High Gear: Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX boot review
Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX | $250
Sizes: Men’s 5-14, women’s 6-15
Weight: 1 pound, 3.2 ounces
Fit: Mid-top with laces, made in Italy
Upper: 1.8mm weatherproof suede
Lining: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
Midsole: Triple-density EVA and PU
Sole: Vibram Drumlin
Features: Asymmetric lacing, rubber toe-randing, breathable Gore-Tex
The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX is available in men’s and women’s sizing and colors. To purchase or learn more, see Scarpa.com.
When I was young and in Boy Scouts, one of the adult leaders had an old pair of hiking boots I wanted when I grew up. I don’t remember the brand, but they were made of dark-brown leather with bright-red laces and a classic shape that simply said “hiking boot.” There were no frills, no mesh, no insulated liner with a heat-molded sole — just a boot he’d had for decades and would probably wear for decades to come.
Without jinxing things, I hope the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX ($250 for men’s and women’s) becomes the last boot I need (at least for a decade or two). And it’s not only because of the steep price tag: This is the modern-day descendent of that scout leader’s leather boots. The Zodiac Plus is a deceptively simple and wholly reliable piece of gear, designed by the Italian manufacturer to keep tech fiends happy with Gore-Tex and weatherproof suede, but more importantly it’s designed to keep anyone’s feet happy on long, unpredictable treks.
After several hikes in the Zodiac Plus, one thing is for sure: It comes out of the box just as stiff as everything else Scarpa makes. I’ve been a fan of the company’s hiking shoes and boots for a long time, but I always dread the breaking-in period. It reminds me of those Iron Maidens known as ski boots, and there’s a reason I spend all of five days total in those each season. They’re sole-sucking (rimshot).
My first hike in the Zodiac Plus was a short one, as were the next two, and on all three occasions I had to tie and re-tie the boots once or twice to ease hot spots. Thankfully, it never caused issues on my toes, heels or balls of my feet — the trip-killing blister zones — and instead rubbed on my ankles and Achilles. It was partly my fault for wearing short socks, but there’s a reason I’ve never been a huge fan of high-tops, or even mid-tops like these. I like my hiking boots to feel like sneakers, so if complete flexibility and range of motion are musts for you, try a low-top model or skip out on Scarpa entirely.
That said, the mid-tops were a dream on a wet, muddy hike after a string of stormy days, and I can only imagine how nice the extra coverage will be come wintertime. The boot’s suede upper and Gore-Tex liner are waterproof and breathable, though my feet still got hot after 30 minutes of hiking in the summer sun. Again, I can’t wait to feel how warm and dry they’ll stay in snow and slush. If that muddy day was any indication, I’ll be able to go for miles and miles — and I might still get hot.
After four trail days and a few dog walks, the boots are finally softening up. The Vibram sole is thick enough to handle rocks, roots and scree — that’s where the mid-top really comes in handy — but it’s now soft enough to provide “touch” when I want it, like a pair of good work gloves.
The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTXs are hiking boots made for people who spend days, weeks and years in the wilderness. Once you get past the stiff “getting to know you” period, they’re a sturdy and reliable boot made to handle four seasons of mud, rain, snow and ice. I’ll see you back at the store in 2027.
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