Reviews You Can Rely On

Scarpa Chimera Review

An ultra-premium shoe for ultra-hard climbing routes with a bold color scheme
Scarpa Chimera
Photo: Backcountry
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $210 List | $149.21 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Extremely sensitive, comfortable right out of the box, solid edging performance
Cons:  Really expensive, limited support, low versatility
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 5, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 29
  • Edging - 20% 9
  • Cracks - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Steep Terrain - 20% 8
  • Sensitivity - 20% 10

Our Verdict

Scarpa has made a bold statement with the Chimera. The color scheme is vivid, the price is exorbitant, and the performance claims are outrageous. Yet somehow, this shoe is able to live up to the boldness. The performance frankly exceeds the hype. The quality construction justifies the price. And after the colors faded a little, we even grew to like its looks. Our favorite attribute is the exceptional sensitivity that allows you to detect the subtlest features of a foothold. We also appreciate the comfort of the unlined microfiber upper that feels great out of the box and only improves with time. The obvious drawback is the cost, and it's also not the perfect shoe for pockets. For serious bouldering or sport climbing, though, few shoes can match this beast's outstanding performance.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Scarpa Chimera
This Product
Scarpa Chimera
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $149.21 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$195.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$109.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$85.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
84
88
84
70
64
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Extremely sensitive, comfortable right out of the box, solid edging performanceVersatile, stiff, durable, comfortableExtremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoeComfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent priceAffordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas
Cons Really expensive, limited support, low versatilityExpensive, limited sensitivityPricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feetMediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitiveInsensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain
Bottom Line An ultra-premium shoe for ultra-hard climbing routes with a bold color schemeThis stiff shoe is an all-day crack climbing workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabsAn ultra-high-end shoe that could put you on the podium of your climbing competitionDecent overall climbing performance at an affordable price make these a sold choiceAn entry-level shoe ideal for beginners that comes at an awesomely low price
Rating Categories Scarpa Chimera La Sportiva Katana... La Sportiva Solutio... La Sportiva Finale La Sportiva Tarantu...
Edging (20%)
9.0
10.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Cracks (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Steep Terrain (20%)
8.0
8.0
10.0
6.0
5.0
Sensitivity (20%)
10.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Scarpa Chimera La Sportiva Katana... La Sportiva Solutio... La Sportiva Finale La Sportiva Tarantu...
Style Lace Lace Velcro Lace Lace
Upper Microsuede Leather/Lorica Leather / microfiber Leather / microfiber Leather/Synthetic
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Lining None Pacific (forefoot and back) Pacific, lycra Unlined None
Rubber Type Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Edge FriXion RS
Rubber Thickness (millimeters) 3.5 mm 4 mm 4 mm 5 mm 5 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Chimera is one of Scarpa's premier models. We were thoroughly...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Edging


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 out a sustained techy sequence.

Using an ultra-performance shoe for an edge this big is kind of...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Cracks


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. However, for thinner cracks, 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 testpieces.

On longer sport routes the soft sole and limited support of the...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Comfort


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 seemed to instantly conform to our tester's feet. And as the Chimera broke in, we continued to appreciate the impressive comfort it provides for such an aggressively downturned model. This shoe loses a few points, though, because the same ultra-soft midsole does not supply much support. Therefore, the Chimera is 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 feet.

Although the vertical profile of the Chimera's toe is low, laterally...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Steep Terrain


The Chimera's suction cup-like heel supplied excellent security and subtle sensations during strenuous heel hooks in our tests. The softness at the forefoot is great for detecting subtleties inside a hard-to-see pocket. And the shoe's overall downturn ensures that once it's 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 this toe 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...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Sensitivity


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 to bend and adjust to the wall angle while conforming to each individual hold. It's also influenced by the thinness of the Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber. At just 3.5 mm, it's 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. The thin rubber also can't provide the same durability as a thicker shoe.

The Chimera has a suction cup-like heel and rubber-covered upper...
The Chimera has a suction cup-like heel and rubber-covered upper with asymmetrical laces that make it awesome for heel or toe hooking.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Value


Climbing shoes are expensive, and currently, none are more so than the Chimera. We expect that many will balk at its exorbitant 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 willing to pay more for 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...
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.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Conclusion


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, though, 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.

Jack Cramer

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More