FULL IN-DEPTH REVIEW OF THE SCARPA BOOSTER
In the last couple of years Scarpa has really stepped up their shoe design and the Booster is another example of a high-quality shoe designed by Heinz Mariacher.
So how did it perform?
It’s definitely a premium shoe, we are selling it for around €130 on the EpicTV shop. It’s an advanced and very specific climbing shoe designed to allow you to push your limits.
Let’s go through some features:
The Booster is downturned and aggressive with a double velcro closure system holding everything in place.
Vibram XS Grip2 rubber is on the sole, and that’s thin at 3.5mm, which allows for plenty of sensitivity and softness.
The Booster is packed with features such as the PAFF system on the heel. This is a tension-rubber that runs interrupted behind the heel. This reduces the pressure on the Achillies tendon which allows for a smaller tighter fit, without being uncomfortable. It prevents the toe box from over compressing. The heel also features a different, softer rubber M50 working in tandem with very thin XS Grip 2. Th M50 is the orange strip on the heel.
There is a DTS RAND Tension system built in which helps to concentrate the power into the big toe without compromising on the fit for the rest of the shoe. Basically keeping the foot, and toes in the optimal position for climbing. It pulls the shoe into the required angle, keeping the tension and the shape of the shoe. The cut out dots allow for more flexibility, great for overhangs.
Scarpa has designed the Booster for people with narrower feet. You can see the shape is slightly wider at the forefoot, then narrows back to the heel.
The upper has a ceramic microfibre, which allows Scarpa to make the material thinner, providing a better feel but still maintain its toughness. The shoe is fully synthetic.
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Those are the features, the real question is, how did it feel out in the real world of climbing?
Let’s start with the fit as I was interested to see how that narrow fit works in reality. Well, I have narrow feet and yes its great! No air pockets, or loose spots. I’m a UK 8.5, EU 42.5 because of that narrow fit and Paff heel I downsized a bit to UK 8, EU 42. You can downsize without it being horribly uncomfortable. The toe box is designed to have your toes crimped up, and it does work, just don’t expect unrivaled comfort with this model. The shoe is fully synthetic and therefore shouldn’t really stretch. In the months I have been wearing it, I haven’t noticed any stretch. So no complaints about fit.
This is one of the softest shoes I’ve ever worn, the rubber is thin but surprisingly durable. I’ve been wearing these shoes non-stop and in three months no holes or sign of damage on the sole. The shoes are beautifully sensitive, you can really feel every nuance of the rock, or plastic holds. It’s especially good on tension style smears where you have to paste the shoe onto the rock. Everything has been designed to push your weight and toes forward into the toe box. It focuses your attention and gives you extreme precision on extra tiny footholds. Essentially it takes a bad hold…and makes it better. A true bench mark of a high-class climbing shoe.
Heel hook the heel
I found the heel odd...but good, it just took me a while to get used to it. It’s all about that M50 rubber which Scarpa described it as ‘morphing rubber’. It does exactly that, it changes shape to your heel, and the hold you are using. That paired with the extremely thin XS Grip means the heel squishes and molds to the shape of the hold. However, initially, it feels flappy, like there is too much material. I found when you are heel hooking, that M50 rubber presses into the rock, it fits the shape of the hold you are going for.
Is the booster adaptable to other climbing disciplines?
The shoe is meant to be a nice middle ground between a super soft shoe and a stiffer model. The midsole has a little bit more plastic added to make it stiffer, but this really isn’t that supportive. I think a shoe like the 5.10 Anasazi Pro is a hybrid, a 'do everything' boulder shoe, while this is more of specialised bouldering shoe. I tried sport climbing in it and there is certainly a time and a place for it, but personally I want something stiffer for longer more vertical routes. The toe patch is great, no arguments from me there it just works the way it should do.
I am a fan of Scarpa shoes, I really think they make a high-quality product, it feels like the technology that they put in really helps the climber and it’s not just a gimmick. I love looking down and seeing that precise edge. It requires a slight tweak to the way you climb but you can be almost less precise as the softness makes holds better. But if you level up your climbing, really focus on your feet then the booster will re-pay you. The shoe is waiting for you to get better, which is a cool feeling. For sure it’s a specialized shoe, but if you have wider feet you might struggle. However, if you're in the market for something high end then the Booster is for you.