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Scarpa Booster S - Precise, Sensitive and Perfect for Hard Climbing
Soft downturned climbing shoes are a huge benefit on steep, highly-featured routes as they allow you to actually grab and pull with your feet. Unfortunately, as soon as you transition to more technical terrain (with smaller holds), many of these soft shoes start to lose performance. The sock-like construction that made them so useful at grabbing, pulling and smearing simply can’t deliver the support and precision required when standing on smaller holds.

I’m sure that Scarpa’s head shoe designer, Heinz Mariacher, also recognized these issues when he designed the new Scarpa Booster S. You see, unlike so many other single-purpose soft shoes, the Booster S manages to provide incredible control and edging precision without comprimising sensitivity and steep-terrain effectiveness.
Scarpa Booster S

Scarpa Booster S

While it’s based on the more edging-oriented Boostic, the Booster S employs a softer midsole and Vibram’s XS Grip2 rubber. These changes contribute to the shoe’s improved performance on steep ground, but thanks to the tensioned rand and highly sculpted downturned shape, the Booster S climbs better than many stiffer shoes on less cave-like terrain. The addition of a conforming and relatively low-stretch upper and two Velcro straps further ensure the shoes retain their fit and performance even after extended use. Scarpa adds a familiar looking (and effective) ribbed rubber toe cap for hooking and scumming moves, while at the back a mid-volume heel cup delivers solid heel hooks. It’s worth noting that Scarpa has also added some low-profile ribs on the heel that should help minimize any slips during those loose boulder descents.

After a couple of weeks of using testing on steep plastic and more technical limestone I can honestly say that they’re some of the most versatile and effective soft shoes that I’ve ever used. They allowed me to easily perform all sorts of foot-trickery (that seems mandatory for steep cave climbing) and still feel completely locked-in when I transitioned to smaller holds.

So, does the Booster S have any shortcomings? Well, they obviously wouldn’t be my first choice for multi-pitch routes and crack climbing. Beginners might also be a bit unnerved by the somewhat powerful fit. But outside of these specific situations, I really can’t find any real issues. Yes, for pure edging routes, the Scarpa Boostic is a better option, but on steeper ground where you need a precise soft shoe, they are unmatched.

Try them on, and if they fit your foot, get them. You won’t be disappointed.

Check out the Booster S and other Scarpa shoes at www.scarpa.com.
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.