Take look at Nick B’s thoughts as he is one of the first to get his hands on some of Scarpa’s exciting new approach shoes!
Well, it has been a long time coming, but the moment arrived when we got our first delivery of the new Scarpa Gecko approach shoe into the warehouse!
Having been a fan of Scarpa approach and climbing shoes over the last decade I was extremely excited to see these, and thanks to The Mountain boot Co, I also have a pair to review which is really rather timely as my old pair of Scarpa Crux are coming to the end of their life.
First impressions are good. The quality of finish is excellent, no glue overspill on the leather, and not a stitch out of place, as I would expect from the brand. They are a rather fetching grey with a grey/off-white sole which I was not sure about from the original product pics, but which looks better when they are on your feet. The turquoise laces and lace retainer on the tongue may be a bit marmite, but I personally like a splash of colour.
One of the big talking points is the new PRESA sole unit. This has been designed in-house and manufactured especially for Scarpa, so you will not see this on any other footwear brand. Running your fingers over the new rubber compound (super gum) as I do with all new walking or climbing shoes, it feels extremely grippy to the touch, pretty much the same friction feeling as a good climbing shoe which is encouraging as these will generally be kept for scrambling.
The lugs on the bottom are fairly low profile however they are more pronounced in the areas where you require more grip when trail walking. There is a flat profile scramble zone at the toe for edging and a heel brake to aid grip on descents.
As you can see from this pic (below) the new Presa sole unit is not dissimilar to the others in design, being a take on a dot sole unit, however, the dots are actually a squashed hexagonal shape that will hopefully grip better on more mixed terrain. Anyone that has used the 5.10 guide tennies or Evolve Cruzers in anything other than dry rocky conditions will know the limitations of these. I think the Gecko will perform similarly to the Crux on mixed trails.
How do they fit?
It is always tricky to try and explain how a product feels and fits other than general sizing information, but maybe with the help of this old ragtag bunch of other approach shoes, it will help a bit.
First off, the basic sizing. I measure a 10UK and a D/E width fitting. The test pair I have is an EU44 and is good for length and width. If I was being picky, I think maybe half a euro size down would be perfect for scrambling and very technical terrain but a smidge small for trail walking. I also wear the Scarpa crux in the same size.
The overall feel of the shoe is one of comfort, the upper wraps itself around your foot with a minimal amount of foam internally which is something I like as it can only make the shoe cooler to wear. The leather and lining are very soft further enhancing the comfort.
The heel is a little lower volume and comes higher up the Achilles than the Crux so provides a better grip and support, I suspect that the larger rubberised heel counter has a lot to do with that.
The fit around the arch and over the top of the foot is very snug, lower volume and just a better shape than either the crux or Guide Tennie so it feels a really stable secure platform with very little movement in this midfoot area.
Even though it looks like a slimmer fit in the forefoot, due to the excellent shaping of the upper, it feels slightly wider across the flex point which works for me.
One surprise was the room in the toe box, I was not expecting there to be more volume above the toes, which there is. I would associate this with a shoe more focused to walking than scrambling. In the next few weeks, I hope to find out better how it performs on the rock so will update with my findings.
Performance/ usage comparison
We can almost discount comparing the gecko to the Evolve Cruzer as that shoe basically has no structure whatsoever, and therefore no support. The only thing the Cruzer will do better than the gecko is folded completely flat and weigh about half as much per pair, great for clipping onto a harness or carrying in a bag up multi-pitch routes which was the only reason I bought them.
The Crux is a personal favourite of mine and has been my go-to everyday shoe for more than 5 years, they are not the best on technical scrambles but are a good allrounder with a sole unit that does actually work in mixed conditions. The gecko feels torsionally stiffer, a closer fit, and slightly more cushioned so seems to be winning on a few fronts.
The 5.10 Guide Tennie, well this old version was classed as an all-time favourite of climbers worldwide and supposedly has no competition when it comes to scrambling that crosses over into easy climbing. I myself have used these on rock pitches up to hard severe and think they will be a hard one to match for the gecko. However, I think for all-day comfort on slightly less technical terrain, the gecko might win out.
Basically, out of all the shoes I have the Gecko is the closest in fit to the 5.10 Guide Tennies. It does feel a little higher off the floor due to that wedge of Eva in the midsole, like a slightly detuned version, which is not a bad thing as I find Tennies less comfy for all day usage. The Gecko will hopefully strike a balance between performance and comfort and I am looking forward to trying them out on some more testing rocky ground in the next few weeks. Having used them for an hour or 2 on the moor walking to some bouldering I can confirm they are a nice comfy trail walking shoe with plenty of grip on the moorland grass and dry granite boulders so far. Watch out for the update where I will be discussing their climbing and scrambling prowess in more detail!
This was written by Nick B, one of the Taunton Leisure buyers and outdoor experts. He spends most of his spare time climbing and running in the UK and Europe. His favourite day out would involve abseiling into a sea cliff followed by camping and an evening around the campfire with his climbing partners.