(4 out of 5)
The Scarpa Crux approach shoe has been around for years and is one of the go to approach shoes on the market. If you hang out in a gym or crag for a few minutes you’ll likely see a pair or two go walking by. Like most approach shoes, they offer a beefy and sturdy construction with proper stiffness that you’d expect.
While the Scarpa Crux and other approach shoes are a good choice for hiking to the base of your climb, they aren’t for everybody. Depending on how long your approach is and the type of terrain you’ll be covering, an approach shoe may or may not be your best option. For shorter approaches on dirt trails or paths, and approach shoe is likely overkill. Sure, it’s nice to know that you have a durable and technical shoe to get you where you need to go, but a running shoe or hiking shoe lying around your house will likely suffice for these more simple approaches. Save yourself the money from buying another shoe if this the case.
The Benefit of an Approach Shoe
If you find yourself needing to make an approach over any sort of variable or rocky terrain on a regular basis, an approach shoe will be handy and provide you with more confidence. When I was getting into climbing, my first memory of needing a better approach shoe came when visiting Prophecy Wall outside of Saint George, Utah. Up to that point, my introduction to approaches had been walking up some trails and across a few scree hills to access some easier climbs in the Salt Lake City area. My trail running shoes were more than enough to get me where I needed to go, especially considering my climbing partner at the time was making the same approaches in his Keen sandals (without socks, in case you were wondering). But accessing the base of the Prophecy Wall was a bit of a different ballgame. Most of the approach is a simple walk through brush covered flat ground, but the last 30-50 feet involved scrambling up a rock ramp angled at a steep enough pitch that in the event of a fall, a few nasty cuts and bruises would have been best case scenario.
Getting up the ramp wasn’t too much a problem, but getting down is where the need for an approach shoe was apparent. My trail running shoes had nice Vibram soles but the uppers of the shoes are designed to allow freedom of movement and more flexibility while running. This resulted in a squishy insecure feeling while making calculated moves down slabby rock, all with the added weight of pack on my back. Side stepping down felt like I was going to blow through the side of my shoe like Zion Williamson, while keeping my nose over my toes while walking down resulted in my toes cramming up against the front of my shoe. If only I’d been prepared with a stiffer more solid approach shoe.
Here is what the Scarpa Crux offers up in an approach shoe:
- Durable leather suede upper that provides minimal give with tough durability
- A rubber wrapped toe-rand to guard against blunt impact while providing protection and added stiffness where needed
- A stiff sole that allows for increased power and security across rocky ground or stepping up and over bouldery terrain.
- A tacky Vibram rubber sole for enhanced grip on rocky terrain
Sold on needing an approach shoe? Keep reading for a more detailed review of the Scarpa Crux.
The Scarpa Crux is a great purchase for a durable approach shoe with a price point in line with other options on the market. There is now an updated version of this shoe – the Scarpa Crux 2. This review is for the original Scarpa Crux model.
Like all approach shoes, the Scarpa Crux offers up a much stiffer performance than a trail running shoe or a typical backpacking shoe. If you aren’t used to an approach shoe it may feel a bit much at first but you’ll come around once used on the intended terrain. The stiffness provides confidence across technical terrain with a better transfer of power when needed most on smaller footholds, high stepping, or scrambling off a descent.
The construction of the Scarpa Crux is built to last. The strong leather upper leather can withstand abrasion and is reinforced with a rubber covered toe-rand made to take beating and protect your feet. I’ve seen plenty of worn Scarpa Crux shoes that are still going strong after years of use.
The Vibram sole gives you just what you’d expect from the industry standard within footwear. The rubber is designed specifically to excel by providing a secure grip on rocky terrain. The sole doesn’t use a big lugged-out design, but rather a sleaker design given the added stiffness of the shoe. While the shoe excels on rock, you’ll still find muddy trails to slick.
All around performance
The shoe may not have the flashy looks of some of the sportier approach shoes that have been coming out as of late, but they still provide a good all around performance for slabby approaches, more technical terrain where a precise toe placement is needed, or a flat rocky trail.
While these aren’t the cheapest shoe of all time, the price is in line with other comparable shoes on the market. Given that you’ll have them for a long time, price shouldn’t be a huge concern.
The Not So Good
Dialing the Fit
The fit of these shoes can be a bit tricky at first. When they were first laced up out of the box, the constriction wrap around the top of our feet was noticeable and uncomfortable at times. It took a bit of trial and error to figure out how to best lace up the shoe especially with the inevitable foot swell that comes while hiking. The more the shoe breaks in the less of a concern this was over time.
These aren’t the lightest weight shoe of all time, which is what you’d expect from an approach shoe. Nonetheless, there are other approach shoes on the market that are a touch lighter.
I typically wear a size 12 running shoe and an 11.5 street shoe. I bought the Scarpa Crux in a 45.5 (roughly 11.5) and they fit great. I don’t have an overly narrow or wide foot which worked well with the Scarpa Crux design.
The Scarpa Crux is a no brainer for an approach shoe. They have a traditional approach shoe style comparable to the La Sportiva Boulder Approach Shoe with a fair price point. Go try these on and compare with other shoes to see if they work for you.