The Scarpa Zodiac is a curious shoe. Or boot. Or approach shoe. In fact, it defies categorisation. They were first described to me as a boot with the cuff cut off.

They are certainly hefty, weighing 1,258g a pair (albeit for a size 11 – 980g for a size 8), and the stiff sole unit could probably be graded around B1 for stiffness. There’s a very aggressive Vibram sole unit that I particularly like, but there’s also a completely flat ‘climbing zone’ around the toe, just like an approach shoe (although approach shoes tend to be lighter). However, once you’ve got the contradictions out of the way, you’re left with an excellent, stiff, solid shoe made from thick suede, with a tough rubber rand around the toe and hell. I expect these to last a long time. With the sole, climbing zone area, and aggressive lugs, these are perfectly designed for scrambling, something I’ve used them for plenty over the the last year.

One of the key things you’ll notice slipping them on is Scarpa’s ‘Sock-Fit’. It’s not a gimmick. The tongue is totally sown in, and the elastic Schoeller fabric maintains a tight fit. I did need to wear them in a bit and felt a bit of bruising on my heel the first couple of times I took them out (normal for me), but they were soon fine for a couple of days out backpacking.

They’re not cheap at £145, but I do believe they will last a long time – whether they’d replace many boots in the hillwalking wardrobe I’m not sure, though they have in mine. But then again, I’m not a great fan of big boots unless the terrain absolutely dictates I need that ankle support (the ankle support on many boots isn’t worth it anyway). So I found the Zodiac a superb compromise for long, gnarly mountain days, especially when I’d be putting hand to rock.

Price: 145
Weight: 1,258g (size 11)