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2017-2018 Scarpa Maestrale RS

Sam Shaheen reviews the 2017 Scarpa Maestrale RS for Blister Gear Review.

17/18 Scarpa Maestrale RS

2017-2018 Scarpa Maestrale RS

Size Tested: 25.0

Blister’s Measured Weight (Size 25.0):

  • Shells: 1053 / 1057 g
  • Foot Beds: 21 / 21 g
  • Liners (with L pads and adhesive): 244 / 245 g
  • Total: 1318 / 1323 g

Stated Flex: 130

Stated ROM: 60°

Stated Features:

  • Carbon fiber infused Grilamid Web Frame shell
  • Grilamid cuff
  • Wave Closure System (lower Z-buckle)
  • Speedlock Plus ski/walk mode
  • Intuition liner

MSRP: $795

Days Tested: ~35

Skis / Bindings:

  • G3 SENDr 112 188 cm / G3 Ion
  • Scott RockAir 183 cm / Dynafit Radical ST
  • RMU CRM 175 cm / Dynafit Radical FT

Test Locations: Front Range, Elk Range, & Ten Mile Range, CO; Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT; Mount Rainier National Park, WA; Jasper National Park, Alberta

Intro

The 17/18 season is, inarguably, the year of the 130-flex touring boot. Every major boot maker is making one, and few are as high profile as the new and completely redesigned Maestrale family of boots from Scarpa.

Scarpa claims that the Maestrale RS is the most popular touring boot in the world, and I’ve been skiing in the original Maestrale RS since 2012. So I was very eager to check out the new version. The old Maestrale RS had its fair share of issues, and this redesign seemed to address all of the major problems, while also coming in stiffer and lighter than the original.

Now that I’ve put more than 30 days in the new version, I can confidently say that this iteration is a giant leap forward in just about every way. The new Maestrale RS is stiffer, significantly lighter, flexes more progressively, and is more serviceable than the previous version.

It also has a range of motion of 60° that makes the Salomon MTN Lab’s 47° seem pretty underwhelming.

Fit

As always, we’ll start this section with a PSA: Getting a boot that fits properly is the most important thing you can do for your skiing, and you should always go to a good boot fitter. But here is my take on the fit of the Maestrale RS.

(For reference, my foot is medium volume with a rather narrow heel and forefoot, and an extremely high arch and instep.)

The new Maestrale RS retains the 101 mm last of the original design, but that’s about where the fit similarities end. The volume in the forefoot is definitely less than the original — I have a slightly more precise fit in the instep than the old version. I usually wear a 98 mm last alpine boot, and the new Maestrale feels like a 100-101 mm last in the forefoot, unlike the very roomy previous version.

The toe box feels pretty similar to the original version, despite feeling slightly narrower in the forefoot. It’s roomy enough for comfort in a boot you might end up wearing (intentionally or unintentionally) for some pretty long days in the backcountry.

Sam Shaheen reviews the 2017 Scarpa Maestrale RS for Blister Gear Review.

Sam Shaheen in the Scarpa Maestrale RS, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.

The biggest issue I’ve had with the Maestrale RS is its heel pocket. In relation to the old version, the new heel pocket is much wider and less anatomically shaped. In the old boot, I could wear it out of the box after just baking the liners and be fine. In the new boot, I get a large amount of heel lift resulting in blisters on the way up, and poor performance on the way down. Strategically-placed L pads have helped this, but I still wish (for my foot, at least) that there was a more anatomical shape around the Achilles. The L pads can take up space, but they don’t change the shape of the shell.

All this is to say that the new Maestrale RS is one of the wider and roomier touring boots in the 130-flex category, which is definitely something to consider if you have big ol’ club feet.

Features

The new Maestrale RS looks completely different from the old version, and different from most other touring boots on the market.

The only features that really remain from the old boot are the Intuition liners and the ratchet-style heel retention strap, which are the two best features from the original boot. Well done, Scarpa.

The new boot also features a well-thought-out upper buckle, a solid power strap, a crazy-looking Z cable buckle on the lower shell, adjustable forward lean, ski/walk mode with 60° ROM, and Vibram soles.

Liners

The new Intuition liners work pretty much the same as all Intuitions; they have a good foam that packs out a decent amount, but retains heat better than most liners we’ve tested.

Power Strap and Upper Buckle

The new power strap is great. It feels solid, so I can crank on it super hard if need be. And this is made easier by the fact that the plastic of the cuff is pretty pliable so it can form to your lower leg easily. The power strap is also married to an adjustable spoiler so you can really dial the fit in for your leg.

The upper buckle is a big improvement over the old version (which was a standard alpine buckle). Now it looks like what many other touring boots have. The first notch has concavities in two directions to hold the buckle bale more securely while going up (when the buckle is usually undone). The notches are also covered by a spring-loaded aluminum bar to keep the bale engaged while walking. The buckle piece is paired down with a wire bale and an easy-to-grab (and delightfully neon green) lever.

Sam Shaheen reviews the 2017 Scarpa Maestrale RS for Blister Gear Review.

Scarpa Maestrale RS Top Buckle

Heel Retention Buckle

Coming back unchanged from the previous Maestrale RS, and for good reason, is the heel retention buckle. This buckle is very well designed. It effectively pulls your heel and ankle back into the heel pocket and provides a tight and precise fit that is easy to adjust. The ratchet system allows for fine tuning of the tightness with much more precision than standard notches seen on other three piece boots. It definitely takes a little while to get used to this style of buckle if you’re not used to cabrio boots, but the Scarpa design is solid and only suffers from minimal icing while remaining easy to adjust and durable.

Z-Cable Buckle

One of the more unique features on this boot is the Z-cable buckle on the forefoot. This system routes a cable back and forth across the instep and forefoot of the shell. The notches of the buckle interface directly with the cable to hold the forefoot. This one buckle serves the purpose of the two lower buckles seen in a standard alpine boot.

This cable buckle is clearly designed to save weight without compromising performance. While I tend to believe that to be impossible, in the case of the cable buckle, I think Scarpa has done a great job. The buckle works quite well and offers great control over the forefoot of the boot. Granted, I have such a high instep that I hardly use this buckle, but when I need every bit of performance out of the boot, I’ll crank it down happily and without issue.

NEXT: Walk Mode, Soles, Etc.

16 Comments

  1. justin wilcox June 2, 2017 Reply

    Do you think the larger volume in the heel of the new boot is a change in the shell or liner (or both)?

    • Sam Shaheen June 2, 2017 Reply

      Hey Justin, seems like a change in the shell, as the shell was completely redesigned while the liner stayed relatively unchanged.

  2. Ben June 2, 2017 Reply

    How mich stiffer is the Freedom RS 130 compared to this, in your opinion?

    • Sam Shaheen June 2, 2017 Reply

      Hey Ben,

      Although I haven’t skied the Freedom RS, we do have a review coming on it soon. I really don’t think you can compare these two boots however as the Freedom RS is substantially heavier and definitely a 50/50 touring/alpine boot while the Maestrale RS is a super light dedicated touring boot. I can only imagine that the Freedom RS skis far more like an alpine boot while the Maestrale is definitely a lightweight, high performance, touring boot. Apples to oranges.

      Stay tuned for the Freedom RS review though as I’m sure that will get your question answered.

  3. amedeo June 2, 2017 Reply

    this is what i call a serious review…in depth, objective, giving actual insight instead of the usual PR marketing bullshit.

    thank you for what you do guys

  4. philipp June 3, 2017 Reply

    Great review! Is the new Maestrale RS comparable to the Salomon MTN lab / mountain? After spending two seasons struggling with TLT 6p’s I am up for a more substantial AT boot. thank you!

    • Sam Shaheen June 4, 2017 Reply

      Hey Philipp, the Maestrale RS is definitely in the same category as the MTN Lab. Although I haven’t been on snow in the MTN lab, the biggest difference between the two seem to be the fit. I recommend going to a good boot fitter and seeing which one works best on your foot.

  5. Mark Urwin September 28, 2017 Reply

    Hey Sam, great review! Have you or any of the team spent any time on the new Dalbello Lupo setups ? Love Cabrio design for its heel retention and looking for some in depth reviews on the new Lupos like you’ve written above for the RS. Hopefully ya’s get to try em this season.
    Cheers
    Mark

    • Sam Shaheen September 28, 2017 Reply

      Hey Mark, we are definitely dying to get in some of the new Lupo line. We should be getting some boots this season so stay tuned!

  6. austin September 29, 2017 Reply

    Quick fit question. You say the last and toe box are similar to the old Maestrale, but the forefoot has less room. Can you elaborate on that a little? I punch every boot I ski now for sixth toe, but no boot fits quite as well as my maestrales with that punch. My older maestrales were probably the first boot I felt like I could size down with that big ol toe box. Any comment on length?

    • Sam Shaheen September 29, 2017 Reply

      Hey Austin, for me, the new shell feels much more snug over the instep. However, I am not a boot fitter. Your best bet is 100% to go to the best boot fitter you can find and try it on. I didn’t have any issues with the sixth toe and the length feels similar to the old version. Good luck!

  7. ABP October 3, 2017 Reply

    As an early adopter, I have some comments having now having put in several days in the boot in our glorious super-early season Montana conditions (its actually been fat and rock free in several ranges for the past 2+ weeks!).

    The reviewer must have a very strange foot, I have had no trouble getting in and out of it. In fact, I would say it’s substantially easier to get on and off than the MTN Lab, F1, Freedom RS or tlt6 (all of which I have owned). I have an extremely average foot, no weird protrusions, medium arch, and I took them out of the box and used them without molding with no pain or hotspots. The heel pocket feels much like the F1 and MTN Lab, built for the average foot. Velcro powerstraps are stupid, I swapped them for a booster on mine after the first day.

    The touring range is truly impressive, there is no restriction to speak of in walk mode compared to my MTN Labs, which noticeably restrict rear articulation. The Maestrale skis like you would hope, stiff, progressive and precise. The MTN Lab still skis a little better, I don’t know how to describe it other than it feels “juicier” than the new Maestrale. However, I tend towards long distance days and big vert, which means that I often opt for a lighter F1-style boot only to feel undergunned on descents based on my size (6′, 200lbs). I think that the Maestrale RS effectively solves this problem for me, with the F1 on one foot and the new Maestrale on the other, there is hardly a difference in articulation, and only ~200g difference in weight per side. Paired with a light, powerful setup like the Zero G 95 and Dynafit Speed Superlite 2.0, I think they’ll end up on my feet on long days much more often than my MTN Labs ever did.

    My only real quibble is with the buckles. The Maestrale is noticeably more fiddly than the Lab, whose buckles I always appreciated for it’s simplicity and resistance to icing. While the Maestrale lower buckle beautifully distributes pressure throughout the forefoot, in touring mode you are left to either keep it on the cable, which leaves it sticking straight up, or take the cable off of the buckle so it can lie flat, which leaves the grooves to fill up with ice and makes it difficult to rebuckle at top transitions. Also, the ankle strap buckle seems like it’s in danger of getting mangled when postholing through snowy talus. Guess we’ll see. Overall, the articulation and performance have already won me over, 1430 grams in a 26.5 is incredibly light for how capable this boot is.

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen October 3, 2017 Reply

      Hey ABP, thanks for your comments and know that all of us who aren’t in Montana right now are very jealous.

      As far as ease of on/off in the boot, note that I tested a prototype version and one of the areas that Scarpa was adjusting for production was the tongue/shell interface (which is a huge factor in the on/off ease). We are hoping to get into a production version in the next few weeks and see what these changes look like. But yes, I do have a weird foot with a very high instep and arch, so boots are generally hard for me to put on.

      Isn’t that range of motion in tour mode impressive? Such a huge improvement in the category of stiff touring boots. I’ve shared your worry about shearing off the ankle buckle in talus for almost 7 years now and it still hasn’t happened on any of my Maestrale’s… so far so good!

    • I’m just here to say thanks for the very good feedback, ABP.

  8. Kevin October 18, 2017 Reply

    Sam, as a fellow narrow-heeled skier I’m wondering if you could expand more on the adjusted heel pocket of the Maestrale’s. I have found I have a good fit in Dalbello alpine boots and am wondering if you could comment on:

    1. Do either of the Maestrale’s (older 14/15 or new 16/17) have a heel pocket that you think is close in to a Dalbello boot? (Heel retention, shape, volume?)

    2. In comparison between the 14/15 Maestrale’s and the 16/17’s you found you had more room and had to use L-pads to adjust the fit. Did this fully remedy your heel movement? Was the fit as good as in the previous version?

    3. If all other boot-fitting issues are taken out of the equation, in your opinion, would you say the trade-off of increased ROM, lighter weight, updated walk mode etc. of the new boot made up for the change in fit of the heel compared to the 14/15 boot? Do you prefer one over the other?

    P.S. Thanks for the great reviews. Your team definitely set the standard for ‘Comprehensive’. Keep up the great work.
    Cheers
    Kevin

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen October 25, 2017 Reply

      Hey Kevin, thanks for the feedback! To address your questions:

      1) I also fit Dalbello boots very well but I would say that neither version of the heel pocket on the Maestrale RS is all that similar to a Krypton or Lupo 98mm lasted boot. But that’s not a bad thing. I want a little more room in my touring boots because I do so many long days in them.

      2) The L pads did help a lot, they fully alleviated any downhill issues I had and eliminated 80% of my uphill troubles. Granted, I did not go to a bootfitter, I did it myself (do as I say, not as I do). I’m sure a skilled bootfitter could do a much better job. Understand though that you’re always going to get a more precise fit when you have to create room in a boot rather than take it up.

      3) No question whatsoever, the new version is a huge improvement. It skis so much better. It walks so much better. It is way less finicky. The new Maestrale RS is an amazing boot, just make sure it fits your foot.

      Hope that answers your questions!

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