The Scarpa Crux is a rough-and-tough, do-it-all workhorse of an approach shoe at a great price, earning our nod for the best value in the field. It has a narrow toe box and sticky leather for excellent climbing ability, along with a cushioned leather upper and stiff sole that combine to provide plenty of support. Great construction quality means the shoe should last longer than most. The thinner sole and stiff leather leave something to be desired for comfort when hiking long distances, and it's not the lightest shoe on the market. This is the best approach shoe that budget-minded users can find.Editor's Note: This review was updated on October 18, 2022, elevating the Scarpa Crux to award-winning status.
Scarpa Crux Review
Cons: Heavy, thin sole makes hiking less comfortable, stiff leather upper
Compare to Similar Products
$139.00 at REI
$119.19 at REI
$111.69 at REI
$111.69 at REI
Check Price at REI
|Pros||Precise feel for climbing, supportive, durable||Stiff for edging and standing in aiders, light weight, excellent climbing ability, good hiking support||Awesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great support||Excellent for climbing, light and compact, comfortable||Moderate price, dirt-proof ankle cuff, comfortable over long distances|
|Cons||Heavy, thin sole makes hiking less comfortable, stiff leather upper||Narrow fit is a problem for wide-footed users, major durability concerns||Relatively heavy and bulky||Not the best for long distance hiking, not much support||Can be difficult to pull on, rolls in cracks on narrow feet|
|Bottom Line||A great all-round approach shoe that is supportive and great for climbing and comes at an attractive price||This shoe can do it all, from precise climbing on mid-5th class terrain to rugged hikes to long aid climbs||This model combines high performance with the ability to handle big loads||These shoes climb great, hike pretty well, and disappear into a pack while climbing||These approach shoes are well balanced for moderately long approaches and easy scrambling|
|Rating Categories||Scarpa Crux||La Sportiva TX Guide||La Sportiva TX4||La Sportiva TX2 Evo||Black Diamond Missi...|
|Climbing Ability (30%)|
|Hiking Comfort (25%)|
|Weight and Packability (15%)|
|Construction Quality (15%)|
|Specs||Scarpa Crux||La Sportiva TX Guide||La Sportiva TX4||La Sportiva TX2 Evo||Black Diamond Missi...|
|Outsole||Vibram vertical approach||Vibram Mega-Grip||Vibram Mega-Grip with Trail Bite heel||Vibram Idrogrip||Black Diamond BlackLabel-Mountain rubber|
|Upper Material||Leather||synthetic TPU, PU||Leather||Recycled knit, PU toe & heel||polyester enduro knit|
|Weight (per pair)||27.2 oz (size 9.5)||29.8 oz (size 13)||26.2 oz (size 9.5)||26.4 oz (size 13)||23.6 oz (size 9.5)|
|Mid Height Available?||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Midsole||EVA||Dual-density compressed EVA, TPU Torsion Shank||Traverse injection MEMlex||Traverse lite injection MEMlex with co-molded TPU shank||EVA, protective rock plate|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Scarpa Crux provides the best blend of performance and value, making it our top choice for an approach shoe for budget-minded shoppers.
The Scarpa Crux climbs very well, thanks to its medium-stiff sole, sticky rubber, and precise toe box design. These shoes provide more confidence on dicey rock moves than most other models on the market. They climb almost as well as the top climbing performers and do it at a much lower price. If you need the best climbing performance for lots of 5th-class climbing, these might not perform as well as you need, but they're great for most terrain.
The Crux can easily edge on holds down to about an inch wide, and our testers felt confident climbing on most moderate routes while top-roping in these shoes. On the sharp end, they are confidence-inspiring thanks to their relatively stiff soles and sticky Vibram MegaGrip rubber that won't migrate off holds, smears, and cracks when placed precisely and weighted properly. We found relatively good sensitivity for feeling holds on the rock through the soles of the shoes, which is rare for approach shoes.
While there are more comfortable hiking shoes out there, the Crux strikes a good balance between climbing and hiking abilities. It performs about average compared to other approach shoes in terms of hiking comfort. It's suitable for short to medium-length approaches, but if you will be trekking through miles and miles of rugged terrain to reach base camp, these won't feel comfortable by the time you get there.
The midsole doesn't cushion very well, especially in the forefoot, meaning users feel many of the rocks and irregularities on the trail. The leather upper has good cushioning within but still feels stiff compared to other options on the market. The shoe breaks in nicely over time and becomes more comfortable, but it doesn't stand out from the competition in this metric. We noticed that the shoe is on the narrow side, which may be an uncomfortable problem for wide-footed users.
These shoes have a medium-stiff midsole that offers the support we expect from a good hiking shoe. They are also stiff enough to be comfortable over long days spent standing in aiders or hanging out on belay ledges, though they are not our top choice for this application. They are supportive enough for schlepping heavy loads, and the leather upper is stiff enough to provide good support to the top of the foot and ankle.
A rubber rand around the heel keeps the back of the foot locked down into place, and a stiff rubber toe box around the forefoot provides resistance to lateral movement in the forefoot. The lacing pattern could be tighter, but overall, they keep the foot from moving around too much. The midsole doesn't offer much cushioning, but this also means the foot feels closer to the ground and less likely to roll on uneven terrain.
Weight and Packability
The Scarpa Crux has an average weight and packability compared to its competitors. These are not the best choice for hanging on your harness and carrying over a multi-pitch route, but they fit nicely into a backpack and won't weigh you down, either. If weight is a major concern, look elsewhere, but if you need a daily driver for reasonably long approaches and won't have to carry these shoes up and over difficult climbing routes, the weight won't make a difference.
The Crux features a robust clip-in tab, so they will remain securely attached to your harness with a carabiner if you choose to do so. The cushioned leather upper doesn't compress as easily as the lighter mesh uppers found on other shoes, so they won't squish down to a small package inside a pack. In general, these shoes perform better when they are worn on your feet than carried inside your pack. They are a better choice for objectives that require approach shoes to be worn most of the day.
The Crux uses high-quality rubber and leather on most of its exterior and features reinforcements in locations that are likely to wear down fastest. They are a durable choice, and therefore a great investment, for anyone who wants their approach shoes to last a long time. We did not find any construction concerns during our testing, and we've been testing this shoe for years.
The sole is made from Vibram MegaGrip, which we have found to be long-lasting and durable, in addition to providing plenty of friction for secure climbing. The leather upper withstands dirt, dust, and rock abrasion better than most other materials, and the rubber reinforcements around the forefoot and heel protect the most commonly worn areas. Some of the midsole foam is exposed, but we didn't notice uncommon wear to the foam during our test period. After years of climbing and hiking in these shoes, we can confidently say that they last a long time. This makes them a great long-term investment, and coupled with their attractive price, these shoes are a great value.
Should You Buy The Scarpa Crux?
A solid all-around performer, the Crux also costs less than most of its competitors and is the highest-performing approach shoe for the price. Budget-minded users looking for a great approach shoe should look no further, as this pair nearly matches the performance of the best options on the market, and costs a lot less. Great durability means these shoes are a reliable long-term investment. There are more specialized options on the market, but few come close to providing as much versatility, and none do it for less money. That said, if you need a high-performance approach shoe for climbing low to mid-5th class terrain, or need a lightweight shoe for carrying up and over difficult multi-pitch rock climbing routes, we recommend you check out a more niche option.
What Other Approach Shoes Should You Consider?
If the versatility of these shoes appeals to you, but you aren't limited by budget, the La Sportiva TX Guide is our favorite all-around approach shoe, offering more climbing performance and a lower weight than the Scarpa Crux. If technical climbing ability is less important to you, and hiking comfort is needed, the Scarpa Rapid is an excellent running shoe and approach shoe hybrid. If you have wide feet and want great all-around performance, we'd recommend the Salewa Wildfire 2, which is a very similar shoe, with even more hiking comfort, that accommodates wide feet.
— Jeff Dobronyi & Matt Bento
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More