Do you love your Scarpa Rebel Ice boots? Do you also absolutely hate what a pain in the ass it is to put them on? And how easily the liner rips when you try to push your foot in? Or how little force it takes to rip off the rear pull-tabs? Well, do I have the solution for you!
And yes, I know it is heart-breaking to take scissors to a $700 (Canadian) pair of boots, but hear me out — I have some experience with this, as I am on my fourth pair. The liner in Pair #1 ripped but they were pre-production samples so I chalked it up to pre-production construction issues, fixed them as best as I could and gave them to someone, I honestly don’t remember who, it’s been too long. Pair #2 was a regular production pair in which the liner also ripped; I cut the cuff open a bit, fixed them as best as I could with a big leather patch and traded them to a friend for something or other. Pair #3 I took really good care of and taped the liner as soon as it started showing signs of stress. Before it got too damaged I managed to damage myself: I broke my left ankle, which ended up getting fused, and thereby lost almost all flexibility, which also meant I could no longer wedge my foot into the tight sock-fit Rebel Ice. I sold this pair to a friend.
Pair #4 entered into my life not too long ago — I bought them used from a local climber — but they arrived with two very specific questions I wanted to answer: if I cut half the boot open, will I a) be able to get my left foot in without issues, and, b) will they climb as well as un-modified (aka not cut open) boots?
The answer to the first questions is yes: cutting the boot open (I chose to cut the medial, or inside, part of the sock gaiter) makes it much, much, much, (much) easier to get your foot in. This doesn’t just apply to inflexible fused ankles — I cut open the right boot as well as I didn’t feel like dealing with the struggle to get them on every, single, goddamn, motherfucking, time. Now getting my foot into the boot is so easy it’s almost a pleasure: the Boa system opens up wide enough for easy entry, and the upper strap is out of the way. It’s easier than putting on regular shoes!
But do they climb as well? Honestly I haven’t noticed a difference. Part of the impetus for cutting them open was that a good friend — and Scarpa athlete — had cut his pair open for easier entry and the modification doesn’t seem to hinder him at all (but then not much does, so I could be way off on this). Due to the way the Boa system pulls in evenly over the whole boot, combined with the independent upper/ankle strap, I don’t think this affects the boots’ performance at all (though I suck nowadays as much as I always have, struggling up the easiest double-digit D/M routes so, again, I could be way off on this whole climbing performance thing). The boots do feel as secure on my feet cut open as when they were whole, and after climbing for a couple seasons in other comp-style boots, I am very happy to be back in the Rebel Ice — they’re warm, stiff, comfortable, have good ankle support, heel-hook phenomenally, yep, these are still awesome!
Cutting the boot open is easy, but sewing the stretchy sock back together is a whole different proposition: I tried once with a leather patch over the gaping hole and it was a hack job at best. This time, I opted for a professional cobbler who sewed on strips of fabric over the jagged edges, making for a very clean finish. It also appears a lot more durable than my hand-sewn leather patch.
One thing to note: don’t cut too far down the boot. The Boa system doesn’t have infinite cable length, so if you cut too far down there’s a good chance you (or whomever you enlist for this task) won’t be able to open up the boot far enough to sew properly at the very bottom of the cut. I would recommend stopping around the middle Boa-closure plastic thingy component (see photos for details).
If you have a pair of Rebel Ice then you most likely know exactly what I’m talking about when I say it’s hard to get your feet in. Not impossible, but damn frustrating. I love these boots and I really wanted to find a simple way to get my stiff ankle wedged into them but what I’ve found is a modification that not only makes the boots easier to put on and take off, but also arguably extends their lifespan immeasurably by eliminating the ripped-liner weak spot.
For those of you around the Canadian Rockies, Conti’s Shoe Repair in NW Calgary sewed up my boots for $30 in a few days. It’s the kind of business I love to find: one dude working out of a converted garage accessed from a back alley. Highly recommended. I suspect if you show up with a cut-up pair of Rebel Ice he’ll know exactly what you want to get done.
And if you’re located elsewhere, search out your local cobbler that’s willing to do some random custom work. This is the best thing I’ve ever done to my Rebel Ice — stoked to get a new pair (and cut them up!). If you find someone in your local area that will do this, let me know: I’ll update the list at the bottom of this post.
Canadian Rockies / Calgary:
Conti’s Shoe Repair
5411 Thorndale Rd NW, Calgary, AB
Colorado / USA
Rock and Resole
Suite 1 – 2500 47th St, Boulder, CO
Saturday & Sunday 0900-1700
Washington / USA
High Mountain Gear
4727 42nd Ave SW #110
Seattle, WA 98116