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Hands-on Gear Review

Scarpa Force X Review

Price:   $139 List | $83.40 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Durable, Comfortable, Versatile
Cons:  Lack of sensitivity,
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Scarpa

Our Verdict

With padding that would be generous in a minimalist running shoe, a flat toe, and a voluminous symmetrical fit that begs to be worn with mid-calf wool socks, the Scarpa Force X manages to be comfortable, supportive, and precise. The Force X is a robust design that harkens back to the sensibilities of the EB: flat, functional, and able to tackle the walk off in a pinch. Scarpa designed the Force X with long cruisy days in the mountains in mind; you won't be sending that overhanging limestone project in them. While the Force X lacks the shape and sensitivity to really push the grades, it excels on terrain that's a notch or two harder than what you'd want to take on in your approach shoes, without sacrificing much in the way of comfort. The Force X is minimal and durable, a solid beginner shoe for gym or outdoor use. Check out our review of the La Sportiva Tarantula for another great beginner shoe.

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Score Product Price Style Upper Lining
Editors' Choice Award
lace Suede Leather/MIcro fiber none
Top Pick Award
lace Leather/Lorica Pacific (forefoot and back)
velcro Leather/Synthetic Leather Unlined
Top Pick Award
lace Leather Sentex/PU Foam
lace Leather dentex
velcro Cowdura⢠Synthetic synthetic
velcro leather synthetic
velcro Leather/Lorica HF
velcro Non-stretch Synthratek synthetic upper microfiber leather cotton
velcro Leather synthetic
velcro synthetic Unlined
lace Leather none
lace Synthetic (Cowdura) none
Best Buy Award
velcro Leather / Synflex none
slipper leather none
velcro MicroFiber (Synthetic)
Lace 1.8mm Suede/Micro Suede none
velcro Leather/ Synthetic Leather synthetic (tongue and arch only)
velcro Suede/Micro Suede none
velcro Leather synthetic
velcro Elastic Synthratek synthetic upper nylon

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Thomas Greene
Review Editor

Last Updated:
September 3, 2015

While there is nothing particularly flashy about the Force X, its stability on edges and performance in cracks impressed our testers. The forefoot of the Force X is rigid, with excellent lateral and medial stability. Combined with a stiffer heel cup, the overall rigidity of the shoe creates a comfortable, energy conserving platform that diminishes its performance on more technical terrain due to lack of sensitivity. The fit of the Force X manages to be snug even on lower volume feet due to the well thought out positioning of the velcro closures, leaving only the toe box feeling a little more roomy than might be desired on thinner feet. Additionally, the velcro doesn't impede crack climbing as much as might be traditionally anticipated. Overall, the Force X performes well on a variety of climbing up to moderate vertical face climbs.

Performance Comparison

Comfortable on the long alpine days the Force X treated this testers feet well on the West Ridge of Forbidden peak.
Comfortable on the long alpine days the Force X treated this testers feet well on the West Ridge of Forbidden peak.


The toe box of the Force X feels vaguely like a well worn pair of Converse All Stars; roomier and less precise than you might be used to. In spite of the rounder shape of the toe and the ample space the Force X provides for your feet, the shoe edges well on smaller and even gently sloping holds. The Vibram XS Edge rubber holds its shape on the sharp stuff and clings nubbins decently enough that you won't feel sketchy when it gets a little thin.

Crack Climbing

The cardinal merit of the Force X while crack climbing is how well it protects your feet. No matter how you twist and crank, the rigidity of the heel and toe keeps your foot from ending up feeling like fixed gear. The size and shape of the toe box isn't conducive to smaller cracks and it will require a little more ankle articulation on the thin stuff to get your foot into position. The stiffer heel cup also dug into our tester's ankle during the break-in period, but this subsided after a few days on the rock.


The Force X performed well in in larger pockets as long as the angle stayed low. Our testers found the stiffness of the Force X a feature that often compensated for the flat fit of the shoe on pocketed terrain. However, on anything steeper than vertical terrain, this shoe gets a little hopeless. Save the Force X for the the long moderates where comfort is your primary concern.

A flat  rigid sole and velcro that largely stays out of the way in the cracks makes the Force X a decent choice for traditional climbing.
A flat, rigid sole and velcro that largely stays out of the way in the cracks makes the Force X a decent choice for traditional climbing.


With the supportive sole and luxurious padding of an approach shoe, the Force X is a marvel of comfort and durability. It also feels like you're trying to read Braille through an oven mitt when the climbing starts to get thin. The Force X still manages to feel fairly precise in spite of the lack of sensitivity, but our testers experienced blow outs on smaller features where the exact placement of your foot is critical. The rigid sole isn't conducive to minute adjustments that might mean the difference slipping and sending. The Force X is not designed for high end climbing and is sure to disappoint if your expectations for it are too high.


When sized comparably to your street shoes or slightly smaller, the Force X is comfortable out of the box. There is virtually no room in the toe box for arched over toes, so don't size them down too much, save that for the Scarpa Boostic or similarly down-turned climbing shoes. The padding and shape of the Force X will keep you happy on long climbs and the velcro closures make it easy to relieve pressure at belays.


The value of the Force X is its versatility, durability, and comfort. If you are new to climbing it will see you through a lot of development before you need to upgrade. If you are an experienced climber just looking for a comfortable gym or multi-pitch shoe, the Force X could be a good fit for you. When compared to similar concept all-around climbing shoes it falls in the middle of the price range, hovers around the average for climbing, but exceeds expectation for durability and comfort.

Great as a beginner shoe or in the gym the Force X thrives on a variety of climbing  such as the granite of Washington pass.
Great as a beginner shoe or in the gym the Force X thrives on a variety of climbing, such as the granite of Washington pass.

Best Applications

The Force X is a great gym or multi-pitch shoe. Our testers found it comfortable on climbs up to 5.10-, but it is not our go-to shoe for harder climbing. Beginner climbers will find them forgiving and more than adequately capable of handling a variety of terrain.


The Force X is a solid climbing shoe that won't disappoint if you don't expect too much from it. Its limitations become apparent when the climbing starts to get steep and techie, keep yourself happy with them by sticking to more moderate terrain with it. The Force X is durable and would be a great beginner shoe or a relatively inexpensive addition to a quiver of shoes.

Other Versions and Accessories

Force X - Women's
Scarpa Women's Force X WMN Climbing Shoe
  • Women's version
  • No longer available from manufacturer but still available from major retailers
  • Cost - $139
Thomas Greene

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: September 3, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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