The Scarpa Gecko is a classically designed approach shoe as more of a climbing shoe with hiking ability. Traction, sensitivity and flexibility are excellent on stone but the trade-offs are limited support and protection on the trails.
Support/Stability The midsole and foot bed of the Scarpa Gecko are rather flat, making this shoe better for those with stable arches. The low heel drop, straight last and relatively wide platform provides great stability even on the most angled slabs and the to-the-toe climbing shoe lacing pattern firmly plants the forefoot.
Protection The Scarpa Gecko’s full 1.8mm suede upper, backed by polyester mesh, provides durable protection for the top of the feet, and provided ample warmth for shoulder seasons. A rubber toe rand and rubber coated heel cup adds impact and abrasion resistance. The true slip lasted construction, while adding flexibility, also removes a layer from the midsole, making this shoe more prone to underfoot stone pressure. Normal single day sport climbing loads on moderate approaches didn’t produce any stone pressure, but multi pitch sized trad climbing loads on sharp boulders produced some underfoot pressure.
Comfort The Scarpa Gecko’s suede upper and slip lasted construction proved comfortable right out of the box, improving with time. The more the shoe was worn, the more the upper softened and formed to the foot. The ample lacing options aided in keeping the fit comfortable no matter the tension requirements. The straight and broad last make this shoe better for those with wider feet. The suede limits breathability for those still climbing in the summer months, but proves desirable in the shoulder seasons.
Quality and Construction The Scarpa Gecko speaks of “old world” quality and construction; the 1.8mm Italian suede upper and Reptilla SR outsole reflect a nod to material choices proven over the years. All single stitching is straight, evenly and tightly spaced and centered. Bonding of the midsole and outsole is visibly clean with no errant or excessive glue visible.
Performance The Vibram Reptilla SR outsole of the Scarpa Gecko proved sticky on all types of rock and improved with wear. The generous, flat climbing zone under the toes added welcome smearing and edging ability and sensitivity while the rubber toe rand and pointy shape made effective crack jamming a reality. The inherent flexibility of the slip lasted construction and dual density EVA midsole added confidence inspiring sensitivity and conformity during committing moves. The wider base contributed to the ample traction when trails were dry, but the shallow lugs were challenged when there was any mud.
Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure riding test editor at Dirt Rider Magazine and an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. He lives in Wimberley, TX with wife Shay, 3 year old daughter Sequoia, 3 dogs and a cat. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.