progression in touring boots is truly inspirational. As the fastest growing
market in the ski industry this shouldn't be surprising. Scarpa's introduction
of the Gea in 2011 was a huge leap for me. The 2012/2013 Gea RS is an even
larger step down the path of touring boot downhill performance coinciding with
ease of touring. The new Scarpa Gea RS
shares the same construction as the 2011 Gea. Differences are brought about by
stiffness resulting from:
- Shell is now made from grilamid/polyamide; a plastic that can be molded thinner and lighter than Pebax with same stiffness but adds cost to the boot (hence the price increase of around $100)
- Buckles are beefier which Scarpa says contributes to boot stiffness. I did find a more progressive difference in stiffness when going from one notch to the next
- Tongue hinges stronger than the ones on the first retail models of the Gea.
- Gea RS has two ski modes; 16 and 20 degrees so its slightly more upright than before. With 37 degree cuff movement for a very flexible walk mode
- Fasteners use rivets instead of removable hardware previously used which had a tendency to break.
- Tongue remains Pebax but is noticeably stiffer than the tongue from the old Gea
- Sizes are 22.5-27 for Gea RS
Based on past issues with the fasteners
present on the boot, I checked all the threaded fasteners (fewer now, as
mentioned above) before field testing and the hardware was tight. After the 10
days I went over them again and all was still locked down nicely
The Gea RS is heavier then the previous Gea at 3 pounds 2 Ounces ( 2011 Gea was 2 pounds, 15 ounces, women’s size 25). I didn't find the increase weight to be an issue.
Scarpa's Alpine Axial Tongue design combines the benefits of tongue and overlap construction to provide stiffness and a progressive flex. The Axial Tongue opens via hinges on the inside of the boot, which allows for ease of entry once you open the tongue and more room for larger feet.
As the Gea is the women's version it is designed to fit
people with a narrow heel, lower calf and higher instep.
The Gea also shares the following characteristics with other boots in the Scarpa line up:
• Plant based (rather than petroleum based) Pebax Rnew plastic.
• Ultra lightweight and super strong magnesium buckles.
• New Quick step tech fittings and Fitting Indicator System combine to make getting in and out of tech style bindings easier than ever.
• Asymmetric tongue provides precise power transmission.
• Wide range of cuff motion translates to comfortable touring.
• Comes stock with Intuition Pro Flex RS liner
• Active Power Strap.
The Gea RS is a noticeably stiffer boot then its predecessor. The buckles offer a greater progression of stiffness. I found the 2011 Gea to be to tight at one buckle notch, then too loose at the next one. Due to the changes to increase downhill performance, this did translate to a stiffer touring feel. I do loosen all the buckles completely in tour mode. Still you could feel more resistance when your shin moves forward. The 2012/2013 color scheme is also very unique.
Scarpa's Alpine Axial Tongue
Developed in 2010 as a variation of Scarpa's Cabrio construction, with a twisting tongue (the tongue opens to the side) it integrates the best attributes of both overlap and Cabrio constructions.
The asymmetrical tongue has perforations at the top to reduce weight and a cut out with a softer insert for increased flex at the crease (see photo below). The instep buckle which tightens over the crease is effective at reducing boot volume, a characteristic missing in most four buckle boots. This tongue is also designed to facilitate motion and create an even flex to the boot. When taking off the boot, the tongue moves away from the boot at an angle so you need to clear the tongue of the buckles to move the tongue over to take off the boot.
The top of the boot shell covered by the tongue is not composed of Pebax, but a lighter flexible material to keep snow out. The Gea comes with a raised inner foot and a soft pad in the heal for support and warmth. The Gea does not come with a foot bed for weight savings. This along with the Scarpa liner, which is an Intuition Pro Flex RS liner with a thinner sole, allows consumers to use their own footbed if so desired. The rivets are also inset to prevent wear on the liners and a waterproof membrane covering the vents in the back cuff to prevent snow from entering and allow for increased breathability.
The Active Power strap on the Gea is very wide, lighter then the booster strap and offers further support to the upper cuff depending on how tight you pull it.
In order to lessen the stiffness of the Gea RS I substituted
the Scarpa Liner with an Intuition Pro Tour or Luxury Liner.
I found the Pro-Tour and Luxury liner both created a less resistant tour mode without loss in downhill performance. The Luxury liner was slighter stiffer then the Pro-Tour liner, all three were equally warm. The Intuition liners also come with laces, which I removed since I didn't find a benefit with them.
The size 27 boot was tested in this review. My shoe size is between women's 9 and 10. Scarpas size 26 is for a size 10 foot, size 27 is for a 11 foot. I was more comfortable in the larger boot. As an added note, I weigh 150lbs, ski about 90 days a year, half of those touring. We ski mostly in powder or packed powder conditions. Sometimes on ice and sastrugi when unavoidable.
When fully buckled this boot was very stiff and offered solid, consistent support in even grabby variable conditions.
I used these boots with the G3 Tonic 177 skis. The boot was able to drive this skis effortlessly. I tightened the boots enough to get a snug feel. My foot did not move in the boot. Every foot movement transferred directly to the ski and the ski did not deflect in variable conditions so long as I kept my feet driving forward.
I was able to ski confidently in powder, wind affected snow, hard pack groomer
I found the boot confidence inspiring, comfortable and responsive in all conditions. It had a consistent feel that allowed me to stay in control.
The light comfortable boot made those long days easy. In all conditions the boot was supportive, warm when it was really cold ( -25oC) and easily vented when it warmed up. Fully unbuckled it was very free. I did have to loosen the Active Power straps for longer tours for the best comfort.
The Quick step tech fittings and Fitting Indicator System did make it easier to line up the holes to the pins in the binding. This was a nice touch.
A very comfortable boot with a wide range of ankle flex for touring that provides ample stiffness during descents. This boot is stiffer then its predecessor. It can be made less stiff for touring with Intuition Pro-Tour or Luxury liners.