The newest version of the Scarpa Maestrale RS is basically a brand new ski boot. It updated for the 17/18 season, and we tested it into the 18/19 season. Our entire test team had at least some experience with previous versions, and we can authoritatively say that it is as good as any of the predecessors and at least a little better in all ways. Boots just keep getting better, and Scarpa is keeping up. The Maestrale RS goes uphill like the rando race boots of 10 years ago and goes downhill better than anything on the market at that time. The weight is acceptable (but surprisingly surpassed by some options that ski downhill even better) and the boots will be largely durable. There are some usability quirks that you might grow accustomed to but might choose to opt out of. The fit is generally higher volume than average.
Scarpa Maestrale RS Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Balanced up and down performance, wide/high volume fit
Cons: Ski/walk mode prone to issues, not the best down ski performance
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Scarpa Maestrale family of ski boots has become a backcountry skiing institution. Our lead tester rode his first pair almost ten years ago now. Iterative and significant improvements under the same model name have us, in the latest version, reviewing and skiing a solid, no-nonsense backcountry skiing boot for all kinds of users. Others are lighter and others ski better, but few are as well balanced for the masses. If the Maestrale fits your foot and your skiing is of the typical variety, you won't go wrong.
On our scoring matrix, the Maestrale RS stands out more for all around balance than maximum score. In no one category does it lead the pack, but in none does it lag behind either. Beginner backcountry skiers will appreciate the way it mimics your resort gear with minimal fiddle factor while more experienced riders will dig the durability and balanced uphill to downhill performance attributes.
On the uphill, aside from weight, your primary concerns are with cuff mobility and friction within that range of motion. In these ways, the Scarpa Maestrale is excellent. The overall range of motion is greater than most skier ankles. This is amazing for a boot that skis this well. The friction within the range of motion on the Scarpa is a little greater than other boots, at least out of the box. Notably, the Editors Choice Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro and Dynafit TLT7 Performance boots both start out super smooth and low-friction. Of course, the Top Pick Scarpa Alien RS has amazing touring mobility. With time and mileage, the Maestrale loosens up further, but never quite matches the mobility of the Tecnica or the TLT7. The Maestrale is roughly similar to the Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour and the former Editors' Choice Salomon Mtn Lab.
Six pound AT ski boots are now the heavy ski boots. For human powered skiing, with all the excellent ultralight options available, boots around 6 pounds are considered downhill-oriented. The Maestrale RS weighs 6 lbs 5 oz. Both Editors Choice winners are lighter. Of the boots we tested for 2019, only the super beefy Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD, Salomon Mtn Lab, and Top Pick Lange XT Freetour are heavier than the Maestrale.
For the weight, we want a little more downhill performance. The cuff/lower shell connection is a little rattly and the flex isn't as progressive as we've come to expect. These ski a little better than the Dynafit TLT7 Performance, but not as well as the lighter newcomers like the Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro and the Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour.
Comfort and Fit
The Maestrale is generally a pretty wide fit. The shell is both wide and high-volume. For feet that match, this is excellent. For average feet the stiff and thick "Intuition" liner takes up some volume in an almost-sustainable way. Narrow feet should look elsewhere.
The thick liner and average shell material combine to make for a pretty warm package. Especially if your feet are narrow to average, the liner will stay "puffed up" and lend great insulation. Performance suffers for use this way, but insulation value is optimized.
Ease of Use
Scarpa has carefully tailored the Maestrale. With the latest version improvements came almost equally in terms of uphill, downhill, and ease of use. The set of buckles is simultaneously proven and simple but innovative and unique. The most unique usability feature is the instep buckle. Only the Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour has a similar buckle. This buckle pulls your heel back into the heel pocket for maximum uphill and downhill retention. We love this. The lowest buckle appears complicated, with a routed cable joining multiple anchor points. In use, though, this buckle shaves weight and distributes the holding power. The ski/walk mode is a large, external lever similar to that which is fast becoming standard. It works as advertised, but features a spring that often has lower tension than you'd wish and a bar/slot interface that is pretty tight. With icing and quick flips of the lever, the boot can and does fail to get easily into ski mode. In our testing we had this issue with this boot more often than we wished. Even being careful with icing and such, the lever fails to lock down with some frequency.
We can recommend these boots for anyone that has a wide/high volume foot. Almost any boot can be modified and punched, but those of you with high volume feet will have to do less or none of this with the Scarpa. The performance is good and neutral for all-around backcountry skiing.
Initial purchase price of the Scarpa Maestrale RS is a little below average, but not competitive enough to displace the Best Buy La Sportiva Spectre 2.0. If you are one of the die-hard Intuition liner fans, replacing every non-Intuition liner with your favorite, you might save some dollars with the Maestrale. The Intuition Liner of the Maestrale is ready to go for the discerning liner fan. Most other boots, at any price, do not come with such high-quality, proven liners.
If the shoe fits, wear it. In this case, if your feet are average to high volume, consider the Maestrale. Especially if your performance needs are "average" (almost perfectly balanced going up and down), the Maestrale will hit your sweet spot. Other boots definitely ski better on the way down, sometimes at lower weight and better uphill performance. But the Maestrale is well balanced, affordable, and widely available.
— Jediah Porter