SCARPA Booster Rockshoe Review

It’s not often I’ve thought much about the weight of rock shoes. It’s not like they’re particularly heavy (are they? Any of them?) anyway. However when I first picked the Booster up out of the box, the weight, or should I say lack of it, was the first thing that struck me. And whilst the Booster feels light to pick up, it also feels light on your feet. Light in weight but also precise, really precise. I suppose weight should be a consideration in a performance rockshoe. It’s certainly a consideration in all other outdoor footwear. After all, heavy shoes (rock, running, mountain, ski) mean less efficient movement right?

SCARPA say:

The Booster is light, ultra-sensitive shoe bouldering and sport climbing on small edges and smears. An asymmetrical, downturned shape and a one-third length Vibram® XS Grips 2 sole creates a flexible shoe that allows more natural movement through overhanging, thin routes. The DTS rand enhances powerful movements through dynamic problems by concentrating the strength of the foot through an asymmetrical support ribbon; driving energy to the forefoot while the PAF system helps reduce over-compression of the toes and provides a snug fitting heel. 

All of this adds up to create an extremely precise climbing shoe ideal for moving with precision over technical and overhanging rock.

The Booster has been made using Vegan friendly materials and glue.

So the Booster feels light, the rubber on the sole is a thin Vibram 3.5mm XS Grip 2 which is developed to be slightly softer than the XS Edge rubber found on shoes such as the Boostic. It is sticky and sensitive, smears well and moulds around holds on steep terrain. Coupled with the aggressive down turned last, which really accentuates the strength of the big toe, this enables you to practically grab holds on steep ground and also transfer a lot of power through the foot. You don’t get a lot of sole on this shoe. In fact it only covers the front 3rd. This makes the shoe very flexible. Not in a bendy, useless way but one which enhances sensitivity and feel. This does mean that the shoe isn’t hugely supportive for long bouts of edgy face climbing, but actually new, out of the box, I found them to pretty good on this kind of ground too. They’re so sharp and precise that you can stand on tiny edges and smears with confidence, but that said they do soften up and bag out relatively quickly, so I wouldn’t necessarily choose this as a shoe for edgy technical terrain like Malham Cove for example, you’d be better off with Boostics or Instict VS. SCARPA make a lot of very soft shoes and they place the Booster in the medium category. I’m quite old skool (or just old) so they fee like a soft shoe to me.

Where I have found these shoes to excel, was on steeper ground. I’ve used them on gneiss, limestone and granite. F5s up to F8s. They work well on vertical, technical routes and smear effectively on slabs, but crank the angle back a bit and then they really come into their own. Not crazy steep (although they’re good at this), but leaning walls, tufas, driving into pockets and onto edges, toe and heel hooking, they’re incredible, and so light and thin! I’ve not used a rock shoe with better feel than these.

Some notes about fit. With shoes like these, it’s really important to get the sizing right. If you don’t downsize enough, they won’t work as they should. SCARPA say that the Booster sizes differently to other shoes of theirs, eg the Instinct line and basically you need to downsize a fair bit less. With hindsight I didn’t downsize enough and after a few weeks my test Boosters felt a bit big. Not disastrous, but for a true performance fit (this is a true performance shoe after all) it wasn’t quite right. So as a guideline. I take a 43 street shoe. My Instinct VS is a 40.5 and my test Boosters were 41.5. With hindsight I’d have gone for Boosters in a 41, so only a half size more than my Instincts. When you first pull the boosters on they feel tight and like your toes are driven in, but they soon flatten out due to the lack of midsole and full length rubber. The DTS rand and PAF system really work well and the fit is snug, but I could just feel a bit too much room in the front when they were worn in. One other thing is that SCARPA describe the Booster as being built on a lower volume last to others in the range, which alters the fit. I have medium volume feet and these feel great. Personally I’d say they feel more of a classic medium volume shoe, particularly in the toe box.

SCARPA Booster – good edging and smearing capabilities on less steep routes, but not a stiff edging shoe.

On the subject of the heel, it feels really snug and secure. It’s quite narrow but for me the fit was excellent and I’d say I don’t have particularly slim heels. Heel hooking felt really secure (something I’ve seen other reviewers criticise) and the band of softer M50 rubber seemed to work well for me (again I have seen this criticised and described as slippery in other reviews). On the top of the foot there is a ribbed toe patch (like on the Instinct VS) and this works great on those subtle toe-scums and toe hooks.

So, to conclude…

The Booster is a technical and precise shoe that works best on steep, technical terrain. Great for bouldering and sport climbing as well as the ever blossoming indoor climbing market, I’d recommend the Booster for climbers who want a precise, aggressive and sensitive shoe with a lot of toe power. The twin velcro straps, DTS rand and PAF system give a secure and powerful feel to the shoe and the light, thin materials and general lightness of the shoe, offers incredible levels of feel on steep terrain (well ALL terrain actually).

Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising or link to affiliate sales. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene and safety reasons and more often it’s in no fit state to return!

Kevin Avery is an IFMGA Mountain Guide based in the Alps. He is available for climbing and ski guiding in the Alps, UK and further afield. Contact him via the website: www.truenorthalpine.com or email truenorthalpine@gmail.com

One comment

Leave a Reply to Olympus Mountaineering Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.