Field test and review – SCARPA Ribelle Run
Footwear for hiking or any outdoor adventure serves a basic purpose. They protect your feet from damage and provide grip. You may have other considerations, such as personal preference, terrain, trip duration, weather, keeping your feet dry and ankle support. Durability, cost, and weight will also come into the equation.
How to Choose the Right Footwear
There’s a lot to consider and there is quite an art to choosing the right footwear so I won’t go into detail in this review.
For me, a key consideration is the length of the trail and the environment I’ll be hiking in. A day hike on a well-constructed, grade 3 walking track is considerably different from carrying a 15kg backpack for two weeks through the bogs of Tasmania or rocky ridge lines of the Larapinta Trail.
Personal considerations might include how strong your ankles are, what type of footwear you’re used to and the shape and size of your feet. People’s feet come in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes, but unfortunately footwear doesn’t. It’s not uncommon for feet to be slightly different sizes, even up to one full size, which you need to allow for when getting an ideal fit.
For me, and many hikers, the answer is often a range of footwear types to cover diverse activities.
Lightweight gear has gained increasing popularity among many outdoor enthusiasts. For a major boost in comfort and weight savings, hikers, backpackers, and trail runners are now opting for lightweight hiking shoes and trail runners for everything but the most demanding terrain.
Back in 2019, I went out and bought myself a pair of trail runners to see how they performed as a hiking shoe. They were so unbelievably lightweight and comfortable compared to my hiking boots and for months they were all I wore. Sadly, the grippy cushioning sole didn’t handle the terrain too well and after a few months of wear, the lugs (tread) were all but gone. I hadn’t tried trail runners since. That was a few years ago and no doubt the durability has improved.
The SCARPA Ribelle Run
In September 2022 I was contacted by SCARPA, announcing it was heading off road with a new 2022 trail running collection, its first range of trail running shoes in Australia. According to SCARPA, this new collection is designed to provide optimal comfort and stability. There are three ranges of shoes for athletes of all foot sizes and running experience: the SPIN ULTRA and SPIN INFINITY, the RIBELLE RUN, and the GOLDEN GATE.
Now I must confess, and I did to SCARPA, that I am not a trail runner, but I am an avid hiker. So, it was recommended I give the RIBELLE RUN a go.
The RIBELLE RUN trail running shoe is for those who are looking for absolute precision and high adaptability on any degree of difficulty or type of terrain. An adaptation from SCARPA’s beloved Ribelle hiking boot, the award-winning Ribelle Run is a lightweight, high-performance shoe for short to medium distance trails, and is perfect for athletes who are seeking sensitivity and precision on rough, technical terrain.
SCARPA claim its trail running shoes are designed to protect the worn feet, ankles, and knees, providing precision and grip for technical routes. The shoes are constructed with lateral protections to create an exoskeleton that better protects and supports the foot, while SCARPA’s Sock-Fit technology offers a fit as a sock, giving the feeling of being one with your footwear.
It was time to take them out for a field test and see how these claims stack up.
Field test and review
As mentioned, I am not a trail runner, so this review is based on my experience with these trail runners as a hiker. I have a mate who is a mad trail runner, and he is testing out the SPIN INFINITY for all the runners out there.
If you are just heading out for a short walk, weight might not be a consideration but for long and challenging hikes, every gram counts. One of the benefits of trail runners, and a reason people buy them, is the light weight. So, let’s start with that. At 280 grams (per size 42 shoe) this is right on the average weight for a medium distance trail running shoe that is around half the weight of my hiking boots.
Construction & fit
The upper is built with Sock-Fit LW by SCARPA construction which guarantees a precise and even wrap around the foot, while still providing outstanding comfort and flex at the ankle collar, tongue, and forefoot. The lightweight, breathable mesh with overlays of thermally welded polyurethane (PU) film and translucent ripstop that seemed like it may not last long, so far it has.
The heel, with vertical grooves for support, is stabilized by a Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) band that completely wraps the shoe, providing 360-degree support and protection. This results in a solid toe box that didn’t mind my kicking into rocks and protected my toes well.
The Ribelle Run is designed to wrap the foot with precision thanks to its reduced volume fit. The Sock-Fit certainly lives up to its name and the first time I pulled them on, it felt like getting into a pair of climbing shoes. It’s a lot easier after a few wears. There is a stretch fabric ankle collar incorporated into the design with a minimal stretch tongue. In addition to reducing bulk and enhancing fit this provides wrapping and support and seals out trail debris.
The benefits of the midsole (the squishy part of the shoe) were noticed when hiking over varied rough terrain, rock hopping and scrambling along rock ledges. Even after an 8-hour hike, my feet felt like they could go on for hours. A medium density ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam midsole provides lightweight cushioning and impact absorption. There is also a low-density EVA heel insert for increased shock-absorption.
When I’m hiking on technical or wet terrain, grip is the most important consideration. Without grip, it is very easy to lose confidence and when your confidence fails, you are more likely to come to grief. The PRESA® sole made with a high performance (SUPERGUM) rubber outsole has with 4mm lugs and provides excellent grip on both dry and wet surfaces. I tested the grip on river crossings, on near vertical rock scrambles, wet slippery grass, and along steep muddy spurs. never once did I feel like my feet would fail me. When I put my foot down , it stayed there.
The SuperGum rubber compound is exclusive to SCARPA and was developed to provide equal or better slip resistance as compared to other high-friction rubbers but with vastly superior abrasion resistance. According to SCARPA It was formulated to deliver high friction performance in both wet and dry conditions, but at the same time offers 3 times the abrasion resistance.
Given that my earlier efforts with trail runners, resulted in a trail runner without lugs, I am keen to see how these perform over time. I have only worn the Ribelle Run on five day hikes so far and can report they look as good as new. Will report back on this post after a few more months if the situation rapidly changes (beyond expected wear and tear).
The Ribelle Run has a handy locking lace system that I love. There are no laces to tie and tie again when you have forgotten to tie that super special knot that prevents them from constantly coming undone. The lace system feels secure and make it so easy to determine exactly how tight you want the lace. I had no issues with them loosening up over time either. Once the lace tension was set, it stayed there. There is even a lace keeper towards the toe box where you can tuck the locking system out of the way. I forgot to do this on my first field test and snagged a couple of twigs along the way.
The Ribelle Run comes with a 4mm drop. I am sure there will be on or two people out there who have no idea what this means so, I’ll provide a brief description. If you only head out for half-day or full-day hikes, the drop is not likely something you need to consider.
The drop of a shoe is the difference in height between the heel and forefoot. The greater the drop, the steeper the angle between your heel and forefoot. For example, when barefoot, the heel and forefoot touch the ground at the same level: drop is 0. At the other end of the scale, when wearing high heels, the drop is much greater.
Drop is something that has been at the centre of attention for many years because the wrong choice – or in other words, a choice that is not adapted to your natural stride – can increase your risk of injury. A drop that is not suited to your natural stride will force you to adopt a different stride, and suddenly and abnormally increase the stresses on your muscles and tendons. In the beginning this might cause unusual aches and pains that could develop into tendonitis or periostitis injury.
So, for long distance treks (or if you are a trail runner), it’s something you may want to pay attention to.
While the upper provides a level of water resistance to light rain or dew, the Ribelle Run is certainly not waterproof. I don’t say this as a negative as I would prefer my shoes to breathe rather than keep moisture out. However, I did find that when I walked through rivers, water would fill my shoes (as expected) but it has a lot of trouble escaping. My other hiking shoes tend to squish the water out after only taking a few steps where the Ribelle Run seemed to want to keep the water in there and I had to either stop and empty the shoe or purposefully squash the shoe on all sides to expel the water. It didn’t ruin the experience at all and is a minor thing for a hiker, but for trail runners, it may cause you t break the momentum of your run. Something for SCARPA to consider.
I know, design isn’t everything but as I am a designer, I must make a brief comment. The design and colours of the SCARPA Ribelle Run are pretty cool. In my opinion, it’s a stunning looking shoe.
Before offering my final thoughts, here’s a bit about SCARPA just in case you’ve never heard of them before (which would be odd).
SCARPA was founded in 1938 in Asolo Italy and over the past 90 years has made climbing and walking footwear. Founded in the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains, in the Asolo / Montebelluna region, an area long known for its quality, handcrafted footwear, SCARPA’s initial mission was to bring together all the best shoemakers in the Asolo area toward the goal of producing the best footwear anywhere.
As trail running has become more popular, it was natural for SCARPA to start to make trail running shoes. They recruited Marco De Gasperi, the 6 times World Mountain Running Champion (once as a Junior, five times as a Senior).
And here we are with the launch in Australia of SCARPA’s new 2022 trail running collection.
The Scarpa Ribelle Run offers fantastic protection, heaps of cushioning, exceptional grip, and great durability (so far). All of these make the Ribelle Run a great choice for a hiking shoe that is equally capable of tackling everything from an easy walk through the bush to a hike with more technical terrain.
Check them out it if you are looking for a shoe that can take you on technical ground with confidence, be it steep trails of rocks, grass, mud, or even on easy well-travelled path.
- SIZE OPTIONS : 40-47 (half sizes); 48 (whole size)
- WEIGHT REFERENCE : 300g; 10.6oz (1/2 pair, size 42)
- UPPER : Mesh & PU Film & Ripstop
- LINING : Polyester
- MIDSOLE : EVA Midsole
- OUTSOLE : PRESA® TRN-01 / SuperGum
- INSOLE : Ortholite® Strobel and Footbed
- DROP : 4mm
- LAST : ARSF
- CUSHION : Medium
- UNDERFOOT PROTECTION : High
Field Tested by
Darren Edwards > www.trailhiking.com.au