Scarpa Shaka Backcountry Skiing Boot


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | June 9, 2010      

Words and photos by Sharon Bader and Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.

Scarpa Shaka

Scarpa Shaka

New for Fall 2010/Winter 2011 is the Scarpa Shaka described as downhill boots with touring features including the Skywalk active sole, tech fitting and of course the walk/ski mode. Based on the popular Skookum boot but with a female fit Scarpa introduced the Shaka for women who wanted a stiff boot but couldn’t find a fit with the Skookum. Weighing in at 1636g the Shaka will not weigh you down. Constructed of 100% Pebax with dual injection molding providing consistent stiffness where needed over a wide range of temperatures in a light material.

Comparison of the Shaka (center) with the Dynafit DNA, Garmont Megaride, Scarpa Shaka, Scarpa Maestrale and Dynafit Titan. Notice the shell height in the back is comparable to the Megaride, but lower then the Dynafit.
Comparison of the Shaka (center) with the Dynafit DNA, Garmont Megaride, Scarpa Shaka, Scarpa Maestrale and Dynafit Titan. Notice the shell height in the back is comparable to the Megaride, but lower then the Dynafit.

The Shaka comes with the boot board, an insole that allows you to adjust the volume of the boot or replace it with your own insoles. Note also the rivets are inset to prevent wear on the liners.

The Shaka comes with the boot board, an insole that allows you to adjust the volume of the boot or replace it with your own insoles. Note also the rivets are inset to prevent wear on the liners.

A necessary addition to tongue boots is the hard stop. This prevents the back cuff from collapsing beyond the inner cuff when your weight is thrown forward. This allows the skier to maintain control in variable conditions.

A necessary addition to tongue boots is the hard stop. This prevents the back cuff from collapsing beyond the inner cuff when your weight is thrown forward. This allows the skier to maintain control in variable conditions.

The black addition to the back of the rear cuff is a spoiler that adds stiffness to the boot. This piece can be removed if deemed unnecessary. The booster strap on the Shaka is very wide and offers further support to the upper cuff depending on how tight you pull it.

The black addition to the back of the rear cuff is a spoiler that adds stiffness to the boot. This piece can be removed if deemed unnecessary. The booster strap on the Shaka is very wide and offers further support to the upper cuff depending on how tight you pull it.

Comparison of lean in walk and ski modes.

Comparison of lean in walk and ski modes.

The Shaka has a wide range of motion in walk mode. In Ski mode the cuff will not move back or forward. The two forward lean stops, while not noticeable in the photos, is noticeable in practice. What is noticeable in the photo’s is the forward lean when first going into ski mode from standing normally to the first locked position.

The Shaka comes with the Intuition Speed Pro – G liners, which can be heat molded for ideal fit and are some of the lightest liners available. They also offer further support, great warmth, comfort and quick drying after a day of sweating on the slopes. Intuition liners’ dual density also adds stiffness and flex where needed. Other features that add to the stiffness and driving control with minimal weight added to the overall boot is the Dual-density V-Frame power-ribs on the cuff; the elastic booster strap that is now thicker and more supportive; and the cuff spoiler on the back of the boot. It can be made to fir a wide range of uses by swapping between the touring or ski tongue and other features that add to the stiffness that can be altered, such as the spoiler, adjustable buckles and active booster strap.

Downhill Skiing

A size 26 boot was tested in this review. My shoe size is between women’s 9 and 10. Scarpa’s size 26 is for a size 10 foot, size 27 is for a 11 foot. However, I found the liner in these boots too small even after molding. I was able to use the shells with my size 9 Intuition Freeride Liner, but I found Scarpa’s size 26 to be on the tight side. The Escape Route boot fitter did test this shell size to my foot and found that it was just big enough, ideally I should be the next size up.

The Shaka has two forward lean angles of 19 and 23 degrees. I kept the boot in the 19 setting. When fully buckled this boot was very stiff and offered solid support in even grabby variable conditions. This Shaka was tested with the ski tongue, Scarpa’s stiffer tongue for added control. A softer touring tongue is also available but not tested for this review.

I used these boots with the Black Diamond Verdict ski ( 2007) and Movement Spark. The boot was able to drive both these skis effortlessly. I tightened the boots enough to get a snug feel and my foot did not move in the boot. Every foot movement transferred directly to the ski and the ski did not deflect in variable conditions so long as I kept my feet driving forward.

I was able to ski on hard pack groomers, icy groomers, creamy spring snow, variable spring snow with debris and a single track ski out with variable conditions. I found the boot confidence inspiring and responsive in all conditions. When I needed more power it was there, when I could relax and enjoy the snow it would let me do just that.

On a longer ski out traverse I had to put the boot in walk mode and loosen the buckles for the uphill sections and I still had enough stiffness to maintain control on the narrow variable ski track out. I also found after touring all day it was more comfortable during the final run to loosen the boot for comfort while having no loss of control.

 Even when unbuckled the boot was stiff enough to control skis in variable conditions.

Even when unbuckled the boot was stiff enough to control skis in variable conditions.

ShakaReview-shakaskiing2
Touring

Even unbuckled the boot was quite stiff. I had to completely undo the buckles and booster strap on my left foot since the smaller shell did cause pressure on my ankle. Loosening the booster strap on both boots was beneficial, I could leave the buckles of the right boot in the loose catch. After a four hour tour and 1000m of climbing my feet still felt comfortable.

Touring in the Shakas

Touring in the Shakas

Summary
A stiff boot designed with downhill performance in mind that is light and great for most day tours. While able to accomodate longer tours due to its customizability its bias tends more to downhill performance.

Pros:
Very stiff
Light

Cons:
Almost too stiff for long tours
Fit was smaller for stated size for my feet



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Comments

7 Responses to “Scarpa Shaka Backcountry Skiing Boot”

  1. Rob April 22nd, 2011 7:12 am

    I bought these boots for my wife since we have had the best luck wth the Scarpa Fit. I ski on the Spirit 4 and I think it is pretty good. We have the same size foot so I tried the Shaka out myself.

    This is a very nice boot. Good looking and the buckles are better than the spirit buckles. The velcro power strap works better than any other I have seen.

    However…I did not find the boot to be all that stiff. Even with the ski tounge in I found that i could not lean on the front of the boot without it fllexing too much.(175lbs). Perhaps I am a bit heavy for a womens boot granted but not that much of a stretch. I noticed that leg muscles tire out quickly on the downhill because of this lack of support. The forward lean settings throw you forward, which is good, but there is no support to keep you there so you are fighting it all day, especially on flatter terrain.

    Many people prefer a softer boot so this may be a perfect compromise for some. But since it is marketed as a burly 4 buckle alpline hybrid ……I think iit is a little soft. The flex is probably perfect for 110-150 lb women.

    My daughter skis the Scarpa Diva and I find that it offers more support.

  2. Lou April 22nd, 2011 7:37 am

    Rob, thanks for chiming in. I think at 175 lbs you were probably too heavy to for the forward support of this boot, but still, your finding the boot to feel soft is good feedback.

    One thing to be aware of with this sort of thing is that if cuff lean is set in the forward mode, or thick liner behind calf throws you forward, you can already be a bit too far forward and the boot will feel like it’s not offering enough forward support.

  3. Katrina November 14th, 2011 6:22 pm

    Hi there,
    Just curious what bindings you used for the demo? Any suggestions of what pairs best with these boots? Trying to decide between Dynafit and the new Fritchi Eagles. I already have a tele set-up and I’m looking for something to do more aggressive touring on as well as some in-bounds skiing. Dynafit sounds great except for the over-camber-pop-out in bounds. I’d like to push it when I’m on my alpine skis and when i’m in it for the tour and finess I’ll pull out my tele’s.
    Thanks!

  4. Lou November 14th, 2011 6:35 pm

    Katrina, as always I’d suggest a frame binding, step-in, such as Fritschi for in-bounds use…. Nothing worse for your friends than them standing there watching you dynafiddle as they snap into their alpine rigs. Sharon?

  5. JasminD November 19th, 2011 8:42 pm

    Hi Sharon –
    I tried these boots on at MEC (a few times now) and noticed that the two middle buckles seem to be too close together – i.e. I was having a bit of difficulty getting them done up. Did you have any issues with this? I am considering this boot but the buckle thing seemed a bit weird to me. I definitely had to latch the buckles in a certain order otherwise they would get caught one one another.

    Since you also tested out the Gea, did you find these boots noticeably stiffer?
    Cheers.

  6. Sharon Bader November 20th, 2011 9:31 am

    Hi Katrina,

    I use Dynafit Verticals for most of my touring. I do have a spare pair of skis with Fritchi Freerides that I will use for inbounds skiing on the local mountains here in North Vancouver. The Dynafits are good for most inbound skiing conditions but when it gets hard then yes, I too am more concerned about popping out although I never have. I also don’t ski on them as aggressively as I do with my inbounds alpine gear.

    Jasmine,
    I know what you mean. I just put on the lower buckles before the cuff buckles and that deals with the conflict.

    I found the Gea to be better for walking and more forgiving for skiing. The Shaka’s are considerably stiffer and will be my main slackcountry boot. The Gea will be my main touring boot.

    Also, if you do have both boots, the sole length for the same size ( 27) boot differs enough I have to adjust my bindings when I switch boots.

  7. Jill, Head Geargal March 15th, 2012 9:17 am

    Hey, I know this is a review from a few months ago, but I wanted to chime in – I, too, use Dynafits with this boot (and all my boots) and they are very reliable. I have had an inbounds pre-release but this turns out to have been user error – I didn’t knock the snow out of the divots before I clicked in. I also had to crank my DIN up a bit. I had the worst prerelease of my life with alpine bindings, which seems ironic.

    Dynafits have more of a learning curve but once you get the hang of it they’re much faster to deal with than step-ins, in my opinion.

    If you are a committed inbounds skier then you might as well get alpine gear; it’s more suited to the task – and by that I mean the boots, rather than the bindings since alpine boots are better for driving skis on hardpack. But for touring, tech bindings are worth the weight of other bindings in gold. Just take the time to learn to use them first, because Lou has a point that watching someone flail with their tech bindings is really annoying.

    Incidentally I linked to your review of the Geas on my own site because you take better pictures (meaning that I don’t take any pictures. Ha). http://geargals.com/2012/02/29/scarpa-gea-ski-boot/

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