Scarpa has totally redesigned the Gea RS alpine touring boots which are much more than just the female version of the Maestrales. These stiff and light skiing machines can take on the backcountry and resort alike. The quiver-of-one boot is here. Come and get 'em ladies.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
Over a year ago now Scarpa released a substantial update to all AT boots in their line up, which includes the Gea RS ski boot for women. By innovating the walk mechanism, buckle system, boot design and materials they added a blissful 20 degrees of motion (60º total) to the walk mode and took a decent bite out of the overall weight of each boots predecessor (150 grams less in the case of the Gea RS). The Scarpa Gea RS is basically the same boot as its bigger brother the Maestrale RS, which we reviewed here last season. Both boots offer an aggressive, rather rigid ski mode for enhanced downhill performance, however, the GEA RS uses a female last and, according to Scarpa, has a slightly lower flex rating (120 for Gea RS compared to 130 flex for Maestrale RS). Thanks to this recent upgrade, both boots are now amongst the lightest weight in their class of high performance AT boot and, judging by how many we see around the mountains these days, they must be one of the best selling AT boots on the market in North America
Click on the arrow in the orange bar below this image for a deep dive into the Gea RS...
The most notable difference between the Gea RS and its bro the Maestrale RS is really in the Gea RS’s dedicated female last, which is slimmer in the mid-foot and heel areas with extra clearance around the calf to accommodate a lady's curves. Hats off to Scarpa as they were the first boot manufacturer to develop a purpose-made last for women's boots and have been doing so for some time now. My feet are fairly narrow and low volume and I found the Gea RS fit was firm and a little tight on my foot when sized (which was 25.5). The fit then became snug and seamless following a professional fit and heat mould that included SIDAS custom moulded footbeds by our awesome local boot-fitters at ROAM shop, Nelson.
This photo shows the inside view of the Gea RS’s Dynafit Certified Tech inserts in the toe lug for tech binding compatibility. They include a small notch above the tech holes which helps you line up your boot toe with your binding pins. SCARPA recently announced that all Maestrale, Gea and Freedom series ski boots follow the design specifications required for compatibility with Salomon’s new S/Lab Shift MNC 13 and Atomic’s Shift MNC 13 ski bindings. I have paired the boots with Dynafit tech bindings and the Marker f1 frame bindings with no hitches.
Outside side view showing the three buckle system. The Gea RS’s predecessor had four buckles, however, Scarpa was able to drop one of the toe buckles by introducing a ‘wave’ closure system which uses a self-equalizing cable that is secured at multiple points then adjusted to fit with only the single buckle over the top of the foot.
Here is a closeup. It’s an ingenious innovation and feels bomber, the only catch is you have to keep an eye on the cable as you buckle it because the cable can get caught under the lower tongue.
Thankfully Scarpa has continued with their classic Heel Retention Strap (HRS), which you’ll see across most of their line up. This ankle strap or buckle keeps your heel in place for a blister free up and locked down for performance on the ski down.
Moving up to the top of the boot, you’ll notice the top buckle includes a keeper (the orange bar on the left). In order to attain maximum range of motion in walk mode you’ll need to ensure this buckle is undone and all the way forward as shown above, the keeper ensures there is no chance the buckle will come loose and flap around.
The boot's closure system is topped with a super beefy power strap which includes a thumbhole for easier handling.
Outsole: Vibram Cayman PRO (ISO 9523)
Shell: Carbon Grilamid LFT
My goal has been to find an Alpine Touring boot that could be my 'do everything, go everywhere' ski boot for backcountry pursuits including traverses as well as inbounds skiing. I've also been looking for a boot I could trust for the Bow/Yoho Traverse this coming spring. After more than a solid month of hiking and skiing the Scarpa Gea RS's in variable conditions at the resort and in the backcountry I am absolutely confident that this boot has what it takes to do it all for me without much compromise.
No matter how awesome a boot's advanced technical features are though, for most skiers the decision will come down to whether it fits their foot or not. Personally, I couldn't be more stoked when it came to fit of the GEA's, I have had no break in period and no hot spots (definitely recommend a professional fitting to ensure this). A female-oriented last coupled with a custom intuition liner that feels dreamy once moulded, leaves plenty of room in the toe box so my toes get the circulation they need to stay warm while the rest of my foot is firmly but comfortably held in place. Scarpa has really honed a design that minimizes ankle lift thanks to their classic over ankle lower HRS strap and the additional heel retention padding in the intuition liner. The Gea's ability to lock down my ankle is the best I've experienced in any women's Alpine Touring ski boot to date.
For a fully featured and stiff boot, these gals are also surprisingly light which I appreciate on each and every climb up the skin track. Don’t assume this makes for a sloppy, lighthearted ski though, due to the stiffness offered through the overall design and carbon construction the Gea's perform.
The walk mode mechanism is beautifully efficient but if I may say… there is a catch… (pardon the pun). Because the mechanism is made of metal, snow can gather and refreeze in-between the bar and boot as well as on the latch itself if you've been standing or walking in snow. I occasionally experienced this since I rarely take my skis off to transition, however, one day when using frame bindings (where I had to take my skis off) the mechanism iced up at each transitioned. It's an easy fix but it adds another step to the transition phase and there is a risk of the boots switching out of ski mode on the way down if not cleared out correctly. Something to keep an eye on before you ski down.
Lastly, it’s a great idea to stay focused when putting the Gea's on and buckling them up since it’s very easy to misalign the overlapping tongue. Scarpa, of course, knows this which is why they have imprinted the words “Tongue Inside” directly onto the tongue plastic, this, however, didn’t stop me from screwing it up then skiing for a few runs and almost damaging the tongue plastic as a result. I now remind myself to pause and check when I buckle the Gea's up, especially on those stellar pow days when the excitement can be a little overwhelming.
Price: $949CAN / $795USD
Sizes: 22.5 - 27 (half sizes)
Weight: 1260g; 2lbs 13oz (1/2 pair size 25)
Forward Lean: 16˚ +/- 2˚
Range of Motion: 60˚
Cuff Rotation 2/2
Quality / Price 1.5/2
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