These B2 rated boots are a specialized product and if your hikes take you far off the beaten path, they are a great and very rugged choice.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Extremely rigid offering great support and protection
- Comfortable and very light weight considering their spec
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- Not the best choice for general hiking and walking
These B2 rated boots from outdoor specialist Scarpa are really the most specialized product in this round up. You could certainly wear them for general hiking and nature walking, but their true home is high in the mountains on demanding technical terrain and it’s fair to say they are complete overkill for general hiking. They are exceptionally rigid by design – that rigidity is required to meet the technical B2 rating – and they offer exceptional foot and ankle support and protection. As you’d expect with a B2 rated mountaineering boot, they are fully compatible with crampons, including semi-automatic crampons.
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- Related: 20 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Get a closer look: Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD in motion
Analysis and Test Results
In many ways, these Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD boots are the odd one out in this round up. Whilst most all the other footwear we’ve assessed is intended for general hiking and walking, these boots are aimed at mountaineers and those tackling technically demanding terrain. These are the boots you’d choose if you wanted to tackle a mountain up to five or six thousand meters, or the boots you’d select if you were hiking in the winter in places like the Alps, the Scottish Highlands or California’s Sierra Nevada. Whilst they are heavier than almost everything else in this round up, for what they are, and relative to other B2 rated boots, they are exceptionally light. That B2 technical rating means these boots are rigid and offer compatibility with crampons – including those with a semi-automatic design.
The Scarpa Ribelle HD Lite boots feature a Vibram outer sole with a deep thread pattern to allow good grip on uneven train. The sole is slightly soft to improve traction on wet surfaces. These boots are intended for use in high mountains and extreme conditions where you’ll sooner or later (and probably sooner!) encounter snow and packed ice. In these conditions, traction aids such as crampons are not just recommended, but can also be life-saving. These boots have a B2 technical rating, and this means you can fit either strap-on C1 or semi-automatic (sometimes also called ‘semi-step-in’) C2 crampons and there’s a molded ridge or ‘welt’ at the heel of the boot to accept the semi-automatic binding. Of course, these boots are also well suited to use with snow shoes which typically feature a binding system like that found on snow boards.
These Scarpa Ribelle HD Lite boots are intended for use in cold environments and as such they prioritize insulation over breathability. If you wore these boots in typical spring or summer conditions at sea level, your feet would rapidly feel very hot! However, the boots are not completely unventilated and feature some small mesh areas plus a moisture wicking interior to help prevent your feet from getting too sweaty. In extreme cold situations, it makes sense to pair these boots with an insulated gaiter – essentially a soft shoe cover that extends up to the knee – to provide another layer of warmth and protection from the elements.
In a word, Excellent! These Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD boots offer hands down the best ankle support of any product in this round up. They have a substantially padded ankle cuff and the tension on this can be adjusted via the upper lacing zone. Indeed, out of all the boots we own and use, only our B3 rated high altitude double boots offer better ankle support. That’s not a surprise. B2 rated mountaineering boots are typically very rigid, and this rigidity is there to provide protection to the wearer in the event of a fall. If you are used to hiking shoes, or regular hiking boots, the rigidity of boots like these Scarpa Ribelles’ can take some getting used to – they can feel very constrained at first. However, once you’re used to them, the ankle support feels very natural, and you can really miss it when you go back to more regular footwear.
The inside footbed of these Scarpa Ribelle Lite HDs is largely flat – so out of the box they offer very little arch support. We don’t think this will be an issue for most wearers, but, if you feel that extra arch support is something you need (and it really can make a big difference to comfort to some wearers), then the supplied insole can easily and inexpensively be replaced with amore sculpted aftermarket option to provide this support.
The Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD is suitable for those with normal to wide feet. It’s available in sizes from US 5.5/ UK 4/ EU 37 up to US 9.5/UK 8/ EU 42 in the women’s version we’ve assessed, and larger sizes are available in the men’s version if needed. Sizing is very important with mountaineering boots – especially if you intend to wear them at high altitude. Air pressure drops as altitude increases and on high mountains you can expect your feet (and hands!) to swell as a consequence. Coupled with the fact that you’ll likely pair these boots with one or more layers of thick thermal socks and you can quickly understand why it’s often recommended to buy mountaineering boots larger than you would normal shoes. There are no hard and fast rules about how much larger to buy, but half to a whole size is generally seen as a starting point. Of course, if your expeditions involve extreme terrain and weather, but not high altitude (for example, the Scottish Highlands in Winter), then this caveat about size is not so important.
The Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD boots are fully synthetic. Indeed, Scarpa advertise the boots as vegan friendly. Leather and the animal glue that’s often also used in shoemaking are becoming increasingly rare material choices in the world of high-tech mountaineering boots simply because synthetic options are proving to be more durable in extreme cold and under the increased UV exposure you encounter at altitude.
There’s no two ways about it, the Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD boots have a bulky, utilitarian look when compared to typical hiking shoes. However, when you compare them to even relatively recent mountaineering boots, they are positively lightweight and delicate looking! Scarpa’s own iconic Vega mountaineering boots, which were the height of mountaineering boot technology up relatively recently look like something from a space or deep-sea diving suit by comparison with their chunky plastic exteriors! These boots are a thoroughly modern take on mountaineering boots and color accents give the design some good looks. The chunky rugger rand and prominent also help distinguish them from their competitors. From personal experience, these boots turn heads on the trail amongst ‘those who know’. Whilst fashionable looks clearly aren’t the priority for these boots, we do think they look pretty cool.
These are exceptionally durable boots, built to withstand extreme conditions over and over again. You could expect a pair of boots like the Scarpa Ribelle HD Lite to last many long years – perhaps even decades. What’s more, boots like this are intended to be reconditioned and the sole – which will typically be the first part to wear out – can be replaced by specialized shoe repairers. A pair of mountaineering boots is an expensive purchase, but given their durability and repairability, they can also be seen as a good investment item that can offer a long life of service for their cost.
Scarpa claims a weight of 1310g/2lb 14oz per pair for the Ribelle Lite HD boots. That’s certainly heavy next to the other shoes in this round up, but remember, these other shoes are not B2 rated mountaineering boots! When comparing like to like, the Ribelle Lite are, well, very light indeed! It’s not unusual for mountaineering boots to be close to and even over 1kg/35oz per boot, so the weight of these Scarpa boots is very impressive indeed. Weight carried on your feet will fatigue you in a disproportionate way. This is relevant to everyone enjoying the outdoors, but it’s a particular concern for mountaineers who may well be pushing themselves to their physical limits to achieve a summit. In this regard, lighter gear truly is an enabler, and these Scarpa Ribelle Lite HDs make perfect sense.
The Scarpa Ribelle Lite HDs come with a fairly generic set of padded insoles. These are removable and, if you want to fine-tune the fit or comfort of your boots, they can easily be replaced with relatively inexpensive aftermarket options. Changing the insoles is a great way to add extra cushioning or arch support or simply to fine-tune the fit of your boots. Generally, most people are mostly happy with the supplied insoles that come with their shoes or boots, but with mountaineering boots, there seems to be more of a trend for buyers to replace them. Mountaineering boots are typically always going to be more rigid, and generally less comfortable as a result, than softer ‘regular’ hiking shoes or boots. With this in mind, it makes sense that many owners may want to change out the insole to fine-tune the comfort of their boots.
When we started hiking, rigid, heavy boots were the norm and these often came with lengthy and painful breaking in periods. The advent of more modern boots utilizing higher tech materials has really changed the game here, but none the less, we don’t think any shoe or boot is completely without a breaking in period. These Scarpa boots, thanks to their rigidity, do require a meaningful breaking in period, and you might expect to experience a few rubs in the process. However, we found that our feet quickly got use dot them and it wasn’t long before we were happy to wear these boots out into the mountains. The socks you wear with boots make a difference and that’s especially so with rigid mountaineering boots. A thick pair of padded socks, optionally paired with a thinner liner sock will not just provide another layer of insulation in the mountains, but can also help shield your shoes from the worst rubs and blisters you might get when breaking these boots in.
The Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD boots use regular laces. We’re starting to see more and more mountaineering boots use alternative systems like the innovative Boa closure but for now, laces are still very popular. They might seem boring, but actually, laces allow the wearer to fine-tune the fit of their boots and changing the lacing pattern can also make a big difference to the fit and comfort of your boots – check out our guide for more information on this.
The Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD boots feature a heavily reinforced toe. The have, by far and away, the best toe protection of any product in our round up. This isn’t surprising when you consider their intended use. Your toes can take a real, sustained bashing when kicking crampon tips into packed ice or when crossing rocky terrain. However, it’s worth putting the Ribelle Lite HDs into context here: relative to everything else in our round up, their toe protection is excellent. However, if toe (and foot and ankle) protection is a priority for you, there are other more heavy-duty options that may be a better choice for you: A heavier B3 rated boot will typically have even better toe protection and is really a necessity when engaging in activities such as ice climbing where the protection these Scarpa boots offer, good as it is, may still fall short.
Hiking Shoes v Hiking Boots
In every other review in this round up, we’ve spoken about how the choice between wearing shoes and boots on the trial is really one of personal preference. However, when it comes to the intended use for these Scrapa Ribelle Lite HD boots – mountaineering and crossing difficult technical terrain – then really, rigid boots are the best choice by far. In these circumstance, the rigidity of the boot is an important safety feature that can help prevent or minimize injuries. In very extreme conditions, this protection can be the difference between life and death for the wearer.
These boots are unique in our round up. They are the only true mountaineering boot we’ve included. Their rigid build (the B2 rating stipulates how rigid they need to be. In practice, you won’t be able to bend the soles in your hands!) and insulation marks them out as being ideal for extreme cold conditions. They are total overkill for general hiking and some may even find their stiffness makes them uncomfortable to walk in for long periods of time. However, where these boots will really excel is when conditions get tough. If your adventures regularly take you to very high or cold places, a pair of boots like the Scarpa Ribelle Lite HD is a great choice to keep your footing secure and safe.
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