Scarpa Furia S
$199, 15 oz. (men’s size 8.5)
Sizes: men’s US 3.5-11.5, women’s US 4.5-12.5, Euro 35-45
Building on the successful Furia design, Scarpa’s newer Furia S climbing shoe claims to provide increased sensitivity and precision with its ultra-flexible design. Over several months of testing the Furia S on numerous challenging ascents, from Spanish limestone to Idaho granite and gym plastic, I’ve discovered much to like about their fit and performance and some relatively minor complaints.
The first thing I loved about my Furia S shoes was the fit. Many aggressive rock shoes try to force the user’s feet into unnatural shapes, but the soft rubber body of the Furia S molds itself to the user’s foot instead of the other way around. As someone who has used and prefer aggressively downturned shoes for steep bouldering outdoors and gym climbing and bouldering, I found the Furia S relatively comfortable and quick to break in. I suspect that someone new to aggressive rock shoes would have an easier time getting acquainted with these shoes than with one of the stiffer, aggressively shaped models on the market. The single-strap closure system is virtually identical to pretty much every other strict rock shoe lacing system out there.
However, I say that with a strong caveat: These are not comfortable shoes. I wouldn’t recommend multi-pitch climbing or walking in them unless absolutely necessary. When sizing them, smaller is better. The Furia S are malleable enough to adjust to larger feet, but there’s no remedy for a shoe that’s too large. I got mine half a size smaller than my street shoe size and ended up wishing I’d gone at least a full size smaller than my street shoe size.
Besides the fit, I found the true strength of the Furia S to be its sensitivity and power on small footholds. The Furia S utilizes a “floating” toebox, where the 1mm Flexan midsole rubber is absent, leaving only 3.5mm of Vibram XS grip rubber between the wearer and the rock (or plastic). This allows for greater feel and precision on small footholds while still providing the rigidity necessary to generate power. Moreover, this design gives the shoe a large amount of flexibility, giving it exceptional performance when smearing.
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The other noticeable performance advantage of the Furia S was its toe hooking. A generous coating of rubber on the top of the shoe gives it considerable friction, even on smooth and small holds. I found that any properly placed and tensioned toe hook I set in these shoes wouldn’t slip without user error. However, due to the flexibility of the shoes, toe hooking (and especially heel-toe locks) puts a lot of strain on the user’s feet, because the shoe doesn’t resist any change to its shape. A wearer familiar with stiffer shoes may find toe hooking and heel-toe locks more painful or difficult than normal when first trying these shoes.
While the Furia S performed fantastically overall, I did find that it lacked the same heel-hooking power achieved by other aggressive climbing shoes. Scarpa opted to forgo the conventional, rigid heel cup seen on many aggressive climbing shoes in favor of a heel which simply extends from the body of the shoe, with support provided by an Integral Power Rib running most of the shoe’s length. While this does make the shoe easier to wear and walk in, it also makes it more difficult to generate power on heel hooks. I often experienced a disconcerting sensation as the soft heel rubber shifted around while I tried to place it on a hold.
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Additionally, the lack of stiffness means that most of the force from the heel hook is transferred directly to the heel. But this heel design does have one upside: more precision and control over heel hooks, especially on small holds. Highly skilled climbers, or those with strong feet, may find that they prefer the added precision offered by the Furia S, even at the cost of power.
Finally, durability: I climbed eight to 10 hours a week in my Furia S, mainly on plastic, and they’ve lasted about five months before beginning to blow out. Anyone climbing frequently in these shoes should expect to have to resole them once or twice a year.
The Furia S emphasizes flexibility and precision at the cost of some foot support. Their comfort makes them ideal for climbers looking for their first aggressive shoe, who like to smear, or prefer some comfort and can deal with a lack of rigidity.
Looking for a somewhat more rigid and powerful, aggressive climbing shoe? I recommend the La Sportiva Solution.
Note from Michael Lanza of The Big Outside: Nate Lanza is a student at the University of Utah, an avid boulderer, sport, and trad rock climber for several years, and my son and a favorite climbing partner of mine.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.
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