Whether you are just starting out as a rock climber or you have been sending projects since time immemorial, chances are you have heard of Scarpa climbing shoes. These kicks cater to climbers of virtually all skill levels and are designed to provide a kind of performance where precision, comfort, and security are all on the same plane of quality. Climb-specific products from this brand, many of which are offered in both men and women’s variants, come engineered with the latest Scarpa innovations—making them competently suitable for different types of climbing pursuits. So whether you consider climbing as a sport or a hobby, donning a pair of these Scarpa offerings might just surprise you.
Scarpa rock climbing shoes and the benefits they have on offer
Best Scarpa climbing shoes - November 2019
Do you need shoes friendly to entry-level climbers like you? Or perhaps you consider yourself an advanced rock ascender and require an aggressive pair of climbing shoes? Whichever category you fall under, you have come to the right place, as Scarpa’s offerings are robust and cover all the bases when it comes to downturn. Their line-up consists mostly of moderately downturned shoes which are capable of providing adequate performance across a variety of disciplines.
What is a downturn?
Downturn is the amount of forefoot curvature of a climbing shoe. The more downturned the Scarpa piece is, the more precision it offers on small footholds and rock features. The three downturn types are neutral, moderate, and aggressive. Their distinctions are as follows:
Neutral. Scarpa shoes with this downturn type are known for their all-day comfort. They are mostly flat and have very minimal downturn. They are ideal for crack climbing and have adequate overall support. That said, their soles may be too thick for ascents that require more precision.
Moderate. Pieces of footwear that belong to this category have a moderate downturn (also known as camber). They are designed to give better purchase on more challenging routes as they have stickier outsoles. Shoes of this type, however, are less comfortable than neutral rock climbing shoes.
Aggressive. The most downturned of the bunch, these sort of Scarpa kicks allow users to take on overhanging sport climbs with enhanced foot feel and precision. And though they are not as comfortable as neutral or moderate climbing shoes, they typically provide the most purchase on tiny pockets and nubbins. That said, they may not be ideal for slotting into cracks and surface smearing.
When it comes to providing their customer base sufficient comfort in every climb, Scarpa knows a thing or two. They know this demand so well that they came up with their own Comfort line. Shoes that make up this particular collection have suede leather uppers, a number of which are unstitched around the toe region for enhanced comfort. They also have a flat construction (minimal downturn) which warrants a pain-free climbing experience for hours. Do you want something even more comfortable? Try Scarpa’s selection of lined rock climbing shoes.
Built to stick
Your feet are never meant to slip when ascending a wall or rock. While having a proper technique when it comes to foothold is necessary, all that effort will be in vain without a reliable source of surface traction. In light of this, Scarpa enlisted the aid of Vibram to grant most of their offerings enough sticking power where needed. Their shoes also have ample randing around the ankle and toe regions for heel and toe hooking adhesion.
The ability to breathe
If you are someone whose feet sweat more often than not, a breathable pair of Scarpa climbing shoes might suit your fancy. Indeed, a decent number of their selection are engineered with a tongue made of mesh, allowing heat to escape when the going gets tough. Some even have perforations through their rubber rands for even more breathability.
Feel of the terrain
Foot-to-surface intimacy is quite crucial in the climbing scene, whether indoors or outdoors. Being able to sense what is on or around your foot as closely as possible can help you pull off better maneuvers and thereby navigate challenging routes with more efficiency. Scarpa’s response to this requirement is a streamlined toe zone and a kind of randing system that prevents the shoe from going baggy with time.
On and off ease
If you find most kicks of this type difficult to put on and off, perhaps you would have a change of mind once you slip in (and out of) your very own Scarpa climbing shoes. On top of dual pull loops at the heel, what also provides a more convenient on and off in these footwear products is the generous opening (collar) of almost every pair.
Are you a fan of vibrant colors? What about seemingly future-proof aesthetics? If your answer to both questions is a resounding yes, compliments from yourself are inevitable while donning a pair of climbing shoes from Scarpa. Make no mistake, however—the brand’s footwear roster still includes shoes in grounded color schemes, so those who prefer simplicity would not be left out.
A matter of flexibility
Scarpa’s climbing shoes are built with support in mind. That said, they are also made to provide wearers with sufficient flexibility. This is especially true in pairs sporting half-length insoles, rendering them capable of giving decent enough flex around the rearfoot region.
Fit and sizing guide for men’s and women’s Scarpa climbing shoes
Scarpa rock climbing shoes come in men, women, and unisex variants. They generally run true to length and come in a range of full and half sizes. Depending on the model, a personalized and secure fit may be achieved using either a Velcro strapping system or a lace-up closure. Some pairs are engineered with multi-panel uppers which conform to the shape of the user’s feet, resulting in a more customized fit over a period of time.
So you are ready to get yourself geared up with some Scarpa rock climbing goodness? Then you would need some cash (or perhaps credit), some patience, and a substantial amount of knowledge. The first two requirements you probably already possess. But pieces wisdom? Here they come:
Shop at a brick-and-mortar store as much as possible. If getting the right fit in a high-quality hiking footgear is tricky, the same scenario can be a whole lot trickier involving climbing shoes. This means you have to make time and do your footwear shopping at a physical store where you can personally fit shoes for your convenience.
Shop smart online. So what if your preferred climbing kicks are only available online? You may go ahead and make that purchase. That said, in order to make your online shopping more advantageous and convenient, consider the following points:
Shop at the brand’s web store if possible. If not, Check out trusted third-party online retailers, especially those that the brand considers affiliates.
Research on Scarpa’s sizing chart and work from there. Note that the kind of fit you need in a climbing shoe is quite different from the kind you are used to in your sneaker-type footwear.
Take time to find out about your trusted retailers’ return/refund policy. Make a comparison and choose the store that offers the most consumer-friendly post-purchase policy (especially the store that gives refunds). Ideally, you would want a store that allows you to order two to three pairs of shoes so that you can test-fit more styles or sizes. Keep the shoes you think fit you the best; the rest, you may send back for a full refund.
Try on shoes around the time your feet swell. Yes, you read that right—your feet swell, and they usually do around the afternoon or at dusk. The idea here is simple: your feet at a swollen state can cause discomfort in a too-tight pair; therefore, try on climbing shoes towards early in the evening to get the most comfortable fit.
Test your soon-to-be climbing shoes. Virtually every inch inside the shoe you are fitting should be in full contact with your foot with minimal-to-no air pockets. It must be tight enough for a secure fit but without the presence of excruciating pain. Do a test run on a climbable wall (if available at the store) and check for heel lift and footwear slippage.
Go at it half a size at a time. Since Scarpa’s climb-focused offerings are offered in half and full sizes, try on shoes in half-size increments until you find the best fit. Go up the size hierarchy in threes, fitting every pair from smallest to biggest.
Entertain options from the other gender category. Are you a man with feet narrower than usual? Or maybe you are a lady with bulky tootsies? If you cannot seem to get the best-fitting shoe in your default gender category, try its counterpart in the other. It is not a very common practice, but it might just be the sweet ending to your seemingly drawn-out search.
Explore the other closure type. Are you having troubles getting the right fit in that pair of Velcro climbing shoes? If so, go with lace-up kicks instead. Do it the other way around if you have been struggling with laces.
The things that make Scarpa’s climb-centric footwear promising in the world of climbing
An Italian company established by Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness in 1938, Scarpa is among the top brands when it comes to making quality outdoor-oriented shoes. They forayed into footwear manufacturing in the 1970s and since then have been putting out some of the best shoes and boots for hiking adventures. That decade of bell bottoms and flower power also saw the creation of their first line of rock climbing shoes. Fast forward to today, their prowess in shoemaking shows no signs of dulling—sharpened only by their desire to produce footwear pieces that go beyond standards.
Climbing shoes from Scarpa are offered at prices starting from around the 100-dollar mark. The pricier ones, most of which are aggressively downturned, average around $190. If you are a beginner and looking for a pair of Scarpa climbing kicks that do not break the bank, neutral shoes are your best bet as almost all of them do not venture past $150.
Various Scarpa Tension systems. These are components unique to Scarpa’s climbing line. Their presence offers enhanced support and sensitivity, whether underfoot, around the forefoot, at the medial zone, or a combination of the three. The five commonly used Tension systems are:
Bi-Tension. This is a reverse slingshot rand that eases the tension around the toes yet draws power from them for more precise climbing performance. This type of tension system renders shoes lighter with improved reactivity.
PCB-Tension (Power Connection Band). This type provides a sock-like fit as well as a combination of sensitivity and force by actively transferring power from the toes to the heel.
V-Tension. The arch and heel zones get more support with the V-Tension system. It works in conjunction with the shoe’s full-length outsole.
IPC-Tension (Integral Power Connection). This type works hand in hand with the Talyn midsole in delivering improved underfoot support. It shines during extended use of the shoe. It also helps users deal with micro-footholds with maintained strength.
Tri-Tension. Power transfer from the toe zone to the heel is the main game of this type of tension system. Its engineering is similar to a big hand, clasping the foot for extra support. It is mostly seen in Scarpa climbing shoes with outsoles 1/3 in coverage or less.
Vibram. Almost every Scarpa shoe that falls under this category is furnished with a sticky rubber outsole courtesy of Vibram. Most pairs use the XS Grip 2 rubber compound which promises high tenacity with a kind of performance intended ideally for routes with overhangs. Some of the other Scarpa kicks, on the other hand, use the XS Edge compound—recommended for multi-pitch ascents with a kind of firmness essential for edging maneuvers.
Scarpa climbing shoes resoling information
The outsole of a Scarpa rock climbing shoe, be it Vibram or a company-exclusive sort, sticks firmly to a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces for your security and climbing pleasure. That said, whenever it does, it sheds a portion of it bit by bit similar to a car tire thinning itself with use. After some time and a fair amount of wear, its adhesive power will weaken, making its effectiveness no longer reliable. Fortunately for you, Scarpa rock climbing shoes are resolable, which means you do not have to buy a new pair just to get your climbing groove back; you simply need to send them to a Scarpa-approved resole center to have your kicks’ dulled outsoles replaced anew.
How much does a resole cost?
There is no one fixed amount for a resole service. That said, expect to spend around $40 for your shoes to get resoled. This amount does not include state taxes and shipping fees.
When is the best time to get my shoes resoled?
When most of the contact points of the outsole get too smooth and no longer give adequate surface traction, ideally that is the time to get a resole. Try your best not to wait too long, as doing so might lead to structural damage when the rubber gets too worn out. Conversely, sending in shoes too early might not be very cost efficient.
Scarpa climbing shoes cleaning and maintenance guide
Rock climbing shoes from Scarpa can last long if properly taken care of. It is quite essential to have them in a clean condition after every use, especially if you plan to keep them in good shape for longer. Below are general things you can do to give your pair an extended lifespan:
Spot-clean your shoes using a soft-bristled brush with minimal water (preferably warm). If they can be washed as indicated by the brand, do so by hand and not through a washer. Take out the laces and removable footbeds before washing.
Hang them to dry somewhere breezy yet shaded. Exposing them to direct sunlight or drying them using a machine could lead to damage and therefore is not recommended.
If your preferred climbing shoes are made with leather (suede in most Scarpa offerings), try treating them with some leather conditioner. This kind of treatment gives leather extra protection from outdoor elements.
Remove your kicks to breathe in between climbs. This will allow them to dry, ridding themselves of sweat and other types of moisture.
Clean your feet before putting on your favorite pair.
Climbing shoes you do not plan to wear for a long time may be stored in their respective boxes, or you may keep them in a breathable bag made of either cotton or mesh. Make sure they are fully dry before storage. Tip: To prevent moisture build-up while they are stowed away, slip a packet or two of silica gel in the boxes or bags where they are kept.
Frequently asked questions about Scarpa climbing shoes
What is the best rock climbing shoe by Scarpa?
The best Scarpa climbing shoe for you is something only you can tell. There is no shortcut to finding out either, as being able to do so would take a substantial amount of climbing experience in several pairs of Scarpa footwear. That said, narrow your quest to any one of the three types of climbing shoes—neutral, moderate, and aggressive—and work from there. In your search for the best Scarpa climbing piece, do not forget the following qualities: comfort, fit, performance, and durability.
Are Scarpa climbing shoes vegan?
Although Scarpa offers 100% synthetic climb-centric shoes, they may not be considered vegan. According to Scarpa, the glue used in every pair may not be free of animal substance, and as such, they do not categorize any one of their offerings as vegan. They, however, have joined in the bandwagon of making eco-friendly climbing footwear (also known as Planet Friendly). Such shoes are engineered with a combination of recycled materials and easy-to-degrade midsoles.
Do Scarpa climbing shoes stretch?
In general, shoes of this type do not and will not stretch so that their default fit does not go baggy and lose their precision with time. Scarpa has not published anything along the lines of stretch in their pieces, but If you want a little give in your gear, you might want to give leather rock climbing shoes a shot. If not, go full synthetic.
What takeaway can I get from most Scarpa climbing shoes reviews?
A quick read of reviews from professional footgear pundits will tell you of the excellent support a handful of Scarpa climbing shoes have. Some reviewers, however, recommend buyers like you to go at least a full size smaller to get a precise fit.
Where can I buy Scarpa climbing shoes?
For your convenience, shop at a sporting goods store near you, especially one that carries official Scarpa products. You may also go online and grab a pair from the Scarpa brand site itself.