[Updated July 2021] The Scarpa Mago has been updated.
Scarpa Mago Climbing Shoe Review, by Dave MacLeod.
The first time I used my Magos was on a night time arrival in Siurana, Spain. We were pretty keen to get amongst it from the word go so we got the head-torches out and I started up a 7b wall climb. When you can’t see a bloody thing you really pay attention to the messages from your limbs as you climb, so it was actually a really good setting to try out new shoes. The first thing that hits you when you stand on a small hold is the toe power support. Just as you think your big toe is really going to have to strain to prevent the shoe from deforming as you rock over, you feel the support kick in. This support seems to have been achieved without loss of sensitivity, which is of course a major achievement in rock shoe design. Scarpa have done very well with this feature and I’m sure the ‘others’ will be looking carefully at it. This is an all-rounder’s shoe. The support is there to stand on thin slabs and fiddle with RPs [or IMPs] , but they’ve also taken me up my first 8c+ on steep limestone and V13 roof climbing with all manner of toe and heel hooking trickery going on. Precision in a rock shoe should allow you to forget about the shoe and focus on the foothold. Often, you only think about your rockshoes when they fail to do the job well, and that is how it should be! The Magos have achieved this and no matter what the venue, rock type or climbing discipline, you won’t find yourself asking “are these the right shoes for today’s climbing?” Gritstone E10 is certainly a situation where that is quite an important question. But here also I could forget about this question and get on with the job in hand – staying alive! The sternest test I put them through was a first ascent of an eighteen metre roof line at Dumbarton, very close to my limit and with every type of foot move imaginable. I found the Magos worked flawlessly on foot-hooks using the inside ‘knuckle’ of the foot, as this lies under the rubber ‘flap’ of the X-tension system. On a ‘bat hang’ upside down shake out at the halfway point, hanging from two toe hooks, the toe rubber provided good grab. The upper gave better friction for toe hooking once it was abraded a little from frequent toe hooking. I’d actually like to see the Mago's given the same toe hook rubber as the Stix and Booster, which works exceptionally well. On heel hooks, the boots stayed snug on my foot even during the most aggressive heel hook moves, and were not uncomfortable to lace up super tight for this purpose. The big point of interest for many folks thinking of switching between rock shoe manufacturers is the quality of the rubber. Again Scarpa have made an excellent move by using the new Vibram rubber, which in my opinion is as good a performer as some of the more famous types on the market. The bottom line on rubber is, if it wasn’t as good as you could get, good climbers, being the single minded zealots that they are, wouldn’t use it!
Summary If you climb on more than one angle and rock type, and need a good balance between support and sensitivity and a rock shoe that likes heel and toe hooks, the Mago will do whatever you want. I wear them for anything requiring some stiffness and/or hard heel-hooking. Ascents so far include: L'odi social 8c+, Blind Vision E10(?), Sosho Font 8a+