Winter 2022 and 2023 has witnessed a surge in specific shoes to handle challenging terrain. I recently reviewed the La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX and now the SCARPA RIBELLE RUN KALIBRA G.
Both these shoes are very specific for demanding winter, mixed terrain and extreme condition runners, especially when it is muddy, cold, wet, snowing or a combination of all four.
Both shoes offer greater protection and enhanced reliability in harsh environments.
Built around the very popular and well received Ribelle Run shoe, the Kalibra G has a full gaiter and BOA® Fit System closure.
There are many similarities to the La Sportiva and it’s hard to write this review without constantly referencing the Cyklon Cross GTX as a comparison. Ultimately, if you are after a specific shoe like this, these are the two you will look at!
On first looks, they both offer great outsoles for harsh conditions, all weather protection and the BOA closure.
However, there are differences:
- The gaiter comes higher on the Scarpa and the zip wraps-around in contrast to offering a more straight closure on the La Sportiva. There is also a velcro cuff at the top to add enhanced tightness/ closure.
- The toe box is wider offering more toe splay.
- There is extra cushioning offering a more plush and bouncy ride.
- The BOA system offers a wrap-around the foot with increased foot hold and security.
- The drop is lower at 4mm with 20.5mm at the front and 24.5mm at the rear.
- The upper includes Polartec® Windbloc® for additional warmth.
Subtle differences but they are significant and certainly offer a choice.
Blue and black, the Scarpa is a great looking shoe and when on the foot they immediately scream that they are a shoe that means business. Scarpa say that the shoe is ideal in summer or winter, however, like the La Sportiva, as much as I would like to use a shoe like this all-year around, they will just be too hot for summer! My feet have actually sweated in -4 degree walks in snow while using the Scarpa.
It’s a technical shoe for soft-ground, snow and mountain adventures. Like the La Sportiva, I had hoped for spikes, but alas no! Unlike the La Sportiva, there is no real option to ‘add’ spikes, so, in ice, you’ll need to use a micro crampon.
Fit is superb. They are true to size and maybe a touch on the larger side, but that is okay for a winter shoe as you will use thicker socks. I strongly recommend a higher sock that comes well above the ankle and is ideally made from merino wool. The Scarpa comes up high!
Lacing in both the La Sportiva and Scarpa is superb and here, the ability to adjust tightness is done from the outside, so, there is no need to open the gaiter once running. Micro adjustment is ‘on-the-go,’ via the L2 BOA – perfect for a winter shoe and yes, you can keep gloves on. The lacing, even though similar, is different. Scarpa use a Wrap360 Lace System which really does hold the foot without pressure points.
The upper of the Ribelle Run is light and breathable with mesh, TPU and a microfiber structure. It’s wrapped in a Polartec® Windbloc® polyurethane membrane that offers protection and warmth. Closure is via a waterproof zip and velcro cuff and of course the shoe is tightened via the BOA once the gaiter is zipped and closed. It all works perfectlty. In contrast to the La Sportiva, there is additional fabric that offers some space and expansion, whereas the La Sportiva is snug, secure and sleek.
The outsole is Scrapa’s own PRESA® TRN-04 which has been specifically designed for challenging terrain. The lugs are 5mm in contrast to 7mm on the La Sportiva and quite simply, the La Sportiva wins on grip. Scarpa say that the SUPERGUM W runner will grip ice and snow – no! They work in snow great, but not ice. Studs work on ice and that applies for the La Sportiva too.
Great looks and great fit. The Scarpa is a pleasure to wear on the trail irrespective of conditions and with or without a micro-crampon. Warmth is excellent and resistance to water is superb. I had dry feet on every run. A ´WINTHERM` layer provides excellent breathability and insulates the feet from the cold. It also is designed to reflect heat in summer… They are NOT for summer! They are a very warm shoe!
It’s difficult to say how far I could run in this shoe, it’s comfortable and adequately cushioned with a constant feel for the ground. There is more room than the La Sportiva and certainly feel like an ‘all-day’ shoe. If running in mud, soft-ground and snow, you could keep going and going as the ground adds to the cushioning. On harsh, hard and rocky terrain, I still had plenty of comfort. Within the midsole is a Dynamic Stabiliser Torsion frame made of TPU. This enhances rear foot stability by wrapping under the arch, it also brings torsion control.
The grip is excellent on a multitude of terrain but in contrast to the La Sportiva, not as secure or convincing. The shoe takes a micro-crampon perfectly. I used the Camp Ice Master in really challenging conditions and the lighter/ faster Nortec Trail when conditions required. Run feel is great BUT it is never as good as a specific studded shoe. However, if fresh snow, you don’t notice any difference.
It’s a solid shoe with loads of protection. They are bulletproof and surprisingly light considering how well made they are! 384g for an EU44.5.
The inner shoe is supportive and secure (it’s excellent), and a thick gusseted tongue protects. Heel area is also great. They are supremely comfortable.
Toe protection is superb.
The Scarpa is a superb shoe that does the business in harsh, winter and tough conditions. They are so good, they make a great mountain shoe at any time of year. Even if they will be too warm in spring and summer. There are so many positives that it’s hard to find any negatives, however, in comparison to the La Sportiva, the outsole is not as aggressive. By contrast though, the Scarpa has more toe space, arguably a better foot-hold (but both are excellent) and more cushioning. It’s all down to personal preferences and in reality, you would need to try the La Sportiva against the Scarpa and make a decision. Both put a smile on my face and I am happy I can switch between the two! I have no problem using either shoe and during winter I have alternated between the two. If I had to make a choice, I’d struggle. The La Sportiva is great on faster runs, the Scarpa a great all-day shoe. You decide what you need!
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