Fresh from the recent OutDoor show in Germany, here's what's new from top boot brand Scarpa for spring 2014 - it'll actually appear in the shops around February/March time. Highlights include a new three-season trekking boot with a glove-like fit and feel, a proper, full-on technical approach shoe and the return of the Zen...
The Zen's Back
Scarpa's original Zen approach shoe was a global best-seller, but was dropped from the UK range a couple of years ago. The good news for fans of the original is that it's back as the new, improved, Zen Pro for 2014. It gets a new sole unit, the Spider 2, featuring more aggressive tread with deeper lugs to keep your sunny side up on softer ground.
There's new EVA cushioning underfoot so it should be more comfortable on harder footing too. Other changes include new Sockfit technology, a one-piece Schoeller tongue that holds feet in place and stops sliding inside the shoe, particularly on descents. Finally the upper has lightweight 'Exoscale' rand protection. It'll retail for £129.99.
There's also a Gore-Tex lined fabric version, the Zen Lite - same chassis, but lighter synthetic upper and funky ziggy-zag graphics no less. See below for images.
New Zodiac Shoe
If you're after a seriously sturdy shoe that'll cope with via ferrata stuff, scrambling and technical approaches, check out the new Zodiac in fetching bright orange. It's effectively the bottom half of a B1-graded boot with a properly stiff sole unit complete with big, aggressive lugs and a serious protective rand making it ideal for stuffing into cracks.
It also uses the Sockfit technology and rockboot-type lacing for better hold and precison. Weight is 980g per pair and it'll retail for £144.99 - all the stability and support of a B1 boot but with better ankle mobility and reduced weight? Pass the crampons please...
New Trail Running Shoe
The new for 2013 Spark is one of our favourite trail-running shoes, with just enough cushioning combined with light weight, loads of underfoot flexibility and a low-ish, heel-to-toe drop. For 2014 it's joined by the Ignite a slightly heavier, more protective shoe with new, harder wearing, high-density rubber. It has 8mm drop compared to 6mm for the Spark and is around 70g per pair heavier at 610g per pair.
New R.Evolution GTX TRekking Boot
We tried a pair of the R.Evolution boots on for fit and they felt absolutely brilliant with an unusual, glove-like, foot-hugging sensation from the Sockfit technology used which wraps around your foot like a friendly octopus. It did feel seriously comfortable straight off.
The technology is a trickle down from Scarpa's more technical mountain boots like the Rebel Lite and uses a stretchy tongue give a brilliant, close but not tight fit. There's also a carefully engineered ankle flex zone - see images - which allows lots of mobility even though the area's decently padded. Underfoot there's an extra EVA wedge for cushioning.
At 1300g per pair in men's version, it's decently light too and has a nice, contemporary look to it. 'Pretty' say our notes... And £174.99.
All the above available in early 2014. Current range at www.scarpa.co.uk.