SCARPA to Make Lightweight 4 Buckle Boot — Maestrale & Gea

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

We’ve got a few more reports from last week’s Outdoor Retailer trade show. Here’s another one.

Dynafit started the lightweight 4-buckle category with their ZZero boots, and though I still think most skiers really don’t need a 4th buckle on their boots, the magic buckle looks stylish and sells well, so let the vagaries of business take boot design where it will. After all, removing buckles is easy enough, and especially so with Scarpa as they still construct their boots with mostly threaded fasteners instead of rivets (a top feature, in my world.)

So, enter the Scarpa Maestrale and women’s version Gea, weighing in at 52 ounces per boot (size 27). Same size ZZero CF TF comes in at around 56 ounces (depending on power strap choice, etc.) so Scarpa might now be the weight winner in this category.

Shop for the Scarpa Maestrale and Gea here.

Scarpa Maestrale boots for backcountry skiing.

Maestrale, left, and Gea, right.

Scarpa gave me a good runthrough of their new Maestrale and Gea (female version) 4 buckle low-mass performers. Let me tell you, they left no stone unturned when it came to making a state-of-art backcountry skiing boot. These are truly sweet machines. Check ‘em out.

Scarpa Maestrale boots for backcountry skiing.

Maestrale, for ease of entry/exit and a stable shell for more downhill performance, the shell tongue is attached with two small metal hinges. Arrow to the right points the skeletized area in the cuff, which is filled with a lightweight metallic mesh and waterproof/breathable membrane.

Scarpa Maestrale boots for backcountry skiing.

Maestrale cuff travel is awesome, also note the speed holes, our favorite WildSnow boot feature?

Of interest to Dynafit aficionados, Maestrale and Gea use Dynafit’s “Quick Step-in” toe fittings. As far as I know this is the first non-Dynafit branded boot to use the fittings, and kudos should go to Scarpa for working out the agreement and paying the price to use Dynafit’s latest “tech” fitting technology. For more about tech fittings, check out our blog post from a few days ago.

It’s terrific that boot makers such as Scarpa are coming up with these lighter weight but still powerful offerings. Boot weight is critical if you’re earning your turns instead of paying cash. You lift your boot a little extra for every step up the hill, and you lift them when you’re dirt hiking or booting as well, so footwear is perhaps the most important place to save weight in your whole kit. So, excellent!

(Just for fun I googled “maestrale.” Among other things in the top 10 listings it’s the name for a class of Italian destroyer battleship. Take that as you will, I find it somewhat amusing. One of the translation services puts it as “mistral” in English, said to be “A cold and usually dry regional wind in France, coming from the north, which accelerates when it passes through the valleys…” The operative word is perhaps “accelerates?”)

More:
- Definitely lower volume, that’s the main reason they’re lighter weight (less plastic).
- Asymmetric tongue
- Intuition Pro Flex G liner
- New “Active Power Strap” is lighter weight than metal buckle version
- Plant based instead of petrol based plastic (yeah, they use petrol to grow the plants, so it’s perhaps a wash, but Scarpa schooled me and said the plant based Pebax is stiffer than the petrol based, so there you go, anything for more beef!)

Comments

33 Responses to “SCARPA to Make Lightweight 4 Buckle Boot — Maestrale & Gea”

  1. JMski February 1st, 2010 11:34 am

    Hmm, might be able to reduce weight another couple of ounces by removing the somewhat redundant toe buckle…
    All in all, looks like a great design.

  2. KevinD February 1st, 2010 11:49 am

    Lou,

    Does the Maestrale come with Intuition’s Pro Tour liner? If not, does the liner lace up?

    Also, MSRP?

    Thanks for the look.

  3. Tom Gos February 1st, 2010 12:02 pm

    Any idea on the fit of this boot? I’d imagine that it is on the wide and volumous side as are most Scarpas. Does the sole have the infamous “Scarpa Arch” built in?

  4. earle.b February 1st, 2010 12:45 pm

    Any size number on the last? Lower volume or more volume than the Spirit series it replaces?

  5. joshg February 1st, 2010 12:52 pm

    Any estimate as to the flex rating for the Maestrales? Do you think they’ll be a stronger performer than the Spririt 4?

  6. Jason February 1st, 2010 1:58 pm

    WOW! There are so many great boots coming out. It’s about time. I gotta ask though… Dynafit is the only binder really out there… what is going to be the new binding tech that will keep me in my charging boot? Dynafit Din 16?

    OK!

  7. Lou February 1st, 2010 2:03 pm

    I added some info to the bottom of the post. Intuition Pro Flex G liner (I’ve got some of those here and they have STIFF cuff, very nice.) The MSRP is $599, nice to see the prices dropping on boots!

  8. Lou February 1st, 2010 2:06 pm

    Jason, I really don’t understand why a person needing a DIN 16 binding would need or even expect one with Dynafit construction. At a certain point, the DIN is going to exceed the strength of the binding and it’ll need to be made stronger and heavier, and thus there would be no real reason for the compromises of the Dynafit type system, such as the fiddling to get in and that sort of thing. In my view, something like the Duke has much more potential for that type of DIN range. In other words, frame/plate bindings sure do have a purpose.

  9. Dimitar February 1st, 2010 3:02 pm

    Lou,
    by chating with several people involved in tech bindings development, I got the impression that the issue with DIN 14 or 16 binding is not actually with the binding itself, but rather with boots’ inserts strength – i.e. boots practically braking on such DIN settings.
    Just wondering whether this is something real or just speculation? As you are much more into it – what do you think about, have you heard such info also?

    P.S. Actually I broke a pair of ZZero C4 when they were first launched, while crashing with tlt bindings locked. The plastic around the inserts cracked severely…..

  10. Lou February 1st, 2010 4:15 pm

    Dimitar,

    First, the cracking of the ZZzero C4 was a known problem during the first runs of the boots, and was not just experienced by people with locked bindings. The boots were covered by warrenty of course, and the problem was fixed. It was said to be from contamination of the plastic around the fitting.

    As for the boot being the weak link, that could very well be. I mean just imagine the force on the heel fitting as it’s being yanked out of the heel pins at DIN 16 type resistance. I mean heck, the things fall off occasionally anyway with very little persuasion. But as far as I know there is really no serious R&D going on with how to make tech binding that has release values equaling DIN 16. I think the companies know that while perhaps having that number on the binding would be a good marketing gimic, there are very few people who actually need it, or for whom it would release at that number without first causing injury (if it released at all).

    Again, back to my main point in this post, for the binding to evolve the tech inserts need to have a standard that makes them all uniform and makes them all function at the top of the design curve. Such a standard could even evolve. You could have gen1 inserts, gen2, and so on. with each getting stronger and better.

  11. Greg February 1st, 2010 6:44 pm

    Figures, what did I buy this year? Spirit 4, everytime…ARRGH.. Boots for sale… LOL

  12. cam February 1st, 2010 6:44 pm

    The boot looks fantastic. Could certainly drop the lowest toe buckle, but low volume, stiff performer – can’t wait.

  13. Jan Wellford February 1st, 2010 6:53 pm

    Don’t sell your Spirit 4/Zzero4s yet–the Maestrale looks to be a great boot but doesn’t feel like it performs even close to my Spirit 3s. The Maestrale is lower in the shin, the cuff doesn’t wrap around–it feels more like an F3 without the flexible bellows.

    Of course I haven’t actually skied it yet–I expect that the torsional rigidity is pretty impressive due to the stiff upper cuff–but the forward flex just isn’t there. My initial thoughts are that this will be a great boot for less aggressive skiers who want a strong lightweight offering.

  14. Jan Wellford February 1st, 2010 6:58 pm

    Also, that Pro Flex G liner is sweet. It has a really soft area behind the achilles that allows it to flex rearward very easily, which combined with the great rear-travel of the shell makes for an excellent touring/walking feel. I’ve only recently started paying attention to the liner as it relates to rearward travel, and it’s as important as the shell.

    Case in point: the Radium with stock liner walks really nicely, while the Radium with an Intuition overlap liner is crap for touring (at least here in the Adirondacks where flat approaches are mandatory–I gather rear travel doesn’t matter much in the Wasatch or Teton Pass).

  15. KevinD February 1st, 2010 8:24 pm

    Does the Pro Flex liner have laces?

  16. cb February 1st, 2010 10:35 pm

    the sole rubber looked very thin under the toe (half the thickness of other boots?), bad for scramblers?

  17. brian February 1st, 2010 10:56 pm

    Hey Lou,
    Fairly off topic but related question…I skied by someone with a new Dynafit set up the other day. He stopped me to ask about a problem he was having, thinking I was some sort of expert in my race setup (lol!). He said he kept stepping out of his binding as he skinned up the cat road even with the toe in full tour mode. Thinking back, that has happened to me and others with new binders. Any thoughts? This was happening for him right out of the parking lot so I don’t think icing was the issue. For me it simply stopped after a few tours.

  18. Cane February 2nd, 2010 6:21 am

    You explanation is excellent and clear. I was impressed with this post and am looking forward to reading more from you ….

    Bookmarked this.. ;)Thanks for sharing…

  19. Greg February 2nd, 2010 8:13 am

    Lou – When at the Retail Show were you able to get a look at the not yet released Marker Tour binding. Hopefully they’ll ship you a pair for an early eval…
    http://www.marker-tour.com/

  20. Lou February 2nd, 2010 9:04 am

    Greg, The Tour model is a variation of the Duke platform, so fiddling with the pre-production ones wasn’t a big priority and I didn’t pursue it. Marker sent us some Barons this fall and we’ve got a review coming on those, and as soon as we can get a pair of Marker Tour that’s ready to be skied, we’ll be on it. They do look nice, though not revolutionary.

  21. Wick February 2nd, 2010 3:36 pm

    Sell you Spirit 3′s & 4′s!

  22. Franc September 9th, 2010 6:02 am

    The best boots of the history! (until now)
    I’ll sell my Virus Dalbello (I am not so happy of that boots :-( ) and I’ll buy these.

  23. Lou September 9th, 2010 7:39 am

    They really are quite beautiful, except for the color (grin).

  24. Rogier van Rijn September 20th, 2010 4:12 am

    Does somebody knows the sole length of the Gea in size 24? Need to fix the bindings before we will get the shoes….

    Thanks in advance…

    Rogier

  25. Cory November 10th, 2010 10:14 am

    Is it possible to punch the arch/instep on the maestrale or is the plastic too thin. I have a weird wide arch. Thanks.

  26. Lou November 10th, 2010 10:33 am

    Cory, do you mean sideways or down, in terms of which direction you’d enlarge? Or up?

  27. Cort November 10th, 2010 10:48 am

    Lou,
    There is a spot just in front of my ankle that is a bit too wide. My thoughts have been to punch sideways or a footbed to support that area better. Thanks for your feedback. :D

  28. Lou November 10th, 2010 10:54 am

    Work with a bootfitter first, on some footbeds that will probably indeed help with that. Sometimes all it takes is to mold the beds then skive some material off the sides of the beds, or cutting open the liner and removing some material. Raising your foot up and down in the boot also makes a difference. The boot can be punched there but it’s usually not necessary to do so.

  29. mary November 22nd, 2010 9:24 pm

    Once again leaving out the smaller woman demographic, thanks for nothin’ Scarpa.

  30. Mark W November 22nd, 2010 10:15 pm

    Mary, I bet once the Gea is a hit, and it ought to be, Scarpa will produce smaller sizes. Many of their boots go down to a 21.5, which beats most boot producers.

  31. DJ W December 5th, 2010 4:49 pm

    Lou et al,
    Novice AT guy here. By novice I mean zero experience. I know, I know: I haven’t lived yet. I park ski well and have oodles of winter mountaineering experience…and am sick watching all of you guys burn past me at a zillion miles an hour while I trudge down the ice in crampons on the way back down from wherever. See, it takes you 2 hours what takes me 2 days of post holing. Time to cash in on turns but I need some advice first. I am usually loaded for 3 or so days out and typically like the more technical routes that definitely require crampons (and what looks like hauling skis up soon). First, do you think these boots will work with a pair of automatics and handle some true weight on a decent? Second, Fritschi Damier bindings are a favorite among guide buddies who have taken the plunge but I’m looking at Silvretta due to compatibility with boots with a welt (La Sportiva Nepal EVO). Thoughts? Nix those and move to Dynafit?
    Thanks!
    DJ

  32. DJ W December 5th, 2010 4:57 pm

    Whoops! “These” meaning the Maestrale boots.

  33. Lou December 5th, 2010 5:42 pm

    DJW, here you go:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/3671/ski-gear-climbing-boots/

    Silvretta will be fine.

    AT boots work well with crampons, especially clip ons, but due to ankle rigidity they’re crumby for all but basic ice climbing.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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