Scarpa redesigned their most popular shoes this year, with a new model to cover each style of climbing. I had the chance to try out their super-downturned bouldering and steep sport shoe (Instinct VS) and their slightly downturned, sensitive performance shoe (Vapor V). This time I round out the trilogy with a review of their flat-lasted trad shoe, the Techno X.
Reviewed by Drew Thayer, Senior Contributor
The idea behind the Techno X is a shoe that can edge powerfully while remaining comfortable and supportive enough for day-long climbs. While they nailed the comfortable part, this shoe isn’t a top performer for me and is best suited for moderate climbs that require more jamming and smearing than edging.
Structure: Edging power is basically achieved in two ways: an aggressive down-turn binds the structure of the foot into a ‘claw’ that delivers power to the toe (e.g. Scarpa Instinct and Vapor V, La Sportiva Solution or Miura Velcro); or a stiff rand and last transfer pressure from the ankle to the toe (e.g. TC Pro, Five Ten Anasazi). The Techno X employs the latter strategy, with a technology they call Bi-Tension rand, to support the foot and create edging power without a down-turn.
Performance: I like wearing this shoe on moderate crack climbs at Vedauwoo when I’m mostly foot jamming, but I feel insecure on anything with powerful edging, and the toe is too blunt to gain purchase in thin finger-cracks.
I am unable to hold a really thin edge in this shoe. The toe has a slight upward turn, which actually puts uncomfortable pressure on the ball of my foot instead of at the apex of the toe, where I want it. I’d like these to be just slightly downturned, but this could be a foot-shape issue. After all, Tommy Caldwell climbs 5.14 wearing shoes that are basically flat…
For my skinny feet, La Sportiva’s stiff shoes (e.g. Katana Lace, TC Pro) with P3 platform and leather uppers work better for a combination of comfort and edging.
Fit: I wear 41.5 in the down-turned Scarpa shoes, but the Techno X in this size is a bit too tight. Since the shoe is designed to transfer pressure through the last, not your foot, a really tight fit isn’t as important. If you’re used to Scarpa’s aggressive shoes, you can safely go a half size up for a comfortable fit. Since it’s made of synthetic leather this shoe will not stretch appreciably, and will not conform to your feet like all-leather shoes.
Crack specific designs: A stiff rand, padding on the metatarsals (long bones next to the laces), and laces protected from cutting make this a durable crack climbing shoe. 4 mm Vibram XS Edge rubber, used on most high-performance crack shoes, is a good compromise between stick and durability. This shoe is designed to stand up to long-term crack climbing abuse.
Heel is best for slabs: The heel basically comes straight up to the ankle, so it doesn’t offer much purchase on a heel hook, but is quite gentle on the Achilles tendon while slab climbing. I wouldn’t say this is a ‘slab shoe’, but having experienced excruciating ankle pain while wearing aggressive-heel shoes on slabby routes like Crest Jewell in Yosemite, I would wear this shoe next time and have a lot more fun.
Bottom line: This is a well-constructed moderate crack climbing shoe which will take a lot of abuse. If sized right (more roomy than a sporty shoe) you can wear it all day with happy feet. I wouldn’t try routes with heel hooks, thin pockets, steep roofs, or dime-edges, but this isn’t a face climbing shoe. At $155 it’s on the high end for moderately priced, stiff laced shoes, which range from $140 to $160. Given the cost and its jamming and slab performance, it’s a good choice for climbers logging a lot of days on long moderate traditional climbs who want a shoe that will last several seasons. I’d take these up classic jam-fests like Serenity-Sons in Yosemite or The Cruise in the Black Canyon and have a good time, but try them on first… all-leather classics like the Mythos might be more comfortable for some feet.
Scarpa Techno X on backcountry.com
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