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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > SCARPA - Rapid Lt Approach Shoe > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

SCARPA Rapid LT Light Hiking Shoe

Initial Report - Apr 30 2013
Field Report - July 30 2013
Long Term Report - Oct 1 2013

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 47
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 197 lb (89.40 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lbs (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

SCARPA

Year of Manufacture:

2013

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.scarpa.com

MSRP:

US$110.00

Stated Weight:

320g; 11.3oz (one size 42 EU shoe)

Measured Weight:

335 g (11.8 oz) (one size 44 EU shoe)

Size Information

39-48 European Men’s (USA men’s sizes 6 1/2- 15 1/2)
[Note: half sizes available for sizes 39-47]

Product image
Image courtesy of SCARPA

Product Description:

The manufacturer describes these as a “minimal alpine hiking and approach shoe for moving light and fast in the mountains.” And mentions that the shoe “materials are between 30 to 100 percent recycled content, and the midsoles incorporate promote quick breakdown under landfill conditions.” Visually I would describe these as something between a tennis shoe and a trail runner. The sole is rather flat like in a court shoe while upper with the rubber toe rand and reinforcing details reflect the styling of a trail shoe.

Initial Report

Apr 30 2013
Shoe top & sideA bit of additional background about the tester: A few years ago I read some research suggests that every ounce on a walkers feet was equivalent to 3-5 times that much weight in their pack and that boots are not necessarily the best choice for hiking and backpacking if one does not need the support or protection. As a result I started wearing lighter weight shoes like trail runners for hiking and backpacking and have really been enjoying the speed, agility, and added endurance. In fact I rarely wear boots anymore even for backpacking, and in warm weather not even for mountaineering.

The shoes are black with light gray and bright orange features. My wife's first comment when she saw them, she has much better fashion sense than I do, was that they are a good looking shoe, and I have to say I agree. I would also add that they look even better in person they do in the online images.

From the ground up:
 Shoe top & soleThe shoes start with a black and grey low profile lug sole (with small cutouts allowing the orange midsole to show through). The lugs are distinct. They are small compared to hiking boots but large compared to some of my trail runners, and they are widely spaced (something I like as this tends to clog and/or pick up rocks and debris less). The manufacturer claims they use a sole that is “stickier than a normal trail runner or hiker” in order to provide better grip on rock since these are intended as a climbing approach shoe. To my fingers the rubber does feel somewhat soft, more like a running shoe than a trail shoe. The sole is rather flat and flexes well in the forefoot, but feels stiff through the center and most of the heel.

 Between the sole and the shoe is a bright orange Compression Molded EVA mid sole. They use a low profile midsole with only 7 mm (0.28 in) drop from heel to toe. The manufacturer says this low profile improves stability and since I prefer a low to zero drop in my shoes I found this to be more comfortable than some other trail shoes I have tried.

Under the insole the foot bed, well stitched to the upper, feels very firm. The insole has a contoured heel that fits my heel very well. Wrapped around the toe of the shoes is a rubber rand to help protect from rocks and debris (being a bit clumsy this is something I like).

Convertable heel pullThe upper is made from “suede, recycled synthetic leather, recycled polyester mesh” with suede on the toes and lacing area and heel, and mesh along the sides and tong to make the shoe breathable.

The heel counter of the shoe includes two features. First is that it is designed to fold flat so that it takes up less room when packed the second is the heel pull is “convertible.” That is it can be used in any of 3 positions (see photo) so that the shoe can be more easily clipped to a pack. I have to say this is the first time I have heard of this feature and I think it is a great idea.

The laces extend further down the toe than some shoes, but not all the way down like in a rock climbing shoe. Having the laces extend further down the toe allows for a more custom fit and this is enhanced by all but the top two sets of lace holes being stitched rather than with metal grommets (the top two sets do have metal grommets). By stitching the lace holes, durability may be slightly reduced but the added friction prevents the laces from moving as much, allowing me to adjust the laces to be tighter in some places and looser in others (sometimes I will twist my laces at key crossings to achieve a similar effect). The laces themselves (grey with orange trim) are oval, a cross between round and flat laces. I find that flat laces are less likely to come untied, but they can be more difficult to tighten and tie, so I am interested if this design will provide the best of both.

LableFit:
These shoes seem to run small and are possibly a low volume shoe. I recently purchased pair of trail shoes and in the fall purchased a new pair of cross country ski boots and ended up getting a size 43.5 EU (9.5 US) in both so that is what I requested for this test. I normally wear a size 9.5 to 10 US (43 to 4 EU) shoe. However when the shoes arrived it was quickly evident that they were too small so I had them replaced with a size 44 EU (10.5 US per the shoe label) and this was a much better fit. On first use they seem to have plenty of toe room and fit my heel very well however they remain a bit snug across the middle of my foot. This is unusual for me as I have wide feet with a narrow heel so many shoes that do not come in wide sizes tend to be too narrow at the front of the foot or too loose at the heel. After wearing the shoes for a bit I found them to be very comfortable to walk in however for sitting at my desk and driving they were uncomfortably tight across the middle and top of my foot. I have tried adjusting the laces a bit and that made them more comfortable while inactive but I may have to play with the laces a bit more.

Conversion Note: While trying to do some of the size conversions I found that there are no direct conversions for some sizes and some disagreement. For example I found both EU sizes 43 and 43.5 crossed to a US 9.5, and one reference I found showed 43 EU to be a US 10 and an EU 44 to be 10.5. So the above sizes are approximations.

FootbedI should note that since these shoes are intended as an approach for climbers, it makes sense that climbing shoes provide a very snug fit so the foot does not move inside the shoe compromising stability. So the above described fit may be entirely intentional. I know my own climbing shoes work very well for climbing but are so tight that I would probably be in agony if I tried to walk anything more than very short distances in them.

Overall I like the shoes. They seem very well constructed with no flaws or defects that I could find, and they have some features I really like. I am on the fence about the fit, it will take some use before I can fully judge how well these fit my feet.

Field Report

July 30 2013
Usage
  • Umtanum Creek - Central Washington - backpacking 1 night
  • Unknown trail in the Central Washington Cascades – backpacking 2 nights
  • Mt Adams - Washington Cascades – Alpine climb, 1 night
  • White Pass – Washington Cascades (cross cut saw training with the Pacific Crest Trail Association) – Car camping 1 night.

Snake on trailMy first trail use of the shoes was for a quick overnight at a nearby canyon. I chose this area for the diverse terrain. The trail is mostly dirt with two stream crossings. After the short hike to my camp, about 2 miles (3 km) I set up camp and headed off trail up one of the side gullies where I knew I would find basalt and some loose talus. The shoes did very well on the loose talus, so much so that I could not help dropping my pack and trekking poles to scramble up a steep section of basalt. They did well gripping the rock so much so that by the time I turned around and realized how steep the climb had been I was a little worried about being able to down climb back to the trail. On the hike out the next day I got a bit over confidant about the shoes grip on some wet rocks and ended up slipping a bit getting my foot soaked. This turned out to be advantageous. The shoes breathe well and by the time I reached my car my sock was almost dry.

I was heading up to a lake I had heard about, but ended up taking an unmarked trail to avoid a dangerous stream crossing. The trail, mostly dirt, had clearly not seen a pair of boots for at least a year or two. I had to deal with a few muddy trail crossings, climbing over, around, and under many downed trees and at one point accidently wandering into a bit of a swamp. On the hike in I tried to keep my feet dry but was only partially successful. After exploring a few scenic meadows I backtracked to the one I liked most and set up camp. I spent the second day exploring the meadows & surrounding forest and just sitting on a log near my camp to enjoy the solitude and views of the surrounding ridges. On the hike out I made a little less effort to keep my feet dry.

In snowI debated taking the shoes with me to Mt Adams. The weather had been exceptionally warm so I expected to be in soft snow for most of the trip to our camp. However based upon how quickly they allowed my socks to dry on my previous trip I decided to risk it. Soon after getting on the road I had to untie the shoes, as with my previous experience the tight fit across the middle of my foot caused my feet to ache. The snow turned out to be more solid than I expected but the weather very warm so while my feet did get damp, but the shoes dried quickly so that was not a problem. At camp the folding heel really came in handy. After arriving at camp I changed my socks, folded the heel of the shoes down and used them like slippers around camp and even for the rocky hike to the nearest running water. The next afternoon after returning from the summit I put the shoes back on and while the first part of the trail was in soft wet snow, my feet were dry by the time we got back to the trail head where I simply untied them again for the long drive home.

slipper modeI was looking forward to wearing these shoes for the crosscut saw training I was attending as I expected their weight, breathability (it was going to be quite hot), and maneuverability to be advantages. However at the last minute we were informed that all leather boots that extend above the ankle was a requirement, meaning I could not use these shoes during the training. Half a day in class then the rest sweating and swatting mosquitoes while learning to handle a cross cut saw left me aching for some time on the trail. So after dinner I put on the SCARPA shoes and hiked up the White Pass ski maintenance trail. Alone on the hill, with a full belly and comfortable shoes, while the hot day turned into a cool night; I was a happy man and slept well despite the bugs attacking me with a vengeance at about 4AM.

MudNot being able to wear these shoes when not actively walking is about the only thing I can find wrong with the shoes. They are very comfortable while on the go, and I have been describing them to friends as working like compression ware for my feet. They are so breathable that they keep my feet cool, and while they allow my feet to get wet with a good pair of socks they dry quickly. The thin low-rise sole gives me a good feel of the trail, being that I prefer to be barefoot when I can this is something I really appreciate.

Long Term Report

Oct 1 2013
Usage: One abbreviated 15mi (24 km) weekend hike of the William O’Douglas trail Central Washington

This test along with my summer has come to an end already. My how time flies.

My schedule allowed for only one more weekend trip with these shoes during the LTR phase. I wanted it to be a good one so I decided to do a trip I have been thinking about for a while now. I put my pack on and walked out my front door. The William O’Douglas trail passes about 2 miles (3 km) from my house. Last year for its official opening I hiked from the official trail head to the first place to camp, and it ended up being a 26 mile (42 km) slog in the rain. This year, starting from my house shortened the distance a bit and the forecast was for the rain to hold off till evening. The first 3 miles (5 km) or so were urban hiking on pavement and concrete, followed by a stretch of dirt/gravel road and then to a mix of dirt and river rock when I entered the canyon (an old rail line converted to a trail). The next phase was a mix of basalt and dirt trails that climbed up over Rocky Top and Snow Mountain and I put on my light gators to keep debris such as the Cheat Grass out of my shoes. From the summit of Snow Mountain (about 12 mi/ 19 km from the start) I could see the parking lot at the base of Snow Mountain Ranch and I realized that I was quite tired and my feet hurt. 3 slow tortuous miles (5 km) later, by the time I reached the Snow Mountain Ranch parking lot and GPS showed I still had about 5 mi (8 km) to go, not to mention the possibility of having to climb an elk fence if I could not find the gate, I decided I was done and called my wife to come pick me up.

The results of this were quite a surprise to me. Based on my use until now, the one thing I did not anticipate on this trip was any problem with my feet. But I think it was one of the things I like about these shoes, the thin soles, which were the problem. When I made this trip last year I had one large blister on one heel and a hot spot on the other that I had to address before I could finish. This trip I did not even experience as much as a hot spot, but the pounding of the urban section combined with the constant flexing from the uneven trail were just too much for my feet to take. On the positive side, the trip ended up being warmer than I expected, to the point where I got a bit sun burned, but the ventilation of the shoes allowed my feet to stay cool and dry. Which I am sure is part of the reason I got no blisters or hotspots.

Overall I have mixed feelings about these shoes. I like that they are light and breathe well. I love how the thin soles give me a good feel for the terrain I am walking on, and the convertible heel allowing them to be used as slip on camp shoes is a cool feature. I also like the traction the soles provide. This makes the poor fit for my feet all the more disappointing, since if they fit better I know these would have become my go to shoes, and I would probably wear them out from constant use (hiking and daily wear) rather quickly. So I would certainly recommend these shoes to friends and family, with the caveat that they try them on and be sure they fit their feet before purchasing.

Likes:
  • Widely spaced lugs
  • Lightweight
  • Customizable fit (due to lace configuration)
  • Low drop
  • Breathable / fast drying
Dislikes:
  • Tight across the top of my foot

This concludes my  report. I would like to thank the folks at SCARPA and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



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