2nd Look: SCARPA Maestrale RS
Size Tested: 27
Available Sizes: 24.5-33
Stated Flex Rating: 120
Stated Last: 102 mm
Boot Sole Length: 306 mm at 27.0
Test Locations: Glacier National Park & Montana backcountry; Cascade Volcanoes, WA & OR; Japanese Alps
Days Tested: 100+
Since the SCARPA Maestrale RS was originally reviewed by Marshal Olson, I find myself with rather large shoes to fill in this Second Look. Marshal’s review covers the fit and position of the boot, and does an excellent job of detailing its construction and downhill performance.
But while Marshal wrote his review after he had six days in the boot, I have over a hundred days of heavy use in the Maestrale RS, and am in a good position to talk about the long-term durability of the Maestrale RS. So while there are a lot of people who won’t put the Maestrale RS through a bunch of abuse, it’s worth noting the potential points of failure for ski patrollers, mountain guides, those who spend all winter in their boots, or anyone whose backcountry touring involves a good bit of mountaineering.
My other observations will build off of Marshal’s review, so consider this a supplement to his review rather than as a stand-alone piece.
Note: Update Between Models
Marshal’s review covers a boot from the 2012-2013 season, while my pair are the 2014-2015 model. Within that time, SCARPA updated the walk mode to a system that uses a thicker bar and a more easily replaceable locking pin.
I came to the Maestrale RS from the Black Diamond Quadrant, which had less stiffness and worse uphill characteristics. Subsequently, I’ve moved to a Dynafit TLT6, which is softer flexing and more uphill oriented. My boots provide a good sense of how I’ve changed as a skier: I’m typically less interested now in bombing down lines, and more interested in uphill capability and deep backcountry/ski mountaineering pursuits.
Who’s It For?
I looked at and used the Maestrale RS as a quiver-of-one boot for both powder touring and ski mountaineering. It has many of the hallmarks of a true touring option with a proper walk mode and decent range of motion, non-swappable, rockered rubber sole, and a design that maintains four-buckle stiffness on the downhill.
This mixture of attributes best positions the Maestrale RS toward skiers with an inbounds background who want to bring that into their backcountry skiing. It’s also a boot that should be considered by those who want to use one boot for both inbounds and out.
My hairy Hobbit (wide) feet have experienced a bit of change in the Maestrale RS. At 102mm, the last is plenty wide, but felt narrower at the outset than the BD Quadrants, and about the same as the Salomon Ghost / Quest Max 130s that I’ve used as inbounds boots during the same period.
And it’s always important to keep in mind that SCARPA’s boot molds break on the half shell size. For example, a SCARPA 26.5 and 27.0 are the same shell. I found the 27.5 to be pretty loose, and the 27.0 to be plenty tight while trying them on, especially across the instep. This proved painful as the boot broke in, but by day three, the liners had become comfortable in that painful spot.
There’s a lot of packing out that happens with the Intuition Pro Tour (which is the stock liner for this boot), so I’d plan for a longer break-in period and buckle the boots a little less snugly while cooking the liners and forming them to your feet. I’ve I’ve also had luck by starting with thinner insoles (i.e. Superfeet Carbon) and moving to thicker ones ( Superfeet Red) to eat up the accrued volume.
Marshal passed by a few features in his review, so I’ll lap back here with a few of my favorites of the Maestrale RS.
Dynafit manufactured and certified Quick Step inserts come standard, and it’s reassuring to know that they’ve put the original option in the boots. Stepping into tech pins is also a little easier with the ridges on the insert plates.
The power strap is elastic, meaning you don’t need to cannibalize a Booster Strap. It does a good job of acting as a ghost second buckle on top of the boot.
Heel hold was fine for me from day one with the placement of the middle buckle; it’s set up as a strap the bridges over the tongue and goes into a snowboard-style receiver on the outside. It’s easy to quickly set different tensions for touring or downhill with this system.
The lower buckles are reversed to save them from the dreaded posthole-unbuckle and the vicious rock-slam, which truly does save them in the wear and tear department.
And while the strange hinge system of the tongue isn’t a win in the durability game, it makes for the easiest frozen shell entry I’ve yet tried. Kudos to SCARPA for making that part of the snow camping experience a sight better.
Perhaps the crowning achievement of these boots is that, in the entire time I’ve used them, my feet have not once been cold. Not a single time. Credit the Intuition liners, extra foot room, and good snow proofing throughout the shell with that miracle.
NEXT: Downhill Performance, Range of Motion, Etc.