Tested by Cairngorm Treks in the varied terrains of the Scottish Highlands by our Lead Guide Simon.

Having spent many years looking for the perfect boot for all year use in the Scottish hills we approached the Scarpa RibelleLite OD with some excitement as well as being somewhat sceptical about the claims made by Scarpa. Would they live up to the assertions of being a true 4 season boot that would be just as comfortable in snow gullies with crampons, as well as Multi Day Trekking during the rest of the year?

The boots impressed straight out of the box. They look the part with an eye catching orange themed design and a build quality which immediately instills confidence that the boots will perform in all the weather and terrain conditions that the Scottish Highlands can throw at them.

The RibelleLite OD provide a high rand, which as well as being part of the waterproofing system, are also abrasion resistant and, with the relative stiffness and sole grip, make the boots suitable for scrambling and Via Ferrata. The Vibram sole have excellent grip whether on steep vegetation or rock, and they have enough stiffness and sharpness to edge when scrambling and give security in more exposed areas. The soles also performed well on crisp snow and have enough clout to kick steps if need be.

The boot’s ‘Exoskeleton’ of synthetic material is welded with minimalist stitching and seams,with the OutDry waterproofing, have to date proved both breathable and totally impermeable, whether in snow, bogs or just torrential rain. It’s always a joy to have dry socks and feet at the end of a challenging weather day!

One of the key reasons for buying any boot is comfort and fit. The Ribelle are unique for a winter boot in having a relatively spacious toe box…a dream for those with wider feet who struggle to find a boot that fits. This, however, doesn’t make them loose and sloppy as the combination of the fast and tight lacing system, a closer fitting heel area, and Scarpa’s Sock Fit, means the boots are comfortable and stable whatever they are used for. With the slight flex at the front of the boot, allowing for a more natural walking gait unusual for B2 boots, this permitted us to wear the boots for long days out on mixed terrain without any hot spots and comfort issues.

In addition, weight is always a key issue for us and adds to the comfort rating. To have a genuine 4 season boot that weighs in at 1548g for a size 46 is outstanding, better than many quality 3 season boots, and definitely made full days out less fatiguing.

In terms of stiffness these boots have enough flex to roll with a natural gait when moving at speed on summer trails, but are stiff enough to hold C2 crampons allowing the boots to be just at home on Grade 1 snow gullies whilst wearing a semi automatic crampon, such as the Grivel New Matic Airtech. The boots fitted extremely well to the crampon, clipping securely into the heel slot, and although beyond the scope of this review, we would have no problem in using these boots on slightly more technical winter climbs and alpine adventures. This ability to be a multi use boot is really valuable in the Scottish Highlands when low level walk ins and outs can be long, and snow and ice isn’t reached until later in the day. They are also light enough to be worn when mountain biking for those who prefer to cycle than trek tedious and lengthy land rover tracks before getting into the mountains.

Our Verdict

Traditionally there are winter boots and there are other boots. The Scarpa Ribelle Lite OD is a revolution in crossover footwear that can, potentially, be used all year round.Simply, they have lived up to this expectation. In our opinion if you are someone who needs a boot that is comfortable, hard wearing, has a broader toe box and can be worn for a full range of mountain conditions, including snow and ice, both in the UK and further afield for high level Trekking such as Corsica’s GR20 and the Pyrenean HRP in early season, then this could be the boot for you.

Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...