Scarpa Booster S Review


I love climbing shoes. So much so, that I might have a problem. On a given day, I typically carry three pairs in my pack, with maybe a couple others in the car. As one of the few pieces of gear that can actually improve your climbing, I’m always stoked to check out new models, to see how they affect my climbing experience. In many ways, shoes are becoming more specialized, as you really need to have the right tool for the job at hand. Technical edging routes are quite different than overhanging pumpfests, and the footwear should be appropriate to the challenge.

The latest shoe from mastermind Heinz Mariacher, the Scarpa Booster S is a steep climbing weapon. My initial impression when putting them on was that I got them too big. Even though it took a little effort to squeeze my foot in, they weren’t uncomfortable at all, and the longer my foot was in them, the more they seemed to stretch and conform. Many shoes don’t feel great at first, especially when you are sizing for performance, but this was different. I actually hesitated climbing in them for a few days, as I absolutely despise shoes that are too big.

Finally I decided that I was probably just being neurotic, and took them for a spin at the gym. Climbing in them revealed that they were indeed tight enough, and would take a couple sessions to break in properly. They quickly molded to my feet, however, and after a handful of days they were good to go. Some of my other favorite shoes take quite a bit longer before they break in, so this was a pleasant surprise.

The Tri-Tension Active Randing concentrates power in the toe, and to get the most out of this shoe, you need strong feet. In fact, my big toes were actually noticeably sore the first couple days I had them on. The benefit of this is that the shoe is incredibly powerful and precise, in spite of how soft it is. The 3.5mm of XS Grip2 is wonderfully sticky and sensitive. The slimy bumps and glassy footholds of Rifle Mountain Park felt downright secure with these, allowing me to confidently feel the undulations of the marginal footholds I was using.

There is midsole only at the front of the shoe, which allows for more flexibility and responsiveness, such that it feels like an extension of your foot. I don’t know why, but for some reason I felt like I had ninja weapons on my feet, capable of quickly zeroing in on small footholds on steep terrain and grabbing them with confidence. Plus, they are bright yellow, which kind of makes you feel like a super hero, and who doesn’t want that?

Compared to the Boostics, they are much softer, and the two shoes compliment each other well. I use the former on less steep terrain, where standing on small foot holds is the name of the game. But once things get steep, the Booster S is the ticket.

Bottom line: Four out of four stars. If you enjoy steep terrain and soft shoes, these should be at the top of your list. (At least, until the Furia’s come out in the spring.) Retail is $179, you can get more info and purchase online here.

Fit: I wear a 45.5 street shoe in Scarpas, and have these in a 44. My Boostics are 44.5’s and Instinct S are 44. Like mentioned above, at first I thought they were too big, but they turned out to be perfect, I can leave them for 30 minutes or so, no problem. Like most Scarpas, they tend to be geared toward normal to narrow width feet.

Disclaimer: Wait! Before you go handing over your credit card number, ask yourself, do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, it was provided to for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!

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