SCARPA Maestrale RS 2 — Review

Post by blogger | November 17, 2017      
Maestrale RS, our tester boots last winter were pre-retail, we're not sure photos of them are accurate so we'll use this shot from SCARPA.

Maestrale RS, our tester boots last winter were pre-retail, we’re not sure photos of them are accurate so we’ll use this shot from SCARPA, and do more photography when we have retail version boots.

Last winter SCARPA introduced upgrades for their ever popular Maestrale ski touring boots. I’ve been skiing in Maestrales for years now, and was excited to try the upgraded version. (Note, for clarity we’ll call this boot the RS “2” though according to SCARPA it’s still simply called the Maestrale RS.)

I first tested the boots during a day of cat skiing at winter 2017 Outdoor Retailer. In my first look review, you can read thoughts on that brief test, as well as technical info on the boots. We went into quite a bit of detail about the changes from the Maestrale 1. There’s also lots of good discussion in the comments of that post.

The new Maestrale RS is definitely an evolution of the 1.0 version (as opposed to being an entirely different boot). The basic structure and functionality is similar; however, almost every part of the boot is changed or updated.

A major upgrade is the walk mode mechanism. SCARPA took the simple external lever used on the F1 and Alien series of boots, beefed it up, and installed it on the Maestrale boots. This allows the boot to have WAAYY more range of motion in tour mode. Another notable change is the material of the upper cuff. SCARPA uses a fiber reinforced plastic that significantly increases stiffness. The buckle setup on the toe of the boot is reworked, the two forefoot buckles being replaced with a single large buckle that uses a metal cable to spread the load. The old hinge-to-the-side tongue opening is gone as well, with the hinges replaced with rivets. The new tongue functions similarly once the boot is on, but the rivets make it a bit tricker to get on.

The liner of the boot is reworked. SCARPA changed the location of some of the stitching, ostensibly for more comfort. They got rid of the removable velcro-attached tongue, a welcome change, as the velcro caused fitting issues for me.

After testing the Maestrale during the OR show last year, I was impressed. A little later I got a pre-production pair to test up here in the PNW. I used the boots during the last part of the winter and quite a bit in the spring.

After a few months of skiing the boots, I can say that the RS 2 is certainly a bit stiffer than the former RS. It’s a small increase, but I definitely felt it and appreciated the added support in a few hairy moments of going fast in bad snow. More, due to the added stiffness I found myself much more comfortable with this boots as ski resort footwear.

In contrast to subtle downhill performance changes, the improvement in the walking mode isn’t hard to notice. The first time I flipped the RS 2 into walk mode, it was obvious that they would be fantastic for striding. It’s said by SCARPA that the new pivot increases the degree of rotation from 37 to 60 degrees. The old Maestrale series (as do most other AT boots) had a walk mode that pivoted with quite a bit of friction. The new pivot latch pivots completely out of the way — less friction than the old style.

Walk mode in summary: The rear walk mode flex of the Maestrale is essentially as good as it can get. My ankle flexibility limits me more than the boot. The forward walk mode flex is a bit stiffer than a super light “hike optimized” AT boot, but still impressive.

The boots are slightly lighter than the old Maestrale RS’s. Our pre-retail boots weighed in at 1324 grams for just the shell, and 1624 for the liner, shell, and my footbed. I suspect most of this can be attributed to the removal of one buckle. Nonetheless, it’s a feat that the techs of Montebelluna managed to lighten things up a bit while retaining or improving functionality.

I did have a problem with the walk mode lever in my pre-retail boots. Once in awhile they didn’t easily lock, usually because of snow in the mechanism. SCARPA assures us this will be mitigated on the retail boot version. Once we test we’ll revisit here and edit, but we felt we had to mention until we’re sure this got fixed.

I prefer the toe buckles of the 1st generation Maestrale to the new cable-pulley buckle on the RS 2. That is the only change that I think may have been a bit of a step back.

In terms of overall buckle configuration, for myself the furthest front buckle on the old Maestrale was mostly useless. I’m glad SCARPA got over the “4 buckle” hangup, and eliminated what has been called the “vestigial.” The single buckle that replaces the two is supposed to spread the load out and mimic having two buckles. However, I don’t think it feels any different than having only one buckle on my old Maestrale (I removed the front one). It is more complicated, and might be a bit heavier. The biggest drawback is that the buckle doesn’t stay clipped to the cable when it’s not tightened. I like to loosen my lower buckles when I’m skinning, and the head of the RS 2 buckle always ended up twisted around and getting caught on things. If SCARPA would just add a small catch on the buckle (as is provided on the top buckle of the boot) to hold the wire, this wouldn’t be an issue. (There may be some mitigation of this with production model.)

Conclusion: The SCARPA Maestrale has been an incredible boot since their inception, so I can’t really say the RS 2 is a massive improvement. However, they are an excellent evolution. Stiffer, lighter, and a better walk mode? In the end, I found myself taking the RS 2 on a few trips where I would have normally used a lighter, more uphill oriented boot. More, they tended to be on my feet at the resort. All proof that this rework, works.



33 Responses to “SCARPA Maestrale RS 2 — Review”

  1. Travis November 17th, 2017 11:57 am

    I was super excited about these, but when I tried them on they felt huge in the forefoot (size 25.5). I was coming from a 1st gen La Sportiva Spectre (25.5) that never felt big enough, even after punching, so I was surprised that the RS felt too big. I ended up buying Salomon Mtn Labs (25.5), after a heat mold they feel great. Sadly I have yet to ski them even with all the snow up here in WA.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 November 17th, 2017 12:04 pm

    Fit is everything, whatever it takes… glad to hear you landed in something that works!

  3. John November 17th, 2017 12:37 pm

    Does it still have a wide last, compared to Maestrales? Lower volume?

  4. John November 17th, 2017 12:38 pm

    older versions

  5. Carl November 17th, 2017 2:49 pm

    I tried these on recently and found them much higher volume than either the mt lab, zero g guide pro or hawx xtd

  6. Lou Dawson 2 November 17th, 2017 3:18 pm

    Good to know, especially for folks with high volume feet! Lou

  7. See November 17th, 2017 8:46 pm

    Sounds like you would have to have some seriously big feet to need to punch near the carbon parts, but I do wonder about the seam between the black and white plastic. Any thoughts on whether a navicular punch would be a problem? Could heating the shell too close to the seam wreck the boot? I think these (or the softer version) are my next boots, but I’m curious about the properties of the lft carbon reinforced grilamid and how it bonds with the non-reinforced parts.

  8. XXX_er November 17th, 2017 9:52 pm

    I know they don’t fit me but there are people out there who have owned Maestrale and Maestrale RS version 1 who would probably be interested in this boot so how they fit in comparison is a big thing to share with the class

  9. Gregg Oliveri November 17th, 2017 11:16 pm

    I wore them for the first day today on a powder day in the North Cascades. Temps were -2-4 C. all day. The walk to ski mechanism got stuck with snow a couple of times and required some slams with my fist to get them to grab. Under certain conditions the mechnism will clog with snow and need some “English” to get them to bite. As a former owner of the first gen orange Maestrale I was impressed with how responsive they were. As the owner of some big feet (30.5) I certainly noticed the lighter weight. As to the volume, a pair of shim footbeds had them fitting perfectly. A great sking and skinning perfomance boot.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 November 18th, 2017 8:09 am

    One thing to remember about external lean locks is in some situations they’re no more resistant to clogging and icing than the internal mechanisms that have been so much trouble over the years. The difference is you can see exactly what’s going on with the external, and easily clean any clogging. Trick is you can have a small amount of ice that keeps the lock bar from fully engaging, but it’ll still appear to be engaged. Scott seems to do the best job of mitigating that with their tiny hook in the lean bar slot, but even that system requires attention in icing situations. Lou

  11. Dabe November 18th, 2017 11:06 am

    shout out to dynafit ultralock and old sportiva spitfire on the no icing front

  12. Bill Hoblitzell November 18th, 2017 7:10 pm

    @ Travis, Scarpa has had the practice in the past of breaking their shells one half size off how most other brands to it (i.e. the 25.5/26.0 is one shell size in Scarpa, vs other brands would have the 25.0/25.5 be the same shell). You can check this out by looking at boot sole length. At any rate, if you were in the 25.5 in one of those other brands and it was tight, might not be surprising that the 25.5 in the Scarpa was cavernous, you might need to check out the next shell down to compare apples to apples.

  13. Ranger November 19th, 2017 1:32 pm

    Not one mention of flex character when skiing. Not a boot review.

  14. Louie 3 November 19th, 2017 8:09 pm

    According to scarpa the fit on the new Maestrales is the same as the old. It certainly felt the same to me. I did the same mod to the liner (taping a layer of foam above the toes) and they fit great with a heat mold. I’ve got pretty easy feet to fit though.

    As for the flex characteristics, the main thing is they are stiff, both laterally and in forward flex. The flex felt fairly progressive, especially compared to many other touring boots, it’s still not an alpine boot though, and doesn’t feel quite as good. I’m honestly not the best judge of the minutia of flex characteristics. Most boots that are stiff enough feel pretty good to me. They ski well, but boots are pretty personal. I’d recommend trying them on for a more detailed feel.

  15. SkiB November 20th, 2017 1:22 am

    The 1324 gram shell seems heavy(ish) when compared to some recent competitors. Have you skied the Ultra Hawx 120 or 130 XTD? It seems those boots may ski a little more progressive in the forward flex department while retaining a sub 1200 gram shell with either boot.

  16. Kristian1 November 20th, 2017 1:26 am

    Somekind of flex comparison/characteristics is much valued in a boot review.
    The problem is that few people has any possibilty to try a boot other then shop flexing prior to buying. I would love to have the possibility to test boot befor buying but since thats not usually possible i want to get a picture of the flex in reviews.

  17. Mark W November 20th, 2017 8:34 am

    As far as the Scarpa line goes, the Maestrale RS should be nearly as stiff as even the Freedom series.

  18. Jeff L November 20th, 2017 3:58 pm

    I saw they have some kind of mesh “ventilation” above the ankle. I am interested in whether this makes them significant ly colder. I don’t usually have a problem with my feet getting too warm, I worry about being too cold though.

  19. Tom M. November 20th, 2017 7:40 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Another boot review? There is hardly any snow in Colorado and many other states.
    I believe it is time for Wild snow to start addressing the issue of climate change and the threats to our public lands in a serious manner.
    We skiers and boarders no longer have the luxury of ignoring what is happening to our public lands or to the climate issue. We do not have the luxury to hide in some hut high in the mountains. We can not sit still while our lands are being taken away, leased and sold off to the highest bidder.. We are all seeing winter come later and spring arrive earlier, with diminishing snowpack and less water as a result. It is time for everyone of us to get involved. Being a bystander means you are a part of the problem.
    This is the major issue facing all of us. The latest gear or clothing for the season will be a moot point if the powder does not arrive. The snow magazines and web sites have a responsibility to become totally involved in environmental issues. It is the platform where we can all come together and let our voice be heard. After all, what will Wild Snow do when there is no more snow.The gloves are off. It is time to start fighting before it is all too late. The ball is in your court.

  20. trollanski November 20th, 2017 9:57 pm

    See, you know what they say about big hands….Big medial malleoli….I have to punch every pair boots I get around this spot to still have some CUSH, or else I am right up against the SHELL, and life is HELL.
    But seriously, the rep didn’t know, I haven’t heard back from him, and we are going to have to start punching this stuff soon….Since no one answered your question…Does anyone know if and at what temp we should be at? And how will that effect the seam area?

  21. etto November 21st, 2017 7:19 am

    I’ve been really looking forward to this boot as I’ve been very happy with my gen1 Maestrale RS. But wen I start looking at what is available in the market it becomes complicated…

    You’ve reviewed the Hawx Ultra XTD 130, that is about the same weight. How do they compare? Particularly for skinning, as that is where I spend most of my time (and before anyone tells me to get a lighter boot, I have one 🙂 )

  22. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2017 8:35 am

    Hi Tom, before scolding us, please use our search function to search for the subject you think we are not covering and discussing. We do cover global warming quite often, usually in news roundups as well as specific blog posts. In fact, I work my rear end off doing as much relevant climate news coverage as my fragile human cuerpo can handle (smile). Am happy to discuss your issue about our content focus, but let’s do it on one of our climate posts:

    Thanks, Lou

  23. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2017 9:29 am

    Etto, another boot that’s very worth looking at is the Sportiva Synchro. I skied them last winter and was impressed, I’ve got a pair of the retail version here and am working on more coverage. My blogging pace is a bit slow recently due to a big mod project that I’ll be covering soon, as well as recent tragic events affecting our family. Getting back up to pace but of course have been re-evaluating everything… Lou

  24. Michael November 21st, 2017 7:30 pm

    FWIW I just upgraded to this years version and I found the fit on the new Maestrale RS the same as the previous version.

    I tried the Atomic Hawk XTD 130 or whatever it’s called in the same shell size (28) as the Scarpa and it was more voluminous. I’d probably size down a shell size in the Atomic, although I didn’t swap out liners or anything, just tried it on quickly.

    In the limited carpet testing I found them similar in flex/stiffness. The biggest difference I noticed is that Maestrale has more sole rocker and was more comfortable walking around in. I doubt it would make much of a difference for skinning.

  25. SkiB November 22nd, 2017 1:27 am

    Michael, If I’m not mistaken Scarpa runs their shells on the half size (or so I’ve read here in blogosphere) meaning you would have been wearing the 27.5 shell for the Scarpa. Atomic, i believe, runs on the whole size. So your size 28.0 would have been the 28.0 shell size. I’m guessing that’s why they felt “voluminous”.
    Lou, any feelings towards the flex of the new Maestrale RS compared to the Hawx XTD 130? I’m leaning more towards the 120 for a more progressive alpine feel going down. Most the weight difference seems to be in the liners and since I’m an Intuition Pro tour guy, I’d be swapping em out anyhow.

  26. Matus November 22nd, 2017 3:33 am

    SkiB there are no real half sizes in Scarpa ski boots.

  27. SkiB November 22nd, 2017 3:37 am

    My mistake. I thought Scarpa split the sizes on the half size. (25.5/26) (26.5/27), (27.5/28) same shell for each parentheses.

  28. Dave November 22nd, 2017 8:13 am

    Nice review. Same bsl?

  29. Michael November 22nd, 2017 9:54 am

    It was a 27.5/28 Scarpa shell and a 28 Atomic shell, so I presume they’re equivalent. The Atomic was very roomy in the 28. I’d be a 27 shell in the Atomic. I’m a 27.5/28 in the Scarpa with a great fit for touring. Good performance but comfortable enough to be in all day.

    The quick carpet test was by no means scientific but they seemed comparable in the shop. I’m also not super in tune to minute differences in flex characteristics, so take that with a grain of salt.

  30. Louis Dawson November 22nd, 2017 6:29 pm

    Another note: I’ve only skied the pre-production version. According to Scarpa, the flex is a bit different on the production boots. I’ll be testing the production boots in a few weeks, and I’ll update the review with some more details regarding the flex.

  31. Pablo November 23rd, 2017 5:33 am

    Atomic Hawx XTD Shell is designed to be in addition of a more alpine style liner, thicker than usual touring liners.
    If you try the lower flex versions (100-120) that comes with alpine type liners, the fit is way tigther.
    The 130 flex versión comes with a thinner touring light type liner, that’s why you feel it so roomier.

    If you go for 130 flex version, you probably need one less size than if you go for 100-120 flex versions.

  32. Paul November 26th, 2017 6:20 pm

    Anyone have any Intel on whether Scarpa will be offering these and/or the Maestrale in 33 any time soon?
    They offered 33 for two seasons in the old models, which was mana from heaven for those of us with seriously large feet.
    Anyone know of a shop that might have a pair of 33s in the old styles? Should have stocked up…..

  33. Rob December 3rd, 2017 11:50 am

    I’ve switched to these from the first gen Maestrale RS. I’ve only skied them twice so far. One resort skiing day and one day out touring. They feel pretty much the same as the old RS. My only complaint so far is the hinge omission. I know it was a part that a lot of people had problems with, so I understand why they got rid of the hinged tongue, but because of the riveted tongue, the new Maestrales are a pain to put on/take off, not to mention what a nightmare it is to try to put the liner back in after you took it out to dry it. I can’t imagine pulling this boot off the feet of someone that had an accident and has a broken ankle/tibia or a knee injury. I’d probably opt for a chainsaw and let them destroy my 500+ eur boot.

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