There are two truths with a Pacific Northwest summer. One: there’s no shortage of gorgeous, geographically diverse places to hike. And two: you’d better be prepared for rain. There are other truths, of course, but those two are among the top. They also affect your choice of hiking shoes. It’s important to find a hiking shoe that’s just as comfortable on level terrain as it is climbing, and it needs to have at least some waterproof elements. With that in mind, I had the chance to take a pair of Scarpa Moraine GTX hiking shoes through some hikes in the Mt. Hood National Forest and came away impressed.
The Italian Scarpa brand got its start in ski boots, though the company has a growing stable of climbing shoes and hiking boots as well. The Scarpa Moraine GTX hiking shoes I tested were the low-top variety, as I wanted to compare them to the Keen Marshall WP hiking shoes I’d been using for nine months. Over time I the Keens exhibited some poor breathability, which led both to overheating and some stink. The Scarpa Moraine GTX don’t suffer from this at all, likely because they use Gore-tex for their waterproofing. Gore-tex prides itself on breathability, and it totally delivers on these low-top shoes from Scarpa.
I was also impressed with the overall width, as I’m notorious among friends and family for having “duck feet.” I normally wear a Men’s 9.5 Wide, yet the Men’s size 10 Scarpa Moraine GTX fit just right. I struggle with widths on hiking shoes, and I honestly laced-up the Moraine GTX’s a bit skeptically. But not once did my feet feel cramped.
One area where I did notice discomfort was the outside of my right ankle. I’ve experienced this in a few other shoes, almost as if the rigid lip was bruising my ankle bone. Yet there was no visible bruise, nor was this an issue on my left ankle. It also only occurred when I was tackling a slight incline, not while hiking on level ground or steep hills. I’d like to call it an isolated incident, but the feeling repeated over the course of several hikes, so it wasn’t just the result of a wonky sock seam. With that said, I was willing and able to tolerate it, in part because the shoes performed great otherwise.
Two aspects I found really valuable were the shoes’ weight and flexibility. Weighing 13.7 ounces, the Scarpa Moraine GTX hiking shoes are about 10% lighter than my Keens. Ten percent doesn’t sound like much, but over longer hikes I definitely appreciated having less heft. The flexibility was nice in that it allowed me to feel in control of my steps whether I was climbing over logs, traipsing through dirt or grinding through gravel. While the Vibram soles kept me stable, their flexibility kept me feeling totally in step (pardon the pun) with whatever surface I was walking on.
For a low-top, I was surprised at how stable I felt in the Scarpa Moraine GTX hiking shoes, especially considering their weight. A high-top would be arguably better for extended climbs and really rough terrain, but during the course of a four- or six-mile hike I never feared what the terrain might throw my way. My lower legs did get tired after the four-mile mark, a symptom I chalked up to middling arch support, but that’s something that can be overcome with an insert (or just by people having different arch-support needs).
In spite of the odd right-ankle issue and my personal arch needs, I’ve been satisfied enough with the Scarpa Moraine GTX hiking shoes that they’ve replaced my Keens. The ankle thing may go away after a couple more dozen “break in” miles, and the arch support is a quick insert fix. Those are sacrifices I’ll willingly make in exchange for the lighter weight and improved breathability. Also, the Moraine GTX is ready to tackle almost any terrain, something I appreciate in the diverse landscape of the Pacific Northwest.
The Scarpa Moraine GTX hiking shoes were provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links
Scarpa Moraine GTX Hiking Shoes
- Surprisingly lightweight
- Vibram traction works on dirt, rock and scrambling over trees
- Gore-tex adds waterproofing without sacrificing breathability
- Spacious interior, even for my wide feet
- Middling arch support tired my legs out after 4 miles
- Laces are short for us double-knotters out there
- Caused discomfort, though not bruising, on the exterior of my right ankle