Written by Scott Longton
I recently wore out my last set of approach shoes, so it was time for a new pair. The Scarpa Zen Pro have had a re-vamp and design change with different materials in some places, although I’ve not worn the old version so can’t compare directly. However, I have tried quite a few of the approach shoes that have been on the market in the last decade, such as the 5.10 Tennie, the 5.10 Camp 4, the Saloman XA 3d Pro, and the La Sportiva Boulder X. I rarely wear my Approach Shoes as street shoes as most aren’t designed to deal with Urban Life, so I tend to get long life spans out of each pair.
Initially, I felt the Zen Pros were heavy compared to previous shoes but, after wearing them a few times, the difference was no longer noticeable. The grip underfoot is the best I’ve experienced. They give good traction on loose surfaces without having small rocks becoming caught in the tread and compromising their effectiveness. The toe cap is slightly larger which offers good protection when barging through the forest.
The lacing location points give accurate tightening which has been lacking in my other shoes. This is important to me as I like to have my toe area loose but closer to the top much tighter. The suede upper and 37.5(C) liner breathe really well, even on those hot summer days my feet remained cool and comfortable.
The moulded insole gives great support for the instep, without being excessive or invasive. As I have narrow feet I did find the male version to be overly spacious so I opted for the female version to give a better fit.
When it comes to climbing and scrambling they hold up quite well. At the crag, I’ve done 3 climbs in them: a Grade 13 on sandstone, and a 15 & 16 on granite. I have climbed in my others but these felt more stable and offered a confidence I had not had in previous brands. When I abseil in them, they offer good traction while bouncing off on the descent and a positive feel when trying to stabilize feet at the base.
My only gripe is the loops on the rear are too small. I found it difficult to attach a regular sized carabiner when storing them whilst climbing. I had to find an accessory biner small enough to fit, whereas my other shoes all had regular carabiners securing them. They are strong loops, just small.
In summary, I am quite happy with the Zen Pros. They’re great value for money and I hope to get many years out of them.