The Scarpa Marmolada Pro offers solid 3-4-season performance, says Alex Roddie
The Scarpa Marmolada Pro is a medium-weight, 3-4-season hiking boot. It’s designated ‘B1’ – that means it’s compatible with flexible walking crampons. While the B1-B3 scale is a bit loose and should be taken with a pinch of salt, a B1 boot is usually quite capable on easy winter mountaineering terrain. However, it lacks heel or toe welts for full climbing crampon compatibility, and out of the box the shoe has some flex near the toe. That means it isn’t stiff enough for steeper winter climbing.
The Marmolada Pro is a smart-looking boot with some interesting features. It uses the OutDry waterproof lining, innovative because the membrane is directly bonded to the inside of the outer fabric layer of the footwear. This means no seams and fewer chances for the membrane to wear, resulting in – theoretically – longer-lasting waterproof performance.
The outer fabric is made from suede with a ‘thermo-embossed exoskeleton’ (a vaguely techy-looking lattice of patterning on the boot’s sides, which apparently adds a bit of structural support). The rubber rand is great and fully protects both the toe and heel. The Vibram sole looks grippy enough but the lugs are not as deep as you’ll find on some other boots, which could cause them to wear more quickly. The ankle cuff and tongue are made from stretchy padded Schoeller fabric that feels great against the ankle – a good blend of support and comfort. Lacing hardwear is reassuringly durable and the boots lace up very easily, with an excellent degree of precision. I have wide feet, and I found the fit excellent.
Let’s talk weight. My size-45 samples weigh 722g per boot, which is lighter than many full-blown mountain boots but not among the very lightest. When wearing them, they still felt heavy and boot-like compared to lightweight footwear, but not as clompy as a boot you’d be happy wearing on Mont Blanc.
So, first impressions are positive. What about on the hill?
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I took the Marmolada Pros for a big stomp over the Lake District fells in March, encountering typical springtime conditions in the British mountains: bare paths, some boggy ground, lots of scree, and more than a few snow patches that required kicking steps and careful footwork.
The boots were reassuringly comfortable right from the start. They had just enough flex in the forefoot to allow comfortable walking on steep uphill paths, and the stretchy cuffs cradled my ankles without feeling restrictive. The grip impressed me too. On brief scrambly sections, I found the Marmolada Pros superb at edging, smearing, and just generally sticking to the rock. They also felt stable and supportive on scree slopes.
When crossing boggy ground, I noticed that the suede uppers wetted out quite quickly, although no moisture penetrated to the interior of the boot. Like all big boots, they did feel warm after a while – even when the air temperature was around 5˚C. Your mileage will vary here, but I always find my feet overheating in waterproof-lined boots unless the temperature is below freezing.
When it came time to cross snow, the Marmolada Pros impressed me. They may lack the stiffness of something with a B3 rating, but the crisp edge to the sole, coupled with just enough stiffness, made kicking steps confidence-inspiring – much better than other B1-rated boots I’ve used. The sole also gripped firm snow very well. Boots like these would be quite happy wearing crampons and taking you up steep slopes – anything short of graded winter ground.
At the end of my 20-mile outing, my feet were dry, I didn’t have a single blister – quite an achievement for me – and I hadn’t slipped over once.
The Scarpa Marmolada Pro is a solid 3-4-season boot with excellent performance on a wide variety of terrain: general steep ground, scree, technical scrambling, and easier winter objectives. They’re perhaps best thought of as a slightly lighter, slightly more technical version of Scarpa’s classic SL 3-4-season boot.
There are better boots out there if you want a dedicated option for winter use. They aren’t stiff enough for anything requiring front-pointing, although they will get you up most winter Munros when equipped with strap-on crampons. The suede uppers may also soak up water more quickly than other boots. But if you want a boot that will perform on occasional easier winter forays then the Marmolada Pro will do the job.
They would also be great for easier Alpine routes: anything without too much steep snow, for example an Alpine peak with a minor glacier crossing and lots of scrambling. While the soles proved to have excellent grip, I do think they’ll wear down more quickly than might be expected – particularly if you use them on lots of rocky routes.
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