Ten years into blogging and I keep telling myself I’ll do more gear reviews and product highlights. The reason I don’t is just that I’m lazy I guess. So, when I do get around to posting about gear it’s because it’s something I’m really excited about, or because it’s summer. In this case……it’s both. Last season I traveled around a bit doing a slideshow I called “The Golden Age of Backcountry Skiing”. The premise is that backcountry ski gear has finally delivered great offering in every realm (except Telemark). Touring skis and bindings have become excellent in everything from the ultra-lightweight to high performance mid-weight gear. But the boots have taken time to catch up, especially in the mid-weight category. The Maestrale came out a few years ago filling in the middle end quite nicely. It’s a boot you can tour in all day and still drive a good size ski. But, it seemed a bit heavier than it might need to be. It’s been my daily driver for deep powder, skiing fast with bigger skis and ski mountaineering if I’m not putting in a huge day. They have been a good boot, but this past winter I was lucky enough to ski and test the new Maestrale RS for Scarpa and I think the RS just made the transition from good to great boot.
(On the way towards Castle Peak in the Elk Mountains of Colorado. Photo-Louis Aravelo)
Testers details – I’m 195lbs, 6′ 2″. I prefer to ski powder and steeps. I’m sponsored by Scarpa, but posting this on my own accord. I never raced, i’m not from back east and I ski mostly in the backseat. I put over 30 days on one pair of boots. I tend to use the RS with skis 95cm+
-Buckle system is lighter and easier to use
-Trimmed down, cleaner and not as bulky looking
-New touring mode mechanism
-New liner is beefier and more durable
-Range of motion has been increased, improving ease of touring
-Downhill performance feels like it’s improved
(Here is a shot of the new Women’s Gea RS, Maestrale RS and Maestrale from the OR show.)
The older RS version in size 28 weighing in at 1648. This is a fine boot, but all the little changes really add up to make a huge difference in how the boot tours/walks and skis.
The new version weighing in at 1480. If I recall correctly they are claiming a 10% reduction in weight, which doesn’t seem like a ton, but that with the added range of motion they move and feel like a much lighter and more agile boot.
First impression is how much slimmer and cleaner the boot looks. They’ve trimmed the fat and it shows. While you’re slipping on the liner you’ll notice that it’s a much firmer and beefier version than the previous Maestrale liners. Not sure if the new liners increase the stiffness, but it seems like they could be part of the improvement.
The next thing of note is the buckles. They have removed one of the lower buckles and replaced it with the single buckle that levers on the cable and easily cinches things up with one flick. The old buckles seemed to loosen up over time and would flop around a lot, I like this iteration much better.
(Taking these beauties for a spin on Wilson Peak in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Photo- Adam Moszynski)
The main improvement is the combination of weight-loss and increased range of motion. Together, they make it much easier to put in longer days, or move faster while still having the performance you want on the downhill. Game changing!
Downhill performance was tougher to notice, but I think that’s mainly because we had so much great powder last winter in the Wasatch. Hard to feel much when you’re floating effortlessly in deep fluff.
(Deep fluff. Photo- Adam Clark)
We were supposed to shoot some video highlighting the boots, but the snow was just too deep. You’ll have to take my word that I was wearing the boots since you can’t see much of them.
The few times I did open it up with larger skis in open terrain the boot handled great! The new touring mechanism is a little bit more finicky than the old one which was internal and never iced up on me. The new (similar if not the same as the F-1 Evo) tour mode can get snow and ice in it and may take a tap or two with ski poles to free it up.
All in all, I’m very happy with this version of the Maestrale and would highly recommend it if you’re looking for one boot to rule them all.
(Turning em in the Whipple Couloir. Photo- Adam Clark)