Scarpa have spent a great deal of time and effort in the development of their current x-terrain range, and it clearly shows in the near-perfect construction and dependable functionality of their approach shoes.
Scarpa’s ultra-lightweight Quest will be the shoe of choice for those who want an approach shoe they can also use for difficult, technical scrambling and low-grade climbing. However, for most people who want a more robust and comfortable approach shoe that will stand up to significant abuse, and still perform well on technical scrambling terrain, the Zen will be the model of choice.
Scarpa have used a Vibram Spyder sole with sticky rubber for the best combination of adhesion on slabby rock approaches with a degree of stability on scree or other steep terrain. The Vellutina lining keeps your feet cool even in hot weather, and dries quickly after river-crossings or a downpour. The chunky toe and heel rand protection means you can use these shoes with the confidence of a heavier trekking boot on unstable ground. Scarpa’s so-called ‘comfort flex’ midsole certainly provides a surprising degree of support to the Zen, which is a great advantage if using it for longer approaches into mountain crags.
The Zen’s impressively low weight of 880g (size 42) means that despite all of the points outlined above, it can still be treated as an everyday trail shoe, and is just as comfy for walking to the pub as it is for getting to a Scottish mountain crag without screaming (or steaming) feet.
In summary, the Zen is a superb all-round approach shoe and must rank among the best available products for those looking for a ‘one pair does all’ option for their summer cragging and scrambling requirements.
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