Sole Length: 297 mm
Available Sizes: 22.5-27
Weight: 1,372 g; 3 lbs (1/2 pair size 25)
Liner: Intuition Pro Flex G WMN
Skier: 5’6”, 145 lbs.
My Foot: Running shoe size: 9.5 women’s. Narrow foot (A-width), average arch, pointy toes, thin heel, large calf
Testing Locations: Eaglecrest Resort and Backcountry, Juneau Backcountry, Whistler, Squamish/Whistler/Pemberton Backcountry, Teton Pass Backcountry, Mt. Baker Resort
Touring Days: 50
Resort Days: 6
(Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 10/11 Gea, which is unchanged for 11/12, 12/13, and 13/14.)
Alpine touring appeals to me because it combines two of my passions: hiking and skiing. But after a season of touring in my Lange Cal 70 Exclusive alpine boots, I decided to invest in an AT boot. At the time, I was just getting back into skiing after two years off while recovering from ACL surgery. I was still feeling a bit timid on my skis, and at the time didn’t consider myself a confident or aggressive skier.
As I began to research AT boots, I was looking for a boot that was designed for touring but still gave me plenty of room to grow as a skier. Although I had a limited knowledge of touring equipment, the SCARPA Gea (pronounced “shjay-ah”) seemed like the best fit for me: it was light, built for a narrow foot, compatible with non-tech bindings, and said to be built for the descent. It looked like a touring boot that I could grow into, and still use occasionally in the resort.
When I initially squeaked around the hardwood floors in my house, I loved how light and comfortable the Gea felt. I didn’t notice any pressure points, just that new-boot achiness of un-molded liners. That said, the fit felt conducive to a narrower foot and average arch. I also have triangle-shaped toes and found there was excessive space in the toe box, but the fit at the ball of my foot was sufficient. The rockered sole made walking on my floor much nicer than doing so in alpine boots, and my feet felt snug and happy, and my heels stayed put when I tiptoed upstairs. Although this was my first touring boot, and I didn’t have much to compare it to besides my alpine boots, it certainly felt like it was made for the uptrack.
I also noticed that the tongue opening wasn’t immediately obvious and took a little patience to learn—the teeth of the top buckle must be muscled behind the tongue before the tongue can pivot open. This manipulation had me worried at first about the integrity of the boot, but I’ve been careful with this, and no structural integrity has been compromised.
The buckles on the forefoot are reversed from a traditional ski boot: they’re on the inside (above the arch) of each foot as opposed to on the outside. This design guards against unintended opening while moving through terrain such as boulder fields or root-covered forest floor, where obstacles may push open a buckle that levers to the outside of a boot. (More on this below.)
The reverse buckles do, however, take some getting used to. When closing or opening, it is necessary to use the opposite hand of the boot being manipulated. I have occasionally found this confusing when trying to pop open a buckle while skiing, and usually end up putting both poles in one hand while the other crosses over to open the buckle. (But more on their benefits below.)