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Scarpa’s Quantix SF May be 2022’s Best High End All-arounder 

Scarpa’s Quantix SF is a high-end all-arounder that outperforms many specialized shoes—and costs less.

Basics

A versatile and moderately downturned all-arounder | High-angle toe box for powerful edging on both vertical and steep terrain | Asymmetric last | Double-velcro closure system | Synthetic upper | 3.5mm Vibram outsole | 1.4mm Flexan Dynamic midsole.


Pros

The stiff toe box and supportive outsole makes for an excellent edging shoe | Downturned toe excels on steep terrain | Softer heel and midsole adds flexibility to the shoe, allowing for better smearing than many stiff yet aggressive counterparts | Soft and highly sensitive heel | Low price point for a high-end shoe | Far more comfortable out of the box than most stiff shoes.

Cons

Not much rubber for toe hooks | Less adept on some board-like climbs and most volumes than softer and/or more downturned counterparts | Beak-like high-angle toe shape would make toe jamming painful | The soft heel performs well, but I’ve had some delamination on my right shoe.


Our Thoughts

They may not look as sexy (to me, anyway) as many of the other shoes launched this year, but the Quantix surprised me by becoming my go-to shoe for, well, everything. 


Size Reviewed

39

Weight

235 grams (size 40.5).

Price

$179

Brand

Scarpa


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I’m not sure precisely when it happened, but at some point during the last half decade I hoodwinked myself into preferring soft climbing shoes. I wasn’t always this way. Earlier in my career, my go-to kicks (at least outside of the gym) were mainly designed for rope climbing, despite the fact that I’ve mostly bouldered since 2012. In addition to the Solution, which is at once stiff and aggressive and might be the single most versatile shoe ever made,* I liked the powerful edging support of the Muira, the Muira VS, and the Testarossa, buying multiple pairs of each and sending the majority of my hardest climbs in them. But over the last five years, for reasons I don’t quite understand, I have found myself climbing in softer and softer shoes. I tried the Speedster and the Futura, the Instinct, the Mago, the Nitro, the Crawe. And I liked these shoes. They’re comfortable. They glom expertly onto plastic volumes, dragon-in really well on incut edges, and make it easy to feel small feet outside. I became a soft shoe man. And I felt good about it. 

*For a woefully incomplete but nonetheless informative CV: Nalle Hukkataival wore Solutions on his steep, boardlike V17 Burden of Dreams; Beth Rodden wore Solutions on Yosemite’s technical 5.14c smear-fest Meltdown; Jakob Schubert seems to have worn Solutions on just about every route or boulder he’s ever climbed; and Jacopo Larcher wore Solutions on Tribe, which is probably the world’s hardest gear line.

So I will admit that when I was sent Scarpa’s Quantix SF, I wasn’t super psyched. The shoes looked unfashionably stiff. They had two velcro straps. They had minimal toe rubber. They were not the kinds of shoes that my Mellow heroes wear. Plus, I’d previously tested the Quantix’s beginner-oriented sibling, the Quantic, and while I’d found them comfortable, I’d been otherwise pretty unimpressed. Yet since it’s part of my job, I brought the Quantix SF to the gym for a few weeks, telling myself that one day, during a warmup, I’d give them a try. But then, three months ago, just minutes before leaving for a hot summer gym session, I dropped a 70lb wooden filing cabinet on my second toe.

The cabinet totally mangled the toenail and cut the bejesus out of the skin all around it. After limping into the gym, I found myself unable to get my foot into the Vegan Skwama [insert heart emoji] I was then testing, so I popped four Advil, put a plastic bag on my heel, and—on the theory that since they weren’t severely downturned they would put less pressure on my individual toes—finally tried the Quantix. 

Three things happened during that session. First, I realized that my toe was going to hurt regardless of which shoe I wore (three months later the toenail remains entirely black). Second, I realized (correctly) that I had very much underestimated the Quantix and that I might soon love them. Third, I remembered why I’d spent the first 13 years of my climbing career preferring stiff shoes.

Fast forward three months and the Quantix are currently my go-to shoe for everything from conglomerate sport climbs to Kilter Boards to technical granite boulder problems. I have never been more impressed with a shoe that I expected to dislike.

A champion on powerful edges

One reason that the La Sportiva Solution was such a popular and groundbreaking shoe was that it combined an aggressive downturn with a stiff midsole and a sensitive toe box, building something that performed equally well on overhanging and vertical terrain. The Quantix shares this strength. Built with their new “Single Frame” technology, which Scarpa says “holds the foot from below like a hand providing even pressure around the entire foot,” the Quantix has a stiff outsole, medium soft midsole, and soft heel, all of which combine to create a shoe that’s capable of extending far on edges without the tip of the shoe changing shape and losing purchase on whatever edge you’re standing on. It is—with the possible exception of the Muira VS and the Katana—the single best shoe I’ve used when doing powerful moves on terrible feet. 

An example: I tested the Quantix alongside another fresh Scarpa offering: the Mago. Compared to the Quantix, the Mago feels like a sports car: it’s light, it’s soft, it’s almost aggressively stylish. And yet, like most sport’s cars, the Mago just isn’t that versatile. Time and again, I found myself unable to commit the Mago to small feet, only to don the Quantix and do the moves with ease. My favorite example of this occurred on a newly developed V7 in the central Adirondacks. The lower section of the climb involves some hard compression moves on crystal smears and precise heel hooks—moves that the Mago excelled on. But the second half of the problem is a pure granite(ish) slab that involves a balancy no-hands pistol squat off an angled 3/4 pad edge. I was unable to even attempt the move in the Mago; I’d start weighting my foot but feel like the whole shoe was melting around the edge. When I switched out to the Quantix (which performed just as well on the powerful bottom) I was able to execute the pistol squat with ease. In the Mago, the slab felt like the crux. In the Quantix, it was just a fun outro section.

The Quantix's Pressure Absorbing Fit system.
The Quantix’s Pressure Absorbing Fit system. Photo: Courtesy of Scarpa

The heel

I’m a sucker for a soft heel, something that allows you to really feel the hold you’re heeling on. So Scarpa’s new PAF** heel system—which they also use on the Mago—is something of a dream. It consists of a firm heel strip that runs up the back of your heel, but minimal rubber on the outside of the heel. The result is a flexible and highly sensitive heel that feels especially bomber (a bit like a soft shoe on a volume) when you’re side-heeling on a sloping edge or feature. 

**Pressure Absorbing Fit

One thing to note about the heel is that it’s fairly low-rising, so if you’ve got big and bulbous heels, I’d recommend trying the Quantix on before purchasing.

One worry: I found that the heel’s harder spine is slowly delaminating from the softer side material. However, though the materials started separating early on on the outer heel on my right shoe (after a particularly sharp right heel hook), it hasn’t progressed very far despite ample use, and I’m not seeing that sort of wear on the left shoe.

What is it less good at?

Board climbing

If I was only going to board climb, I’d probably go with a slightly more aggressive shoe—the Instinct, for instance, or the Vegan Skwama. But I nonetheless found the Quantix very competent on boards and boardlike climbs, particularly in instances where you’re pushing very hard into small feet, toeing hard into incuts, or jumping off of those marble-sized feet on the Tension Board. They’re not as sensitive as I sometimes prefer my board shoes to be; and when climbing scrunchier problems, I sometimes wanted them to mold (as softer shoes do) around edges; but the Quantix nonetheless performed astonishingly well, considering its intended use. 

Toe hooking

As a two-velcro-strap shoe, the Quantix does not excel on large toe hooks, where the velcro gets in the way. But for smaller toe hooks, the shoe’s flatter last (and thin swath of rubber) help it perform admirably.

All in all

A damn fine shoe that’s worth every bit of $179 dollars.