SCARPA Zen Pro Hiking Shoe

8.8
8.8 score
(GearWeAre.com) score (8.8)/10

Our GearWeAre.com score is based on 3 different factors: Editor's rating after in-depth testing. User ratings submitted on this page Overall score from the "reviewmeter" based on reviews across the web the weight of each factor is: 40% editor rating 15% user ratings 45% reviewmeter.
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Editor rating: 8.9 / 10
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SCARPA Zen Pro Hiking Shoe Review Facts

When it comes to shoes that are used during long hikes or scrambling over boulders and climbing up cliff faces, there are a lot of options available. Depending on your point of view, many of these options have become more and more specialized. There are shoes that are designed primarily for hiking over rough terrain. Other shoes are designed to excel at smearing and edging along the rock, and others offer great flexibility while crack climbing.

But what if you want an approach shoe that is actually a bit more versatile than that? Is it possible to find a great overall balance between a hiking shoe and a climbing shoe? The people over at Scarpa think that they have found the right balance with their Scarpa Zen Pro Approach Shoe. So we’ve decided to do the research and put the shoes to the test to find out if they’re right.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Extremely durable
  • Fairly comfortable to wear
  • Shorter break-in time
  • Sturdy toe box
  • Fantastic for hiking and scrambling
Cons
  • Can wear through at key places for climbing, such as the toe area
  • Not very good at smearing
  • Not well suited for crack climbing or technical climbs
  • Outsole thick and stiff
  • Doesn’t breathe as well as it should
  • Can be bulky
See How
Reviews were analyzed here:
We read, analyze and sort reviews into positive & negative categories to give you the complete picture.
What are buyers saying?

We have spent 3.0 hours analyzing a total of 357 reviews.

These reviews are then categoried into "Positive" and "Negative" feedback.

Below you will read a summary of them:

Positive
  • The Scarpa Zen Pro Hiking Shoe is solid. These hold up better for long hikes. Your feet will be protected in these shoes. The grip is great as well on rocks, snow, and mud.
  • These are my second pair. They hold up well. My first pair lasted two years. I use my shoes for year work. Very comfortable.
  • The workmanship and quality of these shoes are very good. They have the Vibram soles for a great grip and they are very comfortable. I have three pairs of these shoes.
  • These Scarpa Zen Pro Hiking Shoes fit like a glove. I hiked in these shoes for a week with no issues. They have an incredible grip. My feet felt protected and secure. I was able to get my regular size and I have wide feet.
  • These shoes are a little stiff in the beginning but they break in and are very comfortable after about a week.
  • This is my first pair of Scarpa Zen Pro Hiking Shoes. Great shoes! I use a thin orthotic insert and these shoes fit perfectly. Super comfortable and very good arch support.
  • Scarpa Zen Pro Hiking Shoes are very sturdy for hiking but I wear mine for every day. The pair that I do wear for hiking is a bit bigger. My favorite shoes are made by Scarpa. These shoes are indestructible.
  • These shoes do have a break in period. So be prepared for that but overall it is a durable, high-quality hiking shoe. Would definitely buy again.
  • I covered a lot of miles in these on my trip to Italy. These shoes are awesome!
  • This is a great hiking and climbing shoe. Love how it can handle water and have great arch support. Put several miles on my Scarpa Zen Pro Hiking shoes with no problems.
  • Still, have to break these in but overall these shoes fit perfect. Nice and tough.
  • I replaced my Limelite shoes with these and so far they provide great arch support. I am hopeful that they will hold up as equally as well.
  • I am impressed at how well these shoes have been holding up. I had these for two years and wear them almost every day.
  • Right out of the box these shoes are very comfortable, and fit great. Well made and they look amazing. Although I will be wearing mine for casual wear I am confident these shoes would do great for hiking.
  • These shoe are very well made and excellent construction. They do require some breaking in because they are so stiff.
  • The Scarpa Zen Pro Hiking Shoe is made really well and they are very comfortable.
  • This shoe is very comfortable after the minimum break in time. The run true to size.
  • I use these shoes for traveling, hiking and climbing. Great shoes.
  • I love Scarpa. These are my second pair.
  • My current pair is doing fine but I wanted to buy another pair before the price went up. I use my shoes for trail walking.
Negative
  • Some buyers preferred the earlier version
  • Runs too narrow for some buyers
Reviewmeter
The Reviewmeter shows you an overall score that you can easily refer to. The highest rating is 10 (100% positive feedback)
Of the 357 reviews we found in total, 13% were negative, and 87% were positive.
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Outsole

Outsole

The first thing that is noticeable about these shoes are the thick, extremely durable and protective Vibram Spyder 2 out-sole. This isn’t the out-sole. of a traditional climbing shoe, or even an approach shoe. Given the grip strength, overall thickness, and stability of this rubberized out-sole., most people would consider this a lightweight hiking shoe. While it can be rather bulky, and causes the shoe to weigh a bit more than the average approach shoe, it does offer phenomenal protection from dirt, debris, and small rocks that you may encounter along the path.
Midsole

Midsole

The mid-sole area of the shoe is nothing remarkable, but it’s still fairly pragmatic and functional. It features an EVA injected framework that offers a moderate amount of support without adding too much weight to the overall shoe.

Another nice thing about the mid-sole area of the shoe is that it provides fantastic weight distribution throughout the shoe, so there aren’t really too many pinch points. This can be a great help, especially during longer hikes or approaches, where comfort is certainly a strong consideration.
Upper

Upper

For the most part, the upper portion of the shoe is made from weather resistant suede leather that is fairly good at keeping dirt, grime, and debris off your foot. The gusseted tongue is actually attached to the shoe upper itself, so it’s much more effective at keeping dirt out. The shoe has a more standardized lacing system which does allow for a fairly customizable fit, but it doesn’t exactly mold to your foot like a decent climbing shoe would.

Most people found that the upper portion of the shoe provided a good amount of comfort overall, with those with average or narrow feet adoring the contoured shape of the shoe overall. Those with wider feet found the upper portion somewhat restrictive, especially in the instep area of the foot.
Breathability

Breathability

The Scarpa Zen Pro offers a mixed bag when it comes to breathability according to our research. The suede upper provides for a fair amount of good ventilation, but if any significant amount of dirt or grime covers the shoes, the ventilation decreases rapidly. That being said, the fabric lining performs very well in pulling the moisture away and wicking it out into the surrounding environment. The fabric is about 38mm thick, so it can get essentially waterlogged over time, which can also lessen the breathability of the shoe.
Comfort

Comfort

When it comes to overall comfort, the Scarpa Zen Pro proves to be a mixed blessing. For those with wider feet, this relatively narrow shoe will pinch in all the wrong places. However, for those with average or narrow feet, the shoe proves to be a very good fit overall. In addition, the Cocona fabric lining works quite well at pulling moisture away from the skin, which does help keep the feet relatively dry and comfortable.

The shoe itself isn’t that heavy, either, weighing just over one pound. While it’s not as light as a standard climbing shoe can be, it’s still lighter and more comfortable than many of the more robust hiking shoes on the market today.

Most people found the sizing to meet their expectations, with only a few recorded instances of the sizes running a bit small overall. There is also a significantly shorter break-in period than what was seen in earlier incantations. Where the old Scarpa Zen would have taken at least a few months of solid use to break in completely, these shoes usually break in a few days with a moderate amount of use.
Style

Style

Truth be told, this shoe is probably not going to win any fashion magazine awards. While the colors are nice and the overall design is clean and classic, it lends itself more to pragmatism instead of a good fashion sense. If you’re looking for something to impress your friends and co-workers as you sit and talk about the great outdoors, there are other options out there. If you actually want a shoe that performs well, but may be a bit utilitarian in nature, this is a great choice.
Durability

Durability

Perhaps the main aspect that appealed to the largest number of users concerning the Scarpa Zen Pro was the sheer level and durability that was seen. These shoes are so well put together and use such quality materials, that they will last for years under proper care. Truth be told, even if you don’t care for these shoes the way that you should, you should be able to wear them for a few seasons. They really are that tough.
Protection

Protection

These shoes offer great protection against abrasion, especially in the toe area. The rubberized guard offers up thick material that can certainly take a beating while hiking, climbing, or scrambling over rocks. The out-sole. itself is somewhat thick and sturdy overall, and the reinforced heel area is a great boon, especially when sliding or slipping over a rock pile.

These shoes are definitely not waterproof but do offer a moderate amount of protection from moisture. Even without waterproofing treatment, the suede upper portion does provide decent protection from moisture and water infiltration.

Another area where these shoes do moderately well, despite their low cuff is in protection against ankle twists or bad turns. Their naturally firm grip provides a good amount of support, even when moving over more rugged areas.
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a shoe with great sensitivity and responsiveness while climbing, you probably want to pass up the Scarpa Pro Zen. It’s absolutely fantastic when it comes to traveling over a wide range of terrains, but the wider toe box means that it doesn’t really provide the same level of response as a classic climbing shoe. As far as the approach goes, however, these shoes are a great all-around choice since they can help you easily respond and adapt to many different conditions, such as stone, wet grass, leaves, light snow, and gravel.
Support

Support

Overall, most people found these shoes to offer a moderate amount of support that allowed them to travel over quite a few different terrains without too much discomfort. The relatively wide toe box allows for great comfort and a good range of motion while in use, and the EVA injected molded mid-sole provides a great foundation that nearly cradles your foot. Add to that reinforced heel area and the relatively low slope to the shoe, and your foot in naturally supported in most cases.
Terrain

Terrain

One of the great things about the Scarpa Zen Pro is its ability to exist and thrive in nearly any hiking terrain that you may encounter. The combination of the wide-lug treads, well-balanced weight, and overall flexibility make it easy to move about in both rugged and rookie-friendly areas with a good amount of comfort and confidence.

As an approach shoe, this shoe is absolutely fantastic for the trip to the climbing spot. Once you’re there, however, the Scarpa Zen Pro does leave a bit to be desired in the way of responsiveness, grip, and traction. If you’re going bouldering or doing some light technical climbing, this shoe will work well enough. If crack climbing, smearing, or any other activity that requires a more firm grip with great flexibility in the toe areas, you might want to look elsewhere.
Price

Price

These shows will run you a pretty penny. Most examples that we found on line or in the store averaged about $200 USD. The lowest price that we could find was $160, but most hovered around the $175 range.
Traction

Traction

When it comes to handling the more rugged approaches with relative ease, the Scarpa Zen Pro is certainly ahead of the pack. The wide lugs and well-placed weight distribution of the shoes provide good grip strength on most horizontal surfaces or small inclines. The tread allows the user to both grip and release the surface beneath them with very little of the actual dirt, grime and debris being incorporated into the shoe itself.
Flexibility

Flexibility

Sadly, these approach shoes from Scarpa have been known to be a bit stiff overall, based mainly on their extremely thick out-sole and abundant EVA injected material. They will work fine in normal or even rugged hiking conditions but often prove to be less flexible than other climbing shoes when it comes to scaling the actual rock face.
Stability

Stability

Truth be told, the Scarpa Zen Pro is one of our favorites when it comes to overall stability of an approach shoe. Where other brands seem to be a bit wishy-washy in the heel area, the Scarpa Zen Pro seems to grab onto your foot with talon-like precision and not let go. Add to that the thick rubberized out-sole material, and the chances of you slipping, sliding, or losing your footing in a hiking setting almost seems impossible.

Unfortunately, that stability and extra durability do come at a bit of price. These shoes almost have too much stability for the climbing portion of the approach, lowering the amount of overall flexibility and ability to use your foot to its maximum capability.
Comparison to Other Brands

Comparison to Other Brands

If you’re looking for an approach shoe that focuses more on the end climb than the trek to your peak, there are quite a few choices out there that are better than the Scarpa Zen Pro. Shoes such as the LaSportiva Boulder X approach shoe are designed with the climber in mind, and are often more flexible, lighter, and offer more grip strength and better overall traction when climbing.

However, if you’re more worried about getting to the climb in one piece rather than actually climbing, the Scarpa Zen Pro is definitely worth considering. The durability of the shoe clearly outmatches quite a few of the closest competitors, such as the Five Ten Guide Tennie and the Evolve Cruzer, and the hiker-friendly tread allows for a good versatility when it comes to terrain.
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

If you’re a beginner climber or know that you’re going to be traveling over rough terrain during the approach, investing in the Scarpa Zen Pro is certainly a viable option. They are extremely durable, relatively lightweight, and can easily handle a number of different terrains and environments. However, if your focus is on the more technical aspects of climbing, and most of your favorite climbing spots feature a plethora of toe grabs and smearing areas, it’s best to pack a different pair in your bag for use in those areas.