Scarpa’s SockFit system debuted, in North America anyway, on the Rebel Carbon GTX in 2012. Since then SockFit has appeared in a few more boots in the Rebel line (Ultra, Pro and Ice) and has trickled down into a few other mountaineering boots, as well as an approach shoe.
The Mont Blanc GTX is a classic. Tough and durable all-leather construction with a rugged outsole and a Gore-Tex liner makes them an all-day all-mountain boot. They were one of my first pairs of mountain boots and took me everywhere for a couple of years before I upgraded to the Phantom Guide. Take that proven Mont Blanc performance and add the SockFit tech and an integrated semi-gaiter and you’ve got the Mont Blanc Pro GTX.
The MBP (as it shall be called from now on) is an awesome boot. The SockFit tech is amazing stuff. It lowers the overall volume of the boot and at the same time makes for a closer, more sock-like-fit (for lack of a better description). It’s hard to describe until you put a pair on. The MBP feels like an extension of your feet; like a tough leather and rubber glove (for your feet).
The sole is slightly more flexible than that of the regular MB. They walk much better thanks to this and I honestly don’t notice much, if any, difference in stiffness or calf fatigue when front-pointing or edging. They are definitely softer underfoot but not really sure it matters? (For someone of my size, anyway; I’ve talked to larger and heavier climbers for whom sole stiffness makes a big difference.) Strap on a pair of crampons and the MBP feels as stiff as any other full-shank boot out there. And they just walk so much better, they actually make long approaches enjoyable.
Construction wise you’re looking at top-end Italian craftsmanship. The outer is 3mm Suede leather which is damn tough and hasn’t shown any excessive signs of wear in the year-plus I’ve been using these. Gore-Tex is, well, Gore-Tex and is as waterproof and breathable as expected. The GTX liner is also the boot’s source of warmth and I’ve used these for waterfall ice in mid-winter and my feet stayed toasty warm.
The sole is Scarpa’s proven Vibram Total Traction design, with deep lugs and an all-mountain design that sheds mud and snow easily. There’s a climbing zone at the toe for better edging traction, and it is fully-automatic crampon compatible. The MBP follows with other Scarpa boots and the toe welt is quite narrow, This isn’t ideally compatible with all the crampon bails out there, and I’ve found Petzl, Grivel and Camp to fit the best (in that order).
The integrated semi-gaiter adds quite a bit of warmth to the boot, and keeps scree and snow from coming in the top. It’s not of the zip-up kind like on the Phantom series, and the laces go over top of it rather than underneath, but it’s a neat design and adds to the sock-like feel of the boot. The semi-gaitered design also adds flexibility to the ankle, making the MBP slightly less supportive than the classic MB but also that much more comfortable when walking and more capable when climbing, especially on mixed routes where ankle flexibility is an asset.
My size-44 sample weighs 1000-grams exactly, which is even lighter than the Phantom Guide (sz 43.5, 1045-grams) though admittedly the Phantom Guide is a warmer boot (but arguably the MBP should prove to be more durable thanks to the leather upper).
With boots fit is paramount, but I feel that I should point out that the MBP’s main competitors in North America are the La Sportiva Nepal series which are significantly more expensive (the MBP is $555, whereas the Nepal Evo is $635 and the Nepal CUBE $725).
Along with a couple other testers, we’ve used these for everything over the past year and a bit: long scree slogs, alpine rock, mid-winter waterfall ice and multi-hour approaches. Costing only $30 or so more than the regular MB, these are a no-brainer if you’re looking for an all-season mountain boot. They fit exceptionally, and are among the most comfortable boots I’ve ever used.
Pros: comfortable, warm, durable, flexibility
Cons: sole flexibility could be an issue for some climbers
Overall: A exceptional classically-styled leather boot for all-around mountaineering and alpine adventures.
Scarpa provided The Alpine Start with a sample of the boot, but this in no way influences our opinion.