Boot: 2018/2019 Scarpa Maestrale RS
Stated Flex: 125
Available Sizes: 24.5 – 32 (half sizes)
Stated Last (size 26.5): 101 mm
Stated Range of Motion: 60°
Stated Forward Lean: 16° (adjustable ± 2°)
Size Tested: 25.0
Stated Boot Sole Length: 288 mm
Blister’s Measured Weight (25.0):
- Shells, no Liners: 1066 & 1070 g
- Liners, no Footbeds or Laces: 224.5 & 222 g
- Shells + Liners = 1290.5 & 1292 g
- Stock Insoles: 25.5 & 24.5 g
- Upper: Traditional aluminum buckle
- Ankle: Plastic ratchet strap w/ aluminum buckle
- Lower: “Z” Wire w/ aluminum buckle
Powerstrap: 45 mm Velcro
- Cuff: Grilamid
- Shoe / Clog: Grilamid reinforced with long carbon fibers
- Tongue: Pebax
Soles: Non-replaceable, rockered Vibram rubber
- All pin-style / “tech” bindings
- “MNC” bindings (e.g., Salomon Warden; Marker Duke / Griffon ID, etc.)
Tech Fittings Dynafit-certified “Quick Step-In” inserts
- Pre-Production Boot: ~35
- Production Boot: ~35
- Total: ~70
Skis / Bindings:
- Salomon QST 106 & Atomic Bent Chetler 120 / Salomon / Atomic Shift MNC
- Scott Scrapper 115 & Blizzard Spur / Fritschi Tecton 12
- Salomon MTN Explore 95 / Marker Alpinist & ATK Raider 2.0
- G3 SENDr 112 / G3 Ion
- Scott RockAir / Dynafit Radical ST
- RMU CRM / Dynafit Radical FT
Test Locations: Jasper National Park, Alberta; Hokkaido, Japan; North Lake Tahoe, CA; Front Range, Elk Range, & Ten Mile Range, CO; Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT; Mount Rainier National Park, WA; Grand Teton NP, WY
[Note: Our reviews was conducted on the 17/18 Maestrale RS, which was not changed for 18/19]
The 17/18 season saw a number of new ~130-flex touring boots enter the market. Many of the major boot manufacturers now offer a boot in this category, and most of those manufacturers that don’t already make a boot in this class will be releasing one for the 18/19 season. Few of the boots released this year were as high-profile as the new and completely redesigned Maestrale family of boots from Scarpa, which return unchanged for 18/19.
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 around 70 total 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, has an increased range of motion of 60°, and is more serviceable than the previous version.
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 overall, but with a rather narrow heel and forefoot, and a very high arch and instep.)
The new Maestrale RS retains the stated 101 mm last of the original design, but that’s about where the fit similarities end. The volume in the forefoot of the new boot is definitely less than the original — I have a slightly more precise / tighter 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, which felt a bit wider.
The toe box of the new boot feels pretty similar to the original version, despite feeling slightly narrower in the forefoot. It’s proved roomy enough to be comfortable while I (intentionally or unintentionally) spent some some pretty long days in the backcountry.
The biggest issue I’ve had with the fit of the Maestrale RS is with 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 got 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.
Weight + Comparisons
For reference, below are a few of our measured weights for some other notable boots (keep in mind the size differences). Our measured weights show the size of boot, then the weight of each boot + the weight of each liner, then the total weight for shells + liners, listed in grams:
Scarpa Maestrale RS (24.5 / 25.0): 1066 & 1070 + 224.5 & 222 = 1290.5 & 1292 g
Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro (26.5): 1099 & 1100 + 210 & 211 = 1309 & 1311 g
Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 (26.5): 1124 & 1128 + 271 & 276 (lighter pre-production liner) = 1395 & 1404 g
Head Kore 1 (26.5): 1132 & 1136 + 392 & 393 = 1524 & 1527 g
Salomon S/Lab MTN (26.5): 1257 & 1246 + 288 & 303 = 1545 & 1549 g
Fischer Ranger Free 130 (26.5): 1204 & 1204 + 348 & 351 = 1552 & 1555 g
Lange XT Free 130 LV (27.5): 1472 & 1473 + 376 & 376 = 1848 &1849 g
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 on the original boot. Well done, Scarpa.
The new boot also features a well-thought-out upper buckle, a solid power strap, an interesting-looking Z cable buckle on the lower shell, adjustable forward lean, ski/walk mode with 60° ROM, and Vibram rubber soles.
The new Intuition liners share the same characteristics of pretty much all Intuitions; they’re made of a firm, closed-cell, heat-moldable foam that packs out a decent amount over time, but is more responsive and retains heat better than most stock liners we’ve tested. The liners feature the standard achilles flex bellows for touring, as well as loops for laces.
Power Strap and Upper Buckle
The new power strap is great. It feels well-built, and 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 easily conform to my lower leg. 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 with a wire bale and an easy-to-grab (and delightfully neon green) lever.
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 buckles seen on other 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 durable and easy to adjust.
One of the 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 single buckle serves the purpose of the two lower buckles seen in most standard alpine boots. The buckle is located on top of the shell while the cable is on the lateral side of the foot, which helps to keep the buckle from getting damaged while scrambling.
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.
Borrowed from the Scarpa Alien, the walk mode on the new Maestrale RS brings a serious functional change to the boot.
First, the range of motion (ROM) is increased from 37° to 60°. While stated ROM’s can vary significantly when it comes to actual, usable ROM in the field, I’ve found the new Maestrale RS to provide a seriously large ROM while touring in the boot. In fact, the boot’s ROM is larger than my physical ability to flex my ankle. This pays off on long, flat approaches as I can actually keep up with my TLT-wearing touring partners.
The actual mechanism of the ski / walk mode is burly. A large aluminum bar flips up (walk) and down (ski) to stabilize the entire cuff of the boot. In ski mode, a small notch in this lever fits into a steel bar in the shell to lock it into ski mode. This notch / bar interface is probably the most finicky part of the boot. The notch and bar fit very tightly, and the notch is quite small (1-2 mm across). As a result, it ices up very easily. Typically, giving the metal lever several swift whacks with a pole grip is enough to take care of the icing, which makes this more of an annoyance than a big issue.
The walk mechanism also dictates the forward lean. According to Scarpa, the forward lean is adjustable from 14-18° (with a standard forward lean of 16°), but the boot’s forward lean feels substantially less than that. Compared to my primary alpine boot, the Dalbello Lupo SP, which has a stated forward lean of 9°, the new Maestrale RS has a very similarly upright feel. Even after I adjusted the forward lean on the Maestrale RS all the way forward, it still doesn’t feel like it makes it to that stated ~18 degrees. My best guess for the actual forward lean is about 10-14°, but we’re in fairly subjective territory here.
Another difference between the new Maestrale RS and many of the touring boots out today is that putting the Maestrale RS into walk mode greatly softens both the rear and forward flex of the boot. In many other touring boots, the forward flex remains relatively unchanged when going from ski to walk mode. But the Maestrale RS turns into a limp noodle in both directions in walk mode. The only downside to this is that, if the ski mode somehow broke, you would have a nearly impossible time skiing downhill. But it makes touring far easier and you will never ever forget to put your boots in ski mode for the downhill. (Not that you’ve ever forgotten that before, right?)
The soles on the new Maestrale RS, like the previous version of the boot, are made by Vibram. Different from the previous version, however, is the thickness of the sole. The new version has a very thin sole to save weight. Functionally, this is not a problem. The boots still walk and grip fine for a ski boot. However, I have experienced some durability issues with the thinner sole. After about 35 days in my first shell (more on that later) and a similar number of days in the new shell, they both showed significant signs of wear on the soles from rock scrambling. This wear didn’t pose any functional risks, but it did raise long-term durability concerns, especially if you frequently find yourself walking on rocks and on trails in your boots like I do.
Flex — Stiffness
Ok, the million dollar question: Is the new Maestrale RS a true “125” flex boot? My Cliff Notes answer is: Eh, pretty much.
The boot flexes much stiffer and progressively compared to the original, which flexed pretty soft until it hit a sudden a wall. Compared to true 130-flex alpine boots, the new Maestrale RS is definitely softer (but remember, the Maestrale is much lighter than those alpine boots).
With my standard downhill buckle setup (powerstrap relatively loose, top buckle at notch 4, ankle buckle cranked down, and Z buckle undone), the new Maestrale RS feels like an alpine 110-120 flex. The first inch or so is pretty soft, and it gets evenly and progressively stiffer as you flex deeper. With this buckle setup (which keeps the upper buckles fairly loose and cranks on the the heel buckle), the boot flexes smooth and progressive, if a little soft given its stated flex rating.
However, if you do crank the power strap down, you can get near to that 130 flex that everyone seems to want so badly. The trade off, though, is that the flex pattern becomes a lot less progressive, as most of the stiffness hits immediately as you flex. Cranking the power strap couples the tongue tightly to the rear cuff, so you lose the suspension of the tongue and replace it with the stiffness of the spoiler and lower shell. With the power strap looser, you get a smoother transition from the suspension of the soft tongue to the stiffer lower shell and spoiler.
Bottom line on the flex: if you really need a super-stiff forward flex, the Maestrale RS is going to be a bit harsh (and still not quite as stiff as a true 130-flex boot). However, by playing with the buckling, you can dial in a beautifully progressive flex in the 110-120 range, which is plenty for a lot of skiers in most situations.
Flex — Quality
With the aforementioned looser buckle setup, I get pretty excellent downhill performance from this boot. The ride is plush (for a touring boot) and it feels quite precise and responsive.
Much of the suspension of an alpine boot comes from sheer mass, and that mass is absent on a boot this light; it definitely gets knocked around more than boots that weigh twice as much. However, in the realm of touring boots, I’d say that the flex of the Maestrale RS feels incredibly progressive, though not the stiffest in the category.
Compared to the old version, every aspect of skiing is better in the new Maestrale RS (minus the less anatomical heel pocket, but that should be more of a fit issue for many people). The flex is stiffer and more progressive, and the lateral stiffness is vastly improved. These traits make the new boot feel quite responsive and precise, especially when making high-speed and high-angle turns on firm and variable snow.
When paired with a stiff and powerful ski like the G3 SENDr 112, the Maestrale RS can get a bit overpowered. With a ski this stiff that likes to be driven hard and skied fast, this boot lacks the lateral stiffness to get all of the performance from the ski, especially in icy / variable conditions. But on less demanding skis, the Maestrale RS performs very well.
Skiing in the Maestrale RS definitely made the G3 Ion and Dynafit Radical bindings feel like the weak links in my ski setups. In the past, it was a toss up between the old Maestrale RS and the more minimal tech bindings. With the new Maestrale RS, those inelastic, tall standover bindings are certainly hindering downhill performance more than my boots.
When paired with stronger bindings like the Fritschi Tecton 12 or Salomon / Atomic Shift, the Maestrale RS can match the power transfer of those bindings much better than the previous version of the boot, and it feels like a very good combination. At the same time, the Maestrale RS is quite light and has plenty of ROM, so it doesn’t feel like overkill when paired with minimal, ~300 gram bindings like the Marker Alpinist or ATK Raider 2.0.
Ease of Use
One of the primary complaints I have about the new Maestrale RS is how difficult it is to put the boot on and take it off. Because Scarpa did away with the hinge system on the tongue of the old boot (which all in all is positive, since those hinges broke constantly), the boot is much more difficult to get on and off.
I have worn just about every Cabrio-style boot on the market, and several overlap boots as well. Putting on the Maestrale RS is shockingly difficult compared to any other boot I’ve ever worn.
(Caveat: Remember that I have a huge instep which makes putting on any ski boot quite difficult for me.)
Not only is it hard for me to get the boot on and off, I’ve also found it to be very difficult to get the liners in and out, too. Every time I put this boot on, it’s a battle. And the day I tear off the pull strap on the tongue of the liner will likely be the last time I get them on my feet.
If you have a normal instep, then you may be fine with this boot. If you have a high instep like me, have fun.
After putting about 30 days in the pre-production Maestrale RS, my shells developed large cracks emanating from one of the rivets that secures the tongue to the shell. I was told that this was one of four instances of this that Scarpa had seen while they were testing the new boot last season. Scarpa addressed this cracking issue by making a slight change to the mold, adding some plastic to the suspect area, and improving the interface between the tongue and the shell. I’ve now spent over 30 days in the updated production-version of the Maestrale RS, and have had no issues with it cracking. Check out my update at the bottom of this review for more on this.
Besides the issue with the pre-production shell and the aforementioned sole wear, the only other durability concern I have is with the liners. After about 35 days, my liners in the pre-production boot were visibly wearing at high friction points in the shells. Luckily, Scarpa also addressed this in the production version (more on this below).
Who’s It For?
The new Maestrale RS is for the backcountry skier who values weight savings, walkability, and downhill performance — especially such skiers that have a wider foot and heel. It’s a huge upgrade to the old Maestrale RS, and is a real competitor with other ~130 flex touring boots on the market — though it is on the softer end of that spectrum.
Scarpa has improved every aspect of the “world’s most popular” touring boot. The new version of the Maestrale RS is stiffer than the old version, has a great progressive flex, skis downhill great, and walks uphill far better, too.
Not only that, but Scarpa managed to shave around 150 grams off the old boot. That makes the new version a serious competitor in the realm of high-performance touring boots, especially if you have a higher volume foot or a wide heel and aren’t looking for the absolute stiffest boot in the category.
I now have about 70 days in the new Maestrale RS. About 35 of these days were spent in the pre-production version last season, and the other 35 have been in the production version this season. I’ll give a quick update here on the changes to the shell in the production version, as well as a few notes on the boot’s performance after extended testing.
As I noted in the durability section, there are two major changes from the pre-production boot I skied last season and the production version I’ve been in this year. First, plastic was added to the shell around the shell / tongue interface to address the cracking issue I experienced in the pre-production boot. Second, the ski / walk mode lever was also made a bit thicker for durability.
After putting about 35 days in the production version of the Maestrale RS (about 10 of which were spent skiing hard inbounds), I haven’t had any cracking or other durability issues with the new shells. Similar to the pre-production pair, I have noticed that the thin Vibram soles wear faster than the thicker soles on the previous version of the Maestrale RS. But other than that, the new Maestrale RS has been holding up well with no other issues.
The production version also came with abrasion-resistant stickers to cover the sharp spots inside the shell, which has helped significantly with the liner durability concerns I had in the pre-production boot.
When it comes to uphill and downhill performance, I still stand by everything I wrote in my original review. I think this is an excellent touring boot, especially if you value downhill precision and uphill walkability over absolute stiffness. One thing that has stood out more to me after getting increased time in the boot is the excellent rearward support of the Maestrale RS. I’d say the Maestrale RS feels very close to most alpine boots I’ve used in terms of rearward support, and I find this to be important when in skiing variable snow in consequential terrain as I don’t want to end up backseat and unable to get back to a centered or forward stance.
Because of all of the qualities described above, the Maestrale RS is still my go-to touring boot, and one I’d recommend to a lot of skiers.