We don’t do much “summer” content here since it’s always winter and people are always ski touring, somewhere. But it is indeed rock climbing season in the northern hemisphere. So here goes.
Being a moderate climber at best, I’m always on the lookout for new gear that’ll give me an edge. Specifically, I find that high-quality shoes can really up your game. I’ve gone through numerous shoes over the years and come to appreciate stiff, flat shoes, especially for crack climbing. Scarpas fit me well and provide such.
I’ve been using Scarpa Techno X for about a year. They have been my go-to shoe on hard (for me) trad routes. One of the first climbing trips for my Techno X was in the Wind Rivers, Wyoming. After that, the shoes accompanied me to Squamish, alpine climbing on Washington Pass, and lots of cragging. Most recently, I brought them up to the Gunsight Range in the North Cascades.
Sizing climbing shoes is always tricky, especially when buying them online. It’s definitely recommended to purchase shoes, ski boots and other footwear in a local shop. However, I couldn’t find any shops in the Seattle area that sold the Technos. From reading online, I found that they run fairly small. Accordingly, when I first got the shoes, I chose a size 42. It was quickly apparent that those were going to be too small, so I went up a half size, and settled on a size 42.5. (For reference, I have a size 9-9.5 foot, in ski boots I use a 27.5.) I’ve been using the 42.5s since.
After a few months of use, I’m fairly sure they have stretched out as much as they will. They are still slightly on the small side. On anything up to a few pitches, they are fine, but on longer climbs they begin to feel uncomfortable. Usually after 4 pitches of climbing I take them off for a few minutes at the belay if I’m in a good spot. But on anything shorter, they feel perfect.
As far as stretching, they enlarged a bit, but not very much, perhaps a half size, maybe less. Interestingly, the area where they are the most uncomfortable for me is above the ball of the heel. Scarpa climbing shoes tend to have a large heel pocket, one reason they fit my foot, yet it seems the deep pocket makes the top edge of the shoe dig into the back of my foot.
The shoes work well when being smashed into cracks of all sizes. They have sticky rubber on the top of the toe, as well as a sizable rand. In the majority of cracks (excluding off-widths) the only parts of the shoe touching the rock tend to be those with rubber. Being stiff, the shoes also excel at edging. Several times I’ve desperately put my foot on a tiny edge, and have been surprised at how well it held.
The major area the shoes don’t excel in are slabs, mostly owing to the stiffness of the shoes (but the tight fit I have might not be right).
Since I’ve used the Techno X for a while I’ve gotten a good feel for their durability. I have to confess, I’ve never been able to tell a major difference in the grip of rubber types between shoe manufacturers, although I have noticed differences in wear. The shoes still have quite a bit of rubber left on the sole. I do feel they have lasted a bit longer than comparable shoes I’ve had in the past.
On a very hot day some of the sole rubber delaminated a few millimeters on the side of the shoe. I was worried at first, but in the months since it hasn’t gotten any worse, and because it is on the outside of the shoe it hasn’t affected the climbing abilities of the shoe.
My only other gripe is the blue and orange leather dye. Even after a ton of use, they still make my feet blue and orange after wearing them. In my opinion, all leather on climbing shoes should be dyed in skin-like tones (yellow, tan, grey, etc), or not dyed at all since one does have to wonder what’s in the dye and subsequently impregnated into your epidermis.
Overall, I’ve been very satisfied with the Tchno X. I also have a pair of Scarpa Boostics that I use for sport climbing, but for trad climbing I have been exclusively using the Techno’s. When I’m scrabbling and panicking up on a crack that’s above my pay grade, it’s nice to have a bit of a confidence boost from high-end shoes like the Scarpas.