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Scarpa Rapid Review

Basically a trail running shoe with sticky rubber, this model excels on technical trails and easy scrambles
scarpa rapid approach shoes review
Credit: Scarpa
Price:  $159 List
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 18, 2022
66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Climbing Ability - 30% 4.0
  • Hiking Comfort - 25% 10.0
  • Support - 15% 5.0
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 8.0
  • Construction Quality - 15% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Scarpa Rapid is a running shoe that excels on technical terrain and rocky approaches, earning our nod for best hybrid approach shoe and running shoe. The fit, construction, and comfort are all similar to what you would find on a medium-distance trail running shoe. The sole is constructed with the same sticky rubber found on high-performance approach shoes, providing greater traction in rocky terrain than most running shoes. Mountain runners and speed scramblers will love this shoe for its great running performance and elevated technical ability. Climbers looking for a comfortable shoe for longer approaches and casual alpine terrain will also enjoy the Rapid. However, don't expect this shoe to climb anywhere near as well as dedicated approach shoes.
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable for running and hiking
Lightweight
Versatile
REASONS TO AVOID
Poor climbing performance
Lacks support

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scarpa rapid approach shoes review
This Product
Scarpa Rapid
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $158.95 at Backcountry
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$169.00 at Backcountry
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$158.95 at Amazon
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$149 List
Check Price at REI
$149 List
$149.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Comfortable for running and hiking, lightweight, versatileStiff for edging and standing in aiders, light weight, excellent climbing ability, good hiking supportAwesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great supportExcellent for climbing, light and compact, comfortablePrecise feel for climbing, supportive, durable
Cons Poor climbing performance, lacks supportNarrow fit is a problem for wide-footed users, major durability concernsRelatively heavy and bulkyNot the best for long distance hiking, not much supportHeavy, thin sole makes hiking less comfortable, stiff leather upper
Bottom Line Basically a trail running shoe with sticky rubber, this model excels on technical trails and easy scramblesThis shoe can do it all, from precise climbing on mid-5th class terrain to rugged hikes to long aid climbsThis model combines high performance with the ability to handle big loadsThese shoes climb great, hike pretty well, and disappear into a pack while climbingA great all-round approach shoe that is supportive and great for climbing and comes at an attractive price
Rating Categories Scarpa Rapid La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX4 La Sportiva TX2 Evo Scarpa Crux
Climbing Ability (30%)
4.0
10.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Hiking Comfort (25%)
10.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Support (15%)
5.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
7.0
Weight and Packability (15%)
8.0
7.0
5.0
9.0
6.0
Construction Quality (15%)
6.0
4.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Specs Scarpa Rapid La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX4 La Sportiva TX2 Evo Scarpa Crux
Outsole Vibram Megagrip Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip with Trail Bite heel Vibram Idrogrip Vibram vertical approach
Upper Material Mesh, PU synthetic TPU, PU Leather Recycled knit, PU toe & heel Leather
Weight (per pair) 28 oz (size 13) 29.8 oz (size 13) 26.2 oz (size 9.5) 26.4 oz (size 13) 27.2 oz (size 9.5)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Mid Height Available? Rapid GTX Mid Coming Soon No Yes No No
Midsole EVA with a TPU arch insert Dual-density compressed EVA, TPU Torsion Shank Traverse injection MEMlex Traverse lite injection MEMlex with co-molded TPU shank EVA

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Scarpa Rapid is a hybrid design between a trail running shoe and an approach shoe, making it a versatile option for runners who scramble into more technical terrain.

Performance Comparison


scarpa rapid approach shoes review - testing the scarpa rapid by climbing on the east face of the third...
Testing the Scarpa Rapid by climbing on the East Face of the Third Flatiron, above Boulder, Colorado.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Climbing Ability


When we first got our hands on these shoes, we had dreams of a comfortable running shoe that could climb as well as our favorite approach shoes. Unfortunately, these shoes just don't climb that well when the terrain gets more difficult. The sole is soft and flexible, both laterally and vertically, which is great for running, but it prevents the secure transfer of force from the foot to the rubber sole. These shoes climb blocky terrain well enough, but precise smearing and edging are not in the cards.


The sole under the toe features a flat rubber climbing zone, which is nice. But when forced to smear on 5th-class terrain, we noticed that the more weight that is brought to bear on the ball of the foot, the more the foot slides backward in the shoe, which rolls the toe upwards and away from the surface of the rock. This loss of surface area in the climbing zone decreases friction, producing a slow sliding motion as the rubber in contact with the rock shifts further and further back down the sole of the shoe.

scarpa rapid approach shoes review - the climbing zone on the sole of the rapid is a nice feature, but...
The climbing zone on the sole of the Rapid is a nice feature, but the shoe's lightweight construction limits its climbing ability.
Credit: Sam Willits

A slightly stiffer last would improve smearing ability, not to mention edging power, which is expectedly poor in this soft running shoe. Crack climbing is ok in the Rapid, but the top of the toe box isn't rubberized, so jams don't feel secure. If technical climbing movement is involved, we always wished we had traditional approach shoes.

scarpa rapid approach shoes review - the rapid has sticky rubber, but a soft sole and imprecise fit means...
The Rapid has sticky rubber, but a soft sole and imprecise fit means the user's foot slides down the footbed and the rubber slowly rolls off the rock.
Credit: Sam Willits

Hiking Comfort


The upside of poor climbing performance is excellent comfort on the trail. We took this shoe on long runs on rocky trails and always felt as comfortable as we do while wearing top-of-the-line trail running shoes. Clearly, these are designed and engineered for comfort while walking or running. On long and non-technical approaches, or whenever we just need a comfortable shoe for standard approaches to the crag, we reach for the Rapid.


A thick, cushioned sole, as well as a thin, breathable mesh upper, and comfortable lacing pattern, produce a shoe that is a pleasure to wear on every surface imaginable. From the weight lifting gym to the trails, we wear this shoe everywhere comfortably. It's also a great choice for long, easy alpine missions where the focus is on cardio and vertical gain. Our testers love this shoe on long alpine scrambles where attaining the summit involves some 4th or low-5th-class terrain after miles of talus walking and trail-banging. The cushioned sole means the descent is a lot more enjoyable, too.

scarpa rapid approach shoes review - the rapid is very comfortable on the trail, doubling as a mountain...
The Rapid is very comfortable on the trail, doubling as a mountain running shoe.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Support


With a thin mesh upper and flexible last, these shoes don't provide as much support as stiff leather approach shoes. They allow plenty of flexibility for nimble movements while running through uneven terrain. Missteps are more likely to turn into rolled ankles than in other approach shoes, but that flexibility is key to running comfort.


A stiff, rubbery material around the back of the heel and extending forward to the instep (arch) provides some support for the heels and ankles, or at least enough to prevent most catastrophes in rugged talus and scree fields. If you carry a light alpine pack for day missions and can move quickly and nimbly, these shoes provide enough support to protect you. However, they won't provide enough support for climbers carrying heavy loads. And if you encounter an unexpected snowfield on your alpine jaunt, they don't edge or kick steps well.

scarpa rapid approach shoes review - a thick cushion and rubberized toe and heel supports add some...
A thick cushion and rubberized toe and heel supports add some stability to this otherwise soft and flexible running shoe.
Credit: Sam Willits

Weight and Packability


The Rapid is much lighter than most approach shoes on the market, thanks to its thin sole rubber, soft last, and minimalist mesh upper. Most other approach shoes have more rubber, more stiff last material in the bottom of the shoe, and a thicker upper. By cutting out these features, this running shoe scores weight savings, likely at the expense of climbing performance. But for the running and scrambling terrain these shoes are designed for, these performance sacrifices are worth the weight savings.


The shoe is mostly compressible, except for the thick foam padded soles, allowing these shoes to easily pack into a route backpack for carrying up and over multi-pitch climbs. They are a bit bulky to hang on the back of a harness, but they do have small nylon loops on the back of the heel cuff that can clip to a carabiner if you're not bringing a backpack on the route. More minimalist approach shoes compress smaller, but the Rapid isn't close behind.

scarpa rapid approach shoes review - the rapid is a bit bulky, as a fully cushioned trail running shoe...
The Rapid is a bit bulky, as a fully cushioned trail running shoe, but the flexible upper still packs down relatively well to stuff into a pack.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Construction Quality


The Rapid is as durable as most trail running shoes, and as such, the foam padding above the sole is the first component to show signs of wear. We didn't notice any abrasion or tearing of the thin mesh upper, but we expect that to be the next thing to go, especially if the user does much foot jamming.


Compared to other approach shoes that use thicker and more durable materials like leather for the upper part of the shoe, these aren't built as durably. And, where other models protect their padding with rubberized treatments, the Rapid leaves its foam open to the elements, where rock and grit on the trail can wreak havoc. Our experience with Vibram Megagrip suggests that the soles should last longer than the foam, meaning resoling isn't likely to be a concern over the lifetime of these shoes.

scarpa rapid approach shoes review - rubber reinforcements in the toe and heel add some durability to the...
Rubber reinforcements in the toe and heel add some durability to the thin and breathable mesh upper.
Credit: Sam Willits

Should You Buy the Scarpa Rapid?


These shoes are on the expensive side for a technical running shoe, but they perform well, and don't have many competitors. While minimalist and lightweight, the Rapid uses strong materials and intentional reinforcements in key areas. For many users who simply need a comfortable shoe to wear around the crag and that can tackle all but the most extreme approaches, these shoes might be the only approach shoes that you need. If your standard use of approach shoes is for easy technical climbs in low to mid-5th class terrain, these could be a good addition to your quiver for more casual days and mountain runs.

scarpa rapid approach shoes review - the scarpa rapid is a comfortable approach shoe that is great for...
The Scarpa Rapid is a comfortable approach shoe that is great for on-trail approaches to sport climbing crags, like Shelf Road.
Credit: Sam Willits

What Other Approach Shoes Should You Consider?


The Scarpa Rapid striked a nice balance between running shoes and approach shoes, and if you like to wear running shoes to the crag, these are all you'll ever need. If you're looking for a superlight and nimble shoe that climbs like a dream for carrying over multi-pitch routes, the La Sportiva TX2 Evo is our favorite lightweight approach shoe. If you spend a lot of time in the alpine and need a shoe that can hike, climb, and do it at a relatively light weight, the La Sportiva TX Guide is our all-around favorite, though it's a bit stiff for running. And if you are looking for a basic approach shoe without the running focus, the Scarpa Crux is a solid, affordable choice.

Jeff Dobronyi
 
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