Marco Polo traveled the Silk Road across Eurasia from 1271 to 1295, walking much of the distance from Venice to the royal court of Kublai Khan. Through his bipedalism, he proved Italians must know how to make a darn good pair of shoes. Known the world over for form, function, and quality, Italian footwear sets the gold standard for cobbler craftsmanship to this day. Straight from the foothills of the Dolomites, Scarpa makes boots for the up and the down in this tradition; ski boots, after all, are footwear (…I mean, the whole country even looks like a boot).
For 2023, Scarpa is adding to their current F1 line-up of fast and fun mountaineering-oriented boots with the Scarpa F1 GT.
This boot takes the flagship F1 LT and beefs it up with a buckle across the lower, in place of the LT’s Boa. These days Boas have a ton of fan fair, precise fit, and low weight, but plenty of folks still prefer the muscle and fit of a good ol’ fashioned buckle.
At 1240g per boot by my scale (size 28), the GT comes in almost 200 grams heavier than the LT. The boot uses the same Intuition Tour LT liner, has a widened power strap with the same pop-off convenience, and the same Vibram UFO LT sole. More importantly, the boot keeps the monster-72 degree range of motion, with great forward flex for easy skinning. Grilamid Fiberglass LFT makes for a light, durable shell that adds a bit of weight over the Grilamid Carbon composite of the LT, but knocks off a proportional piece of the price tag ($100 cheaper than the LT). The upper buckle ditches the old F1 velcro strap for a traditional notched buckle. The overlap tongue on the lower, and Velcro connecting the gaiter to the liner, makes for a functional gaiter and secure lower foot that’s easy to step into. A secure upper, adjustable forward lean (9/11 ‘/13’± 2’ with Velcro -attached spoiler), well-placed power strap, and stiff lower all make for a boot that doesn’t shy away from the steep and deep when called for.
[Note on fit: Scarpa says the GT has a 100mm last – their boots tend to be a middle of the road fit, slanted towards a slightly higher-volume fit…works for my weird flat hobbit feet, good support, solid contact, and power transfer, and no blisters so far!]
I really like the ski/walk mode lever Scarpa is using these days (the ‘Speed Lock’). It’s the only lever I’ve used that is attached to a solid heel bar (as opposed to a wire bar with space behind it), meaning it is much less likely to ice up. I also appreciate the pop-off power strap: no need to carry the extra 46 grams on those longer, less vertical tours (or save 65 grams with the liner spoiler off too). The liner feels stiff (I personally prefer Palau liners to Intuitions because of how flexible they are at the joints), which helps get the most power transfer out of a light boot on the down, but also makes the range of motion feel a bit liner-limited; I imagine this will change with more broken-in liners down the line. While I think the GT is a killer offering in the buckle-only durable skimo category, they are not that light for their reported 90-flex (and I wish the added weight came with a higher boot cuff, although the high snap-on power strap makes it easier to get the most out of Scarpa’s F1 line-up).
The GT gives top-notch control, comfort, and flex for smaller skis and general ski mountaineering. But they also manage a stiff precision in the lightweight category capable of driving mid-fat skis (I’ve mostly been touring the GT with BD Crique 84s and Helio Carbon 95s, zipping around the Front Range of the Chugach, but even made a few turns with them on 114 underfoot skis, and they handled big boards just fine in soft snow). My initial impression is that the GT offers solid downhill performance, and it tours well, although I am not sure its overall performance is significantly different from other high-end lighter boots in the same category— Scarpa F1 LT, Fischer Travers CS, Atomic Backland, or Dynafit TLT X, etc…
So what do you get for the extra weight? The F1 GT boot makes for fun and comfy long tours and reliable stiff skimo-style turns, adding a cheaper alternative to the LT to Scarpa’s line-up with a lower closure system for any Boa-skeptics out there. The Grilamid FIberglass composite also feels like it will hold up to a fair bit, my hope is that by working with top-end components, Scarpa has made a boot that prioritizes both performance and durability, without breaking the bank for folks looking to do a bit of gram counting.
Price: $799. Boots should be available next fall.
Dr. Alex Lee lives in Anchorage, Alaska. Alex is a professor at Alaska Pacific University, teaching philosophy and environmental studies. He also works as a sometimes guide, naturalist, writer, and photographer.