A Budget-friendly Rock Shoe Perfect for All-day Wear
The Scarpa Helix is a classic neutral rock shoe that balances comfort, precision, and stability. The Helix’s relatively symmetrical profile provides beginner to intermediate climbers with all-day comfort while still allowing for growth and progression through the grades.
Scarpa introduced the Helix to replace the discontinued Thunder and added some features from the brand’s more advanced Techno line. Since then, the Helix has become one of Scarpa’s most sought-after shoes. It is a popular choice with new climbers and among rock guides who need a comfortable shoe to support them on routes well below their redpoint grades.
At $109, the Helix is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on performance. Like Scarpa’s other climbing shoes, the Helix is handmade in Italy from quality materials and does well on various rock types. The shoe generally performs better in the gym than outdoors, but it’s still a great pick for easy sport and trad routes and multi-pitch climbs.
While more aggressive downturned shoes concentrate power over the big toe, the Helix’s neutral shape spreads your weight out for increased comfort. As a result, the Helix does not perform well on overhanging routes and is best for low-angle terrain ranging from slabs to vertical walls.
Beginners quickly wear through the soles on their climbing shoes due to poor footwork and technique. If you’re new to climbing, this affordable option will support you as you learn to edge, smear, and jam without breaking the bank.
The Helix’s flat-lasted construction and slightly asymmetrical profile provide all-day comfort. Because of its unlined leather upper, the Helix will mold to the shape of your foot with wear.
With 3.5mm of Vibram XS Edge rubber on the outsole, the shoe has excellent grip and durability and maintains its shape even after hours of wear. The 1.9mm Flexan midsole provides added support for long sessions at the gym and full days at the crag.
The highly adjustable, asymmetrical lacing system runs further down towards the toe than many shoes, offering a more tailored fit. Although lace-up shoes require a bit more time to take on and off than those with a velcro closure, the Helix is so comfortable you won’t need to remove them between burns at the gym.
Scarpa also included several features for added cushioning, including a padded tongue and a soft chamois lining around the heel.
The Helix performs well for such a comfortable shoe, with good edging support and decent smearing ability. However, it falls short of moderate to aggressive shoes when it comes to precision and toe and heel hooking.
Thanks to its stiff Vibram XS Edge sole, the Helix provides solid edging, grip, and support. While not suited for dime-sized edges found on more challenging climbs, the Helix offers excellent edging ability for the price and will perform well on easy to moderate routes indoors and out.
The Helix’s grippy rubber will support climbers through smears on easier routes, but more technical slabs will likely require a softer shoe with greater sensitivity.
The wide toe box and stiffness make these shoes less precise than more aggressive and softer models, but they still perform well on a variety of rock types and in the gym.
Toe and Heel Hooking
The shallow heel cup and relatively small toe rand make these shoes less than ideal for toe and heel hooking. If you plan on climbing a lot of overhanging routes, you’ll be happier with a more aggressive model designed with steep terrain in mind.
Support and Durability
Because of its stiff sole, this shoe supports the foot while climbing and helps reduce fatigue. This feature makes the Helix a good choice for beginners as they build more strength in their feet.
Reviewers noted the Vibram XS Edge soles are quite durable but will need to be replaced with time. It is possible to resole these shoes when the soles wear out, a procedure that is generally much cheaper than buying a new pair.
Comfort and Fit
This shoe is very comfortable even with all-day wear. The suede upper will mold to the shape of your foot, making the Helix easy to break in. Scarpa also included a cushioned heel cup and padded tongue for a soft feel and increased comfort.
The Helix is medium width. While the lacing provides flexibility and allows the shoe to work for various foot shapes and sizes, the Helix will likely be too narrow for climbers with wide feet. People with Morton’s toe (where the second toe is longer than the big toe) said this shoe fit them particularly well.
Scarpa also makes the Helix in a women’s version, which is available in half size increments from 34.5 to 42. The women’s Helix includes the same features as the men’s with a few modifications to make it more suitable for lower volume feet and lighter weight climbers. Whereas the men’s version has a 1.9mm Flexan midsole, Scarpa reduced this to 1.4mm on the women’s, making it less rigid and slightly more sensitive.
The Scarpa Helix is available in whole sizes ranging from 39 to 50 and half sizes from 39.5 to 46.5. Scarpa suggests downsizing around one-half to two full sizes from your street shoe size, but many reviewers found that going down two full sizes was too much with this model. Depending on your preferences and intended use, you’ll likely find a good fit anywhere from your regular street shoe size to one and a half sizes down.
If you’re just starting out and are looking for a more comfortable fit, try the Helix in your street shoe size or even a half size up. This unlined suede leather shoe will stretch a half size or more with time, so be sure to plan for this when trying them on.
This Climbing Shoe is Ideal For:
- Beginners and intermediate climbers looking for a comfortable shoe
- Indoor climbing: easy to moderate sport and top rope routes, easy boulder problems
- Outdoor climbing: easy to moderate sport and trad routes, multi-pitch climbs, crack climbing
- Medium to narrow feet
Upper: Suede Leather
Midsole: 1.9mm Flexan
Sole: 3.5mm Vibram XS Edge
Last: FF – Flat Profile, Slightly Asymmetric
Weight: 7.6oz / 215g per shoe
Upper: Suede Leather
Midsole: 1.4mm Flexan
Sole: 3.5mm Vibram XS Edge
Last: ED – Flat Profile, Slightly Asymmetric
Weight: 7.1oz / 200g per shoe
The Helix offers a nice balance of edging, grip, comfort, and durability. This affordable and popular shoe includes some more advanced features compared to many other beginner-friendly models and will support your progression as a climber indoors and out.
- Comfortable, especially for medium to narrow feet
- Affordable way to get into wide range of climbing
- Great for gym climbing
- Not suitable for steep terrain or hard routes
- Difficult to smear on volumes or slopey holds