The Scarpa Gecko caught our attention right off the bat for its cool look and high price tag. Despite earning one of the highest overall scores in this review, the Gecko failed to win an award from our editors due to its inability to exceed in any one category. We do believe it makes a great all-around approach shoe for the average climber, though; it has above-average climbing ability, decent comfort and support, and a durable design. At the end of the day, the Gecko just barely missed the mark for our favorite shoe, though we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to friends looking for a no-fluff, comfortable shoe to wear day in and day out.
Scarpa Gecko - Women's ReviewPrice: $160 List | $159.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Climbs well, durable
Cons: Not supportive, expensive
Bottom line: The Gecko is a solid yet expensive cragging shoe with great climbing ability and little support.
Sole Rubber: Vibram Reptilla SR
Upper: Italian Suede
RELATED REVIEW: The 9 Best Climbing Approach Shoes for Women
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Scarpa Gecko scored highly across the board, and may have been in the running for our Editors' Choice had we not gotten our hands on the La Sportiva TX2. We think this shoe is a little less versatile, but it makes a great cragging shoe nonetheless.
To test out each shoe's climbing ability, we took them to the boulders and the big walls to see what they could really handle. From the patina edges of Bishop to the granite slabs of Yosemite, the Gecko could hold its own and earned the very respectable 7/10 for this metric.
WIth a nice smooth climbing zone and solid sole, we trusted the Gecko's edging and smearing abilities. We felt it had one of the best climbing abilities of any shoe we tested, just barely out-performing the Editors' Choice Award-winning TX3, though it was still outperformed by the Arc'teryx Acrux SL, which took home our Top Pick for Climbing Ability Award.
The Gecko has a wider and taller profile than some of its competitors, including the top-scoring TX2, and because of this, it wouldn't be our first choice for a crack climbing shoe.
Because we gave "support" its own scoring metric, this category looks to materials, midsole stiffness, and lacing. The Gecko was pretty comfortable and was only outscored by the La Sportiva Boulder X.
The Gecko sports a leather upper that is soft and breathable on the inside with a comfy tongue. With a fairly stiff midsole, we enjoyed hanging out in town in these shoes as much as we liked bringing them to our favorite climbing areas.
The lacing system of this shoe is one of our favorites. Because the laces reach down toward the toes so far, the Gecko is highly adjustable. It can be laced up tight for technical approaches or worn loose for casual jaunts to the crag or in town.
The main area where the Gecko fell behind in the runnings for an award was in hiking support. The flat bottom of this shoe made for less comfortable long-distance hiking, and when compared to the award-winning TX3 or Boulder X, we could only give the Gecko a 5/10 in this metric.
The Gecko's less than ideal arch support limits its usage significantly. While we didn't mind using this shoe for easy approaches to the sport cliff, we would hesitate to use this in the alpine or for long, strenuous approaches. When compared to the La Sportiva TX3 or TX2, the Gecko is far less versatile.
This model performs above average on uneven terrain and on snow due to its stiff sole, but its lack of arch support makes it difficult for us to recommend this as an alpine climbing approach shoe.
As climbers on multi-pitch terrain, the ability to clip your approach shoes to your harness is a huge part of what makes for a good product. And while weight will usually come at the cost of comfort and support, we generally prefer our outdoor gear to be as light as is reasonable. The Gecko falls in the middle of the range of models we tested, but when compared to its more comfortable contenders, we have a hard time justifying this measurement.
The weight of the Gecko may be due in part to the leather upper. This shoe is about three ounces heavier than the TX2, which has a lighter mesh upper but a much more support sole. The Gecko isn't nearly as heavy as the ultra-supportive Boulder X or Five Ten Guide Tennie, but it may be just a little too heavy for use as a multi-pitch shoe.
As with everything, we want to get as much life out of our gear as we can. That being said, durable materials tend to weigh and cost more. The leather upper of the Gecko helps it earn high marks in this category.
When compared to its competitors, especially the Best Buy Award-winning Evolv Cruzer Psyche, the Gecko's leather upper is particularly durable. And while we think this shoe may not be able to withstand the burly elements of the alpine, when used for shorter approaches, our editors believe that this shoe can be expected to last a long time.
The Gecko impressed us with its above-average marks across nearly every category. Because of its lack of support, we wouldn't suggest walking great lengths or on particularly strenuous terrain with this product, but if you stick to casual hikes, short approaches, and easy scrambles, the Gecko is a comfy option with great climbing ability. We would highly recommend this shoe to our guide friends or for the occasional big wall, where a mix of comfort and climbing ability is key.
One of the main reasons we'd hesitate to recommend the Gecko is because of the cost. At $160, this is the second most expensive shoe in our review, and we do not believe that the price is justified. For a shoe with superior support without sacrificing climbing ability, the $130 TX2 is a bargain.
If you can find the Gecko on sale, our testers think it makes for a great cragging shoe. With above-average climbing ability and durability, we really enjoyed using this shoe on a daily basis. For a more supportive shoe at an incredibly reasonable price, check out our Best Buy Award winner, the Boulder X.
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Most recent review: November 17, 2017
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