The performance all-arounder is a tough niche. How do you build a single rock shoe that’s good, or at least better than average, at all angles on all rock types?
It’s like making a high-budget movie you hope will be a summer blockbuster or coming up with an ice cream flavor that hits all palates. You can appeal to the vast majority of customers, but someone will inevitably feel let down, and there might even be a small percentage of haters.
So I don’t envy climbing shoe manufacturers who try to tackle this niche. It’s easy to make beginner shoes (flat last, rounded toe, stiff midsole, thick outsole) and sell them by the truckload. And it’s also “easy” to make high-end shoes for redpoint connoisseurs.
But reaching the folks and the terrain in the middle is much more challenging. It’s a Goldilocks problem.
Quantic vs. Quantix SF
SCARPA has taken this on with two recent shoes, the Quanticwhich came out in 2021, and the new Quantix SFout for 2022. On the face of it, the models are nearly alike.
Mild asymmetry, slight downturn, a double-strap closure, soft PAF heel, full-length outsole, microsuede uppers, a sewn-on stretch mesh tongue, a light build (verified 14.4 ounces per pair of size 40.5 for the Quantic; 16.4 ounces per pair for the Quantix SF), and a comfortable, medium-wide last meant for long-term wear, such as gym and bouldering sessions, long, technical pitches, or multipitch climbing.
Both shoes also have a long, pointy toebox — at least by SCARPA standards. They felt the least like SCARPAs of any shoes in the company’s performance line, which historically tends to have wide toeboxes that suit Hobbit feet like my own. (Both shoes also come in lower-volume, women’s versions.)
However, there are a few key differences: The Quantix SF comes with a softer 3.5mm XS Grip 2 sole vs. the XS Edge on the Quantic, making it more adapted to smearing. The midsole on the Quantix SF is a three-quarter length 1.4mm Flexan midsole versus the HT-Tension midsole on the Quantic.
And the Quantix SF last incorporates Single Frame (SF) technology, essentially a single piece of rubber randing (versus panels) around the toe area designed to distribute pressure more evenly across the toebox so that you can stand longer without calf fatigue.
The Quantix SF is also bright orange, and with its cutout “finger” pattern on the rand, it reminded me of a jack-o-lantern. There is no mistaking the Quantix SF for any other shoe on the market right now!
So, What Does It All Mean?
I loved the Quantic so much that I burned through my outsole in a few months, and they’re already on their first resole. But here’s the catch — they worked way better for me on plastic than on rock, probably because of that long toe, which was perfectly suited for driving down on jibs and plastic crimps. But they got wobbly on the rock, particularly on smears.
The shoes were mildly stiff and very sensitive, which is a sweet spot for me, but that long toe had me questioning my placements on the stone in a way I don’t with wider SCARPAs like the Boostics or Instincts. I never built the trust I needed to make them go-to redpointers, even for all-around terrain. But on plastic, they were absolute beasts. I used them for everything indoors.
The Quantix SF Inverted This Dynamic
I liked the Qantix SF way better on rock than I did the Quantic, but it’s hard to say exactly why. The outsole rubber is softer, which made them more reliable on smears. But I found the Quantix SF stiffer overall, more supportive, and more precise underfoot, especially on vertical terrain.
Perhaps it was the Flexan midsole at work. When I pinched and flexed the forefoot of both shoes, they had noticeably less give than the HT-Tension midsole on the Quantic. If I compared the two shoes side by side, the Quantix SF looked more built up as well — there was just more to it, ergo, more support.
Putting the Scarpa Quantix SF to the Test
In real-world terms, the characteristics of the Quantix SF translated to better performance — in particular edging — out on the stone.
I tested this thoroughly on the Badlands wall at Staunton State Park, Colorado, where (against my better judgment) I lugged a 100m rope up the hill so we could do a couple of the two-pitch 5.11s as single-pitch, 50m routes . Vertical, thin, and unending, with crimps, smears, and occasional flaring pods, these would be the perfect tests for an all-arounder.
Would my feet cramp, get tired, or succumb to pain at meter 45 on the home stretch? And how would the Quantix SF fare on the wall’s thin cruxes and variegated filler terrain in between?
I’m happy to report that SCARPA’s Quantix SF did great — well, amazing, actually. They remained comfortable, or at least comfortable enough, for the mega-long pitches (I did rip them off at the anchors — the shoes are slightly less yielding than the Quantic). They jammed the broad, flaring foot pods like champs. They smeared reliably, though I didn’t expect a ton of feedback. And they edged, micro-edged, and toed into divots beautifully.
On the thin crux of The Raven (5.11d), a silvery vertical panel with tiny, biting crimps way up at bolt 20 or so, I precision high-stepped and rocked over with confidence, even with 10 pounds of rope dragging me back to Earth.
The shoes were not that sensitive — less so, I’d say, than the Quantic — but they were stable. If you already are or can learn to be more visual than tactile with your foot places, you’ll love the Quantix SF.
The only ding against the shoe is that they buckled a little, more so than the Quantic for some reason, despite feeling stiffer overall. Smaller climbers likely won’t notice this, but it’s a price to be paid for having an all-arounder that’s featherweight versus the heavier build (19 ounces per pair) of an comparable shoe like the Miura VS.
But the Quantix SF were also incredibly precise for how light they are. That lightness imparted a fleetness of foot and thus leeway with ankle articulation that was nearly priceless. I just have to put up with some buckling.
The Gym and the Steps
I tested the Quantix a fair bit on plastic as well, on auto-belays at the gym (mostly vert, though some gently overhanging) and on my garage wall, where the default feet are screw-on jibs best tackled with semi-stiff shoes .
I liked them most on my home wall. Again, the support was killer. I could do long, endless endurance circuits without foot fatigue and with the precision I needed, even on the fussy Metolius jibs with their infinitesimally small micro-divots.
Overall, the gym performance was solid, though even with the squishy XS Grip 2 rubber, I found myself not trusting my feet on volumes, and I did slip here and there, though this got better as I roughed up the soles with break-in .
Refreshingly, the Quantix SF was also excellent on gently overhanging terrain. With less pressure on the feet, they didn’t buckle and brought mad versatility to the game.
I used them on the consistently overhanging Daedalus (5.12c) at the Dungeon at Staunton, a rope-stretching pitch that throws it all at you — edging, smearing, grabbing, a quick foot jam or two, and even a kneebar. It was here that their lightness and versatility shone. It was less fatiguing to have such an airy shoe on my foot when I was hunting on the fly for beta solutions.
And I look forward to testing more on routes steeper than 10 degrees overhanging.
SCARPA Quantix SF: Conclusion
So, do I recommend the Quantix SF? Yes, absolutely: For high-end (5.11 on up) face and all-around use, they were a canny blend of comfort, precision, and performance.
They were good to very good at everything they did. And the shoes had a forgiving last and ample lateral stretch, courtesy of the inset mesh tongue that should please climbers of all foot types.
Couple them with a pair of Quantics for the gym, and you have a solid mid-to-high-end all-around quiver and some of the lightest shoes on the market. They are also well built and should hold multiple resoles, a consideration when pushing that $200 price point.
Quantix SF: Stats
- Edging: 8/10
- Smearing: 7/10
- Comfort: 7/10
- Hooking: 8/10
- Scumming: 6/10 (there is a small, rectangular toe-scumming patch)
- Jamming: 8/10
- Steps: 8/10
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