Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Guide Gear Review: Scarpa Maestrale RS

The Scarpa Maestrale RS & Gea RS
When I saw the Scarpa Maestrale RS at last winters OR show I was intrigued. I loved touring in the original orange Maestrale, but always wanted a bit more behind the boot for the skis I use (95-118mm underfoot). I was able to obtain a pair of these prized boots in November, but had to wait until December to get the boots out into the field. So far I have used the Maestrales on many short tours, a few long tours and for eight days at the resort. Overall the new Maestrale RS is a great step forward in the high performance AT world. 

These guides know something...Scarpa boots rock!
The absolute best feature of all Scarpas is that they come with real Intuition liners. The new RS Maestrale comes with the new Intuition Pro Flex RS liners. This liner has more padding than the older version and the tongue is stiff enough on the outside so you do not get shin bang. As always remember to get your liners molded by a professional (or be really patient at home) and have the boots shell sized before you purchase. The next feature you notice is the weight. The RS is only 40 grams heavier (7lbs 4oz per pair, actual weight on a scale in size 27 vs 7lbs 2oz) than the original Maestrale and comes in at a 120 flex instead of a 100. This difference in stiffness is marked and really appreciated. Here's a video of the RS in action. 
So what terrain is this boot set up for? It has become my go to boot for short and long tours as it meets all my demands for a lightweight, stiff boot with great range of motion (Scarpa claims 37 degrees of motion). I can't say if there really is 37 degrees of motion, but the boot range is greater than my body’s range of motion. I have been riding skis that are 105mm and 118mm underfoot and the boots drive the skis with ease. I have skied crud, powder, and groomed and these boots tackled all snow types. I would not recommend this boot if you exclusively ski the area, but they are fine if you are occasionally visiting them. Overall these are awesome.  

AMGA Certified Rock Guide
CMS Senior Guide 
Colorado Mountain School

CMS Guide Mike Soucy enjoying the RS on Vail Pass, CO 
Yes, I know it’s a little late, but I was waiting for more snow before reviewing these boots. Finally, after receiving said snow, I decided to take them out for a spin during our Christmas storm and report back.

The Scarpa Maestrale RS is the bootmaker’s latest edition to the do-it-all lightweight charger category. It benefits from a low profile shell with tech compatibility, an Intuition brand moldable liner, and a tour mode that promotes your natural stride.

Out of the box, I was immediately impressed by the weight of these boots and the flashy shell design. I was moderately impressed by the color scheme. Then they sat for a few weeks while we rode our mountain bikes into December.

After finally logging a few days in them, I must say that I’m impressed. Their light weight design, coupled with the cuff’s range of motion in walk mode promotes comfort while touring. Lock them down, and they provide a reliable, progressive flex that can push the biggest of boards. Perfect for long ski tours through rugged and diverse terrain. Here's a quick video of CMS guides testing out their new RS setups.

The hardware appears durable and easily repairable. One minor point of criticism is that Scarpa consistently chooses to omit the buckle “catches” that keep things tight while climbing with the boot loosened. Easily retrofittable, but this would be a welcome addition.

I’m curious to see how I adjust to the shell’s tongue opening. It reminds me of the door on an expensive Italian sports car. Initially, it takes some effort to open up the cuff, as well as remove the liner. However, I believe that this design improves the forward flex of the boot, so I’m open to it.

If you’re an aggressive skier, looking for an energy efficient, high performance boot, this could be your winner. It would also help if you have low volume feet. Head over to your local boot fitter and give them a try.

IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide
CMS Senior Guide
Colorado Mountain School

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