Gear Review: Scarpa Ignite Women's Trail Shoes

What happens when you combine the protection and stability of a traditional running shoe design with a women's-specific design and a bit of ingenuity? You get Scarpa's Ignite trail shoes - a balanced, comfortable pair of kicks made for outdoorsy ladies who like to hit the trails. I took my pair out on trails in Delaware’s White Clay Creek State Park, Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Maryland, around the streets of Philadelphia, and mountain biking to see how they held up. Trails were mostly dry with some wet, muddy spots, as is usually the case around here in the spring and summer - perfect testing grounds.

The Ignites run true to size; the size ten fit my feet like gloves. There’s plenty of room for your forefoot to move around, but I didn’t have to crank on the laces to get them just right for my narrower feet. My feet didn’t budge inside them and I didn’t notice any sore or irritating spots. The lacing system is standard, and the laces didn’t slip at all.

The Ignites provided plenty of protection on and off trail. The midsole is the perfect balance between traditional cushioned trail running/hiking shoes and minimalist shoes. I could feel the ground under my feet, but not enough that sharp rocks hurt. They’re supportive and provided the right amount of cushion without making me feel like my feet were in a protective foot-prison/foot-bubble wrap suit like some hiking and trail shoes do. They maintained support throughout testing and I my feet felt great after hours of messing around on rocky ground.

I love the idea of a supportive, heavy duty trail shoe that doesn’t fit or feel like one. The midsole runs on the firm side, but not so firm it’s uncomfortable. They’re on the stiff side, but not so stiff that my feet couldn’t move freely. The 8mm drop makes them closer to minimalist than max cushion, but they’re still supportive and comfortable.

There isn’t a trail near me that the HDR rubber and the lugs on the strike plate couldn’t handle. Mud, gravel, wet rocks, and my mountain bike pedals were no match for the Ignites. As hard as I normally try to slip on trails, I simply couldn’t with these kicks. No ankle rolls, no trips, no slips and no falls.

The polyester mesh upper and polyester lining meant my feet breathed well in the shoes. Whether it was 50ºF or 80ºF, I was comfortable. I didn’t have to empty debris out of the shoes at all, but did notice some dust found its way in. They’re not waterproof, so I wouldn’t suggest going for a swim in the middle of your trail run with them on, but they also didn’t take forever to dry.

I'm several months into testing and could see these shoes lasting for a VERY long time. Despite some dirt and dust, they still look almost new. The sole hasn’t worn at all, no tears in the mesh, no issues with the eyelets, nothing. They’re also made from some environmentally friendly materials, which is pretty special. They’re definitely enjoyable to wear and I could see them becoming a regular part of my hiking wardrobe. 

Bottom line? I have a really hard time finding something not to like about these shoes. I’m not surprised; I love Scarpa's climbing shoes too, and I’m guessing other Scarpa climbing shoe wearers will too. However, though I’m a fan of the blue and orange, that’s the only color combination Scarpa currently provides. (This is how much I like the shoes, the only thing I can find to pick on is the color palate!) They're also a bit pricey, retailing for $125, but overall, they’re a great value and a great shoe.

Huge thanks to Trek Tech and Scarpa for providing the pair of Ignites I tested. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own, given I never seem to have a shortage of opinions! Would you try these kicks? Have you? Are you a Scarpa footwear fan? Sound off in the comments!

UPDATE (August 31, 2014): I took these out on a 27 mile backpacking trip and they did relatively well. I carried around 20# with them on and felt as supported as I needed too. However, I stepped in a creek with them on and for the rest of the day until they dried, the insoles slipped around inside of the shoe. I didn't have blisters or hotspots as a result, it was just uncomfortable to have the insole bunched up inside the shoe. I'll likely replace them with my SuperFeet for future trips.