A good place to start this review might have been with the original Drago, which was released in 2016. But, it's also an irrelevant one given that – due to their volume – they just didn't fit me. If you've got a lower volume foot then inevitably there'll be a whole host of climbing shoes that don't fit you or, at least, could fit you better. So it's a welcome move to see Scarpa (and other brands) introduce a variety of different 'LV' models into their range, as that way there's something for everyone. In the case of the Drago LV, Scarpa haven't just shrunk it, they've given it a good spruce up along the way too. However, both have the same principle in common: sensitivity.
The Drago LV is designed for high-performance bouldering and sport climbing, both indoors and out. It's soft - really soft - so sensitivity is one of its greatest assets, and you really get a feel for everything beneath your feet.
The softness and sensitivity make them ideal on volumes, and on virtually everything indoors, as they smear, stick and mould to virtually anything and everything. Outside, they excel on both steep and slabby terrain, particularly on friction-based rock types such as sandstone, gritstone and granite.
Another thing that is immediately noticeable is that there is rubber everywhere: front, back, top and sides. As a result, it is a shoe which can make the most of any possible toe or heel hook, or any smear or scum. The fact that it achieves this whilst retaining its sensitivity, and also does so whilst maintaining a minimalist weight, is all the more remarkable.
Were there to be a caveat it would be that due to their soft and sensitive nature, they don't have a great deal of support, which can manifest itself when climbing on more edgy terrain. Being based in the Peak District, I would happily wear them for limestone bouldering, but on the routes I'd potentially be a little pickier, as unrelenting vertical edging isn't their speciality.
It goes without saying that the Drago LV is low volume, but what does that actually mean? The majority of the volume has been taken out around the heel and the top of the forefoot. That said, the forefoot itself is still quite wide, which suits my feet perfectly. In terms of sizing, I went down a single European size (39.5 to 38.5) which left me with a perfect fit.
On the one hand, there is no need to buy the Drago LV too small, as it doesn't stretch or bag out, it just slightly gives, adapting to the shape of your foot over time. If you buy them too small, the shoes are just going to be painful, and if you're doing it to get a stiffer feel you should probably just buy a more supportive shoe. On the other hand, buying the Drago LV too big also comes at a price. For me, the 38.5 that I'm reviewing here feels a little more stiff and supportive than a size 39, which would - as a result of its larger size – feel too soft and leave me lacking confidence in my foot placements.
The uppers couldn't have much more rubber on if they tried - it's everywhere. From a performance perspective this means that if there's ever a toe hook or scum to be had, no matter how marginal, you can make something of it. Sometimes the abundance of rubber around the uppers can make a shoe feel hard to wear in, heavy and insensitive, but that's not remotely the case with the Drago LV.
One area of the original Drago which received a complete re-design for the LV was the heel. The PAF heel is a little wider at the top, but narrower around the sides. Whilst it has enough tension to push the toe into the front of the shoe, it doesn't do so to the detriment of the shoe's overall comfort, and I've found it does so without aggravating your achilles.
Due to its low volume, the heel is more likely to stick in place whilst heel-hooking. This is a problem I always struggle with, and due to its single strap design, there's only a limited amount of adjustment you've got within the shoe. But I've found the Drago LV performs somewhat better than other shoes, with the shape of the heel helping to keep my heel in place inside the shoe and on the rock.
The Drago LV is hands-down my favourite shoe for climbing indoors. Even so, I'm tempted to keep them for my hardest bouldering projects outside because they are just so good for that too. However you've got to be a bit selective about what you use them for, as they definitely have a style of climbing that suits them best (soft and sensitive, as opposed to edgy and supportive). The fact they're comfortable, but still deliver a high level of performance, is also something I really like, as is the fact that they don't take too much wearing in.
Seeking to maintain all the winning characteristics of the world cup winning Drago, the LV version has been engineered to suit climbers of all gender and age with a lower volume, skinnier foot. Careful tuning over many prototypes has shaved the optimum volume from the original last with much focus on the mid foot and heel sculpting. An extended size range allows this exceptional fit to be enjoyed by a wider audience.
- Sizes: 34-45
- Last: FZS - Highly downturned, Highly asymmetric
- Mid Sole: Flexan 1.0
- Sole: Vibram XS Grip S2 3.5 mm
- Upper: Microsuede + Leather
- Weight: 215g (1/2 pair size 40)
- PCB-Tension™ active rand provides a lightweight power transfer
- 1/3 length Vibram® XS Grip 2 sole strategically puts the rubber only where you need it
- Perfect for bouldering or overhanging sport routes
- SRT structural toe wrap in M50 rubber provides support and friction
- PAF heel system improves fit and heel hooking performance
For more info see scarpa.co.uk