Julie Schoenfeld is a founder at Outsoul, working to connect outdoor guides with new clients. Julie is a former professional climbing instructor and has worked as the Director of Digital Development of Rock and Ice Magazine. In her free time, Julie can be found crimping up her latest project, backpacking and mountain biking through the mossy forests of the Pacific Northwest, skiing backcountry powder, or paddling her local waterways.
The SCARPA Iguana (men’s version here) is a tidy, low profile approach shoe that cruises on trails, packs down small, and grips rock well. The lightweight design and collapsible upper make these a great option for any situation where you’ll need to carry a pair of approach shoes while climbing. I love taking them along on multi-pitch routes that have walk-off descents or on long approaches that cross exposed rock.
The Iguanas run a bit large, I usually wear women’s size 8.5, but these fit great in a women’s size 8. The width is normal, not too wide or too narrow. The to-the-toe lacing allows you to get a precise, secure fit. I like to lace these down tight when I’m in technical terrain, and then loosen them up a bit for mellow trails.
The Iguana is a specialized shoe, designed to get you to a route in comfort, then tuck inside a climbing pack, or clip to the back of your harness without dragging you down. I really appreciated the low bulk uppers, narrow profile, and lightweight materials when I was carrying them on routes. On trails, talus, and exposed rock slabs, the Iguana rocks. I felt totally confident crossing exposed ledges in Smith Rocks, and I’ve worn them over many miles of approach trails to crags around Washington.
The only terrain where the Iguana didn’t excel was extended fifth class climbing. The mesh uppers, and minimal toe rand don’t provide a precise edging platform. I prefer to wear the sturdier SCARPA Gecko on routes where I’ll be climbing an entire route in my approach shoes.
Materials and Durability
Mesh uppers are a welcome relief for tired climber’s feet. After long days in tight-fitting rock shoes, I was happy to slip on my breathable Iguanas. The shoes felt well cushioned, even when carrying heavy loads, thanks to a dual-density EVA midsole. Vibram Reptilla MG outsoles and a minimal toe rand top out the package, providing great traction and some scuff resistance.
Lightweight, packable materials are great when weight is an issue, but there are some trade-offs in durability. The Iguanas don’t withstand harsh abuse as well as leather approach shoes, but they are holding up well to regular use in mixed terrain. For really rough travel, I still prefer the SCARPA Gecko or Crux, which provide a little more protection for my feet.
Light blue mesh with snazzy green stitching doesn’t bake in the sun, and it looks good hanging out around town or around camp apres-climb.
- Packable, low-profile design
- Mesh keeps feet cool and comfortable
- Comfortable on long approaches
- Less durability
- Not great for fifth class climbing