Words and photos by Sharon Bader and Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Almost too stiff for long tours
Fit was smaller for stated size for my feet