The new lightweight approach shoe the Scarpa Epic Lite OD, is it a shoe or is it a boot?
- Great hiking shoe.
- Good to climb in.
- Too tech looking for casual wear.
- A little stiff in the toe area.
Approach shoes should be comfortable for all day wear, look stylish for wearing down the gym and perform when you need to climb or scramble in them. The new Scarpa Epic Lite OD fits neatly into most of these categories and performed well in all the activities I tested them in.
There are two shoes in the new Epic range, the Epic and the Epic Lite OD. The Epic Lite are, as you might guess, a lighter version of the leather based Epic shoe. They are slightly different designs with the Epic being a similar to the iconic Zen Pro with a good nubuck leather outer and climbing shoe lacing and the Epic Lite being a more technical ultra lightweight hiking and approach shoe. The weight difference between the 920g (per pair – size 42) Epic and the 874g being 46g. Not a lot I warrant you but every gram counts on my knees!
The Scarpa Epic Lite OD then is what I would consider a technical approach shoe; a sort of turbo charged trainer suitable for a variety of mountain activities. I tended to wear this style of shoe more and more as I try to take the weight of my legs and make my day more comfortable over longer periods of time. They have been an excellent shoe for extended days out on rocky terrain both with clients and for my own recreational climbing (although I have tended to wear them more for work than for my own climbing – more on this shortly). For scrambling they have proved outstanding as the stiffness of the sole unit is great for easy, rocky climbing.
As I said earlier the style of the Scarpa Epic Lite is what I would call the ‘Technical Trainer’ type of approach shoe and not the ‘casual’ style say of my Scarpa Geko’s which I wear casually and for most of my general recreational climbing. The Epic Lite OD has replaced my Oxygen’s (which I reviewed last year) as my shoe for work and mountain use. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying the Epic Lite OD is inferior I’m just saying that stylistically they are err more to the technical side. When I wear the Epic Lite I’m in them all day and often for several days at a time so I wear them more often and for longer that my casual climbing shoes.
The newer Vibram Etilas sole unit is a more streamlined looking unit than the chunky Zen Pro and so the shoe looks like it sits a little lower to the ground with a low profile and less aggressive lugs. It has a generous climbing zone at the toe and was great for scrambling and working on climbing jobs where I’m not wearing climbing shoes but still need friction for some easy climbing. They have proved really useful for all sorts of climbing situations and although the fit is a little relaxed they were more than precise enough when I needed them to be – they would be ideal for abbing down multi pitch routes, cleaning and prepping routes and general crag wear.
The sole is also quite stiff which is good for technical mountain wear, especially side stepping down steep ground and rocky ground such as scree slopes. The tow box is generous enough for a wider fit if you want it and although the Epic Lite OD doesn’t have a full rand it has a great heel cup which when laced up kept the shoe in place with no heel lift. The heel is finished with a heel tab big enough for fingers and to get a carabiner through for attaching to your harness.
The main material is a mesh which helps keep the Epic Lite OD breathable to some extent – but as always the shoe will be hot when the temperature rises due to the waterproof membrane. There is also plenty of reinforcement with the faux Nubuck (Sintec Nabuk) and rubber. The tongue uses the now established Sock Fit system for a snug fit and I really love the narrow, flat laces which help lock the shoe in place.
Much is made of the OutDry membrane, Scarpa have worked in partnership with Italian company OutDry. This has the benefit of working collaboratively with local suppliers as well as keeping the carbon footprint down. OutDry is a pretty effective membrane system that applies the membrane direct to the show as opposed to a “sock/bootie” liner which is more common with other membrane linings. Other advantages include reducing weight and eliminating taped or welded seams. How well did it work out in the field I hear you ask? Very well I reply, the lining did keep my feet fairly dry on damp ground, wet grass and shallow puddles and the Epic Lite OD dried out quite easily too so a positive verdict from CGR and a great addition to the range.
In conclusion the Scarpa Epic Lite OD have proved to be a very good all mountain shoe, I have worn them comfortable for mountain days, cragging (both for work and recreation) and mountain biking (the stiff sole is a real plus here). They are light, will keep out the worst of the damp ground and a breathable enough for most UK conditions. All, in all a nice shoe and a good investment.
The Sacrpa Epic Lite OD comes in Men’s sizes EUR41 – 48 and Women’s sizes EUR 37 – 42. If you want something more robust but heavier then there is also the Scarpa Epic.
Dave Sarkar has tested and reviewed climbing, mountaineering and outdoor equipment for over 10 years. He works as a qualified MIA both in the UK and Internationally: working as a mountaineering instructor and expedition leader for his company Wild Spaces. When he isn’t working in the mountains he’s playing in the mountains and enjoys all aspects climbing and mountain sports whether bouldering at his local crag or ice climbing; as long as he’s going upwards he’s happy!