Home »Climbing» Evaluation: Scarpa improves the Boostic climbing shoe into a supple edge monster
When Scarpa released the original version of the Boostic in 2012, it received high praise for the rare combination of comfort, support and high-end performance. The first generation Boostic was designed by climbing shoe mastermind Heinz Mariacher and has always been difficult to improve.
Although many climbers were skeptical of a redesign, the Boostic 2021 quickly suppressed any persistent skepticism. The new version is excellent.
The new Boostic was launched this spring and features an updated black and blue color scheme. It costs $ 199. In recent years, many well-known climbing shoe manufacturers have concentrated on super soft models. Recent trends have favored sensitivity and competitive indoor bouldering.
While the soft shoe movement has spawned some standout shoes like that La Sportiva Solution Comp and the So iLL New Zero ProScarpa is pushing against the trend with the Boostic.
In summary: I wore the Boostics on the smooth, slightly overhanging limestone of American Fork Canyon and the thin granite crystals and smears of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The Boostics performed exceptionally well in both venues. However, they really shone when climbing required the use of small kicks.
I found that the Boostics instilled a newfound confidence that allowed me to put weight on tiny handles and knobs without thinking too much. Immediately after unpacking, the boostics seemed to increase the fluidity of my edging technique.
2021 Scarpa Boostic climbing shoe review
While soft rubber sock-style shoes often come with a very thin midsole or no midsole at all, the Boostic is designed with a sturdy, curved midsole that wraps around the sides of the foot. The supportive construction of the shoe provides ample support and does not lose its integrity over time.
This innovative midsole is combined with Scarpa’s DTS Active Rubber Edge, which connects the heel of the shoe with the forefoot. The support and structure in the Boostic are important for generating electricity when you are on the tiniest of steps.
Although the Boostic falls into the stiff shoe category, it still manages to offer elite sensitivity and precision. This is the defining characteristic of the Boostic: stiff yet responsive; powerful yet delicate. Thanks to a thin 1mm midsole, this sacred sensitivity is not reduced too much by the standard thickness 4mm outsole.
Scarpa told us that they would have liked to have included an ultra-thin 1mm outsole for maximum sensitivity. However, a shoe made with such thin rubber would simply wear out too quickly.
There are stiffer shoes out there, but those Boostic manages to combine the support of a stiff shoe with the underfoot sensitivity of a much softer one. Compared to the original model, the new Boostic has a much thinner and smoother upper material.
A piece of Alcantara fabric is integrated into the shoe above the toes to reduce the thickness without losing durability. Alcantara is a suede-like microfiber that stretches only minimally and can withstand abrasion.
A stretchable gusset makes it easier to get started. Two Velcro strips are sewn onto large flaps to allow maximum tension and minimal dead space.
Photo credit: Austin Beck-Doss
Full length sole
Many popular high-end shoes have a two-piece sole that is split under the arch of the foot. With its one-piece, full-length sole, the Boostic again refuses to follow the trends of today’s climbing shoes.
A full length sole is always best for edges at the highest level. So this is a great design choice for an edge monster like the Boostic.
What’s more that Boostic is wildly asymmetrical. This takes some getting used to for those who have climbed in symmetrical shoes. However, the banana-like shape of the shoe helps to direct the force into the place on the shoe where the big toe sits.
To get the most out of the Boostic, choose a tight fit with rolled toes. As always, if your shoes are terribly uncomfortable, you are unlikely to be good at climbing in them. The Boostics, however, are designed to stand powerfully on tiny cargo holds and work best with aggressive size.
Fit and size
My street shoe size is a men’s 10 (US). Scarpa recommended that I stick to a size 10 for the Boostic which is a European 43.
The Boostic is small for the size, so my street shoe size fits aggressively. My toes are lightly pressed into the toe box, and my big toe specifically feels like it is being guided into the tip of the shoe.
It’s a tight fit, but I can wear the shoes for a long sports route or multiple bouldering issues without having to give my feet a break. For a high-performance shoe with such an asymmetrical shape, they are relatively comfortable.
For those looking for the ultimate in performance at the expense of discomfort, shrinking down half the size of your street shoe can produce good results. Scarpa recommends climbers who are familiar with the old Boostic size to switch to half a size when switching to the new model.
The Boostic expands into a toebox and has a very high arch. I have a medium-width forefoot and low-volume heel, and the Boostic conforms to my foot with very little dead space.
Compared to the old version, the new version is wider in the forefoot and thinner in the heel. Overall, this leads to a somewhat smaller shoe volume.
Photo credit: Austin Beck-Doss
Where and when to use the Boostic
The Boostics aren’t the best possible choice for smudging volume, hooking toes through horizontal roofs, or pure crack climbing. They definitely weren’t made to be a gymnastics shoe either.
It’s not fair to say that either Boostic is only suitable for a single style of climbing, but there is no question that these shoes specialize in technical and powerful edges. Wearing the Boostics on moderate plates or cracked hands would be like driving a McLaren in rush hour traffic.
These shoes can only develop their full potential in the terrain in which they were specially developed for climbing. Cliffs that are well-suited for the Boostic include the vertical walls of Smith Rock, Oregon and the long multi-pitch technical routes of El Potrero Chico.
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