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Scarpa Maestrale RS Review

Proven ski boots with modern updates and an overall performance profile that is optimized for the majority of bc riders. If you have high volume feet, even better.
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Price:  $799 List | $795.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Balanced up and down performance, wide/high volume fit
Cons:  Ski/walk mode prone to issues, not the best down ski performance
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 18, 2019
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Uphill Performance - 20% 4
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Downhill performance - 30% 7
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7
  • Warmth - 10% 8
  • Ease of Use - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The newest version of the Scarpa Maestrale RS is basically a brand new ski boot. It was 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 bettered 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. 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.

Product Updated

The Maestrale RS has been tweaked this year. Read on for the specifics!

November 2019


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Balanced up and down performance, wide/high volume fitExcellent downhill performance, light weight, proven styleLight, excellent freedom of motion, easy to use, skis downhill as well as any average touring bootGreat downhill performance, progressive forward flex, reliable buckles and ski/walk modeExcellent downhill performance, lightweight, innovative
Cons Ski/walk mode prone to issues, not the best down ski performanceModerate insulation, hard to get in and out ofLimited crampon compatibility, not as warm as the warmest boots availableHigh friction in range of motion, smooth soleClaimed easy transitions leave you in a tour mode that is significantly compromised., binding and crampon compatibility limited.
Bottom Line Proven ski boots with modern updates and an overall performance profile that is optimized for the majority of bc riders. If you have high volume feet, even better.Whether a newcomer adjusting from the resort or a seasoned expert looking for work-horse shoes for 100+ backcountry days a season, it's is a top of the line contender.The result of decades of refinement and the performance shows; the proven attributes are welcome, and the innovative refinements work well enough.This is a ski touring boot that skis downhill almost as well as a resort boot.Unique, innovative boots that really push the envelope way ahead in terms of downhill performance (at this weight point) but have some design and branding inconsistencies for actual backcountry and uphill use.
Rating Categories Scarpa Maestrale RS Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro Dynafit TLT7 Performance Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour
Uphill Performance (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
5
Weight (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
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6
Downhill Performance (30%)
10
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7
10
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8
10
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6
10
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9
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8
Comfort And Fit (15%)
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
10
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7
10
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7
Warmth (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (5%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
3
Specs Scarpa Maestrale RS Tecnica Zero G... Dynafit TLT7... Atomic Hawx Ultra... Dynafit Hoji Pro...
Weight size 26.5, pair 6 lbs 5 oz 6 lbs 0 oz 4 lbs 8 oz 7 lbs 5 oz 6 lbs 2 oz
Range of Motion; degrees 60 55 55 36 55
Binding Compatibility? Tech only, or Tech and DIN AT standard, or Tech, DIN AT and DIN Alpine/WTR Tech and DIN AT WTR, Tech, and DIN AT Tech only WTR, Tech, and DIN AT Tech only
Stated Flex Index 125 130 Not reported 120 Not reported
Stated Last width 101mm 99mm 102mm 98mm 103.5mm
Alpine wrap or Tongue Tongue Alpine Wrap Tongue Alpine Wrap Tongue
Shell material Carbon Grilamid Grilamid Grilamid lower shell, Titantex Fiber cuff Grilamid Grilamid

Our Analysis and Test Results

Maestrale Updates


Scarpa refined their classic backcountry boot. There are some cosmetic changes, noted below, but otherwise minimal tweaks - they reinforced the shell around the toe, and the tech inserts are now Dynafit's standard insert vs. the previous Dynafit QuickStep inserts. Compare the look of the new boot (first photo) to the version we tested (second photo). As of early December 2019, we have the newest Maestrale RS in use and will get you firsthand feedback shortly.


Though we're linking to the updated Maestrale RS, the review below tells only of our experience with the previous boot.

Hands-On Review of the Maestrale RS


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.

Funky snow in a backcountry  storm-day couloir run in Grand Teton National Park. The Maestrale RS was up to the task.
Funky snow in a backcountry, storm-day couloir run in Grand Teton National Park. The Maestrale RS was up to the task.

Uphill Performance


On the uphill, aside from weight, your primary concerns are with cuff mobility and friction within that range of motion. In these ways, the 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.

The cuff range of motion of the Maestrale is good and the transitions are relatively simple.
The cuff range of motion of the Maestrale is good and the transitions are relatively simple.

Weight


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 six pounds five ounces. Both Editors' Choice winners are lighter.

"Testing" the Maestrale RS in Grand Teton National Park's "Nugget Couloir". This isn't your typical use case  but it was good testing.
"Testing" the Maestrale RS in Grand Teton National Park's "Nugget Couloir". This isn't your typical use case, but it was good testing.

Downhill Performance


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.

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.

Warmth


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.

For average backcountry skiing  you can't go wrong with the Scarpa Maestrale RS. It is carefully tuned for wide appeal.
For average backcountry skiing, you can't go wrong with the Scarpa Maestrale RS. It is carefully tuned for wide appeal.

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. 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 go 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.

The large  external ski/walk mode cuff lock  in action.
The large, external ski/walk mode cuff lock, in action.

Value


The 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.

The Scarpa Maestrale next to the Editors Choice Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro. Head to head  these boots are closely matched. The Tecnica skis better and is lighter  but its more expensive and fits narrower.
The Scarpa Maestrale next to the Editors Choice Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro. Head to head, these boots are closely matched. The Tecnica skis better and is lighter, but its more expensive and fits narrower.

Conclusion


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