My Scarpa Oxygen approach shoes are one of two new pairs of Scarpa footwear I have to review. The rather bright blue and orange Oxygen were supplied by Barrabes Ski & Mountain and have been used for 15 days scrambling and climbing along with a handful of more casual outings. I have to say they are pretty much built for the Mountaineering Instructor although they are not without their pitfalls.
I agree with Scarpa who describe the Oxygen as a ‘do-it-all’ shoe, they certainly surpass the typical ‘approach’ footwear, so much so I would say there are better models out there for simply approaching and carrying up the crag. In lots of ways the Oxygen is more of a mountain shoe with a Gore-Tex membrane giving them a waterproof lining, a Vibram Symbios sole that works well on slippery mountain paths and a very well designed sock-fit which feels secure and comfortable straight out the box.
Personally I find the compound of the sole unit quite hard compared to other Scarpa shoes, definitely not quite as grippy as the gecko which I reviewed last year. This in turn gives less security on greasy or polished rock but suits mountaineering on classic ridges or easy climbs such as those found on Ben Nevis or Skye’s Cuillin Ridge. The Gore-Tex membrane is a nice addition whilst climbing in wet climates such as Scotland, although my feet did get quite sweaty on hot sunny days clambering around Dorset’s amazing sea cliffs. I also have narrow feet so I am a big fan of Scarpa’s sock-fit technology. They are as comfortable as any shoe I have used although the description on the Scarpa site may somewhat over-state their luxurious feeling of comfort the Oxygen might provide you.
The upper is made using Scarpa’s high quality suede and mesh which includes the brilliant SOCK-FIT DVL tongue system. These elements, together, mean that your foot is wrapped in a protective, supportive and comfortable cocoon of GORE-TEX, leather and Shoeller material. There’s a full toe rand to help protect sensitive areas.
If I was to summarize on the Scarpa Oxygen I would say they are an ideal shoe for the mountain professional. Or, someone who wants to have the comfort and freedom of a shoe instead of a boot which can be used in rain, hail or shine. Ideally suited to the cooler climate, almost perfect for adventures such as Skye’s Cuillin Ridge or anywhere wet ground can be found on approach to steep terrain. The Scarpa Oxygen can be found in bright orange and blue at Barrabes Ski & Mountain or newer but slightly more modest colours on Scarpa.co.uk