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Gear Review: Scarpa Zen Pro Mid GTX Boots

Scarpa Zen Pro Mid GTX

Scarpa Zen Pro Mid GTX

Hiking/Scrambling Boots
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
backcountry.com

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.

 

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by USA Today and others. I invite you to get email updates about new stories and gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box in the left sidebar, at the bottom of this post, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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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See all of my reviews of hiking shoes and backpacking boots, my “Pro Tips For Buying the Right Boots,” plus all of my reviews of hiking gear and backpacking gear at The Big Outside.

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.

—Michael Lanza

 

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About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.

14 Comments

  1. Andrew

    Hi Michael,

    I first wanted to say that I’m a fan of your website and enjoy reading your gear reviews on the Big Outside. Thanks for providing great gear reviews.

    I had a question for you. I’ve read your reviews for both the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX and Zen Pro Mid GTX boots. They both seem like they’d be a great option as something kind of “in between” a trail runner/approach shoe and a full-on mountaineering boot.

    I often find myself starting off in trail runners and switching to mountaineering boots mid-climb and then back to trail runners later. I find this whole process a bit annoying, not to mention it requires extra weight. I’m hoping to find something that kind of fills the niche in-between a softer trail runner and a very stiff mountaineering boot.

    What do you think would be a better choice between the Zen Pro Mid and Zodiac Plus? I’m hoping to find something that can be comfortable on the approach hike, do well off-trail and on 3rd/4th-class terrain, and also be able to kick steps in snow and hold a strap crampon. What do you think?

    I ended up ordering the Zen Pro Mids as they were on sale at Backcountry.com and will try them around the house. I think they’d be awesome for the approach hike and scrambling, but my only question is whether they’ll be okay on snow (kicking steps, securing a strap crampon). Any thoughts on that?

    Thanks in advance. I really appreciate it!

    Reply
    • MichaelALanza

      Hi Andrew, thanks for the nice words and for asking a good question. I think a lot of people struggle with that scenario you describe.

      The Zen Pro Mid GTX and Zodiac Plus GTX (review: https://thebigoutside.com/gear-review-scarpa-zodiac-plus-gtx-backpacking-boots/) are both certainly good boots. Given that neither has a heel welt (needed to use a more technical crampon), either will hold a strap-on crampon equally well, and would probably do fine as long as you’re not getting into really steep terrain where you’re front-pointing and putting body weight on the crampon’s frame (i.e., when your foot is resting atop the crampon rather than on snow or ice).

      I think the Zen Pro will prove stickier and more nimble for most of the rock scrambling you’re describing. The Zodiac is a little burlier and slightly heavier, giving it the edge in kicking steps in snow. But the Zen Pro has a reinforced toe and would handle relatively soft snow just fine. In reality, you wouldn’t want to get into really hard snow or ice on steep terrain with anything short of a mountaineering boot with a fully technical crampon, anyway. Given your circumstances, I think you’ll like the Zen Pro.

      Good luck.

      Reply
      • Andrew

        Great! Thanks for the update. I think that as long as I’m not on sustained hard snow or hard ice, the Zen Pro Mids will be a good choice, based on what you said. I’m hoping to pair them with a flexible strap crampon (maybe something like the strap-version of the Petzl Leopards would be a good choice, as the dynemma cord will be more flexible than a metal linking bar) and that should get me through snowfields and perhaps some mellow glacier travel just fine. What do you think?

        So based on your comments, it seems like the Zen Pro Mids versus the Zodiac Plus will break down like this:
        Zen Pro Mid – lighter, slightly more flexible, stickier rubber, more comfortable on trail and rock scrambling
        Zodiac Plus – burlier, more protection, slightly stiffer, better for kicking steps in snow

        Would you agree with that assessment?

        Reply
  2. John

    Would you recommend these boots to hike base camp to MT Everest

    Reply
    • MichaelALanza

      Yes, John, I think they’d be excellent for that, as long as your pack doesn’t exceed around 30 pounds. Good luck.

      Reply
      • John

        Thanks for the advice….gotta say love your blog. keep it up.

        Reply
  3. Wisz

    Hey!
    Thanks for great reviews.
    Which model Zen Pro Mid Gtx or Tech Ascent Gtx is better now, in your opinion?

    Reply
    • michaellanza

      Hi Wisz, it’s comparing apples and oranges. They’re not really made for the same purposes. The Zen Pro Mid GTX is the better shoe for primarily scrambling and climbing off-trail with a light or midweight pack, on day trips. I’d choose the Tech Ascent GTX for multi-day trips that involve backpacking as well as hiking and scrambling in rough terrain, if you feel the need for a burlier, more supportive boot.

      Reply
      • Wisz

        Thank You! Great explanation.
        I bought Tech Ascent GTX.
        Greetings from Polish mountains 🙂

        Reply
        • MichaelALanza

          Good to hear from the Polish mountains, Wisz! Good adventures to you out there.

          Reply
  4. Marcos

    Hi Michael, thanks for the review. I’m currently owning the Scarpa Zen Pro shoes and I’m considering including the Mid GTX boots to my equipment. I have a doubt though about it’s isolation. The Zen Pro shoes perform incredibly well in cold conditions thanks to their 37.5 lining and I was astonished how warm they are as I wore them last winter in a trekking in Lapland. Nevertheless, the Mid GTX boots, having the just the GoreTex Extended Comfort lining (suitable in warm conditions), despite of waterproof, are they same as warm as the Zen Pro shoes ??

    Thank you very much for your opinion!

    Reply
    • michaellanza

      Hi Marcos, I didn’t notice any difference in warmth between the mid and the low-cut, except that the mid, of course, is higher and that keeps your feet a little warmer.

      Reply
      • Marcos

        Michael, thanks for the info

        Reply

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