UKC

Scarpa Ribelle Run Review

In 2006 Scarpa headhunted legendary climbing shoe designer Heinz Mariacher to take control of their rock shoe range. At the time they were a good brand with a solid reputation, but in the 15 years that have followed their rise to greatness has been stratospheric. However, on the running side things have been slower, and the range seemed to lack overall vision. That may now have changed. In 2020 Scarpa took on Marco de Gasperi, five times winner of the World Mountain Running Championship, with the aim 'do a Heinz' and make something truly brilliant out of Scarpa's running range. I guess the big question is whether he has yet managed that, and in this review we'll be looking to answer that whilst taking a closer look at one of the key models in the range - the Ribelle Run.

Intended Use

The Ribelle name will be familiar to many as a result of Scarpa's pre-existing line of lightweight mountaineering boots, which have represented the absolute cutting edge in terms of technical mountain footwear some many years now:

The Ribelle Run this takes some of that DNA, but gives it a twist in order to make it more applicable to the sub-alpine environment. What you get is an unashamedly technical shoe, designed for rough and rocky terrain, but with enough cushioning to get you between that and the more manicured tracks and trails that exist between it.

The Ribelle Run in use on the Kentmere Horseshoe  © UKC Gear
The Ribelle Run in use on the Kentmere Horseshoe
© UKC Gear

It's capable of doing a wide variety distances too. I've worn it for quick ups and downs, but also for multi-hour runs across the fells. It's maybe not the absolute lightest for race day, and neither has it got the whopping stack height and cushioning you'd expect from an ultra distance trail shoe, but instead it fits somewhere in the middle, which is quite an attractive area if you want a shoe that's capable of doing a bit of everything.

Weight

It's light, but not super light, coming in at 610g for my pair of size 43. As such, it could be used either as a lighter weight training shoe or a heavier weight racing shoe. Either way, it'd work…

Fit

The first thing I would mention is sizing. Ordinarily I would expect to size up with a running shoe, maybe by half a size to a size depending on the shoe. With the Ribelle Run I would warn against going overboard, as it feels quite generous in terms of both its sizing and its fit, and it's probably worth going with your standard street shoe size at least to begin with, then go up (or potentially even down) from there.

While the shoe is available for both men (40-48) and women (36-42), Mountain Boot Company - Scarpa's UK distributor - aren't importing half sizes, which may make getting a precise fit quite tricky for some. A single European size equates to 3/4 of a UK size, and that doesn't give you much fine tuning.

I'm a 43 in street shoes, but tend to be a 44 in running shoes. Whilst I ended up settling for the 43, 'settled' is the key word, as it's not quite the perfect fit that I would have hoped for - or that I think I would have got by going for a 42.5. This has undoubtedly affected my experience whilst using the shoe, and serves to highlight the all important part that sizing plays. I've tried to be objective about the shoe regardless, as the features are still the same, but it obviously influenced my personal opinion.

Another reason they feel a little larger is because of their wide fit, particularly across the forefoot. This is accompanied by quite a high volume around the midfoot. If you've historically had trouble finding shoes that fit your wide, chunky feet then these will potentially be the holy grail you've been looking for.

One benefit of this extra width is that when running longer distances it gives your foot ample space to spread. However, some may find it simply too wide. Even for me - someone with a pretty wide, chunky set of feet - they feel roomy, although this is partly down to the sizing. So take note of both the sizing and the fit, because both play a crucial part.

In terms of construction the Ribelle Run features a sock fit, which really hugs the foot. Initially it feels quite tight, and you've got to give your foot a good wiggle to get in, but the fabric itself has a lot of stretch, and doesn't (like I was worried it might) feel too tight whilst running - even over long distances when your foot has had time to spread. Were there to be a drawback to this, the material that it's made of does feel quite slippery and this, coupled with the fact that the size I've got doesn't perfectly match my foot, has led to them feeling a little sloppy, which wasn't what I was expecting - or hoping for - with such a technical shoe.

This issue has been compounded by the speed lacing. I can feel the thin cord of the speed lacing through the sock lining, especially when doing them up tight to try and remedy the extra volume. Thankfully Scarpa provide standard laces as an alternative and I find these infinitely superior.

Midsole / Sole

The Ribelle Run features Scarpa's Presa sole, which seeks to provide a balance between grip and durability. If anything, I've found it to err on the grippier side, but this isn't to say it hasn't been durable. For context, it feels like it has the edge on other compounds such as Scarpa's MegaGrip, which is used on a few other models in Scarpa's trail running collection (including the Spin Infinity, which I'm also reviewing). Its 4mm depth is fine for dry conditions, and a bit of dampness, but for outright quag you might find it a little lacking. This is not a 'mud shoe'.

The question that's often asked about any shoe's grip is "how does it perform on wet rock?" to which I often have the same answer, which is "how well does anything grip on wet rock?!?". The Ribelle Run does an impressive job of maintaining stability of this medium though, partially because of its tread pattern, which has quite a large surface area due to the fact it's not overly spiky. Scarpa have also designed it to be quite textured, although I can't say whether or not this has made an actual difference (it's hard to tell) - plus any texture it has will likely wear off with use. Either way, the take home message is that it's grippy - particularly on rock - and on track and trail in drier conditions.

The Ribelle Run features a 4mm drop, with a 20.5mm toe / 24.5mm heel stack height. For those who aren't into the numbers, this basically means you're pretty close to the ground, which won't come as a surprise, because the shoe's technicality and sensitivity partly comes as a result of this connection (the higher/further away from the ground you are, the less you can feel it). The mid density EVA midsole feels at the softer end of the spectrum, which accounts for the fairly luxurious level of cushioning. I was worried this wouldn't last for quite as long, or feel a little boaty, but I think if you got them to fit this wouldn't be a problem - it'd be more of a blessing to have something that's giving you a bit of shock absorbency on hard, rocky descents or whilst pounding out miles on flatter trails.

Uppers

Whilst I'm aware looks aren't everything, there's no denying that the TPU thermal bonded uppers look seriously, seriously cool and that the Ribelle Run is - at least cosmetically speaking - a truly stunning looking shoe. On a more practical level, the bonded uppers offer good abrasion resistance - exactly what you want for a technical shoe, which is destined to get a good scuffing. It also sheds mud pretty effectively, with very few seams that grains of grit can make their way into and work away at the weaknesses within.

As per the comments in Fit, I wasn't a fan of the speed lacing, but do like the traditional laces supplied. The former felt a little sharp, and I found myself wanting a little more precision, although a part of this potentially comes down to the fact I was having to over-tighten due to the sizing issue I was experiencing.

Summary

My experience of the Ribelle Run has obviously been affected by the large fit, but hopefully these experiences will help you decide whether or not they'll work for you. Understandably a shoe that is both wide, high volume, and oversize is only going to perform how you might want it to if you can get the fit right. Sort that and there's a lot going for them: they're incredibly well made, superb all-rounders, and capable of taking on a wide variety of terrain and a range of distances. I'll certainly be gunning to give them another go whenever they're available in half sizes!

Scarpa say:

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. It is designed for short to medium distance trail and skyrunning. This lightweight, high performance shoe is perfect for athletes who are seeking sensitivity and precision on rough, technical terrain.

  • Weight: 610g/pair size 43 (our weight)
  • Sizes: 40-48 (men) 36-42 (women)
  • Drop: 4 mm
  • Last: ARSF
  • Lining: Stretch Textile
  • Mid Sole: Presa TRN-01
  • Sole: PRESA sole with Supergum rubber outsole, 4mm lugs
  • Upper: Ripstop + Mesh + Film
  • Sock-Fit LW upper

For more information scarpa.co.uk


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28 Jan

Annoyingly I haven't been able to get a look at a pair of these but, assuming you can get the fit to work, how would these work as an approach shoe, or for long scrambling days? I'm looking for an absolute workhorse mountain trainer

If they fit they'd be great for that sort of thing.

Obvioulsy they're at the lighter end of the spectrum, so I'm not sure I'd categorise them as a workhorse, although I have found them to be impressively durable considering how light they are.

In many ways, the Ribelle Run is much more suitable as a UK approach shoe than most approach shoes, which tend to be quite heavy and feature remarkably shallow tread. Whilst this is great for places like Yosemite, it's not overly applicable to the wet/grassy banks we often find ourselves yomping up. The Ribelle Run has enough grip to deal with this sort of terrain, and the grippy sole is good enough to use for long scrambling.

Yes that's my question too. How well do they climb? It looks like there's a climbing zone bit on the toe but how sticky is it and how stiff are they? I tend to wear trail runners as approach shoes because US-style dotty soles are terrible on wet grass, but there's an obvious compromise when it comes to scrambling. I'm yet to find the perfect holy grail of scrambling/approach shoes, but maybe this is it?

I think I answered this within what I wrote above, but if you have any other questions let me know.

Understandably they don't offer quite the same level of precision as something like a Guide Tennie/Scarpa Crux, but the fact you won't fall to your death on a grassy slope is a major benefit!


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