Scarpa Mescalito approach shoe review

Scarpa’s Mescalito shoes are a ideal for anyone looking to spice up their hikes with some scrambling, or even rock climbing – here’s how they performed

T3 Platinum Award
Man wearing Scarpa Mescalito approach shoes in a shallow stream
(Image credit: Scarpa)
T3 Verdict

Scarpa's Mescalito approach shoes will keep you sure-footed when tackling rocky, rugged terrain. If you're staying on the flat then a less stiff shoe may suit you better, but the toe protection, grippy rubber and breathable suede will help you keep your cool when the exposure gets scary.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Stiff in the right places

  • +

    Super-sticky rubber sole

  • +

    Foot-forming suede upper

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Lack of deep lugs for mud

  • -

    Upper isn't wipe-clean

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The Scarpa Mescalito is a shoe designed to be at home up high, for technical scrambling, or long approaches. It’s aimed at anyone looking to go off the beaten trail, or to add some rocky terrain to their walking, and is towards the top of Scarpa's range, but below the heavier GTX version. 

Not sure if you need these or would be better off with another shoe from our best men's walking shoe picks? Read our handy guide for anyone asking themselves: what are approach shoes?

Scarpa Mescalito review: design & performance

The Scarpa Mescalito uses the Vibram Dynamis technology which reduces weight (780g per pair) and is backed up with a bi-density midsole for added cushioning, making it more comfortable over longer distances, not something you can say for all approach shoes. 

The upper is water-resistant suede that does form to my foot over time, for an individual fit without stretch, although it’s not the easiest to clean if you get it clogged with mud. The outsole is the outstandingly grippy Vibram MegaGrip and additional rubber covers the toes and the sides of the foot for added protection and grip. 

I have used this approach shoe in varying conditions and terrain and it’s never let me down. Part of going rock climbing is the walking around you do to find the routes, often on loose rock and among unyielding boulders. The grippy sole and rubber around the toes enable you to jam your foot into cracks and feel confident when scrambling up rock. 

The sole is stiff enough to do this while being forgiving enough not to hinder you if you’re setting off on a long hike. In dry, summer conditions this shoe really shines because it’s light while being sturdy, and the fairly shallow lugs don’t collect stones for you. The suede upper is hard-wearing and breathable in the heat, despite being water resistant. 

In the mud and heavy rain, this shoe does less well, but it’s not really designed for schlepping across boggy ground (witness the more shallow lug profile). When it comes to inspiring confidence when clambering over boulders, I’d rather take the increase in surface area of rubber on stone that comes from shallow lugs than increased grip in the mud, which is the compromise you have to make. 

What I really like about this shoe is how it combines the right kind of stiffness for scrambling, with all-day comfort and the added stability that it gives around the heels when descending down a steep walk out, after a long day (Scarpa call it the Heel Tension System). Your knees definitely thank you! 

Scarpa Mescalito review: Verdict

If you’re looking for a rugged, dependable shoe for scrambling and rocky trails duty then the Scarpa Mescalito is hard to beat for both technical performance going both up and down, and long-distance comfort. If you’re planning on crossing some muddy plain, then you’re better off looking elsewhere, although the Vibram MegaGrip sole can handle slippy dirt – just not the deep kind.

Matt Ray

Matt Ray is an outdoor journalist and photographer whose work appears in magazines and websites, including, Men’s Fitness and Nat Geo Traveller. He can find an adventure anywhere, from racing a mountain bike down a ski slope, to climbing under bridges in Edinburgh.