One shoe to replace them all: it’s a pipe dream but Scarpa’s Ribelle Run might just be up to the task. I took them hiking, climbing and running to find out.
A disclaimer, first: despite reviewing a pair of trail-running shoes, I’m no trail runner. Thanks to a niggling knee issue, I’d struggle to call myself a runner at all. So why, the ultra-trail-minded among you might ask, am I writing about these?
The simple answer is to see if the fabled ‘quiver of one’ shoe might exist for all my adventure needs. My criteria are:
- Comfort and support for day walks as well as lightweight overnight hikes
- Outstanding traction for technical sections and climbing approaches
- Lightweight shoes to reduce fatigue and to allow use on multi-pitch climbs
- Some level of water resistance for walking through mud and puddles
- Durability and quality of construction
Comfort and support
The Ribelle Run is a sock-fit shoe that you slide on like a very technical slipper. The PRESA® rubber sole, which appears to have as many layers as lasagne, is reassuringly thick.
The result is more support than I thought possible from a lightweight shoe. I loaded up my daypack with about 12kg of weight while training for an overnight hike (which got cancelled, sadly, due to dangerous storms). On 10kms of trail in the Royal National Park, the shoes didn’t miss a beat. Approaches to climbing crags with a heavy pack or a couple of bouldering pads weren’t an issue either.
Any concerns about aching feet after walking with a heavy pack were unfounded. However, you’d probably want to have a pair of camp shoes if taking them on an overnight hike as the fit is very technical. The shoes are billed as short- to medium-distance specialists.
While running is not my cup of tea, a few 20-minute jogs showed up a stark difference between these and a pair of general gym/running shoes (Asics). The thick soles soaked up the pavement with ease and I even found that my knee issues seemed to be much improved by the Ribelle’s combo of sock-fit and thick soles. An acute knee injury (suffered while climbing) prevented me from testing these out on longer runs.
My only gripes: the lace-lock elastic on my right shoe was too short. This made getting that foot in a lot more of a struggle – just something to check when you’re trying them on. Finally, the rear loops are a little too small to be fully useable: I ended up having to use my fingers like a shoehorn, especially on the aforementioned short-elastic shoe. A slightly larger loop (such as those on my climbing shoes) would have solved this.
I sized these the same as all my other Scarpa shoes, including the Moraine and Stratos GTX and it’s spot on. I’d say my foot width is average. If lace locks aren’t your thing, the Ribelle Run ship with a pair of traditional laces too.
The traction on these shoes is up there with the best of everything else I own. Whether it was scrambling down rocks with a heavy pack or a slippery creek crossing, I never worried about them slipping (despite some slightly contrived attempts while descending a slab).
While they won’t “climb” like an approach shoe, their tight fit will give you confidence on any scramble or non-technical slab. For anything more vertical (for example an easy pitch on a multi-pitch climb), a dedicated approach shoe will serve you better.
The shoes clocked in at an impressive 314g each (size 44). For reference my lightweight approach shoes (La Sportiva TX2) are only slightly lighter at 309g each. My dedicated and much stiffer hiking shoes, the Scarpa Moraine GTX, are over 50% heavier at 489g.
The Ribelles have a higher profile than something like the TX2s so they will take up more room in the pack if you’re taking them on a multi-pitch.
While it’s not fair to compare these to a dedicated waterproof shoe with a DWR lining, I was curious to see how they held up when walking through small puddles. Because of the high soles, with a bit of care, water generally didn’t get in. When it did, my socks dried quickly.
I didn’t try them out in properly wet conditions, but I have no doubt that my feet would have gotten instantly soaked. The upside is that the shoes will also dry a lot more quickly due to their breathable mesh upper.
Durability and quality
These are a well-made shoe. After a couple of months of testing the upper, which includes a TPU-bonded material, is looking virtually untouched while the rubber soles have a few scuffs on the side. I’m impressed by the quality and confident they’ll last the distance.
The Ribelle Runs even look decent – the bold colouring (mine are orange) contrasts nicely with the black of the upper. I’d be happy to take these to a restaurant (once I’d scraped off the mud) and I’ve got no problem wearing them on short walks around town.
A top-notch shoe that could easily replace 3 other pairs of shoes in my rack. Whatever your outdoor poison, these will serve you on all but the most heinous of walks or technical of approaches. I hear they’re pretty good for trail running too. At $A229.95 rrp (as of December 2022), they’re decent value for a high performer.
Maybe it’s time to sign up for my first ultra…