SCARPA has been at the forefront of outdoor footwear since 1938, with a 50 year history of manufacturing climbing shoes. These Italians have been churning out world-class performance shoes that have solidified the company’s spot as a world-class shoe manufacturer.
Location: Asolo, Italy Big-name Ambassadors: Magnus Midtbø, Nathaniel Coleman, Alex Puccio, Nina Williams
Scarpa’s R&D department is responsible for some of the most interesting shoe developments we have seen in recent years. Led by legendary shoe designer Heinz Mariacher, the Scarpa team has developed a wide range of propriety technology including some seriously sticky rubber, a few interesting rands, and a wide range of unique last shapes.
One of the many clever ways Scarpa creates tension in its shoes. The Bi-tension pulls your toes in, as opposed to cramming them forward, allowing for precise footwork without the pain.
M50, M70 & S-72 Rubber
Scarpa mostly uses Vibram for its outsoles, but many models also use Scarpa’s own rubber for their toe patch, heel, or rands.
Relaxed Performance Fit (FKJ Last)
By adding more space and rounding out the toe box, Scarpa has created one of the most comfortable last shapes we’ve encountered.
SCARPA SIZE GUIDE
Scarpa currently has 20 dedicated last shapes on which they build their climbing shoes, 9 of which are lower volume options to accommodate a range of foot sizes, especially women. Regardless of your foot shape, there is bound to be something in the Scarpa range that perfectly fits your foot.
Like many manufacturers, Scarpa climbing shoe sizes use European sizing. This is because there are smaller increments between the European sizes, meaning the 30 different European sizes cover the same size range as the 24 US sizes, allowing for a more precise fit.
Most climbers find that Scarpa’s shoes closely follow the size of their street shoes, especially if you are sizing for comfort or all-day use. Scarpa recommends downsizing ½ – 1 full size from your normal street shoe if you are looking for a performance fit.
The Extra Bits
Everything you ever need to know about Scarpa climbing shoes.
What is the history of SCARPA climbing?
Scarpa has a long history of manufacturing outdoor footwear. The company was founded in 1938s by Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness, an Anglo-Irish businessman and the heir to the Guinness Brewery estate. Under his instruction, a collective of skilled leather workers were organized in the Asolo region of Italy, a place where Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness had grown fond of, and even owned a large estate.
The company was bought out in 1956 by Luigi, Francesco, and Antonio Parisotto, three young brothers local to the region. The brother were skilled tradesmen in their own right, with Luigi completing his apprenticeship with the Scarpa company at age 11. The company’s reputation continued to grow globally over the next few decades, thanks to its superior quality products, with global exports making up 60% of sales in the ‘70s. The Scarpa range expanded to 40 different shoe models, ranging from hiking shoes to ski and telemark boots.
It was in the ‘70s, that Scarpa first entered the climbing shoe market. One of the first models they introduced was the Rockmaster, a shoe that followed the traditional construction style inspired by mountaineering boots. The Rockmaster adopted the style of a flat last, high-top model and stiff outsole, the common construction for climbing shoes at this time. Over the following decades, Scarpa continued to build their reputation as a leading climbing shoe manufacturer with iconic models like the Rock Star, Cragratz, and Superatz.
Fast forward to the turn of the century, and many manufacturers start to build modern performance shoes. In 2006 Heinz Maricaher, a climber turned shoe designer, joined the Scarpa team. Heinz was already a renowned climbing shoe designer, having previously worked with La Sportiva and assisted in designing some of their most iconic models. Heinz’s extensive understanding of climbing and experience designing shoes had an immediate impact on the already successful Scarpa line. One of his first projects involved creating a performance line for women, and for the first time in history, designed a shoe last especially created for female feet. This ultimately led to the creation of milestone models like the Rockette and Sphinx.
But this was just the beginning for Heinz. He was also hugely influential in the creation of the Instinct line, a hugely popular range of performance-oriented shoes. Today, Heinz and the Scarpa team still create futuristic climbing shoes from their workshop in Italy and have worked on some of the company’s most successful shoes to date including the Drago, Chimera, and Instinct shoe lines.
Which climbers are sponsored by Scarpa?
Having one of the most diverse ranges of athlete ambassadors of any climbing shoe brand, there are plenty of great athletes wearing Scarpa’s shoes. By our count, there are over 121 professional climbing ambassadors repping the Scarpa shoe line.
They have a range of specialists on their roster; from alpine adventurers like Aaron Mulkey and Colin Haley to professional pebble wrestlers like Nina Williams and Alex Puccio. They also have a boatload of plastic-puling sports climbers too. If you watched Sport Climbing’s Olympic debut, you might know that a whopping 25% of the Olympic climbers were wearing Scarpa climbing shoes, with the Drago being one of the most used shoes of the Olympic Games.
A few highlight moments include:
– Aidan Roberts Climbing Alphane, V17 in the Scarpa Instinct Lace – Nathaniel Coleman taking Olympic Silver with his Scarpa Dragos – Alex Puccio sending The Penrose Step (V14), as well as 3 other boulders of the same grade, in the Scarpa Instinct VSR. – Christof Rauch topping out over 400 problems graded 8A or higher
It’s not just professional athletes that Scarpa supports though. The company is known to sponsor community events and competitions, as well as provide equipment to outdoor educators and guides. You can find out more about their pro purchase program here.
Where can you buy Scarpa shoes?
Scarpa has a global distribution network for its climbing shoes. You can buy their shoes directly from their website, online retailers like REI, as well as in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Here are a few of our favorite places to buy climbing shoes.
What does Scarpa mean?
The name ‘SCARPA’ is very clever and has a double meaning. Firstly, ‘scarpa’ is the Italian word for shoe. But the company name is also an acronym for “Societa Calzaturieri Asolani Riuniti Pedemontana Anonima”, which is why all the letters of the company name are capitalized. The acronym roughly translates to “Society of Footwear from Asolo Foothills”.