ultra is a better boot for mixed climbing due to being more flexible around the ankle, whereas the Pro will be a better rock climbing boot. I think the boots walk and climb ice similarly. And for reference, I have sized my Pros to be the same size as my Carbons to allow a thinner sock and better rock performance, while my Ultras are a half-size bigger to accommodate thicker winter socks and give my toes room when kicking into the ice.
The above paragraph should give you an idea of what I think the Rebel Pro is best for: traditional three-season alpine boot use, meaning long approaches, easy scrambles, easier rock, some ice and mixed. It is in this sense that I actually think the Rebel Pro is an excellent replacement for the Rebel Carbon, and in fact it addresses my only two concerns with the Carbon: warmth and padding. The addition of insulated Gore-Tex gives the Pro the touch of warmth that I was missing in the Carbon, and the insulation also handily pads out the tongue.
In terms of winter performance, there isn’t much these boots aren’t good at:
Long approach over ankle-twisting scree? No problem, the sole flexes easily when walking, much more like a hiking boot than something you can front-point in for hours. They really are so comfortable that I’d rather use these than hiking boots, even when hiking!
What about fragile, chandeliered ice? Easy, as the sole’s low profile means you are that much closer to your crampon points and can ‘feel’ the ice much better than with heavier, bigger boots. Ice climbing in the Rebels feels like a much more delicate process as you can use small ice features that you might not notice with bigger boots on.
Figure-fouring across a horizontal roof? Yup, thanks to their low weight and close fit crampons are easy to place and swing overhead. Obviously, the setup weighs more than a fruit boot, but it is also much warmer, not to mention easier to acquire and infinitely more versatile!
How about long, cold belays under dripping icicles? Well, this is the one area the boots don’t excel at. They are just not warm enough for prolonged standing around in cold weather. As long as you’re moving, I’d say these will keep your feet warm to -15C or so. However, standing around, belaying my partner for over an hour, I got cold feet and it was only around -10C… so, they’re pretty warm, but not very warm. If you’re used to gaitered boots like the La Sportiva Batura or Scarpa Phantom Guide, these are a noticeable step down in warmth. They are also not as warm as traditional leather mountaineering boots (La Sportiva Nepal Evo, Scarpa Mont Blanc, etc.) though it is not as large a gap.
I am looking forward to trying the Pro in summer alpine terrain but am confident it will perform superbly. This could very well be the one do-it-all boot, warm enough for mild-weather winter cragging but also cool enough for mid-summer approaches.
Pros: excellent fit, superb climbing abilities, front crampon bail, fairly warm
Cons: not warm enough for a full-on mid-winter boot
Overall: Amazing boots with excellent performance across all disciplines. A warmer, more versatile Rebel Carbon: awesome!
A couple more comparison images of the Carbon (red) vs Pro (orange):
Note: Scarpa North America provided The Alpine Start with a sample of the Rebel Pro; however this is no way influences our opinion of the product.