Pound for pound, the retooled Scarpa Maestrale RS is the best new backcountry boot for 2018. First released in the fall of 2010, the Maestrale RS made waves as the original lightweight and powerful AT boot, eventually becoming the world’s best-selling alpine touring boot. A lot has changed in the backcountry world since then, as just about every ski boot brand on the planet has sought a piece of the AT pie.
This season, Scarpa reinvents the Maestrale RS (in men’s and women’s) in a big way. A carbon fiber and Grilamid nylon hybrid cuff is placed around the heel and extended up underfoot, increasing stiffness and power but allowing for a smooth, even flex.
In practice, the 130 flex feels natural and progressive as opposed to the rigid block produced by many other carbon-reinforced boots. The new design also replaces the old pivot tongue that I, frankly, found unpleasant with a new overlap/cabrio design. Scarpa’s new system is easier to get in and out of, while maintaining the same snug fit offered by the Scarpa’s stock Intuition liner, one of the best in the business.
The toebox is roomy and perhaps a bit much for those with narrow feet, but the heel pocket maintains an excellent, snug fit. The new boot also provides more range of motion in the cuff, to the tune of 60 degrees. Oh, and they weigh less than the old one, tipping the scales at 3 pounds, 2 ounces (1275 grams per boot). —Matt Hansen