Boreal Satori Review

The Satori is a down-turned, asymmetric shoe from Boreal. It's moderately stiff in the toe, but features only a three-quarter length midsole, resulting in a shoe that's specialised for steep ground. It's part of Boreal's current trilogy of Synergy - Satori - Dharma and it sits in the middle in terms of stiffness.

This is a great shoe for steep bouldering and sport climbing - and quite a specialist tool in that regard, rather than a shoe for all occasions. I've been saving them for steeper, harder projects.

A snug heel is ideal for tricky heel hooks  © UKC Gear
A snug heel is ideal for tricky heel hooks
© UKC Gear

Forefoot

The forefoot of the Satori is, like the rest of shoe, designed to give as much power to the toe as possible. As well as the whole of the shoe being down-turned, the knuckled shape forces your big toe into even more of an angle, giving additional tension on the sweet spot. In combination with the Zenith Pro Ultra rubber, which is moderately stiff but still allows for a lot of flexion, the Satori is great for making the most of poor footholds on steep ground. In fact, I wasn't a huge fan of the Satoris until I tried them on something really steep with poor footholds. They really come into their own here, allowing you to get maximum power through poor footholds - a real secret weapon.

Enough flexion to get the most out of small holds on steep ground  © Nick Brown
Enough flexion to get the most out of small holds on steep ground
© Nick Brown

The Satori's toe is accurate enough for tiny edges but the desired sensitivity is not there  © Nick Brown
The Satori's toe is accurate enough for tiny edges but the desired sensitivity is not there
© Nick Brown

The Satoris do seem to be a master of steep ground to the detriment of other areas of performance, however. As I have been reviewing the Synergy, Dharma and Satori simultaneously I have been able to compare them well. In addition, I've sized them all the same, but there's something about the Satori which doesn't quite sit right with my toe, even though the rest of the Satori is snug and the other two models fit well. It's almost as if there's a bit too much rubber in front of my big toe between me and the foothold. Looking at the shoe there doesn't seem to be a massive amount of excess rubber, so my other thought is that perhaps the Satori forces my toe into an angle which puts the wrong bit of it in contact with the foothold. As a result, on vertical ground in particular, I often feel like my toes are rolling on footholds which can be an unnerving experience, especially when clipping draws on a sport route. That said, it may just be my particular toe shape that doesn't fit the Satori particuarly well. Whilst I've found that the Satori is excellect on steep ground with poor footholds, they're definitely not my first choice for easier-angled climbing.

On steep ground something magical happens and the Satori provides massive power to the toe  © Nick Brown
On steep ground something magical happens and the Satori provides massive power to the toe
© Nick Brown

Whilst the forefoot is moderately stiff the flexion in the midsole provides power to the toe  © UKC Gear
Whilst the forefoot is moderately stiff the flexion in the midsole provides power to the toe
© UKC Gear

Midsole

The Satori features a three-quarter length midsole which comes halfway up the arch of your foot. This allows the shoes to flex a lot, giving maximum power in the toe, whilst still providing some support for climbing routes. The level of support and stiffness which a midsole provides can easily be seen through Boreal's current trilogy of shoes: the Dharma features a full midsole and is the stiffest and most supportive shoe (best for routes), the Satori features the three-quarter length midsole allowing it to flex more and provide some support (routes/bouldering) and the Synergy doesn't have a midsole, allowing it flex a lot, giving lots of power and softness but little support (ideal for bouldering). There's obviously a bit more detail involved than that but it does give a nice demonstration of the power of the midsole!

The ample flex provided by the three-quarter length midsole makes the Satori great for maximising power on steep ground, but Boreal have done well to also make the shoe relatively supportive. My feet don't suffer when wearing the Satori for extended periods of time. You're not going to be wearing them all day, but they're perfectly comfortable to wear for a longish route. In addition the Satoris feature Boreal's Wrap Rand tension system. This is a rubber strip which runs around the back of the heel and under the middle of the foot. This provides additional support and provides extra tension from the heel to the midsole. This extra tension transfers lots of power, both to the toe and the heel.

The knuckle bump provides a great angle for toe hooking and camming your feet  © UKC Gear
The knuckle bump provides a great angle for toe hooking and camming your feet
© UKC Gear

Plenty of rubber for toe hooking and the characteristic knuckle bump of the current Boreal shoes  © Nick Brown
Plenty of rubber for toe hooking and the characteristic knuckle bump of the current Boreal shoes
© Nick Brown

Uppers

The top of the Satori features ample rubber which is ideal for toe-hooking, whilst the rubber on top and the rand are made from a single moulded piece which gives a closer and more precise fit. The toe-hooking is improved further by the big knuckle bump above the big toe which provides a severe angle and excellent flat platform for toe-hooking. The downside of this is that the front of the shoe is made much higher so it is more difficult to stand in pockets and thin breaks.

The elasticated tongue and micro-fibre upper give a sock-like fit, and the Satori is very comfortable to wear. It has two straps, plus Boreal's Mix2Fit system which involves some lace attached to one of the straps, allowing for more precise tightening. I've found it easy to get a snug fit with the Satori.

Double straps and a lacing system for a precise fit  © Nick Brown
Double straps and a lacing system for a precise fit
© Nick Brown

You can see almost see the tension in the sole of the shoe: great for steep ground and heel hooking  © Nick Brown
You can see almost see the tension in the sole of the shoe: great for steep ground and heel hooking
© Nick Brown

Fit

As with the Dharma and Synergy, I took my Satoris in an EU 44 and wear a street size EU 45. Overall the shoe fits really well: the heel is snug, the forefoot has a nice close fit, my toes are right at the end of the shoe and there's no movement inside. However, as I mentioned, the toe of the shoe doesn't quite work for me so do take my sizing advice with a pinch of salt - perhaps a tighter pair would give a better fit at the toe. The lined synthetic uppers of the Satori haven't stretched much at all, up to half a size at most, so I wouldn't size them too tight in the hope that they'll stretch out. Like the Dharma and Synergy, the Satori is fairly high volume. A female (aka low volume) version is also available.

Rubber

The Satoris use 4mm of Boreal's own Zenith Pro Ultra rubber, which is moderately stiff and adequately sticky. In addition it seems to be hard wearing, which is great - the Satoris will last a while. The rubber feels realtively stiff when flexing the shoe but, in combination with the flexion of the midsole, you can drive a lot of power to the toe whilst the Zenith Pro Ultra gives enough stiffness to get the most out of an edge.

Summary

The Boreal Satoris are a secret weapon which excel at poor footholds on steep ground, although this comes at a sacrifice of performance on other angles. They have a nice snug fit and, with excellent heel and toe-hooking capabilities, make a great shoe for steep bouldering and sport climbing. More likely to be a specialist choice than something you keep in your bag day-in-day-out, the Satoris are sure to be perfect for some steep, hard projects.

Boreal say:

BOREAL Satori was developed with our worldwide athletes to create the ultimate bouldering shoe. With an aggressively downturned and asymmetric last shape and mega sticky BOREAL® Zenith Ultra™ rubber, Satori features outstanding sensitivity and optimized heel hooking ability to perform on the hardest problems.

A shoe for the most demanding climbers, with a great fit, support and sensitivity. Excellent toe hooking ability. Ideal for overhanging climbs, bouldering and gym.

  • Sizes: 5-12 (men) 3.5-8.5 (women)
  • Microfibre upper
  • Combined elastic and strap closure
  • Elasticated tongue integrated in the upper
  • Optimum fit thanks to its Wrap Rand and uniquely sculpted toe rand
  • High sensitivity midsole with Toe Flexion System
  • Construction: slip-Lasted
  • Sole: Ultra sticky Boreal ZENITH PRO Ultra outsole. 4-4.5 mm thickness depending on size
  • Ideal for overhanging climbs, bouldering and indoor use

For more info see borealoutdoor.com

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