Thursday, September 20, 2012

If the shoe fits... Scarpa Boostic Review

Scarpa Boostic
I haven't really figured out why but there are few things that I geek out on more than climbing shoes.  This is my 18th season climbing- yes I am old and should be climbing a lot harder than I do but that is besides the point. I have scrunched my feet into just about everything out there and have the goblin feet to prove it.  Most of this scrunching is due to my wide foot and most climbing shoes these days are geared for narrow feet and they appear to be getting even more narrow- I guess to make them more precise.  I have been a loyal La Sportiva user for years and have worn many a shoe from them; Enduro, Kaukulator, Viper, Syncro, Mythos, Mistral, Venom, Muira and Muira VS.  I have also used Five Ten Shoes; Moccasym, Anasazi Velcro, Anasazi Slipper and recently Blackwings and even Boreal Vectors at one point. So I have been around the block in terms of at least two major brands.

Always in the background for me were Scarpa shoes.  I have been continually impressed with the quality and materials but the fit was never quite right- then I tried on the Boostic.  I was instantly amazed at how comfortable they were in the toe box.  How could this be?  Scarpas have never fit me.  Closer inspection revealed that the last on this shoe remained wider in the forefoot then previous Scarpa models but more importantly the shoe does not loose any precision- but that my friends is just the beginning.

Turns out that the master shoe designer Heinz Mariacher moved from La Sportiva to Scarpa in 2006.  Heinz had already been at the forefront of climbing shoe design for decades.  While at La Sportiva, Mariacher assisted in developing the Mythos, Muira and Testarossa to name a few.  These beloved shoes are still in the current La Sportiva line up today.  Mariacher has been changing the basic way of thinking from "how to make your feet work with climbing shoes" to "how to make climbing shoes work with your feet."  Since Maraicher's move to Scarpa they certainly have ramped up their climbing shoe line and the Boostic is his new high end masterpiece.

Lets give these bad boys a closer look...

This shoe is a slightly downturned Velcro slipper with a Lorica/suede upper.  The slight downturned shape is one of the keys to this shoe giving it a combination of power and versatility.

The Boostic uses the XS Edge from Vibram rubber.  I have found this to be a great rubber and am very familiar with it since this is the same rubber that is on the Muira and Muira VS.  Yes, it is not as quite sticky as some of the Five Ten offerings, like Stealth, but in my opinion and experience this rubber is more durable, does not chip and holds its form better.  A nice edition to these shoes is soft rubber over the toe box for toe hooks and scumming.

Velcro Closure and Elastic
Scarpa calls this system "floating closure straps" this is done differently than any other shoe that I have put on.  It is sort of like the La Sportiva Solution with the opposing curve closure.  The flaps of leather are situated in such a way that they "float" above your foot allowing the shoe to accommodate different types of feet.  The system also includes an elastic sock that spans the gap between and beneath the Velcro closures.  This sock drastically reduces pressure points and it has a small tab on it that enables you to pull the elastic sock up to the proper location. This sock is more breathable than others that I have tried.  Especially the old La Sportiva Mistral which used neoprene- your foot would sweat like no other on a hot day in that shoe.  I have found this closure is very secure and comfortable over the top of the foot and provides a vacuum like seal.  This system is much more comfortable than some Velcro shoes like the Anasazi Velcro, Blackwing and Muira VS which have a more traditional Velcro closure.

The Heel
This has always been something difficult for me to fit as well because I also have a pretty narrow heel.  Gotta love that feeling when your heel is slowly sliding out of a shoe on a desperate heel hook.  The heel on this shoe fits very well though the break in period was a little painful for me.  Despite the initial break in period this shoe also heel hooks like a pro.  I had worked a problem for a long time that had a strange heel hook and got no where on it.  The heel in this shoe is very sticky and precise for a Velcro slipper and gave me that extra little bit to finally send.

Simply put this shoe crushes everything I have been able to throw at it so far; indoor, limestone, granite bouldering even a little crack climbing.  I have been very impressed with three things specifically about this shoe.

  1. It is an edging machine.   I was able to stand on very small holds with confidence. The edging power of this shoe from vertical to overhanging it really is precise and powerful.  The shoe also backsteps very well.
  2. Slabs? despite this shoe's downturned-ness it slab climbs like a champ.  This was quite surprising to me. On a recent bouldering session I was able to send a difficult slab problem and even a tricky no hands slab.
  3. Heel hooking- this is by far the best heel hooking slipper that I have used.

Comparison and Sizing
This shoe reminds me of a wider version of the Muira VS.  It climbs similar but is my opinion is more precise and far more comfortable for the shape of my foot and the closure system is better.  I wear a 39.5 EU in most La Sportiva shoes and I was surprised when the 40.5 EU Boostic was the same length so that is the size I went with.  After a little measuring a Blackwing in a 9 US is also about the same length.  There is also the obvious comparison between the Solution and the Boostic.  My foot just does not jive with a Solution again because the shoe is so narrow.  The Solution has a much more of a down turned toe so it may be a better choice for those who are always on steeper terrain.

Well made
Excellent fit for wider feet

Heel is painful at first
I question the durability of the attachment of the leather tab on the elastic sock

All in all this is a versatile powerhouse of a shoe and I highly recommend them.

I recently reviewed the Booster S.  If you are interested in something that is softer and built more for the steeps.  This Booster S might be worth checking out.


Friday, September 7, 2012


Hello all,

I have been doing a lot of exploring as of lately and have found some really nice stuff.  I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of these new discoveries.  So here is a quick peek at some of the blocks that I stumbled upon in the last couple weeks while rambling about.  These photos are some excerpts from two different areas.  One is right off the road the other is not.  I do not normally show pictures of just stone but I thought I would make an exception since most of these are unclimbed.

Excellent stone... and way harder than it looks

Fun block with some interesting problems

Super patinas

An amazing Dolmen.  Where are the Indigenous Elders when you need them? For more information on this subject and a very entertaining read visit

Not even sure what to call this thing.  bomber parallel cracks and about 15' deep
A beautiful seam and tall about 20' at the lip
20' roof crack hands to tips with a backbreaker block any takers?