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Scarpa Zen

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: Scarpa Zen approach shoe

For an all rounder this shoe is perfect. Although I guess that depends on your perception of 'all rounder'. I took these shoes to the Himalayas with me, and put them through their paces around Annapurna. They were a welcome relief in the evenings (when the boots came off to dry out). If it wasn’t so wet I may have been tempted to try them on a trek and really test them out.

I would use them as an approach shoe and have used them for scrambling above Annapurna Base Camp, (about 4200m). I didn't stumble or slip once, and I was trying to find a hard route, so I guess the 'spyder sole' is as sticky and grippy as Scarpa say it is. Since coming back to the UK I have hardly taken them off, they're that comfortable. Shame I have to go back to work next week and get back into steel toes.

Materials: Suede upper and Vibram sole
Use: Just about anything apart from serious climbing
Break-in Period: Not needed
Weight: about 880 grams

Well, I’ve banged these shoes around for several years now. Bought them originally for a trip to Yellowstone and have loved them ever since. Since then, they’ve accompanied me to Yosemite, on numerous treks to the Sierras, around town, out to dinner and just about everywhere in between.

Out of the box, these approach shoes deliver Italian style in spades. The rubber toe cap provides rugged protection when scrambling up the trail. The two-tone suede upper is understated and natty – all at the same time. The crisscrossed stitching adds to the durability and stylishness. This could pass for an upscale sneaker that you can wear with jeans around town as well as a credible piece of technical gear.

The sole is a special Vibram compound that is both sticky and hard wearing. The Scarpa Zen hits everything just about right IMHO.

I have a more complete review and photo at GearGuide.

Price Paid: $120

Highly uncomfortable but durable.


  • Durability


  • Uncomfortable
  • Poor edging capabilities

I have these shoes for a couple of years now.

I've used them for long approaches in the mountains and easy climbing. I have a high volume foot and they feel very uncomfortable. Tried them with heel pads, thin shock absorbers, different types of socks, different types of lacing. No comfort improvement.

I feel pressure on the toes after walking for a while and then the discomfort only grows. When I scrambled or climbed easy rock sections I discovered they have no precision for edging. I wouldn't call them technical shoes.

Their only plus seems to be durability.

Not recommendable.

Source: bought it new

Comfortable shoe. Nice on the trail and look good with jeans.


  • Come in a narrow size - good for me
  • Look great
  • Lightweight but durable


  • Insole too thin

I wear these from trail to everyday. Nice for everyday hikes, but a little light for me for backpacking. I live in these. The only downside for me was the thin insoles. I went with an athletic insole and love them. 

Source: bought it new

I just purchased my third pair of these shoes. They are great. I used them to summit various peaks in the Tetons without any problems.

These shoes fit me like a glove, are stiff enough for technical scrambles, but comfortable enough for walking around town. They have held up well to the abuse that has been thrown at them. I would recommend these shoes to anyone looking for a technical approach shoe.

Materials: leather
Use: scrambling
Break-in Period: fast
Weight: light 2 lb.
Price Paid: $120

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Price MSRP: $129.00
Historic Range: $35.83-$155.00
Reviewers Paid: $120.00
Price MSRP: $129.00
Historic Range: $36.24-$144.95
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