2nd Look: SCARPA Maestrale RS

David Steele reviews the Scarpa Maestrale RS for Blister Review.
SCARPA Maestrale RS

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

MSRP: $699

Test Locations: Glacier National Park & Montana backcountry; Cascade Volcanoes, WA & OR; Japanese Alps

Days Tested: 100+

Intro

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.

David Steele reviews the Scarpa Maestrale RS for Blister Review.
David Steele in the SCARPA Maestrale RS, Glacier National Park, MT.

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.

Background

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.

David Steele reviews the Scarpa Maestrale RS for Blister Review.
David Steele in the SCARPA Maestrale RS, Glacier National Park, MT.

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.

Fit

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.

Features

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.

14 comments on “2nd Look: SCARPA Maestrale RS”

  1. I have skied these boots for about 40 days and generally agree with the sentiments of this article, particularly concerning skiability and range of motion.

    However, I have snapped both of the metal walk levers (within a couple of days of each other) – same model as above. I have only toured about 10 days in these boots and the majority of skiing was in soft snow in BC and Japan. I am still trying to buy replacement levers which seem impossible to find. Scarpa USA has not responded to my request.

    The poor reliability and customer service from Scarpa is a deal breaker for me and I will choose Dynafit next time.

    • Hey Matt,

      Bummer on the lever breakage; sorry to hear about your difficulties in sourcing a new one. Out of curiosity, what part of the lever broke?

      Thanks,

      David

      • Thanks David. On the right boot, the metal lever came right off. The metal snapped where it enters the black plastic. This left the book locked in ski. On the left boot the lever it still in place but the metal is snapped through on the left hand side where it enters the black plastic, leaving me in walk mode.

        Cheers
        Matt

        • Matt,

          Interesting. I had a similar breakage point when my lever snapped. It happened while skiing, and your report made me go back to consider how it might happen.

          Looking at the boot, it’s possible that errant ski edge could come up and contact the bottom of the lever from the inward side. Half frozen suncups, like what I was skiing when it happened, could be jittery enough to cause my uphill leg to bounce around. If the boot is flexed, and the pin engaged in ski mode, that might immobilize the top part of the lever while the ski hits the bottom, which then uses the levers’ own length to put extra force on that bend. Just an idea, one I’d test if I had some spare parts lying around.

          Thankfully, it’s far easier to fix a broken lever on these new ones. You can push anything still stuck in the mechanism out with a thinner wire or other tool, and the install is as simple as gently putting a new lever wire into the same sockets. Scarpa was quick to help out with my t-bolts–maybe another email to them is in order.

          Cheers,

          David

      • That’s it Colin, the trouble was trying to get someone to send me some. I even sent Scarpa that same link.

        Fortunately it looks like I have managed to track a couple down through a Canadian shop.

        David, I guess that is a possibility, especially on fatter skis.

  2. Just a quick note on the issue of lateral cuff slop. I own the second generation mango maestrales, about four seasons old now. Cuff slop developed after only 40+/- days of ski touring. Boots were put into semi retirement and recently brought back into service. I removed the lateral cuff alignment bolt and examined the lower shell plastic and noticed that it had a slight oval shape due to premature wear. As a temporary measure to restore lateral response integrity, I cut a piece of plastic zip tie to fill the gap of the ovalized plastic to restore the round shape and reinstalled the hardware. Works like a charm though durability is a question mark. For the cuff slop evident on the medial cuff hinge, I cut another piece of zip tie plastic and pressed it into the small gap between the medial cuff bolt grey plastic piece and black rear cuff mating surface with a flat head screwdriver. Also works for now; zero lateral slop for skiing and a noticeable improvement in power transmission precision for lateral movements on snow. (wish I could post photos) As noted, temporary repair; time will tell how much endurance this ghetto repair job will have in the real world after time. For a more durable repair I might try some j.b. weld plastic bond or similar material to address the issue for the long term if the quick fix doesn’t do the trick.

    • This is a clever solution–thanks for sharing.

      Perhaps a stock bushing in the pivot, similar to the ones that Dynafit had to put on their carbon cuffs, could solve this slop problem. Maybe materials or costs make it prohibitive to use one. My guess is that it’s an issue that few people encounter.

  3. David,

    Totally agree with your take on the ROM advantage being on long strides on long approaches (especially apparent to dudes with longer legs and a longer natural stride, methinks). On steep stuff, you don’t use nearly the same ROM.

  4. Looking to pair a new ski with my maestraels, due to injury will be skiing more inbounds and mellow outback descents, currently have 2013 nomads (181) any ideas?

  5. Are these boots noticably softer than the MTN Lab and Zero G Guide Pro? Would I be advised to wait for the new Maestrale RS to come out in the fall for a boot of this stiffness, or pick up a pair of these for a good deal now that they are discontinued? I am 6’4″ and 210 lbs and I really like the stiffness of the MTN Lab but the RS fits my foot much better.

    • Travis,

      Though I’ve not skied either of the boots you mention, my sense from our reviews is that the old Maestrale RS was not quite as stiff.

      However, the new version, which is leaps and bounds better (there’s a review by Sam Shaheen), is probably in the ballpark for flex there.

  6. Anybody know if I can buy a replacement tongue for these boots? And more importantly, where? Mine has broken in half (foam separated right at the ankle although the material around it has kept it from exploding completely) and it’s a bitch to keep them in place.

    • Max,

      It sounds like the tongue you’re talking about is the tongue in the liner; if so, Scarpa is still selling their Proflex G liner, which is the stock option for the old Maestrale RS series.

      Cheers,

      David

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