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Scarpa Arpia – A Comfortable Shoe For Pushing Your Limits

With the explosive growth in climbing, all shoe manufacturers have responded by building comfortable flat-lasted shoes that appeal to new climbers. Unfortunately, once many of these climbers graduate to the next difficulty/ experience level, suitable shoe options are almost non-existent. Sure, they can go for high-end, high-performance shoes, but these intermediate climbers are not climbing at a standard that requires such specialized footwear, nor are they ready for the more powerful fit that these shoes demand. If you don’t believe me, check out all the intermediate climbers wearing oversized performance shoes. There’s even a meme of climbers wearing Solutions with socks!
  •  Scarpa Arpia

With the arrival of the new Arpia (in both a men’s and women’s version), Scarpa is taking the lead in addressing this intermediate-performance shoe vacuum. Let’s look at the Arpia's construction so we can better understand how it hits this much-coveted sweet spot of comfort and performance. Unlike super-high performance shoes, the Arpia features only a mildly asymmetric and moderately aggressive downturned last. While this provides greater precision and control than is typically found in entry-level shoes, it does not create the extreme compression found in more specialized shoes. The result is a wonderful blend of climbing performance and comfort that is perfectly appropriate for most intermediate climbers. In conjunction with this versatile last, Scarpa has added a V-Tension active randing system that provides the necessary power for technical climbing without excessively compromising comfort. The 1.4mm thick midsole is similarly well thought out as it delivers the required support for standing on small edges while still being flexible enough for smearing or pulling on steeper routes.

For the upper, Scarpa has speced a soft and conforming microsuede that is backed with a luxuriously soft lining. This combination creates a level of interior comfort that few shoes can match. The addition of single Z-style hook-and-loop strap closure allows for easy fit adjustments while proving the locked-in fit required on more technical routes and boulder problems. For rubber, the Arpia uses the sticky Vibram XS Grip2 compound that has a proven track record on plastic and rock.
  •  Scarpa Arpia

So, on paper at least, the Arpias seem pretty much perfect, but do they deliver in real-world climbing? I’ve been using the Arpias for a few weeks, and I can honestly say they are absolutely perfect for anyone graduating from a beginner shoe but unwilling (or unable) to deal with the powerful fit of more performance-oriented footwear. They are versatile enough for all sorts of plastic-pulling and can also easily transition to a broad range of outdoor climbing and bouldering. The forefoot and heel offer a medium-volume fit, which seems ideal for my feet (and likely most people’s feet), and the soft lining does a great job of minimizing hot spots that occasionally occur when breaking in new shoes.
  •  Scarpa Arpia

I did notice that the lining made the shoes feel a bit warmer than I expected, but this was by no means a deal-breaker (at least for me) as the Arpia is not intended as an all-day/multi-pitch shoe.

If you are an intermediate climber looking to push your limits and have outgrown the performance of your entry-level shoe, you really need to check out the Arpia. Size them snugger than you would an entry-level shoe, and you won’t be disappointed. Seriously, Scarpa has nailed it with this shoe.

You can find out more about the new Arpia and and other fine Scarpa products at https://www.scarpa.com/.
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.