ROCKET SHIPS FOR YOUR FEET! A GEAR REVIEW OF THE SCARPA BOOSTER S

Ever have that feeling that you and your shoes are not one? Like, maybe you think your toe should go one place while the shoe tends to go somewhere else? Maybe you get in a disagreement, words are exchanged, feelings are hurt, routes are left unsent and now it's just awkward in the gym ... Well these are not that kind of shoes!

The Booster S is the kind of shoe that listens and wants to do what you want do, is happy when you're happy. It longs to be one with your feet and will be there for you ... as long as you're not crack climbing ... or edging on super-crazy micro feet. It feels light and nimble on your feet — and because it's covered in XS Grip2 rubber — is insanely sticky and incredibly precise. After the brief getting-to-know-each-other break-in period, this shoe is a wonderful companion in the gym, for bouldering and steep sport climbing!

 

The Basics

Someone once described this shoe to me as "the desert island shoe," meaning if they could only have one shoe for the rest of eternity, then it would be the Booster S. As long as that island had rock to climb, then I would totally agree with that statement. Otherwise I would be perfectly fine with just sandals, but whatever. 

The Booster S is highly downturned, with a highly-asymmetric shape (so cue the penguin walk!) Basically, if you point the Booster S at the hold you wanna use, and whether it's a roof or slab, it's going to stick. Because the shoe is soft, supple and sensitive (if it was a person you'd date it), it lets you really feel what you are toeing on. If you find yourself needing to throw some toe hooks, the Booster S has you covered with a large patch of rubber that covers most of the toe box.  Finally, the Tri-tension active randing (the orange part on the sole of the shoe) helps deliver power to the toe box, making sure you can take full advantage of the shoe's super-precision.

The Booster S is made with incredibly soft microsuede uppers, that make it comfortable to slip your foot into, even after days of bouldering and hiking around.  The two velcro straps allow for a good amount of adjustability, which you can crank down when you need more support or leave loose when warming up. The whole build of the shoe lends itself to be an incredibly light and nimble shoe, which combined with the precise toe, made these shoes a delight to wear while playing around on rocks. 

Features and Specs

  • 1/3 length sole - This puts rubber only where you need it — under the toes — and of course some on the heel for those times you wanna get fancy with that foot beta. Reducing the amount of rubber also helps keep the Booster S in the lightweight class.
  • 3.5mm XS Grip2 sole - This rubber is soft and sticky, while being thin enough to allow for max sensitivity. 
  • Tri-Tension Randing - Think of a Thera-band that has been stretched and then glued to your shoe. It helps store energy and deliver power when you need it. Or as Scarpa puts it
"To create these active rands, Italian craftsmen working by hand pre-stretch shapes of die-cut rubber around the shoe to create structure. This specialized application process of rands surrounds the foot on the exterior of a rock shoe, as well as underfoot (beneath the sole), and it helps to spring load the shoe with elasticity, which is then stored within its structure. Basically, this stores energy in the shoe, which is then “released back” and the wearer makes movements climbing."

Fit

I will start by saying I have never been a big proponent of insanely tight shoes, because there really is no direct correlation between that pain and your performance. With that being said, high performance shoes still need to be pretty snug, otherwise you do lose some of the effectiveness.  When it comes to this shoe, I was a little worried as it started to break in that it was going to be "too comfortable" and that I would lose some of the performance I was looking for in this shoe. But as it begin to break in, I noticed that didn't have that overwhelming urge to pop my shoes off every few goes or so. But the shoe still worked just as well! The break in period was about 2-4 sessions of bouldering, and over the course of climbing in them for 4 months, they have stretched somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 size. Most notably, there are now permanent bumps in the upper where my toe knuckles are curl up.  

*Note that there are many variables when it comes to how much a shoe stretches, including: what materials the shoe is made of, how much the shoe is downsized, how much you sweat in the shoe, how often you climb, and the list goes on and on. 

*Note that there are many variables when it comes to how much a shoe stretches, including: what materials the shoe is made of, how much the shoe is downsized, how much you sweat in the shoe, how often you climb, and the list goes on and on. 

I ended up going with a 40.5 and wear a size 9 street shoe, for comparison.

The Cons

Cause sadly, life is full of disappointments! Because this shoe was built to excel at certain aspects, it's going to fall short in others. Softer shoes require your feet to work a little more, since the shoe will not be providing the support. Remember you need the right tool for every job — you wouldn't use a hammer to unclog your toilet, and so you would not use these shoes for crack climbing, all-day multi-pitches, and hard face and slab climbing.

In Summary

If my feet were genetically engineered to transform into climbing shoes, then they would metamorphose into these! Cuz they feel like the high-performance extension of your feet that a climbing shoe should feel like.