I am a massive fan of the old Scarpa Vortex slipper and I will forever mourn its loss, even if it was violet. Make no mistake, this new model was going to have to live up to a lot in order to impress me. The Vortex was sensitive, had oodles of power in the toe, it was a great shoe to wear.
I was lucky enough earlier this year to spend three weeks in Hueco Tanks, Mecca of US bouldering and a selection of shoes accompanied me there. Usually I am never out of my FiveTen Anasazis but this wasn't home turf. Hueco is steep, really steep, every other problem is a roof and it was here I found that the Stix, Scarpa's new high-performance slipper, came into its own. The aggressive down turn last of the Stix is awesome on overhangs giving loads more holding power in the toe. Another bonus which I found is that the new Vibram rubber Scarpa is using is a vast improvement. They do seem to be stickier and offer better grip straight out of the box.
The toe box is very roomy, which encourages the toes to curl giving loads of support as the shoes actually feel more comfortable when worn a bit snugger rather than looser. Another rather clever innovation is the use of Lorica in the toe box of all the new Scarpa models. Lorica is a non stretch synthetic material which has a soft feel and improves comfort across the tops of the toes, whilst at the same time preventing the toe box of the shoe from bagging out which cause shoes to lose shape, and thus ability to hold the foot in the right shape. This means that the Stix holds its shape much longer offering more support. The Lorica isn't the most durable outer material however and careless footwork will lead to relatively easy scuffing of the outers.
Oddly for a slipper the heel of the Stix actually feels very good: close, snug and not like it's going to pull of the back of the foot very easily. Unfortunately this effect isn't going to last as long as the heel cup of these slippers seem to stretch out faster than the toe box, meaning they become a little looser. I would also like to see Scarpa stitch round the edge of the ankle as the leather here isn't folded and stitched like on most climbing shoes but just left cut off akin to the Boreal Crux which suffers from the same problem.
A final tip of the hat must come though, it's good to see some thought going into holding the slipper onto the foot. Scarpa have achieved this by adding some PU rubber bands across the top of the foot where we would normally see just a bit of elastic. These bands give the slipper a snugger and more secure feel, whilst helping it to hold its shape for longer.
So to summarise, I am very much taken with the Stix. I think it is a superb shoe which is perfectly suited to steep bouldering and sport routes, and like its predecessor the Vortex I think a lot of climbers will find it to be an awesome shoe for training, be it at the local wall or hidden away at the home woody. Highly recommended.
Tom Dixon, age 21, works at Lakes Climber in Ambleside. Originally from Northumberland he boulders, trad climbs and enjoys days in the mountains in winter and summer and is at home in Fontainebleau as he is on Tower Ridge. His next review will be about Event fabric.