Edging - 7/10
Smearing - 9/10
Steep Terrain - 8.5/10
Comfort - 8.5/10
Sensitivity - 9/10
Value For Money - 8.5/10
- Amazing sensitivity
- Great for toe hooks
- Comfortable for a performance shoe
- Fast break in period
- Rubber can wear fast
- Basic heel
Best For: Indoor bouldering and overhung climbing
Summary: I like a lot of Scrapa’s shoes but there’s a special place in my heart for the Drago. It is easily up there as one of the best soft shoes on the market. If I am trying to send my boulder project, I would slip in a pair of these. I would think twice about using them on longer routes outdoors, nevertheless, they are a masterclass in shoe engineering
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Scarpa Drago Review
The Drago is a serious contender in the world of high-performance climbing shoes. Combining tech from Scarpa’s best, it packs an impressive punch with its soft construction and barely-there midsole for incredible sensitivity that allows you to feel every feature under your foot. It delivers impressive performance on both rock and plastic as well as comfort to help take your game up a level or two. While there are some areas where this shoe falls short, for any gym bros looking to send some gnarly overhung projects, this could be the perfect tool for the job.
Unlike a lot of its high-performance counterparts, the Drago’s ability to smear is very impressive. It’s soft rubber and flexible last give you plenty of rock-to-rubber contact. Naturally, they also work wonders in deep pockets and overhung terrain. But there are still a few areas where this shoe does fall short. Because of its soft rubber and sensitive characteristics, this shoe won’t help you win any awards for your edging ability – for this, you will need a much stiffer shoe for that.
The vast expanse of rubber across the front of the shoe is not only great for toe hooking, but it is also intimidating to look at and screams at anyone watching that the person wearing them is about to send hard. The spelling out of DRAGO across the front strap, the deep red and the brilliant yellow of the microfiber upper, and the curve and contour of the shoe, all these aspects combine to make not only a beautiful design but a masterpiece of shoe engineering.
Almost identical to the Chimera, with the only difference being a slightly stiffer midsole and a Velcro strap, this twin brother offers even more sensitivity – if that was even possible. It’s abundantly clear this is a shoe designed with bouldering and indoor climbing in mind, so if you are looking for a trad, or even a sport climbing shoe for sustained routes, this probably isn’t the one for you.
Scarpa has taken the classic design of a high-end shoe and beefed it up wholeheartedly. The aggressively asymmetric toebox really forces all of your power through your big toe, resulting in you being able to generate power off of the smallest crimps. The sole is thicker and more comfortable than its design counterpart, the Furia, which results in increased push strength when moving from footholds.
As you have probably gathered, the shoe is incredibly soft, one of the softest shoes on the market, and makes other ‘soft’ shoes look really stiff. This makes it incredibly sensitive as you can feel everything that you do, in a way this shoe is so soft it is like a second skin. This does however mean it isn’t the most comfortable for long stints of climbing, as your foot has very little support in the shoe.
But on my bouldering projects, toe hooking with this shoe is an experience in its own right. Sticky rubber has been plastered across the upper of the shoe. This not only gives the shoe its spectacular look but means you can maximize the surface contact of your toe on the rock. There isn’t too much padding in the toe which means, combined with the softness of the shoe, toe hooks are really sensitive and precise.
Scarpa mixed in the heel design of the ever-popular Instinct line into the winning formula of the Drago. This has resulted in a heel that excels in supporting your foot and heel hooking.
At first sight, the heel seems very narrow, and although it is, don’t let that put you off- I have relatively wide feet and can fit in them fine. The heel is no different from the rest of the shoe when it comes to an abundance of rubber and is made up of a traditional length of rubber running down the shoe which is integrated into the tension rand.
The tension rand isn’t as pronounced as the La Sportiva equivalent, however, this doesn’t mean it is not as effective. With the P3 platforms by La Sportiva, they can be so tense that when the shoe stretches the heel digs into the back of your foot. The Scarpa design is less aggressive on the foot and therefore offers slightly more comfort.
The heel is noticeably stiffer than the rest of the shoe. This means when heel hooking, your foot is more supported, as you can really pull on your heel without being in agonizing pain. However, sensitivity is slightly reduced, and this is the trade-off Scarpa has made.
The rubber. When writing this review, I didn’t really need to split up the different sections. I’ve already talked about the rubber. The rubber on the toe box, the rubber on the heel. The rubber is everywhere!
Scarpa use 3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 on the Drago outsole. Not only is this Vibram compound designed for competition climbing (and the grippiest compound they manufacture) but that thin coating helps make this shoe – you guessed it – super sensitive.
Scarpa is known for their shoes being resole-friendly, and the Drago’s are no exception. You can send them to a cobbler to be given a new lease on life, which not only saves the environment but also saves you money. You may need to keep resoling in mind because they are so soft so will wear down a lot quicker than their stiffer counterparts.
The toe box and heel are connected through a midsole made of PCB, which is essentially a strip of material that works in union with the tension rand, bringing the shoe together and keeping the downturned shape, even after many uses. This helps to keep the shoe soft throughout, so soft in fact that you can fold it in two with little difficulty.
Comfort and Fit
While these shoes are remarkably comfortable for an aggressive shoe, you need to remember that they are high-end performance climbing shoes. These aren’t going to feel like a fluffy pair of Ugg boots. They are designed to send hard boulder problems, not for use on long multi-pitch mountain days. That said, you don’t have to downsize this shoe that considerably with the Drago, I only went down 2 EU sizes from the street size which gave me a great performance fit, which isn’t much compared to the La Sportiva Skwama.
Unlike most climbing shoes, the Drago’s need little to no breaking in. When new, they will be ‘molded’ to the shape of your foot in as little as a single session. This is because they don’t stretch due to large amount of rubber combined with a microfibre upper, resulting in a sock-like fit.
They have a high single Velcro strap that not only helps deliver a secure fit but leaves plenty of space for monster toe hooks. In addition, the shoes feature an elasticated microfiber tongue on like upper, which provides both easy access as well as a snug fit.
Honestly, I love these shoes. If I am trying to send my boulder project, I will slip on a pair of these. I may think twice about wearing them on longer routes outdoors, however, they are a real master class in shoe engineering.
They excel specifically indoors and when outdoor bouldering and the combination of the super soft rubber with the microfiber upper is a masterstroke in my eyes, making the shoes feel weightless whilst performing as heavy hitters in the climbing shoe world. And as a nice added bonus, they look awesome.
I hope you have enjoyed my Scarpa Drago review. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch. Happy Climbing!
We’ve had our say, and now it’s time for you to have yours. If you have a history with this shoe, then please leave a review! The climbing community needs your wisdom.