The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX are a very light, supportive, featured boot that are at home under heavy loads and off trail. I have always been committed to wearing approach shoes while backpacking, both on personal trips and while instructing backpacking courses. However, the Zodiac Plus is light enough that I did not feel weighed down by a full-size boot. It has since become a boot I turn to if I know there will be off trail travel, heavy loads, or late season snow on my trips.
The break in period for the boots was long, however, once broken in the Zodiac Plus fit like a dream. I have incredibly wide feet and was worried about the narrow profile of the shoes. My previous experiences with Scarpas had always been narrow shoes. After wearing the shoes around the house for an hour a night over the course of the week, they felt trail ready. On my first hike in the Zodiac Plus – over rocky, sandy terrain and with a few stretches of boulder hopping and off trail travel – they didn’t cause any hot spots, fit snugly, and provided great support through the ankle. The fit on the foot is remarkably comfortable and does not feel clunky like many boots. The fit on my foot felt more like an approach shoes that kept snow and rocks out and provided a bit more support. However, like all Gore-Tex products, in hot weather the boots can get pretty clammy.
The sole of the boots is one of the most impressive features. The rubber sticks excellently, whether crossing a stream while hiking or scrambling on slabby rock. I was worried the sole would be overly stiff, but a slight rocker and a bit of flex make it very comfortable to hike in. While crossing early summer snow in the high country, there was plenty of support to kick steps and feel stable. One issue that affects the stability, is I found the lacing system not great. Very thin laces tend to loosen slightly over the course of a hike and require adjustment. The lacing system allows a very precise fit from the foot to the ankle, however, both will loosen rather quickly.
While, the Zodiac Plus have not fully converted me to full size hiking boots. The next time I am heading out to the mountains with a heavy pack or planning a trip that will keep me off trail, I will be using my Zodiac Plus boots. Additionally, when I am instructing courses and know I will be carrying a guide weight pack, these boots, with their incredible stability, sole, and light feel will be my go to. If you are looking for ankle support without the weight, I would highly recommend the Zodiac Plus.
Bix has worked with the Big City Mountaineers Overnight Program for 4 seasons and with schools and non-profits delivering and developing outdoor experiential education programming in Alaska, Colorado and Wisconsin. These experiences have taught him that the greatest personal growth comes from the challenges and joys of learning outside. Bix has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a MA from University of Chicago. When not working with students outdoors, Bix is most likely climbing, eating, backcountry skiing and running in Colorado’s mountains.