Buying Guide: SCARPA Specialized Performance Climbing Shoes
Posted by Derek Newman on 18th May 2023
SCARPA divides their climbing shoes into three categories: Specialized Performance, Performance, and All-Day Performance. This article will focus on the Specialized Performance lineup, but we also have a buying guide for their Performance lineup and All-Day Performance shoes, if that sounds more like what you’re looking for.
SCARPA’s slogan is ‘No Place Too Far’, and their climbing shoes make no exception. There are a variety of options for nearby climbing gyms, faraway alpine routes, and the biggest of the big mountains.
But SCARPA dedicates an entire line to shoes designed specifically for hard sport climbs and burly boulders. The Specialized Performance category is home to SCARPA’s most advanced footwear to date. So let’s tie in, strap up, and slip into SCARPA’s Specialized Performance line to give you the insight you need to pick your next favorite climbing shoe.
A note on sizing: Climbing shoes tend to fit differently than street shoes. For this reason, SCARPA developed a fit tool that you can print and use to guide your decision making process for shoe sizing.
The shoes in SCARPA’s Specialized Performance category are le creme de la climb. All of these highly asymmetric, highly downturned shoes are for advanced experts who prioritize performance over pain. Experienced climbers tend to be used to foot pain anyway, and to them, jamming their feet into uncomfortable footwear for a chance at an onsight is well worth the hurt. Each shoe serves a highly specific purpose, but all of them are ideal for bouldering or sport climbing. You won’t see too many people on El Cap wearing SCARPA’s Specialized Performance climbing shoes—maybe on the crux pitch, but not much more than that.
Best Use: Sport, Boulder
SCARPA’s premiere climbing shoe in the Specialized Performance category is the Boostic. It touts the most awards and is the most supportive, downturned climbing shoe that SCARPA has ever designed. Technical face climbs—whether they be long bolted routes or boulders—don’t stand a chance with the Boostic. This shoe helps you feel like you’re standing on a ledge when you’re really standing on microscopic edges. It should go without saying that a single climbing shoe can’t fit every foot comfortably, but if the Boostic suits your foot shape, you’ll never want to try a different climbing shoe ever again.
Best Use: Sport
Also benefiting from a plethora of awards, the Booster is SCARPA’s second top choice for top climbers. This option is far more sensitive than the Boostic, and what you lose in support you gain in power and precision. Boulderers, gym climbers, and sport climbers can appreciate its extreme sensitivity when they’re searching for the biggest microscopic bump on the rock. True to its name, the Booster can give you the boost needed to finish challenging projects. We aren’t going to promise vert gained, but if you need more oomph in your dyno, the Booster is here to assist.
Best Use: Sport
For the die-hard sport climbers out there, SCARPA would like to introduce the Mago Climbing Shoe. It’s by far the best option for bolted ascents. It’s almost a hybrid between the Booster and Boostic, sharing a stiff toe similar to the Boostic, while the heel and arch remain as flexible as the Booster. This uncanny combination can step on the edge of a dime when you’re working through technical, vertical terrain; alternatively, when the going gets steeper than a bat cave, the stiff toe grants so much grip you might consider hanging like a bat. Just don’t blame us if you go for a ride.
Best Use: Boulder, Sport
Relatively speaking, most climbers will find the Drago the most comfortable option in SCARPA’s Specialized Performance collection. Of course, every shoe fits every foot differently, but given the Drago is now offered in high-volume and low-volume sizings, it’s your best bet at finding the harmonious blend of comfort and performance. Just because it’s more comfortable does not mean it doesn’t deserve a spot in SCARPA’s Specialized Performance category. The Drago is just as downturned, asymmetric, and aggressive as the rest of them. A bit more exposed leather stretches to conform to your foot shape more comfortably as you conquer demanding boulders and steep sport climbs.
Best Use: Boulder, Sport
The Chimera stands out in SCARPA’s Specialized Performance—not just because of the spotted upper—but with state-of-the-art materials and a feature-rich construction. SCARPA claims it’s their pinnacle of shoe construction, and we have to agree. From the Hyperskin upper, through the leather footbed, and all the way down to Vibram’s XS Grip 2 Rubber sole, the Chimera’s powerful originality and extreme sensitivity suits high-performance sport climbers and boulderers best. Special shoutout to the Toe Power Support insert that lets you press against the smallest footholds at any angle. Be careful, you might overshoot your dynos the first few times wearing this shoe.
Best Use: Sport, Boulder, Thin Crack
Last but certainly not least, the Furia Air Climbing Shoe finishes SCARPA’s Specialized Performance category with an extremely sensitive, second-skin feel. Most climbers will think “like a glove” when they slip into the Furia Air for the first time, and although it’s just as downturned and asymmetric as the rest, its narrower, sharper toe adds more versatility than all the other Specialized Performance options. If sized correctly, you can jam the Furia Air’s narrow toe into the tight cracks of Indian Creek, making it the only Specialized Performance shoe that lends a helping hand to trad climbers. But whether you size it for bouldering, sport climbing, or the occasional trad route, the Furia Air will perform well on any climb.
That wraps up all of the footwear in the Specialized Performance category. It offers a diverse lineup, with each model crafted for climbers who are passionate about boulders, sport routes, or both. With a range of shoe models including ultra-soft, ultra-stiff, and narrow options, this category has something for every climber looking to push their limits.