High Gear: Scarpa Maestrale alpine touring ski boot review | SummitDaily.com

High Gear: Scarpa Maestrale alpine touring ski boot review

Fritz Sperry
High Gear

I finally got around to mounting the updated Maestrale RS from Scarpa at the end of winter — and I wish I'd done it sooner.

I had been skiing the first version of the Maestrale RS for the last two-and-a-half years and they served me very well. The new version, redesigned in 2014, has many improvements and skis even better than its first incarnation. This boot is for the expert skier that wants to get uphill and ski, with the main focus being the quality of the skiing. They're heavier than most alpine-touring boots, but then again, I've never gotten the ultra-lightweight touring fad. If I wanted to go running, I'd go running. When I want to ski, I want to ski — and you need solid boots to do it right.

After about four days I figured out the balance points and was solid on my new setup again. The boots ski like stiff alpine boots, though not as stiff as race boots. With the variability of backcountry snow — the type of terrain these boots are made for — I'm fine with a little forgiveness.

Unlike alpine boots, these boots offer a Vibram sole for any scrambles you might encounter in the hills. Many boots only offer a Vibram patch at the toe and heel, but these have Vibram the whole length of the sole. It makes placing and finding steps easier on mixed terrain.

Another feature these AT boots have is a latch to free your ankle for movement. This makes uphill skinning easier. The latch was improved in the redesign, which means the latest Maestrale doesn't have the same issues with slipping out of mode as the original model. The boots also feature tech pins to pair with Dynafit-style touring bindings, but they do not have DIN soles. I don't recommend using these with alpine bindings.

Many touring boots are made from a lighter (and sometimes flimsier) plastic. This is great for going up, but not for going back down. The Maestrale RS is made with heavier plastic where it matters: at the tongue. The tongue system is a little tough to get used to, as you have to swing it out to the side to get the boot on, but it's not that difficult.

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Inside, the boots come with a moldable liner to get that glove-like fit you want. Make sure you have a qualified boot fitter take care of this for you.

Verdict

As far as durability goes, I expect my new Maestrale RS boots to last as long as the first version, which I had for nearly three seasons. I spent 85 percent of my time in them skiing the backcountry, or roughly 70 to 100 days per season. They drove all of my skis, from light couloir skis (94 mm underfoot) to hefty powder skis (122 mm underfoot).

My new Maestrale RS boots haven't been on as many skis, but I put 50 days of touring on them last season and I feel they ski better than the old ones. Get yourself a pair and up your game in the backcountry this season.

Fritz Sperry is a skier, author, photographer and artist who has skied extensively in the Colorado backcountry. He's the author of: "Makingturns in the Tenmile-Mosquito Range," and "Makingturns in Colorado's Front Range, Vol. 1," both available from his company, Giterdun Publishing.

Scarpa Maestrale RS | $729

Sizes: U.S. men’s 6.5 to 13

Weight: 3 pounds, 7 ounces

Inner boot: Intuition Pro Flex RS moldable liner

Shell material: Polyamide composite

Tongue material: Pebax composite

Sole: Vibram Cayman

Buckles: Four with upper power strap

Forward lean: 16 and 20 degrees

Binding system: Alpine touring, TLT

For more details or to purchase, see the Scarpa website at http://www.scarpa.com.

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