Made in Italy, the Chimera uses a combination of the stickiest rubbers available on its sole, rand, and toe wrap. This soft, moldable rubber, along with Scarpa’s widely adjustable lacing system, lets you dial in a tight fit that’s impressively cozy right out of the box.
While softness defines the comfort of the Chimera, that doesn’t mean it’s soft in performance. A number of technical tricks gives this shoe plenty of edging ability while still allowing you to feel the tiniest of features through your toes.
This isn’t a beginner’s shoe, but a highly specialized instrument for pushing limits and achieving your best on steep and technical routes.
- Incredibly sensitive and precise toe
- Molds perfectly to your foot
- Relatively comfortable
- Sticks like glue at any angle
- High price point
The Chimera is an ultra-high performance shoe with a price tag to match, meant to excel on the hardest modern sport climbing routes, boulder problems, and competition settings. Made for advanced climbers and technically demanding footwork, the Chimera is built on a similar last as the popular Scarpa Drago and offers similar characteristics in a more supportive, better fitting package.
Scarpa starts with a handcrafted synthetic, multi-panel upper to minimize stretch. A leather footbed helps with moisture and odor control. A mesh tongue provides most of the ventilation since most of the Scarpa Chimera climbing shoe is covered in rubber.
Perhaps the most impactful new design feature when it comes to comfort is the Chimera’s Alcantara toe pocket. This microsuede material eliminates any hot spots or rubbing on the top of your toes from the aggressively downturned profile. This is a common source of discomfort in other performance oriented shoes.
The Chimera upper’s forefoot is wrapped in perforated M50 rubber, Scarpa’s softest compound, that not only sticks like glue but conforms quickly to the shape of your foot. They call this SRT (Surround Rubber Tension), and it also increases forefoot support.
The midsole consists of Scarpa’s TPS insert, a molded piece that provides support just under the toe box while allowing the rest of the shoe to remain supple and flexible.
One final technical feature that helps transfer power from the heel and arch all the way to the toe is Scarpa’s PCB Tension System. This component also maintains the shoe’s downturned curvature.
Men’s vs. Women’s Version
The Scarpa Chimera is a unisex model, with no specific women’s version available.
Fit, Foot Shape, and Sizing
Thanks to its full-length asymmetric lacing system, the Chimera fits snugly on a wider range of climbers than its velcro-closure sibling, the Drago. Its low-medium volume last accommodates all but those with the widest feet.
Because the Chimera does curve inward quite significantly to direct all the shoe’s force onto your first toe, it does fit best on people whose big toe is longer than the others.
To get the full benefits of the Chimera, most climbers size down one to two full sizes from their street shoe size. More downsizing adds to the break in time period.
The Chimera offers great edging power and superior sensitivity by employing several of Scarpa’s technical innovations. On the bottom, the outsole has 3.5 mm Vibram XS Grip 2, their stickiest formula.
These Scarpa shoes hold smaller edges with less effort, like the La Sportiva Katana. However, those climbing shoes get their edging power by using a stiff midsole that limits your feel.
The Chimera, on the other hand, creates its support with its Surround Rubber Tension (SRT), partial midsole, and PCB systems. This creates an ideal blend of power and sensitivity for shorter routes and boulder problems.
While the Chimera’s downturned shape isn’t ideal for smearing, the shoe makes up for this somewhat with its softness and flexibility. This allows it to easily bend in the mid- and forefoot and get full contact when smearing volumes or slabs.
The overall softness of the Vibram XS Grip2 and M50 rubber also helps the sole and rand mold onto small protrusions and irregularities in the rock, where harder rubber like Vibram’s XS Edge may slip.
There may be no better shoes at toe hooking than the Scarpa Chimeras. Thanks to the laces being offset to the outside, the entire inside of the shoe and top of the toe box are encased in sticky M50 rubber.
Using the side or top of your foot feels like grabbing holds with an extra hand, inspiring confidence in the bouldering cave and on horizontal roofs.
Heel hooks are also extremely secure. The combination of a deep, narrow heel pocket along with soft rubber on the heel cup gives excellent feel and solid stability.
Toe and foot jams reveal one of the weaknesses of the Chimera as trad and crack climbing shoes. This is one environment where softness is a definite drawback. Jamming your foot sideways into hand-sized cracks will quickly bruise your toe knuckles and have you seeking out face holds.
Best Uses for the Scarpa Chimera
The Scarpa Chimera climbing shoe is equally adept indoors and outside. In the gym, its secure, slipper-like fit makes it a dream for the bouldering cave and overhanging lead routes.
Its incredible feel and stickiness will give you confidence standing on tiny jibs, smearing slippery volumes, and snagging toe hooks and heel hooks that you never dreamed of before.
The Chimera’s feeling of wearing a soft rubber sock lets you move without thinking about your feet, as they flawlessly respond to every demand.
Outdoors, the better support offered by the Chimera’s compared to the Drago is welcome on sport climbs. Yet it still retains the softness that lets you feel and stick to holds that other shoes slip off.
Steep overhangs and highly technical climbing is the Chimera’s absolute sweet spot, the harder the better. If that’s what you like, you won’t be disappointed in this aggressive, specialized shoe.
Like most precision tools, this shoe model has a niche where it works best, which is climbing steep terrain with smaller footholds and tricky footwork. In other environments, the Chimera’s extreme design offers little benefit.
For example, the Chimera isn’t made for long, slabby routes that involve more smearing than edging. And you may get by with a few toe jams if you take the Chimeras crack climbing, but pain will soon overcome your pleasure.
Durability, Resoling, Sustainability, and Animal Welfare
The soft, thin rubber that lends the Chimera its unique sensitivity doesn’t really help with durability. Climbing outdoors on real rock will wear the sole out relatively quickly.
This isn’t a shoe you wear to climb training laps in the gym either, although it can be resoled when the outsole wears out.
Scarpa hasn’t published complete information on the sustainability of sourcing and producing the Chimera climbing shoes. However, its manufacturing facilities in Italy are powered by green energy in alignment with Scarpa’s corporate environmental policies and principles (1).
The Chimera does employ a minimal amount of leather in its construction, so it isn’t vegan-friendly.
For climbers who can use the Chimera to its fullest capabilities, the shoe is a great value. It’s pricing is not far off from other elite performance shoes, but it beats most of those shoes with its superior climbing ability and ease of break in. If you’re trying to break through to the next level in competition or your next redpoint attempt, the Scarpa Chimera might be the perfect choice.
|7.4 oz/210 g
|Vibram XS Grip2
|Flexan Dynamic 1.4mm, PCB Tension, Toe Power Support
|Hyperskin, Leather Footbed, Alcantara toe pocket
Where to Buy It?
We buy most of our stuff from REI.com. Their service is great, and it’s a co-op, so they treat their employees well and answer to their members, not shareholders.
Backcountry is also a solid option with excellent availability and a lowest price guarantee.
Note: we receive a commission when you buy through us. This keeps our team of writers/climbers going!
Scarpa (retrieved on 06/28/2023)