Scarpa Chimera Review
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|Pros||Extremely sensitive, comfortable right out of the box, solid edging performance||Versatile, stiff, durable, comfortable||Extremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe||Comfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent price||Affordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas|
|Cons||Limited support, low versatility||Expensive, limited sensitivity||Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet||Mediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitive||Insensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain|
|Bottom Line||An ultra-premium shoe for ultra-hard climbing routes with a bold color scheme||This stiff shoe is an all-day workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabs||An ultra-high-end shoe that is designed for performance||Decent overall climbing performance at an affordable price make these a sold choice||An 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...|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||Scarpa Chimera||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Upper||Microsuede||Leather / Microfiber||Leather / Microfiber||Eco Leather / microfiber||Leather/Synthetic|
|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||3.5 mm||4 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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