The Scarpa Drago is one of the softest shoes we've ever climbed in. For a high-performance shoe, it is exceptionally comfortable, even more comfortable the La Sportiva Genius. Covered in sticky rubber, this sensitive shoe is best suited for steep climbing, gymnastic bouldering with toe and heel hooks, or enduro limestone routes with tufa pinches and sneaky kneebars. While soft, sensitive shoes can also be effective for slab climbing, but long low-angle pitches are pretty tiring in these softies. These $200 kicks miss our top pick for edging and sensitivity because they just aren't as versatile as the stiffer Genius, but if you've already got your tickets booked for the Spanish sport climbing season or a dreamy fall trip to Kalymnos, the Drago's are the shoe you want for chugging up miles of limestone. They're kind to the feet and ready to slay the steeps.
Scarpa Drago Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Sensitive, comfortable, great for toe hooking
Cons: Too soft for technical granite edging
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|Pros||Sensitive, comfortable, great for toe hooking||Comfortable in cracks, low volume toe fits in thin cracks, great edging||Great edging, convenient and secure Velcro closure system||Great precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/off||Incredible sensitivity, great edging, durability|
|Cons||Too soft for technical granite edging||Heel cup can feel uncomfortable across the achilles, left some testers with sore arches||Not as comfortable in cracks as lace-up models||Not comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurely||Specalized use, expensive, might be hard to resole|
|Bottom Line||These shoe are ready for miles of steep European limestone.||These shoes are high-performing crack climbing machines.||This shoe is well-performing all arounder.||This shoe is a favorite of many veteran climbers and still feels cutting edge over ten years after its first release.||Employing Sportiva's No Edge concept, this is a sensitive shoe that edges incredibly well.|
|Rating Categories||Scarpa Drago||La Sportiva Kataki||La Sportiva Otaki||La Sportiva Solution||La Sportiva Futura|
|Total Scores (%)|
|Specs||Scarpa Drago||La Sportiva Kataki||La Sportiva Otaki||La Sportiva Solution||La Sportiva Futura|
|Upper||Microsuede||Suede leather / Microfiber||Leather/ Microfiber||Leather / Lorica||Leather/Synthetic Leather|
|Lining||Unlined||Pacific||Pacific||HF in toe box and arch area only||Unlined|
|Rubber Type||Vibram XS Grip 2||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Grip 2||Vibram XS Grip2|
|Rubber Thickness (millimeters)||3.5mm||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm||3 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dragos are even softer than the Tenaya Tarifa, while having a much wider fit that accomodates more of our testers. Compared the single velcro strapped La Sportiva Skwama, they don't crack climb very well but are more sensitive and more comfortable.
These shoes are soft and comfortable, so don't be afraid to size down a half size from your regular Scarpa sizing to jack up the edging performance, especially if you'll mostly be bouldering. Our lead tester wears an EU 42 in most Scarpas and felt like a 40 ½ could be tolerable. Edging is the Drago's weakness. For steep, featured walls, we hardly noticed the lack of edging support, but on less than vertical granite, we reached for a stiffer shoe, like the La Sportiva Kataki or the La Sportiva Solution, though neither of these models are as sensitive as the Drago.
The discerning crack ninja will take one look at the toe profile of the Dragos and look elsewhere. The high volume toe box is comfortable, but not great for thin cracks. A lower volume "skinnier" toe like the toe of the La Sportiva Kataki is better for crack climbing. The Dragos aren't uncomfortable in hand cracks, but if you're interested in these shoes for their sensitivity and steep climbing prowess, you're probably not going to be using them for crack climbing.
These shoes are asymmetrical with a fairly pointy toe box. Their sensitivity makes it easier to feel when you're foot is placed perfectly on the edge of a shallow pocket, and the flexibility of the shoe allows you to pull into big pockets on steep walls. Again, the lack of stiffness makes techy vertical limestone more taxing on the toes, and the Butora Acro and La Sportiva Solution are more suited to this style, but the Dragos cruise steeper pocketed terrain.
Did we mention these shoes are sensitive? The Drago is the closest thing we've worn to a rubber sock, and receive a perfect 10 out of 10 in sensitivity. You can feel every bump, divot, or granite ripple through the soft, 3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber. Sized tight for edging performance, and these shoes are awesome for most styles of bouldering. Regarding slabs, the no-edge La Sportiva Genius is nearly as sensitive, but with a stiffer midsole and No Edge design that allows you to wear a larger, potentially more comfortable size.
Modern, high-end shoes are designed to perform well without pain, and the Drago is no exception. Right out the box, we were able to wear these shoes for 35-meter pitches without pain. They appeared narrow, but our wide footed tester was pleasantly surprised when he pulled on these shoes, heard the customary "shlunk" of air rushing out of the shoe, and discovered a very comfortable, nearly perfect fit. Again, on long, technical pitches, weak feet will suffer.
Two hundred dollars is a lot to fork over for a pair of climbing shoes. Why so expensive? The Dragos are handmade in Italy, the glue job on the toe rubber is high quality, likely taking the time of a skilled cobbler who is (hopefully) paid fairly. If you decide to part with your hard-earned dough in exchange for these shoes, you're getting an awesome, well-constructed product.
These sleek looking race car shoes are a great choice for your next Euro limestone odyssey, where they will help you flow up steep limestone by day and let cheap wine flow down your satisfied gullet at night, along with snails or whatever. For the blue-collar all-American trad warriors out there, do yourself a favor and buy a stiffer pair of climbing shoes.
— Matt Bento