Scarpa Maestrale RS
This year (Winter 2012-13) Scarpa upgraded the Maestrale, which was already good boot, and made it bad ass. The flex is notably stiffer, but the boot didn’t gain any significant weight. Scarpa has made gains in balancing substantial tour-ability with high performance on the down. It can hold its own in bounds, but it really shines in the backcountry.
The main difference in the Scarpa Maestrale RS and its predecessor is material, not design. By changing the cuffs from Pebax to Polyamide, Scarpa raised the flex index from 100 to 120, a significant upgrade to the Maestrale.
I noticed the difference immediately. I took out one of my go-to standards, the Volkl Mantra (98mm waist) and proceeded to drive them down a host of groomers with much enjoyment. Veering off-piste, the boots powered my skis through refrozen coral early one morning, and I felt surprisingly comfortable in uncomfortable snow.
Like the original Maestrale, the RS has a very large range of motion for touring too, which I appreciated when I crossed three lakes into base camp last spring. Paired with the tongued Intuition liner, which by design works in concert with the cuff articulation, I was blister free for my duration in the backcountry.
The heel retention buckle and upper buckle have also been augmented to increase lockdown power. Skiing one version next to the other, I noticed a small, but significant difference in overall stability. The changes do come with a small price, and by small I mean an extra ounce and half in weight.
The two lower buckles almost seemed superfluous. Because the tongue is stiff, one buckle could’ve done the work of two, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed a difference. As they were, they seemed a little too close for maximum comfort.
For the downhill, the Intuition liners snugly enveloped my Achilles area, minimizing slop, and I really felt my skis went exactly where I wanted them. At the ski test in Utah, I sought out a couple tight slots for some hops turns and wasn’t let down. My skis came around if on a swivel, losing very little ground in the fall line, and seized an edge time after time. Hello, ski mountaineering.
One observation about the asymmetrical tongue: Each morning on my backcountry trip, when I put my feet into my shells, I found it difficult because they opened to the side, and being that tent space is limited, this created a small annoyance each morning. It’s splitting hairs, I know, but so it goes.
How We Tested It
I was lucky enough to live in these boots for a 4-day backcountry trip into the northern Tetons, in addition to trying them out at the Backcountry/Outside ski test. I paired them with five different skis of various girth and personality.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.