Used extensively by Cairngorm Treks throughout Autumn and Winter 2017/18 within the Cairngorm National Park, Skye, and surrounding areas
Like with all footwear this is an area in which individual choice is important. As everyone is built differently it is best to seek advice in store to the suitability of footwear and use this review as a guideline to the materials and features of the boots.
The Scarpa Marmolade Pro OD are a 3/4 season B1 mountain boot. On first appearance the Marmolade Pro have a lot going on with plenty of different features and fabrics used throughout. Scarpa claim the Marmolade Pro OD to be a light boot with an upper in suede leather and L-Tech inserts, made with the Sock-Fit XT by Scarpa construction system on a special last designed for trekking. The side of the upper has a thermo-embossed exoskeleton that provides the feet with more lateral support.
As you hold the boot they are respectfully light, weighing in at around 658g per boot (size 9) this is around mid range weight for a B1 boot. They are semi-ridged meaning that they should be suitable for the upcoming Autumn/Winter season with being able to accommodate a C1 crampon for basic winter walking on snow and ice. Compared to my usual B1 boot they certainly offer a lot more features with the Sock-Fit XT feature instantly standing out as an area of interest with lots of padding that feels very soft and comfortable to the touch. The style of the boot follows its technical identity but also carries a simpler approach in terms of colour, which is a nice balance.
As with all boots giving them time to 'wear in' is important before any big expedition. We found the Scarpa Marmolade Pro OD to take a considerable amount of time and something to note if looking to purchase. The overall comfort straight out of the box is excellent but there was an area at the back of the ankle that continued to be sore until after around 3 weeks wearing in. This will differ from person to person but I can happily say after this initial period the boots have been extremely comfortable throughout. So now it's time to take them out into the Scottish hills and find out how they perform in their intended environment.
The best place to begin is with the comfort and support of the boot. As with all Scarpa footwear the Marmolade's won't let you down in terms of comfort. The Sock-Fit XT unites the suede upper to the tongue as a complete piece, with the memory foam hugging the foot giving movement and support when needed without feeling constricting, especially around the tongue and ankle. On differing terrain the foot didn't slip or lift at the heel, this is especially good when tackling tricky boulder fields that we find a lot throughout the Cairngorms. The lacing system offers a variety of options to fit an individual's needs, connecting to the suede leather upper through a thermo-embossed exoskeleton (visible on the boot) that provides the feet with more lateral support. Althougha slight issue we found was that laces are much longer than the boots require and also over the course of the day often loosened around the ankles which could become a bit annoying.
The suede upper appears to be very tough wearing material although when wet doesn't dry out easily unless walking in areas free of moisture. On first appearance the boots gave the impression that the waterproofing was poor although on further inspection socks do remain dry. This is testament to the Out-Dry and Cocona Breathable Waterproof linings that claims to be 50% more breathable than competitors. When walking a full day through lower wetter areas the boots do hold moisture and socks would be damp, for use within the colder months this became a bit of n issue as the moisture would cool or freeze resulting in a cold foot or reduced breathability. The Scarpa Marmolade Pro OD are then better suited to high rocky environments which is further emphasised when looking into other aspects of the boot.
A full rand gives good protection from scrapes and wear against hard rocky surfaces with extra randing on the toe area which further reduces wear and provides extra grip when finding toe placements on scrambles. The heel of the boot further incorporates this high rand with extra rubber protection keeping the lower boot well protected and supportive, whilst mitigating a change in shape and reduced wear. After 6 months of heavy use the Marmolade Pro have shown little signs of wear and have only continued to offer improved comfort. The Vibram sole which although offers suitable grip on the muddy lower levels certainly improved when moving onto rocky ground. Lugs are deep and well spaced with the extra support in the heel providing a solid stance when descending on steep ground. On wet rock grip is excellent giving us confidence in the Marmolade Pro's stability and support.
We further tested the Marmolade's ability by adding a pair of C1 crampons to see how they could handle life with basic winter walking. Being a lighter pair of boots, without crampons on bare snow and ice they don't fair up too well. Kicking steps becoming hard work over long distances. With a pair of crampons added they offer enough rigidity for basic winter walking although on steeper ground they did start to show their limits.
It's hard to find much not to like about Scarpa's Marmolade Pro OD but equally it's hard to find their place when comparing them to a boot with a dedicated area of speciality. For ourselves a B1 boot is a good all rounder, a boot to take on an expedition with varying terrain and conditions, or suited for someone who wants to rely on a 'one type fits all' boot for all year use. We would class the Marmolade Pro OD's as being a fantastic boot for anyone wanting stability, decent waterproofness and breathability, for use throughout the UK's mountains without pushing the limits in winter. They certainly excel in rocker terrain rather than in lower wetter environments, and with excellent build quality will become great companions, only getting more comfortable with each wear.
Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...