With high scores in the comfort, crack climbing, and edging metrics, it's a no-brainer that these shoes are our go-to for all-day comfort.
A major butt shot, we know, but how bout that foot jam! The Scarpa Mid Eco was a comfy companion to our trad-esque circuit.
Right away, we were taken aback by the soft, supple leather uppers on the Scarpa Maestro Mid Eco. These are seriously the softest climbing shoes we've ever worn — with a soft, padded tongue and an unlined leather construction that covers the ankle. The second thing we noticed about the Maestro was the highly adjustable lacing system. Our wide-footed lead tester was pleased to discover that one could loosen and fine-tune the lacing of these shoes right down to the toes. Those with a narrower foot can tighten the laces significantly to get a good fit. Once laced, the Maestro fits snuggly across the top of the foot and wraps securely around the ankle — protecting the ankle bone from getting gobies on wide grovel-fests. The high ankle and medium-stiff build provide the support and stability to get you through long days on your feet.
This photo is meant to demonstrate the major adjustability the lace-up Maestro provides.
Be warned that an unlined shoe like this will stretch quite a lot, so it may be a good idea to size them a bit tight and allow yourself time to break them in.
The overall softness and contoured, seamless fit of the Maestro makes them an impressively sensitive shoe. For slab climbing and edging alike — we trusted our feet in these shoes more than we expected. With 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber and Scarpa's Talyn midsole, we were able to not only feel small holds beneath our feet but stand on them confidently.
The midsole is supple enough to conform to the shape of the arch, while still providing enough support to allow for impressive performance on smeary feet and slabby climbing.
It's worth it to take the extra time and lace-up the Maestro tightly. This provides a performance-level fit that can be fine-tuned to exactly fit your foot shape.
A stiffer-soled shoe would perhaps be a better option for serious face climbing, but for most objectives, the medium-stiff midsole on the Maestro is more than sufficient. Because these shoes are designed for all-around trad climbing performance, the Maestro lands in the middle of the road in terms of edging performance and softness. The soft flexibility that makes them ace for cracks also takes away a bit from their edging ability. That said, there are few all-around trad-specific shoes on the market designed for women, so the Maestro is a step in the right direction.
The XS Grip2 holding it down on a stem rest. These shoes edged well enough for most moderate trad climbing endeavors.
These shoes are our favorite women's specific crack climbing shoes. We love the protection the high ankle provides for hand cracks, fist cracks, and off-widths. We felt like it could have come up higher to offer more protection, but then the Maestro would lose its low-profile feel which we also appreciated. Some complained that the top of the ankle landed right at the ankle bone, causing pain, but our lead tester did not find this to be an issue. The toe box and upper are so soft, that these shoes fit nicely into finger cracks, but the shoes still provide enough support for the occasional stem or foothold that gives a break from endless jamming.
The elusive and hard-to-photograph tight heel toe cam. The Maestro protected our boney ankles from gobies on thrutchy offwidths such as this.
A month in the Creek could be a lot to handle for the soft, leather uppers of the Maestro. Though we didn't get the chance to truly test their durability, we could foresee some wear and tear occurring on the laces and in the soft leather toe box. Other trad-specific shoes we've worn have a bit more reinforcement on the sides of the toe box, which adds to their longevity.
The roomy, comfort-forward design that sent the Maestro to the top in terms of trad climbing and all-day comfort means that these shoes are not designed for sport climbing or pocket pulling. Their shape is not really aggressive enough to hold its own in comparison to other models in this review on the steeps. That said, their sensitivity and decent edging ability allow them to perform well on the moderate pocket climbing found outside Bishop.
Ease of Use
The adjustability of these shoes was one of the features that struck us the most when we first tested them. The laces make it easy to fine-tune the fit — loosen them up for long moderate days with socks or cinch them down for a burn on your finger crack project.
Soft and supple yet stiff enough to provide some support - the Maestro loves hand cracks as much as we do!
This range was impressive to us, but, be warned it takes some patience to lace up your climbing shoes when you're used to a new school Velcro strap. On the plus side, once the Maestro is on, you can leave 'em on all day without discomfort.
The major downside to our latest trad Top Pick is that these shoes are some of the most expensive in this review. That said, you get what you pay for and with the Maestro it's a couple hundred dollars' worth of fine Italian craftsmanship and the best materials out there. The Eco version means that you're paying a bit more for "Planet Friendly" leather that has been processed in an environmentally friendly way. So, if you can afford it, the Maestro is a good investment.
The Maestro Mid Eco gets our Top Pick for All-Day Comfort and Crack Climbing due to its impressively comfortable yet still high performing design. The medium-stiff shoe can edge, smear, jam, and smedge — helping you get up most any multi-pitch rock climb out there. The high ankle protects the ankles from scraping and bashing as you grovel up that dreaded off-width pitch, and provides support for that time you decide to forego carrying approach shoes and end up bushwhacking for hours while getting lost on the descent. The features that make these shoes comfortable to walk in and climb off-widths in are also the features that make the Maestro less-than-ideal for your bouldering roof project. Also, their price tag and feature set makes them a bit overkill for the gym. If you've learned anything from this review, it's that it's hard to find one shoe to do it all, but the Maestro Mid Eco comes pretty darn close.