Offering plenty of support on rough rocky ground, the Marmolada Pro OD is a capable, comfortable and well-built all-terrain boot in the 3-4 season hillwalking category. With more than a passing nod to scrambling performance, and a B1 rating for moderate winter use, it would be equally at home on big Munro rounds, tougher multi-day trekking routes, classic scrambles or Alpine via ferrata.
"If asked to offer a seasonal rating for the Marmolada Pro I'd say it was primarily a three-season model, but one that's beefy enough to dip the occasional cautious toe into the winter world"
"In essence it's a walking boot that you can scramble in, rather than a specialised scrambling boot for which long distance comfort is an afterthought"
Any footwear review should probably start with the major caveat that if it doesn't fit you, personally, then nothing else we say matters. First things first then - you've got to try them on in a shop. And then try them on again. Overall the fit feels medium-wide, and there's plenty of volume (ie depth) in the toe box too. But with a pronounced asymmetric narrowing at the very front of the toe, which is typical of Scarpa's more climbing-and-scrambling-oriented boots, the Marmolada Pro may not best suit the square-footed user. I'd say they also seem very long for their size. With lacing that extends all the way down to the toe - in keeping with the Marmolada Pro's scrambling remit - it is possible to fine tune the width to an extent, and certainly easy to get things good and tight at the front for more precise footwork. Lacing runs smoothy, and locks off mid-way so you can vary the tightness between forefoot and cuff.
With a tongue and collar that effectively comprises a single piece of stretchy Schoeller fabric, Scarpa's 'sock fit' construction hugs close around the ankle and across the top of the foot. It may not be literally as sock-like as Scarpa imply, but its soft stretchy memory foam padding does manage to feel supportive, yet forgiving. The way the tongue connects to the leather of the upper is really neat, eliminating the possibility of it slipping, or of forming an edge to dig into the foot.
Though the heel cup itself feels quite broad, not particularly aggressive or fitted, the close fitting cuff holds the foot firmly in place, and for me there's no trace of heel lift. That other dreaded boot issue, toe strike (when walking with feet pointed downhill for instance), has also been no problem.
At 1630g for a pair of size 47s (on my kitchen scales, footbeds included), the Marmolada Pro seems a midrange sort of weight for a scramble-oriented B1 walking boot. It's certainly not notably light. Coming to them straight from several months in trail shoes, I initially felt they were heavy and clumpy. However, once re-acclimatised to boot wearing they began to feel more nimble - relative to many another boot at least. For the solid build, comfort and support that they offer, I would say their weight is fair.
The suede upper has a quality feel, and gains a little extra structure from the addition of a 'thermo-embossed exoskeleton' - a fancy description for a sort of external lattice effect. As suede goes this seems hardwearing, though I will say that unlike a full grain leather the surface does wet out quite quickly on rainy days (though this does not penetrate inside). As you'd hope on a scrambling-oriented boot, a full rand protects the lower foot. This goes some way to mitigating the fact that suede and stitching don't tend to fare too well against sharp, abrasive rocks. Covering the big toe, and the entire heel cup, the rubber reinforcement offers tons of foot protection on rocky ground, and lends a degree of rigidity to the boot too.
OD stands for OutDry, a waterproof lining that Scarpa have begun to use in some models instead of the more usual Gore-Tex membrane. I first encountered this when reviewing Scarpa's Charmoz OD last winter, and was very impressed. Here's what I said back then:
A traditional waterproof lining is effectively a sock with taped seams, sandwiched between layers of boot. Over time such a lining may fail though movement between layers or the ingress of grit, while even when the lining is working as intended water may pass through the outer and then pool in the gap between it and the waterproof layer, making the boot heavy. OutDry claims to have solved these issues by heat bonding their waterproof/breathable barrier directly onto the inside surface of the outer fabric. There are no seams or gaps, they say, and hence no way for water to get in. The result is apparently lighter than a traditional booty-style membrane, and more long-lasting.
Having had the Charmoz OD for a year now, I'd say the longevity claim has stood up well so far. What about performance? Well for winter use I found the Charmoz OD was at least as breathable as the best Gore-Tex-lined boots I've worn, and less sweaty than many. Having used the Marmolada Pro OD extensively this autumn I'd say the same for OutDry's breathability in more moderate temperatures too. The only conditions in which I've not yet had a chance to test this lining are hot summer temperatures - weather in which traditional waterproof lined boots can be seriously sweaty. The jury is out on that for now, but on the basis of experience to date I'd be pretty optimistic.
Against the foot, the Cocona lining is both quick drying and very breathable - so breathable, in fact, that you can literally breathe through the tongue (you only need to try that if you're reviewing a boot!). To date I've not once had sweaty socks - something I've not been able to say about every waterproof-lined boot I've ever worn.
With a high degree of lateral stiffness, and only a little flex along its length, the sole is fairly solid for a boot of this class. As a result it feels very supportive - when traversing steep slopes for instance - and also offers good edgeing performance for scrambling. But unlike a full winter boot, the Marmolada Pro has enough flex not to feel rigid and clumpy, which is just what you want for long days on your feet. In essence it's a walking boot that you can scramble in, rather than a specialised scrambling or mountaineering boot for which long distance comfort is an afterthought. An EVA insert at the heel adds shock absorption for striding along tracks and roads, but overall this does still feel quite a hard sole underfoot.
The Vibram Drumlin outsole has a medium-depth tread, with well-spaced lugs that clear mud effectively (place your lugs too close together and you can end up with clods of earth on your feet). Grip is excellent on peaty ground and wet grass, and as good as you could hope for on rain-slick rock. Friction on dry rock is great, and for scrambling the large flatter area of rubber at the toe is de rigeur. For downhill bite, meanwhile, the heel breast is deep and aggressive. For regular use on snow I think a deeper tread overall would be preferable, but the advantage of this sole for summer use is that it is quite low profile, placing your foot nearer to the ground to give you more feedback and better balance when teetering over rocks and scree.
Crampon compatibility and seasonal suitability
The unofficial industry B-C ratings for boot-crampon compatibility are not an exact science, but they do offer an at-a-glance indication of a boot's stiffness and winter credentials. Rated B1, the Marmolada Pro can take only a C1 flexible strap-on walking crampon, such as the Grivel G10. With no ledges at the rear or toe, step-in crampons would not work on this boot. The sole is stiff enough to hold an edge in snow, and provides a solid enough platform for any ground you would sensibly tackle in walking crampons, but you would not want to try front pointing - think moderate winter slopes, or at most the very easiest scrambly ridges such as Striding Edge.
For gentler UK winter hills, or long alpine hikes with occasional snow patch crossings, the Marmolada Pro are more than adequate. However I don't think I would buy this boot to use specifically for winter walking. For longer or more demanding trips above the snowline a warmer and more supportive boot would be preferable, while the fact that the suede quickly wets out isn't ideal in winter conditions either. My personal preference in a winter hillwalking boot is a model that can take a crampon with a heel clip, and stiff enough for the low grade mountaineering that you sometimes encounter on winter Munros. If asked to offer a seasonal rating for the Marmolada Pro, I'd say it was primarily a three-season model, but one that's beefy enough to dip the occasional cautious toe into the four season world.
I'm not sure whether it's the laces or the leather, but in my experience these boots creak a lot as you walk. Hopefully this will ease as the uppers soften over time, but after a couple of months' use there's no sign of that happening yet.
A solid and supportive boot with some interesting modern touches, the Marmolada Pro OD is ideal for big British hillwalking rounds, multi-day backpacking on demanding terrain, classic scrambles and via ferrata. Despite its B1 billing I would say this is more a chunky three season model than a full winter boot, and seems better suited to occasional easy snow walking than anything ambitious. Edgeing performance is good though, so if you're looking for a scrambling boot then this one's a real contender. While it's not particularly light, for the support and protection on offer that weight seems forgivable. More importantly, the Marmolada Pro is comfortable for long days on your feet. Novel features such as the 'sock fit' upper and OutDry lining set this boot apart from the run of the mill, and its superb build quality justifies the hefty £225 price tag.
A light boot with an upper in suede leather and L-Tech inserts, made with the Sock-Fit XT by SCARPA® construction system on a special last designed for trekking. The side of the upper has a thermo-embossed exoskeleton that provides the feet with more lateral support.
Typical lacing-up-to-the-toe found on climbing footwear means that you can customise the fit depending on the terrain, making Marmolada Pro a boot also suitable for very technical trekking trails and mountain walks / scrambles. A semi-rigid lasting board ensures the right balance between precision and comfort during the heel-to-toe transition. The Vibram Drumlin outsole includes a low density EVA insert in the heel area for better shock absorbing while the OUTDRY® membrane ensures durable weather protection and breathability.
- Price: £225
- Sizes: 41-48 (men) 37-42 (women)
- Weight: 1630g/pair size 47 (our measure)
- Crampon Rating: B1
- Sole: Vibram Drumlin
- Last: BAG
- Upper: Suede & L-TECH
- Lining: 37.5 by Cocona® + Outdry®
- Insole: Active Medium
For more info see: scarpa.co.uk
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