Its Zodiac Plus GTX is a extremely lightweight but incredibly supportive boot that is ideal for long days that have a lot of weight. This mid-weight hiker was designed to shine in situations where an mountaineering boot is too much however a shoe for tackling low-tops isn’t enough. To test it we went on a trip with our Zodiac Plus GTX to Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash region, sported massive packs that held 10 days’ worth of food and exposed the boot to whatever the trail –or the lack of it. This is our assessment of the overall performance. For a look at what it compares to other models, the Zodiac Plus GTX stacks up against the competition, check out our posts on the most comfortable hiking boots as well as the top hiking boots for women..
A boot designed for multi-day backpacking and high-mileage trips, comfort should be an absolute requirement which is why the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX excels in this regard. The boot felt comfortable right from the moment I received it and I didn’t experience any blisters or hot spots, either at first or following prolonged periods of intense usage. When I was in the Cordillera Huayhuash region, it was a pleasure to wear the Zodiac Plus was so comfortable that I wasn’t impatient to take it off it on the final day despite the fact I was carrying runners for the trail. Even on the packed and hot bus ride to Huaraz after our excursion, I did not think to take off my shoes. This by itself is a sign of the times.
With a weight of just 2 pounds for the women’s version At just 2 pounds for the women’s pair, at just two pounds, the Zodiac Plus GTX is lighter than the majority of its midweight rivals, but it still provides impressive assistance for those who travel a lot of heavy loads, as well as technical terrain (all while remaining impermeable to water). A similar choice in terms of price and construction can be found in similar to the Salewa Mountain Trainer mid GTX which weighs in at 2 pounds and 8.2 pounds for the female version. Even the “lightweight” La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX comes in slightly heavier at 2 pounds 2.8 ounces for the pair, and the more mountaineering-focused Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX clocks in at 2 pounds 5.4 ounces. Overall it’s hard to come across a superior blend of weight and performance on technical trails.
The Alpine-centric Scarpa isn’t a shoe that is not made to stand up. This boot’s Vibram Drumlin soles of the Zodiac Plus GTX provide excellent grip, even along the edges, which allows for agility when walking on rocky scrambling trails and on boulders. I wore this boot on all kinds of walking surfaces, from slippery rock as well as roots throughout the Pacific Northwest to the granite powder, snow scree, and sand that is the Peruvian Andes. I’m not exaggerating when declare that I’ve not relied on a boot’s grip as much as I did straight down 3000 feet of loose slope on tired legs, and I did not slip once. Additionally, the wide-spaced lugs prevented mud — or the prevalent donkey manure that is found in the Andes region–from becoming stuck within the tread, and the boot remained in place even in clay, gloppy terrain.
Stability and Support
The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX is a fantastic combination of comfort and support. In rough terrain, it offers the rigidity needed to climb side-hills or down a loose slope while carrying a bulky pack but is soft enough to permit your feet to move as you climb up steep trails. The boot extends over the ankle to give you additional support, and the Sock Fit allows it to be tied tight without adding an excessive amount of bulk or constriction. Actually, the Zodiac Plus was so comfortable that I could barely feel it on my ankles However, the support became evident when I slipped. I’m certain that if I’d chosen a lighter hiker I’d have injured every ankle several times, and perhaps even fallen across one of the steep hills along the trail.
Underfoot, Scarpa has departed from the design of the more mountaineering-focused Zodiac Tech GTX and made the Plus without a shank. Instead, they incorporated EVA and PU to create an exclusive midsole mix. It’s not often that the two materials are combined however in this instance it’s a great balance between the rigidity, shock-absorption, and toughness of PU and the soft and cushioned feel and comfort of EVA (of that Scarpa includes three layers for additional support). The construction, along with other options such as a rubber rand in the toe box and a high-top design–provided me with the support I require when carrying a heavy weight and also the comfort to carry it miles after miles
Waterproofing and Breathability
Our trip through Peru was a journey through the rivers and through numerous swamps, which provided plenty of testing opportunities for the boot’s water-resistant leather Upper and the Gore-Tex Liner. At the end of the day, both were able to pass with flying colors. The suede from Perwanger was incredibly water-resistant, and I was awed the first time I saw water quickly build up and slide off the surface. With regard to the Gore-Tex liner It lived up to its name, offering an excellent shield from rain (of course, as that you don’t immerse your footwear beyond the ankle). This waterproofing helps make it possible to use the Zodiac Plus GTX a viable alternative to use for skiing or any other winter-like light travel.
While both materials provide some airflow, the combination of the leather with Gore-Tex is known for making feet sweaty. Its use of suede on the upper part, instead of heavier leather, gives Zodiac Plus GTX Zodiac Plus GTX far more airflow. The majority of our hikes out on the trails included long ascents and no shade, and never did my feet feel notably sweaty and my socks were only barely damp at the conclusion each day. The most important thing is that I had no hotspots or blisters I will typically be a victim of clammy feet.
Toe and Ankle Protection
With its tough suede upper, high-top style, and a host of other options that make the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX truly is a sturdy boot. A rubber ribbing over the heel box gives additional protection to the forefoot. Additionally, the heel box is covered to protect the uppers against scratches. In addition, the Sock-Fit technology keeps snow, rocks, and dirt from getting into the ankle. In addition this EVA as well as the PU midsole that we have discussed above provide an ample amount of protection from uneven ground beneath the foot, which includes sharp and pointed rocks. If you’re seeking more protection than what traditional walking boots offer the Zodiac is a fantastic choice.
Build Quality and Durability
Scarpa is proud of their work and is proud that the majority of their shoes (including their Zodiac Plus GTX) are still manufactured in Italy. Take a look at this boot and you’ll see the high-end build quality immediately. It’s evident that Scarpa put a lot of thought into all the options on this Zodiac Plus, such as their tongue and collar made of one-piece technology, a patch of memory foam at the heel’s back, and an ergonomically flexible design that surrounds the ankle and the top on the heel. These features can help reduce pressure points and help to form your boot around the heel and ankle–the zones on my feet that are the ones that are most susceptible to blisters.
After years of testing, I’m confident declaring that Zodiac Plus GTX will keep running miles after mile. As I mentioned earlier the uppers are built using durable Perwanger suede, is reinforced with a rubber rand as well as a sturdy heel box. Furthermore, considering that the midsole is built by the three EVA layers as well as the more durable PU, this boot is built to withstand the tests of time and keep its stability, protection, and comfort for many miles of hiking.
However, after wearing Zodiac Plus GTXs for 10 days, I’m forced to admit that they look worn. The upper made of suede has absorbed dirt and grime, and the boots look like they’ve been through a tough trip or two. However, it’s just cosmetic. The stitching remains intact and the rubber rand appears to be secure, the metal hooks and eyelets used in the lacing system are secured and the outsoles show just a little wear to the lugs. But, this is still a thing to take into consideration and could be a drawback of the suede.
Fit and Sizing
The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX will fit perfectly to size. I usually wear a size 8.5 and discovered it to be 8.5 (European size 40) was perfect. There was no slipping in the heel as well, despite the steepest downs I’ve ever had I never lost one of my toenails. It is also made available in European Half sizes. These have smaller increments than U.S. half sizes. It’s important to note that the toe area of this shoe is on the larger part of the spectrum, however, it’s not too bulky or unflattering for those with smaller feet. Additionally, Scarpa has employed an Asymmetrical lacing system (more commonly found in runners) to lessen pressure on the top of the foot to give an easier and more perfect fitting. Finally, the locking hooks enable laces to be personalized. I prefer to keep my lacing loose on my foot’s lower part and closer to my ankle.
Men’s Version of the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX
The women’s version of the Zodiac Plus GTX to Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash region and Scarpa also produces the men’s model at the same cost ($269). This male Zodiac Plus GTX weighs about 6 ounces more, with a weight of 2 pounds 6.4 grams per pair. the color scheme is slightly different (it has bright yellow and bright orange accents) however, they have an identical design and construction. Similar to the women’s model the men’s model is available in a range of sizes, including European half sizes
What We Like
- The perfect combination of stability, comfort, and security for days of high mileage and difficult terrain.
- Despite the suede and Goretex waterproof construction, the boot breathes well.
- Another stunning illustration of the top-quality craftsmanship we’ve come accustomed to from Scarpa.
- Very brief break-in period.
What We Don’t
- A bit stiff and heavy for trails that are moderately maintained or not.
- The suede uppers absorb dirt and grime fast and make them appear older than they actually are.
- The EVA inside the midsole might eventually degrade. However, considering PU being a part of the design the boot is expected to last for a long time.
|Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX||$269||Light/midweight||2 lb. 0 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Suede leather|
|Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX||$300||Midweight||2 lb. 5.4 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Suede leather|
|Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid||$250||Midweight||2 lb. 8.2 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Suede leather|
|Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX||$240||Midweight||2 lb. 1.2 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX||$230||Midweight||2 lb. 8.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Nubuck leather/textile|
|Lowa Renegade GTX Mid||$240||Midweight||2 lb. 2 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Nubuck leather|
Landing on the hardcore end of Scarpa’s already-serious backpacking boot lineup, the Zodiac Plus stands out from the soft and flexy designs that you’ll find on most maintained trails. This is a tough boot through and through, and was the ideal choice for our trek through Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash. As mentioned above, Scarpa does make another variation, the Zodiac Tech, which steps up from the Plus’ off-trail hiking to light mountaineering. The Tech has a shank underfoot for a stiffer feel while climbing, and its rubber rand provides protection all the way around the foot (the Plus only protects the toes and heel). Which one to choose will be based on where you’re headed: if you need a boot that can handle moderate glacier travel, the slightly heavier and more expensive Zodiac Tech (2 pounds 5.4 ounces per pair and $300) is the better pick. But backpackers and hikers who need a supportive option likely will prefer the more well-rounded Plus.
A proven alternative to the Zodiac Plus is Salewa’s Mountain Trainer Mid GTX. This is among the Italian company’s most popular offerings due to its burly materials, excellent protection, and sturdy feel. Stacked up to the Zodiac Plus, however, the Salewa does come across as a little dated. Despite having a similar suede upper and beefy traction, the Scarpa manages to undercut the Mountain Trainer in weight by around 8 ounces for the women’s pair, making it the better choice for long-distance trekking. The Zodiac also is a little more forgiving and flexible for added trail comfort (on the other hand, the stiffer Salewa will do a little better on very long climbs). Overall, unless you need the Salewa’s extra protection or prefer its narrower fit, we give the edge to the Scarpa.
next one next is Aroc’teryx’s Acrux TR GTX it is their most technical hiking boot offering. As compared with their Zodiac Plus model Zodiac Plus, the Acrux TR retails for about $30 less, but it has the same lightweight design. (2 2 pounds. 1.2 oz. for a pair of women’s) with Gore-Tex’s proven waterproofing and a high-quality tough construction that gives superior support and protection when moving heavy loads through tough terrain. We did however find the insole to be too flat and thin for extended hikes (a fairly simple solution) and the overall, the cushioning is not adequate for trips with a lot of mileage (this was the biggest problem). The Acrux is a great alternative, but we believe that the Scarpa is more suited to withstand rough and rocky hikes.
Another option could be one of Salomon’s Quest 4D3 GTX. When compared to the Zodiac one, the Quest is less expensive at $230, however it is much heavier, weighing 2.25 pounds 8.6 ounces for a pair. The Salomon is more versatile thanks to its more flexible design, more athletic feel and a stunning overall design (see our detailed Quest 4D 3 GTX review here). In the final analysis the Quest is more appealing to those who hike on uneven terrain and carrying a large pack, while the Scarpa is made for hiking off trails and traversing into mountaineering with light weight.
The last one Last but not least Lowa’s cult Renegade GTX Mid. Similar to it’s cousin, the Quest 4D above, the Renegade has a wider appeal for backpacking and hiking in comparison to it’s predecessor, the Zodiac Plus GTX but is an a bit lower in performance. The Lowa is surprisingly light at 2lbs 2 ounces and provides greater isolation from the ground than the Salomon mentioned above. The only issue we have with the Lowa is the absence of long-term durability. This includes the thin construction and the issue of separation between the rubber toe and the leather upper during tests. However, unless you are planning to add some hiking to the mix the Renegade is our top choice for mid-weight shoes.