The Chimera is one of Scarpa's premier models. We were thoroughly impressed with its performance, but we remain unconvinced whether it's a shoe the average climber should consider.
The Chimera is one of a few Scarpa shoes to feature TPS technology. That stands for Toe Power Support and it's a "thermoshapable insert" beneath the forefoot that's supposed to provide better support, enhanced pulling capabilities, and improved precision. It certainly succeeds at the pulling and precision. The Chimera feels incredibly precise and worked magic on tiny edges right out of the box. We're skeptical, however, about the support benefits of the TPS technology. Although this shoe is excellent at edges, it's also very soft which is less than ideal if you're forced to stand on those edges for a long time while you suss through a sustained techy sequence.
Using an ultra-performance shoe for an edge this big is kind of ridiculous. The Chimera is capable of gripping tiny edges and dimples that are only a fraction of the size.
This shoe's performance on cracks is undermined by its aggressive downturn. This downturn curls and bunches your toes, which makes resting on wider foot jams uncomfortably painful. For thinner cracks, however, the Chimera offers a modest profile that's well-suited for rand smears or marginal jams. It might be the solution for a steep, bouldery crack project. But it's not a good choice for sustained crack test pieces.
On longer sport routes the soft sole and limited support of the Chimeras made our testers desperate to get them off to relieve their foot pain.
Our testers think the Chimera is one the most comfortable shoes right out of the box. That's because its ultra-soft midsole and microsuede upper instantly conform to your feet. And as the Chimera broke in, we continued to appreciate the superior comfort it provides for an aggressively downturned model. This shoe loses a few points though, because the same ultra-soft midsole does not supply a lot of support. The Chimera is therefore a luxurious choice for bouldering and steep sport routes, but a poor choice on long vertical climbs where its suppleness is sure to tax even the strongest of feet.
Although the vertical profile of the Chimera's toe is low, laterally it's more rounded than pointy. That slightly impairs its performance on tiny pockets, but overall it still does well.
The softness of the Chimera is great for detecting subtleties inside a hard to see pocket. And the shoe's overall downturn ensures that once its inside, you can apply effective force and pull your lower body into the wall. Counting against the Chimera slightly is the modestly wide shape of the toe. We were still able to squeeze it inside small pockets, but for the tiniest openings, a pointier shoe would perform better.
The Chimera is fitted with just 3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber. This thin rubber combined with the super soft midsole make the shoe extraordinarily sensitive.
The Chimera's most notable attribute is its sensitivity. This is partially achieved with the split rand and ultra-soft midsole that allows your foot bend and adjust the wall angle while conforming to each individual hold. It also influenced by the thinness of the Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber. At just 3.5 mm its thinner than most shoes, allowing you to detect the smallest dimples and bumps. This extraordinary sensitivity will surely be appreciated on long-term projects or among comp climbers. But for the more casual climber, it's probably overkill, and the thin rubber simply can't provide the same durability as a thicker shoe.
The Chimera has a suction cup-like heel and rubber-covered upper with asymmetrical laces that make it awesome for heel or toe hooking.
Climbing shoes are expensive, and currently, none are more so than the Chimera. We expect many will balk at its $200+ dollar price tag. That's understandable, and it's not a shoe we would recommend to the recreational crowd. Instead, the Chimera fills a niche for serious climbers who are willing to pay more a shoe of exceptional quality that fits perfectly right out of the box. The Chimera may not be a great value, but its expensive price is backed up by outstanding performance.
The Chimera is one of the most expensive climbing shoes on the market. For the price you get an incredible shoe, but the cost may only be worth it to the most devoted climbers.
To some, climbing is a hobby; to others, it's an all-consuming obsession. For the latter group, there's the Scarpa Chimera. This supple Italian masterpiece offers unrivaled sensitivity in an aggressive design that's ready for your overhanging mega project. Our testers were particularly impressed with its awesome comfort and fit right out of the box. It is a specialized shoe. However, that's best suited for bouldering and shorter sport routes. There are better choices for exclusive crack or pocket climbing. Nevertheless, if climbing means absolutely everything, the Chimeras are an ultra-performance pair worth checking out.