Published on 06/15/2022
The Scarpa Air is an exceptionally lightweight and sensitive high-performance shoe for experienced climbers.
You get some support under the big toe and midfoot with a pair of Airs, just enough to stand on small holds and easily pull off aggressive heel hooks. Still, the shoes are incredibly minimalistic. The flexibility that the Airs offer allows for effortless smearing on the slipperiest of surfaces and makes them great for steep terrain, too.
Beginners are unlikely to get much out of the Furia Air, though. The Airs demand excellent footwork and technique, almost akin to a grippy sock. They’re not exactly the most versatile climbing slippers out there, either. While still good value for money due to the sheer high performance they offer, we wouldn’t recommend them for climbing outdoors. Routes heavy on edging or jamming will also pose a problem if you’re using Airs.
Still, if you’re searching for a climbing shoe that offers unparalleled sensitivity and won’t weigh you down, you’ll likely love the Airs. They’re exceptionally comfortable, weigh almost nothing, and are fantastic for bouldering and sports routes.
- Incredibly lightweight and sensitive (the Furia Air weighs only 5.3 oz)
- Insanely comfortable when used appropriately with no break-in period
- Excellent for heel-hooking, bouldering, smearing, toe-scumming, and toe-hooking
- Shoe punishes poor technique and footwork due to it being so sensitive
- Highly specialized shoe; only suitable for short sections of edging and jamming
The Scarpa Furia Air is an asymmetrical shoe with a downturned shape. Sporting a microsuede upper, rubber midsole, and outsole, these are incredibly lightweight, soft, high-end shoes. The slip-lasted Air uses a single velcro strap, Vibram XS Grip for its sole, and perforated microsuede upper.
The Air’s features include its Dual Tension Randing System and Power Absorbing Fit. The DTS randing covers more ground than the randing in other Scarpa shoes, making it more supportive and helping the shoe keep its shape while staying incredibly lightweight.
Scarpa Furia Air vs. S
The Italian brand Scarpa has long been one of the leading climbing gear manufacturers worldwide. The company’s Furia line is making its mark on the climbing shoe world with its aggressive, high-end models. With the Air and S being two of the more popular shoes on the Furia lineup, what’s the difference between the two?
Essentially, while the Air and S are highly sensitive, lightweight climbing shoes, we’d argue that the S is more versatile. With its slightly more supportive design and rubber outer, the S is an excellent choice if you’d like a lightweight shoe with some structure.
We found that the S is particularly suited to heel hooking and toe hooking due to its rubber wrap outer. On the other hand, the Air would be a better choice if you were hunting for a climbing shoe with superior sensitivity and flexibility.
As you’d expect from such a soft shoe, the Furia Air is, for the most part, exceptionally comfortable. With no real wear-in period whatsoever, you can expect these slippers to feel fantastic straight out of the box.
To get the closest possible fit with the Airs, we’d recommend that you go down either a half or full street shoe size. Since street shoes vary in terms of profile and fit, though, we suggest that you try the Airs before purchasing.
Being a single strap slipper, the Furia Air does not offer the extensive customizability of some of the other performance climbing slippers. Still, the shoe’s softness makes finding the perfect fit reasonably straightforward.
Super soft shoes like the the Furia Air offer fantastic sensitivity. One tester even remarked that wearing them is almost like climbing barefoot. This is both a blessing and a curse when edging. While the shoe’s low weight makes it easy to maneuver and place, good footwork is crucial. If you get sloppy, the Airs will punish you for it; in short, this is a solid edger but only practical for routes that aren’t edging-heavy.
The Air is a powerhouse for both toe and heel hooking. The rand tension allows you to place pretty aggressive heel and toe hooks without worrying about the heel cup or midsole collapsing. The supportive toe box also makes it easy to place very precise toe hooks with ease.
Smearing, in general, is one area where the Air is really in its element. The shoe offers just enough support to dig into the rock while allowing for total flexibility in the midfoot when fully engaged.
The Air truly outshines just about any other shoes we’ve tried for extra slippery smears. Even the most slippery rock is no match for the Air, thanks to its grippy XS Grip sole and outer. The shoe is so soft that it lets you plant your foot on the rock. This is a big help for slippery smearing when you want maximum contact between the wall and the rubber of your shoe as possible.
The sensitivity and minimal design of the Airs makes them less than ideal for jamming. While they offer some support in the midsole, they’re simply not robust enough if you’ll be jamming for a prolonged period.
Use in Different Climbing Styles
Sport climbers will likely get a great deal out of a set of Furia Airs. The elite sensitivity and the shoe’s highly sticky rubber outer make them a dream for most sports routes. Glassy, plastic volumes are no match for the Air’s Vibram XS Grip sole. It doesn’t hurt that the Airs weigh next to nothing, either.
The Air is an absolutely great shoe if you do most of your climbing indoors. The grippy rubber makes the Airs a dream for artificial holds and surfaces. When used exclusively inside, the Air’s longevity is more than respectable for such a minimalistic piece of gear. Also, the Air is so lightweight and unobtrusive that it makes a fantastic Moonboarding shoe.
Boulder problems proved to be a great proving ground for the Furia Air. The Air’s sensitivity means you can feel each hold you use. This helps you place your foot as accurately as possible, which is crucial when bouldering. We also noticed that the shoe’s toe box holds the big toe in the perfect position for toe scumming, which is also a big help.
These are, first and foremost, fabulous gym bouldering shoes. While you can certainly use the Airs for outdoor climbing, they don’t stand up incredibly well to the wear and tear that real rock subjects them to.
Trad and Crack Climbing
Such a light shoe as the Scarpa Furia Air is generally not what we’d recommend for trad climbing and longer routes. While the Air’s incredibly sensitive makes techy climbing feel effortless, the shoe lacks the support you’d likely want for multi-pitch routes and cracks.
The advanced materials that the Air uses do offer decent longevity. We’d expect some pretty significant wear and tear if you used the Air for extensive trad or crack climbing. Traditional soles, in particular, will hold up better than the somewhat minimal Vibram XS Grip that the Air boasts.
The Scarpa Furia Airs are elite, insanely lightweight rock shoes that offer unrivaled sensitivity and excellent performance in several areas. More experienced climbers, especially those that gravitate towards bouldering and sports climbing, will appreciate the sensitivity, smearing, and hooking prowess that the Air offers.
If you like to climb outdoors regularly, you may want to opt for another climbing slipper. Indoor climbers can expect decent longevity from the Airs, with some light delaminating after extensive use. On the other hand, outdoor routes seem to chew the Airs up in no time at all. Given that they’re on the more expensive side, we feel they’re simply not worth investing to an outdoor climber.
Also, less experienced climbers will likely struggle to get the most out of a pair of Airs. The Airs tend to punish poor technique and footwork, so we’d primarily recommend them to more experienced climbers who favor bouldering or sports routes. While the Air is a true powerhouse in bouldering and sports climbing, you have to be able to climb well for the slipper to be worth the investment.
|Weight||5.3 oz/150 g|
|Sole thickness||3.5 mm|
|Activities Sport, Bouldering, Indoor|
|Level Intermediate, Advanced|
|Outsole||Vibram XS Grip 2|
|Upper||Pacific (front), Dentex (back) / Perforated Microsuede & Alcantara|
Reference: Scarpa’s official website
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.
Note: we receive a commission when you buy through us. This keeps our team of writers/climbers going!
Emily has been climbing on and off for years and is an avid follower of the sport. She has mostly focussed on sport climbing and bouldering, both in gyms and in the great outdoors in Australia, the UK, and the Faroe Islands. At present, Emily is mostly focussed on improving her climbing technique and bouldering at her local gym in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.