It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Scarpa climbing shoes, and every year I find myself raving about how Heinz Mariacher’s latest offering has somehow outdone last year’s offering. Well, this season is no different, and the Scarpa Booster S has stolen the top place in my climbing pack for steep sport routes and boulder problems.
Though they share the same name, the Booster S is nothing like the Scarpa Booster; actually, it’s much closer to the Scarpa Boostic, both in terms of fit and performance. The main difference is that the Booster S is much softer and much more sensitive than the Boostic.
The tech behind the increased sensitivity comes, in part, from the super minimalistic mid-sole. Holding the shoe, you can easily bend/flex it in half. It seems almost flimsy compared to other normal shoes. However, once you strap this shoe onto your foot, you’ll feel the tensioned support ribbons working to keep the shoe in place no matter what you’re standing on. In other words, you get all the support of the Scarpa Boostic, but with twice as much sensitivity.
As I push my sport-climbing grade (slowly but surely) higher, being able to really feel what I’m standing on becomes increasingly important. Visual confirmation that I’m actually on the right part of that tiny little foot nubbin is less effective than being able to sense/feel it through my toes.
The Booster S is best for really steep climbs. As the angle gets less steep on walls with lots of edging, the hyper sensitivity of the Booster S becomes more of a negative. In those situations, my feet would get really tired, nearly to the point of cramping, by the time I was done with a pitch. If you climb at areas with lots of edging, you might want to stick with the Boostic, or even consider something more robust like the Instinct lace up.
In terms of fit, I found the Booster S to be slightly lower volume than the Boostic, but only in the toe box. When I get my next pair, I might try going up a half size to see if that provides more room for my toes. After all, we now know that wearing shoes that are too tight is not the way to go.