May The Force Be With You

May the force be with you!

The Scarpa Force, together with their Vantage and Thunder XS Edge, are specialist rock shoes, worlds away from the heavy, studded boots used by early climbing pioneers.

As the sport began to take off in the 1930s and ’40s, climbers started to take to the rock face wearing canvas plimsolls, sometimes with a pair of old woollen socks pulled tight over the top in an effort to enhance the grip.

Climber Pierre Allain began experimenting with hard, rubber-soled footwear in a bid to solve the problem; his ‘PA’ rock shoe was joined by the softer rubber ‘EB’ of fellow Frenchman Eduard Bourdineau, giving climbers everywhere the opportunity to indulge in their passion in greater safety.

The PA and EB were both made of canvas and leather with a thin, flexible rubber sole for maximum contact. The EB went on to become the most popular piece of footwear in the world for hard rock climbing until the 1970s, when newcomers to the market began to make themselves known.

Changing the Face of Climbing

The introduction of the Firé – pronounced fee-ray – from Spain 30 years ago changed the face of climbing forever, when a sole featuring sticky rubber instantly gave superior traction and quickly replaced the traditional design.

Climbing shoes are made to conform closely to the foot, with a downward-facing toe box increasing the ability to find a foothold.

As a result of the tight fit – especially with more technical models – they can be extremely uncomfortable when first worn.

Seventy-five Years of History

Scarpa’s association with footwear began three-quarters of a century ago, with the manufacture of hand-made farming boots in north east Italy. Today, their expertise encompasses a range of top-performance climbing shoes, mountaineering boots, hiking boots and approach shoes.

Climbing shoes with evocative names like the Force, Vantage and Thunder are joined in the Scarpa stable with high altitude mountaineering boots includng the Phantom 8000, built for Himalayan expeditions, the renowned Ranger and Vega series of hiking and trekking boots, and the Crux, Vortex and Enigma walking shoes.

All quality Scarpa footwear is made on a technical last, which brings individual characteristics to every boot and shoe, and determines its shape and fit.

Scarpa have a last for every shape and size of foot, including dedicated female lasts, which are slimmer in the mid foot and heel areas.

Nicki Williams is a content writer for Gear-Zone, your one-stop, on-line shop for outdoor clothing and specialist footwear for walking, hiking and climbing.

Picture source: Compfight