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.

History
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...


Basic
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.

Rubber
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.

Performance
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.

Pros:
Versatile
Precise
Well made
Excellent fit for wider feet

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

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

I recently reviewed the Booster S.  http://www.montanabouldering.com/2015/05/the-steep-climbing-weapon-scarpa.html  If you are interested in something that is softer and built more for the steeps.  This Booster S might be worth checking out.

L8ers,
Patrick




13 comments:

Robert Eisler said...

Hello,

Any feedback on the boostics? are you still using them? How are they after a longer period? Any complaints?

podenbeck said...

I really like the shoes a lot. I have used them for just about everything. And the continue to be very comfortable for a wide foot. Excellent edging shoe even after climbing on them for months. I have not been super impressed with them on cracks because they are kindof blunt nosed (from top to bottom) and the lower velcro strap but that is to be expected.

I have just recently picked up a pair of the Instinct VS. Thinking that they are gonna be better in cracks. This shoe is much different than the Boostic in how it feels and what it excels at. It is certainly not as blunt nosed. Quite painful break in for me. I plan on doing a review on the Instinct VS as well here soon.

I still use the Boostics for sure great shoe for the arsenal especially for edging on vertical to overhanging. The comfort out of the box and performance are extremely hard to beat. I have had no issues at all with the inner sock falling apart so the construction is great. I really have little negative to say about the Boostic.

Hope that helps. What type/style of climbing are you planning on using these for?

Robert Eisler said...

Mainly boulering (90%) and 90% of that will be in the gym. I tried a pair of Miura VS last night and a stretched/used size 39 fits perfect so i guess i would go for a size 40 in Boostics? Unfortunately i'm going in blind since i can only order them online. The other options i have are the Vapor V wich i can try before buying or Miura Vs since i know the exact size i need.

I'm lost! :)

podenbeck said...

The Boostic is a great gym shoe. I see more and more people with them on in the gym. The Boostic in a 40 should be about perfect.

The Vapor V is more like the Katana Velcro not as aggressive as the Miura VS or Boostic. In my opinion the Boostic is the best shoe out of those options with the Miura coming in second.

nykcd said...

So I am wearing an 8 in the moccasym, what would you suggest I try the boostic in? I have a wider forefoot and narrower heel, similiar to your four it sounds.
Thanks
nyk

podenbeck said...

Not sure what size I would get if you wear an 8 in a Moccasym. If memory serves me correctly I wore a 8.5 in a Moccasym and I wear a 40.5 in the Boostic but I haven't wore Moccs in 10 years or more. Not sure if that helps. The Moccasym stretches a ton though and has a way different design. I would see if you can try a pair of Boostics on or something close like a Muira VS.

Robert Eisler said...

Hey,

Got the Boostic in size 40 and it fits very well. One thing i would say after comparing it to a miura VS is that the Boostic is actualy narrower that the Miura VS.

Only uses it for a week but it feels great up till now.

nykcd said...

Howdy,
I also ended up getting the boostic in a 40 and damn, fits my foot like a glove, really great on my wide forefoot as well without any slippage in the heel.
The rubber is great. Thanks for the quality review!

podenbeck said...

You are welcome. Glad you like them they are a truly great shoe.

podenbeck said...

I thought I would give a little update about the Boostics. I just purchased another pair because I love them so much. They were certainly my sending shoe over the last year. They held up remarkably well and for a long time. Finally after a ton of use the stitch behind my Achilles blew out. Besides that everything held up great. I used them on everything. They are my favorite climbing shoe EVER.

Unknown said...

Tried a pair on this morning. I have a wide foot and was looking forward to a great fit. The problem was the arch of my foot. With my toes barely touching the end, the top of my foot was crushed unbearably. It must have taken me 10 minutes to pry them off.

Does the top section stretch much?

podenbeck said...

They do stretch in the toe box. If you want a softer shoe that stretches a bit more try the Booster S.

Kristopher Kyle Wright said...

Hello I wear a size 43 in the Scarpa Instinct VS, what size would you recommend for me in the Boostic? My actual foot size is 10.5, average width.