The Mescalito is the top of line technical approach shoe from Scarpa and is quite possibly the best approach shoe I have ever used.
I’ve said before that the approach shoe definition is a little odd in that any shoe that is tight enough to perform well on rock will be compromised somewhat in comfort on long approaches and visa versa. The best examples provide down to the toe lacing to facilitate a broad range of adjustment and/or they seek to ‘specialise’ more to one end of the approach shoe role being more climbing or more walking focused. My personal preference has always been more for the approach comfort than outright climbing performance.
I saw the Mescalito last year at KORS and received a pair to test just as the winter snows were melting which proved fortuitous as my current approach shoes (the ubiquitous 5.10 Guide) had worn through on the heel. The Mescalito comes in two colour-ways a subtle grey (Shark) and a vibrant green (Lime). Mine are the Shark version and although I’d secretly hoped for the more flamboyant lime I think the subtle grey is probably a more versatile choice. As you would imagine with the Mescalito being Scarpa’s top end technical approach shoe it incorporates a number of their leading technologies in Scarpa’s words:
- The AUTOFIT COLLAR, thanks to the ergonomic design of the collar and to the special padding, ensures the maximum adaptability and comfort of the upper, reducing the impact stress that rests on the Achilles and malleous area. Great performance and comfort on any terrain.
- The “HEEL TENSION SYSTEM” is an innovative system applied to the heel area of the upper part of the boot. It offers great stability and adaptability to the severe stress derived from steep routes. The particular design and the TPU material help the upper responsively, avoiding torsional twists and makes walking easier even on difficult and rough terrains.
- Vibram® LiteBase technology, Mescalito guarantees also a great grip thanks to the Vibram® Megagrip
Firstly the AUTOFIT COLLAR. You notice this when you put the shoes on as it wraps securely around your ankle giving a lovely glove like fit. In use I noticed two benefits. It contributes to the excellent fit and I had zero heel lift in the Mescalitos but also it helps keep debris out of the shoe. After descending a number of scree slopes throughout the test period I had only one instance of a small stone getting in the shoe. Anecdotal I know but experience suggests I would normally have had far more.
Secondly the HEEL TENSION SYSTEM. Cosmetically this looks similar to the heel system on the Ribelle Techs I reviewed last winter and it shares some of the technology. The shoes certainly felt stable even when lugging a heavy trad pack up steep slopes and contouring hillsides to get to mountain crags.
Finally the Vibram® LiteBase and Megagrip sole. The Megagrip rubber strikes a nice balance between sticky grip and durability. Grip wise it is excellent – even on polished limestone paths I had no issues and now three months into the review wear is negligible despite the Mescalitos being worn on an almost daily basis. The LiteBase technology shaves few grams by thin-ing the base of the sole unit, not the lug depth, so you get a lighter sole but maintain grip and durability.
Scarpa Mescalito In Use
In common with many climbers my approach shoes are actually my do everything casual wear trainers too and the Mescalitos are no exception. From the outset they have proved supremely comfortable whether I’m walking into town for a pint or wandering up to Caley from my house with a pad on my back for bit of bouldering or contouring round that horrible scree on Gable to get to a mountain crag. Despite all the use and abuse they still look pretty smart after three months and there is little wear and no damage.
These are definitely built to last. When I’ve done a bit of scrambling in them and deliberately soloed a few easy routes to check their climbing credentials their performance has been faultless. The solid climbing zone at the toe means you don’t get a lug ‘rolling’ on smaller holds and the lacing extends to the toe so if needed you can cinch them tight to provide greater security. The partial rand adds a bit of extra grip and protection when jamming but don’t get too ambitious as although there is reasonable lateral rigidity there is enough give that the shoe will deform and jam better than you may want – which is potentially embarrassing! For easy big mountain rock routes (which don’t require crampons & axe to access) these could easily be your only shoe. There is no waterproof membrane which has been a blessing in the recent heatwave but even so they do a good job of keeping your feet dry and you’d have to fairly submerge them to get really wet (there is a waterproof ‘mid’ version due for 2019).
Overall the Mescalitos have become my all-time favourite approach shoes, if Scarpa were to stop making them I’d go out and buy another pair like a shot. This is the shoe that will work for crag approach in the UK, chilling at the cafe or pub and then see you right along an alpine rock ridge. Better yet it will continue to do this for years.
- comfortable secure fit
- good climbing performance
- not found one yet!
Richie is the enthusiastic amateur of the team. Enjoying all aspects of climbing but especially alpine, winter and his local grit . Having managed to survive the vagaries of both fluorescent Koflachs and rainbow tights in the 80s he looks forward to an even more stylish future. A shady past in mountain marathons and adventure races, including the Marathon des Sables, means he’s an advocate of fast and light. Though the former is debatable if you’ve seen him on a tricky lead!