Trad Shoe Evolution: Scarpa Maestro Mid First Look

Twist into cracks, smear with precision: The Maestro Mid Eco makes bold claims as a supportive and soft climbing shoe for long routes. We reviewed the latest release from the brand to see how it holds up on the rock.

Innovation in the world of trad climbing shoes seems to revolve around a few central design tenets. Namely, trad shoes are comfortable for all-day climbing, can withstand twisting into cracks, and are stiff.

The Scarpa Maestro Eco, released in spring 2018, departs from the idea that trad shoes need to be stiff. The Maestro Eco line comprises two shoes: a mid-height version and a low version. They cost $190 and $180, respectively, and use premium materials for demanding climbers.

After reviewing them for more than a month, I’ve found the Maestro Mid Eco to be a high-performing climbing shoe. The leather feels great twisting into cracks, and the shoe’s rubber and randing feel decidedly more precise on the rock than those of other trad shoes.

But in regard to Scarpa’s divergence from typical trad shoe design and stiffness, the difference is there — it’s just subtle.

Scarpa Maestro Mid Eco Review

Review: Scarpa Maestro Mid Eco

Scarpa markets the shoe for high-performance, all-day climbing. Typically, when a shoe is marketed for “all-day,” sacrifices are made in performance for the sake of comfort.

Scarpa Maestro Mid Eco Climbing Shoe Review

But with a new IPC-Tension active rand system – meant to support the foot during prolonged use – Scarpa claims the shoes can perform well on both face climbs and cracks for an entire day.

While not a stiff shoe, this support allows climbers to maintain foot strength on micro-holds. Think really small edges.

So in theory, the Maestro Mid can smear, crack climb, and edge well for all-day climbing without feeling stiff. This is a really bold claim. After a few hours of climbing without taking off your shoes, support in your shoe is paramount to its comfort level.

Both models use Eco Leather in their uppers. It feels supple and alleviates the environmental impact of tanning. For rubber, the shoes use 4-mm Vibram XS Edge, Vibram’s rubber designed for edging and multi-pitch climbing.

Scarpa optimized the top of the shoes to reduce pressure points when wedging into cracks. The higher ankle height on the Mid Eco helps when climbing hand-sized to off-width cracks.

I didn’t test the low-cut Maestro, but that shoe uses a more powerful randing. Scarpa claims it’s better suited for technical face climbing.

Review: Scarpa Maestro Mid Eco

For the past month, I’ve tested the Maestro Mid Eco in Colorado’s Front Range crags. Climbing up slabs, vertical walls, cracks, and even overhangs of various rock types, I fiercely focused on how my shoes performed.

Scarpa Maestro Mid Eco Climbing Shoe Review

In use, the shoes excelled on all styles except steep sport climbing and bouldering. The shoe can hold an edge and instills confidence when smearing.

I found my favorite use for the Maestro was climbing finger-sized cracks. The shoe was able to wedge itself into super small cracks and feel secure. It’s good for crack climbing and smearing — it gripped cracks and the surrounding rock with power.

It feels bomber in hand cracks and when wiggling up off-widths. The lacing configuration didn’t create any pressure points, and the leather was very comfortable. I felt very secure and comfortable whenever I’d lock in a good foot jam.

But as for its support on long multi-pitch climbs, the Maestro Mid Eco falls a bit short than its expectations. After a day of climbing, I still wanted to take off my shoes.

But that’s not to say this is a novel experience. After a whole day of climbing, no matter what shoe, I want to take my shoes off.

Scarpa Maestro Mid Eco: Who Should Buy It?

Don’t get me wrong: The Maestro Mid Eco is a comfortable shoe. Way more so than any sport climbing or bouldering shoe.

Those that like to multi-pitch or crack climb are in for high-performing shoe that maintains comfort pitch after pitch. And it offers better performance than most other trad climbing shoes on the market.

If trad climbing is your jam, try on a pair of Scarpa Maestro Mid Ecos at your local climbing store to see if they are a fit for you. Wear them on the rock and feel confident with smears, jams, and sending your climbing goal.

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By
Midwest born, Nate Mitka is based in the GearJunkie Denver office. He is an advocate of all outdoor activities and has developed some habits, like running without headphones, eating raw vegetables, and fixing the chain on his ratty old bike.
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