Scarpa Mago Review

The Scarpa Mago is an updated version of an old classic. The old Mago was known for its toe power and, whilst it was amazing on small footholds, it was a bit of a one-trick pony. The new Mago retains that power whilst having an updated construction and shape, new materials and stitching, and being generally more versatile.


The Mago's business end is still the toe. It performs excellently on small edges because it's really sharp and accurate. However, there's something quite unusual about the Mago. I wouldn't describe it as a soft shoe but it is very flexible. As a result you have the toe box of a stiff shoe combined with the midsole flexibility of a softer shoe. This means it's great on edges as well as smears but that it also has this unique ability to edge well whilst still having a lot of flexion, making it an incredibly versatile shoe. It's particularly good for slabs and, much like the original, is good on board-style problems (two quite contrasting styles!). That said, I haven't done much board-style climbing lately, so still feel like I'm yet to find that particular sweet spot in terms of the Mago's abilities.

The toe is super accurate on small footholds  © UKC Gear
The toe is super accurate on small footholds
© UKC Gear

The flexion is great for slabs  © UKC Gear
The flexion is great for slabs
© UKC Gear

As the Mago isn't stiff, but is designed for edging, it does create quite a unique. An edging shoe is usually stiff, as this provides lots of support when putting your whole body weight through tiny edges. It also means that all of your weight is transferred towards the toe too. However, as the Mago isn't stiff and so it doesn't provide this support. As such it's not the best for standing on small edges for long periods of time and it sometimes doesn't have the power you'd expect when you're pushing hard on an edge.

One slight let down with the Mago is heel. It fits just fine but it has soft material on the sides, rather than rubber, and this means that if you're trying to heel hook with the side of your heel you're often making contact with canvas rather than rubber which is much less sticky and more painful. The toe of the Mago might be really good, and you might that that justifies it not having the best heel, but when you look at something like the Instinct VS or VSR, which has a great toe and a great heel, it makes you wonder why you would go for a shoe which only performs well in one area.

Whilst the heel is not the most technical it is good for 90% of heel hooks  © UKC Gear
Whilst the heel is not the most technical it is good for 90% of heel hooks
© UKC Gear

Any time there's a smear or flat foothold the softness of the Mago moulds to it excellently  © UKC Gear
Any time there's a smear or flat foothold the softness of the Mago moulds to it excellently
© UKC Gear

Sizing and Fit

The Mago is now built on the same last as the super popular Booster, Boostic and Chimera shoes, so if you fit those - and if you know your size - you know that the Mago will also fit you. It also has a a lower profile toe and broader forefoot, making the unforgiving shape of the old version a thing of the past.

I've been surprised by how comfortable the Mago is. I think the soft construction, coupled with the wider forefoot, is where this comes from. They're so comfy that I can wear them for extended periods without taking them off, making them a great choice for the climbing. It also has laces rather than velcro straps (which is now pretty rare!) giving the option to tighten them exactly to your specification. I find that the straps on climbing shoes are now so good that I don't notice much benefit in fit when using a laced shoe.

A great choice for a climb which requires you to stand on small smears one minute and pebbles the next  © UKC Gear
A great choice for a climb which requires you to stand on small smears one minute and pebbles the next
© UKC Gear

Materials and Construction

The flexibility of the Mago comes largely from its unique construction.  The Mago has a floating midsole, and a nylon patch under the toe, which supports all of your toes by spreading when it is weighted. It also has a seven panel design with curve stitching. All of this is pretty techy but what I understand it to mean is that Scarpa have been able to create a very flexible and light shoe whilst retaining toe stiffness and power. The construction also means the Mago doesn't stretch beyond your size. The upper is made from three different microfibres including a stretch fabric on the heel, and it has suede in the midsole, which is why it molds to your foot so nicely even though it doesn't really stretch.

Another benefit of the construction is that the Mago is incredibly light. Whilst this might not be the first thing you look for in a shoe it does add to the freedom the shoe gives you and means it's never hot or sweaty.

In addition, X-tension system which supports the arch and forefoot on the shoe. It adapts to the shape of your foot as it changes whilst you climb, ensuring that you have power wherever you're pushing or pulling. It also gives the Mago even more toe power by providing a connection between the front of the shoe, the upper laces and the heel. It has 3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber which is widely considered to be the industry standard as far as stickiness is concerned.


Overall the Mago is an edging-focussed shoe and its admittedly beautiful and high-tech construction means it's both sensitive and stiff. It's more of a toe than a heel shoe and it's a brilliant choice for indoor edging and smearing, as well as outdoor routes and bouldering. If you're looking for something for technical heel hooks you might want to look elsewhere, but if you're going to be standing on small edges and want a shoe that's comfortable and sensitive, the Mago is a great choice.

For more information Scarpa

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14 Apr

How does this compare to the Boostic?

I'm looking for a limestone bouldering shoe and have done well in previous seasons with an Instinct VS and occasionally switching to a Furia S for the more polished footholds.

Theo is out the office this week, but back next week, so I suspect he'll send an answer through then. That said, I'm not sure he's used the Boostic, and whilst I have - I haven't used the new Mago. As such, it could be tricky to provide an exact answer on that front, although I - much like you - have really rated the Instinct VSR and Furia S as a strong combination whilst bouldering, because their differences compliment each other in terms of style.

For what it's worth, I did use (and review) the original Mago, and whilst that was different - and the model on review does sound a lot better - it does sound similarly specialist (i.e. its all about the toe). I'm not sure how I'd feel about the heel as it is either, because I do like a good heel, and this sounds a little more minimalist than I might like...although again, it's worth nothing I haven't used them...

I'll leave Theo to reply once he's back from Font


15 Apr

I currently have both. I’ve been a big fan of 2nd gen Mago and original Boostic. I have to say that new Boostic is an amazing shoe (once I got my head around it not being a direct replacement) and appears to be a brilliant all rounder. #3 Mago hasn’t really rocked my world as yet and when I reach for my shoes I seem to pick my resoled Boostics over the new Mago’s. On the Mago, I find them generally more comfy than #2 but not as big toe focussed now as the pressure point seems to have moved a little inwards towards the second toe/big toe combination, as per the Boostic. Also, they come higher up toward my ankle bones than #2, just a wee bit, but I notice it. Laces are nicer and better. In conclusion, I’ll be buying new Boostics again asap as my resoles need another resole :) They are brilliant.

I haven't used the Boostic but my experience of limestone bouldering in the Mago is that they're a bit soft. Personally I prefer something a bit stiffer with more power for limestone - exactly like the Instinct VS - and so I would opt for those. That said, give the Mago a go if you have chance - there's something unique about them which could work well for certain footholds/problems.

21 Apr

Thanks everyone.

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