Today’s article is for those who are looking for shoes for hiking, mountaineering or other outdoor activities, which are functional and have a unique design at the same time.
We will compare two Italian brands, Scarpa and La Sportiva, and we will try to figure out which of these two is the best choice for your next pair of shoes.
We will discuss how each brand stands out, what features they have in common and how they use the latest technologies.
As you will see, they both have a long and successful history, following the old traditions and making the most of the experience gained over the years, while laying the foundation for a sustainable future.
Let’s get started!
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A Short History of the Brand
For more than 80 years, this brand has been focused on products for outdoor activities. SCARPA was founded in 1938 by Rupert Edward Cecil Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh, and later bought by the Parisotto family.
The brand has remained a family-owned company to this day, with its headquarters and facilities located in northern Italy.
When it first started, Scarpa was determined to bring together the best shoemakers in the Asolo region to produce shoes of the best quality.
Read also: 9 Italian Hiking Boots Brands: Our Top Picks
As the demand for climbing shoes increased in Italy, Scarpa’s response was swift. Soon enough, it became the country’s early mountaineers’ favorite brand.
By the 1960s, Scarpa became the first brand from the Asolo region to sell its products in the USA.
Some of Scarpa’s products became very popular as they were picked up by internationally acclaimed explorers. The Scarpa shoes were also used by the American, Italian, French and Spanish troops in extreme environments.
Materials and Manufacture
Scarpa produces shoes suitable for various purposes. As for technical boots, those for mountaineering, in particular, are designed to withstand the toughest environments.
For example, the PHANTOM 6000 model has a carbon fiber insole, among many innovative features which provide maximum heat insulation.
When it comes to climbing shoes, they have the famous Origin Shoe, which is a flat shoe with a plush leather upper, perfect for all-day use and a good choice for beginner climbers.
Other technical shoes, such as their Gecko Approach Shoe, are lightweight and designed to provide maximum versatility.
This type of shoes (Approach Shoes) are designed as hybrid footwear, with characteristics of both hiking and climbing shoes. They merge the comfort of hiking shoes and the good grip of the sticky rubber soles of climbing shoes.
In addition, Scarpa uses the “ACTIVfit System” and “ACTIVimpact Technology™” to maximize shock-absorption and performance.
They also use the Gore-Tex technology, which today is used by most of the popular outdoor brands as we have seen. Not only that – they are the first brand to develop a Gore-Tex boot.
Other technologies which bear mentioning are PrimaLoft®, Vibram®, Outdry, HDry® and CORDURA®.
As for sustainability, Scarpa has created their Planet Friendly line that includes all products made of eco-friendly materials.
Now let’s take a look at two of the brand’s iconic products.
SCARPA Men’s Spin Ultra Trail Running Shoe
The Spin Ultra shoe is among the most praised Scarpa’s products. It is a good choice for moderate to ultra distance trail running.
It comes with Vibram outsoles which provide good traction, compression-molded EVA midsole for comfort and shock absorption, and Polyester lining for breathability.
The rubber toe offers great protection.
SCARPA Men’s Instinct VS Climbing Shoe
The Instinct VS is an all-around climbing shoe that comes with good flexibility and a construction that is slightly softer.
It is an asymmetric shoe with a Microsuede upper and Vibram technologies for the soles, such as Vibram® XS Edge and Vibram® XS Grip2.
These technologies offer a good grip and make it easier to use the “heel hooking” climbing technique.
Scarpa has a wide range of prices to meet everyone’s needs. However, it is still a high-end shoe brand with prices that usually start at around $100 and go up to $250.
For example, you can find climbing shoes from them that cost as low as $75, while in the same time you can find other designs with a price of more than $250.
Are Scarpa’s Shoes Worth the Price?
Well, we think they are. Scarpa is a globally recognized Italian brand that places quality among their top priorities. The products are durable and known for their maximized comfort.
Considering the wide variety of products offered, and the many positive customer reviews, we believe that you can’t go wrong with Scarpa.
2. La Sportiva
A Short History of the Brand
La Sportiva is a renowned Italian brand founded in 1928 by Narciso Delladio. The company specializes in outdoor activities products, with special attention dedicated to boots and shoes.
At first, the target buyers were the farmers and lumberjacks in Fiemme Valley, in the Trentino province. Later, the brand became more and more sports-oriented.
La Sportiva’s mission revolves around bringing the best to the market to explore the outdoors.
While celebrating its heritage, the brand remains relevant by using a proactive approach to business.
La Sportiva keeps manufacturing processes in check while carrying out extensive research to find ways to reduce their impact on the environment.
Materials and Manufacture
La Sportiva has developed a number of exclusive systems and technologies that ensure high levels of durability on any kind of surface.
One of the most important technologies incorporated by La Sportiva is the FriXion technology, which maximizes resistance in different types of terrain, or grip, depending on the configuration.
It is used in their trail running shoes and climbing shoes.
They use Gore-Tex too in some products to guarantee waterproofness and breathability, two key features in outdoor gear.
You might also like: 12 Best Hiking Trails in Italy: Our Favorites
As for their hiking shoes, the brand incorporates technologies such as the breathable grafts in Nano-Cells™ and Gore-Tex Surround membranes, resulting in breathable, waterproof and lightweight shoes.
Just as we did with Scarpa, in this paragraph we will put “under the spotlight” two pairs of shoes by La Sportiva.
La Sportiva Men’s Akasha Trail Running Shoe
The Akasha trail running shoe comes with AirMesh fabric which is highly breathable and wicks moisture away, leaving you with dry feet. It is designed with long distance trails in mind, Ultra-Marathons, Ultra-Trails, etc.
When it comes to the grip, the soft FriXion XT rubber outsole sticks well even on wet rocks or if you are running in the rain.
The high cushioned sole provides good comfort and support, while the design of the shoe offers sturdiness and stability.
It comes in different flashy colors such as black / yellow, black / tangerine, and black / sulphur.
La Sportiva Men’s TX3 Approach Shoe
The TX3 approach shoe with its mesh upper offers breathability and comfort.
It can be used in rough terrain thanks to its protective toe box and the Vibram MegaGrip rubber outsole which is very sticky.
The wide forefoot fit offers stability and comfort in case you want to use them for many hours. They are also very beautiful to see in our opinion.
The prices of La Sportiva can be considered mid-range. We believe that their shoes are priced fairly, given the high quality and many features implemented in them.
The prices for hiking, trail running and climbing shoes start at around $110 – $120, with an average of $150, and of course with some high-end items priced higher just as we have seen in many other brands.
Are La Sportiva’s Shoes Worth the Price?
Definitely. It is a brand that we consider budget-friendly, yet, it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the quality you receive. It also provides a wide range of products for every taste, that you can choose from.
3. Which Brand is Better?
Both of these two Italian brands are masters of their craft. With the long history behind them, they have developed their own unique identity.
The two companies have survived the competition and are considered two of the most renowned brands for hiking, trail running and mountaineering shoes all over the world.
The quality is unquestionable, and the technology they use and features they offer are loved by many outdoor enthusiasts.
But we are here to pick one of them!
So, which is the better choice?
It depends, as usual. Here are a few factors to consider when making your decision:
Scarpa’s innovative solutions have guaranteed comfort, high performance, and durability.
On the other hand, if you are shopping on a budget and you still don’t want to compromise on quality, you can opt for La Sportiva, which has a wide variety of shoes, at slightly lower prices.
If we were to compare their appearance, both brands offer great designs so the choice would be based on personal taste.
As for their fit, Scarpa has in general a wider forefoot fit than La Sportiva, as some customers suggest.
But this of course depends on your foot type and varies from model to model, so a reasonable advice would be to try a few models from each brand.
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Readers, what do you think of these two brands? Have you tried any of them, or both? Let us know in the comments.