Scarpa Zen Pro Mid GTX
$199, 2 lb. 4 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 40-47, 48, women’s 36-42
On an October hike and scramble up 9,860-foot McGown Peak in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, involving about 3,500 vertical feet and 11 miles round-trip, about half of it off-trail, I put these new boots through every test from scrambling third-class rock to hiking at a fast pace on forest trails. And the Zen Pro Mid GTX passed with flying colors, proving itself an outstanding, all-mountain boot.
As I wrote in my review last year of this boot’s progenitor, Scarpa’s Zen Pro, it’s the rare shoe or boot that crosses over nimbly between comfort for hiking many miles and performance for steep, off-trail scrambling. The Zen Pro Mid GTX has the same roomy toe box, allowing me to hike comfortable for miles on trail and up and down steep, off-trail terrain without so much as a hot spot or jammed toes. The injected-EVA midsole delivered plenty of torsional rigidity and support when I carried a 30-pound pack full of rock-climbing gear in Idaho’s Castle Rocks State Park, while the forefoot flexes like a hiking shoe for easy, fast striding. A Gore-Tex membrane kept moisture out when I tramped through fresh, wet snow, and breathed well enough to keep my feet dry on a cool day, although the leather uppers could make these boots toasty on a hot day.
These boots are nimble and grippy, thanks to the sticky Vibram Spyder 2 outsole, which sports a flat tread under the toes for smearing on smooth slabs, plus widely spaced lugs that handled everything from packed-dirt trails to gravelly, sloping ledges and wet snow without slipping or getting gummed up with pebbles or muck. The to-the-toes lacing allows you to adjust the fit, which helps with sensitivity in difficult terrain. The in-cut heel acted as a good brake when I ran down steep scree on the descent off McGown. There’s a stout, wrap-around toe rand, and the suede uppers are reinforced with injected TPU along the sides for added durability.
The boot gets an A for comfort, with a fit that holds the heel firmly while allowing wiggle room for toes, and ample padding around the collar that covers the ankle bones. A soft-shell tongue improves comfort through a better fit and enhanced breathability.
These boots proved burly enough for a big day in the mountains, and still comfortable for miles of hiking on trail or short walks between rock-climbing routes at Castle Rocks. When you need a light, high-performance boot for a full day in the mountains, the Zen Pro Mid GTX is a solid pick.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase the men’s Scarpa Zen Pro Mid GTX boots at backcountry.com, or the women’s Zen Pro Mid GTX boots at moosejaw.com.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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