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Scarpa Zodiac Approach Shoes

rated 2 of 5 stars
photo: Scarpa Zodiac Approach Shoes approach shoe

Well made but bad heel cap system. This model is not discontinued. It is in production and sells all over as of early 2022. Good for approaching mountains, forest, and rocky trails. Stiff and supportive, apart from around heel. I will not recommend this. Get the old Scarpa Vitamin or something else.


  • Stiff
  • Well executed
  • Sits tight
  • Seems to be hard wearing/tough


  • Bad heel cap system and padding on rear of heel
  • Not easy to tie laces tight
  • Outer sole right below toes is better over old model with better grip on rocks
  • Low cut around ankle which doesn't bother as a higher model sometimes does

I've been using Scarpa for ages, amongst them three pairs of Scarpa Vitamin approach shoes. and they work exceptionally well—easy to lace and make them tight, looong row of holes to lace, good grip, albeit a bit too soft so bends a bit too much. 

So, after seven years with these, I bought two pairs of the present model Scarpa Zodiac. From looking at it, it is very well made. Good materials. Doesn't look like some sort of alien shoe... Big plus.

It sits really tight, so choose at least one number up in size, both lengthwise and width. Very stiff sole and good grip on rocks, roots, and whatnot, also on wet cut down lumber jumping from one to another. Makes you be secure. My model is without a membrane but still proves relatively water tight. I did spray it before use. It will become wet ultimately, so choose the GTX version if need be.

But, and there are a couple of buts. The inside heel system is much worse than the Scarpa Vitamin's ditto. It is not padded well vertically, and it's too stiff around the heel and does not hold the feet in place around the heels, which lifts and bites from the heel cap, so I can wear these only a few hours, then they have to go off, and my heels look red and feels irritated. Never have this problem with any other shoe or boot, nor my Scarpa Phantom Guide boots, which are perfect.

The padding in the heel is black very thin synthetic material and is really a serious downgrade over their old Scarpa Vitamin model, which I could use perfectly from day one. The thin black material already looks worn, so won't last. I will try to make the shoes wet in the heel system and manipulate them to maybe make them softer and more compliant. If that works, it will be a very good shoe.

Another point is the lacing, where the laces themselves are really thin and not easy to hold or tie, also not with gloves on either. They can be changed though. But the shoes' upper is also so stiff that the laces are really hard to manipulate into a tight fit. It has to be retied every now and then, which can be dangerous depending on where you are. I do use alternative tieing methods, that usually work, but not on the Zodiac shoe, unfortunately. I'll relace them with propper paracord. Could benefit from a lock mechanism on the lacing system a la a boot. So far, I've been in +11 to -6 degrees cel. and it's been comfortable with no ill effects with regards to temperature. Not cold, not sweaty.

The insole is fine and doesn't mention itself. The suspension of the footbed is fine and not too soft or hard. I feel comfortable in these shoes. The old Vitamin model wore down its outer sole quite quickly, and that is the price for good grip. I cannot speak for the Zodiac model yet, as it's quite new to me, just a couple of weeks. If it's anything like the old Scarpa Vitamin, it's really well doing on rocks, loose gravel and other sorts, also with regard to stitching and toe rubber covering.

I've been using these shoes several days, several hours each time. Well made in general, but with a couple of errors that the old model did not have. Bad padded on heel side and back of heel can make wounds, so try them well. It's way too expensive for how it's executed.


Many years with previous model Scarpa Vitamin which is way better, except being softer on sole. Zodiac model is bad on the heel, but otherwise well made. Small in size and grips really well on all materials so far. Very nice stiff sole. A few weeks use, up to 8 hours a day, -6 to +11 deg cel. is no problem.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 210 usd

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Price Reviewers Paid: $210.00
Price Historic Range: $59.95
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