A Look at Scarpa Dragos

Let’s take a look at a few of the Scarpa series of climbing shoes.  You see them all over the gym and many of the top climbers are using them like Alex Puccio, Alannah Yip and more.

Here are a few of the product descriptions from the Scarpa website:

The Instinct: With a curved, asymmetric last, highly adjustable lace-up design and a chiseled low-profile toe for added precision in pockets and on restrictive footholds, the NEW Instinct Women’s features a modified heel cup to better suit lower volume feet. The Instinct Women’s is the most supportive Women’s shoe in the Instinct family that excels across a variety of technical styles and disciplines.

The Drago:  Aggressively downturned and highly asymmetric, with a forefoot wrapped in sticky rubber, the Drago represents the pinnacle of rock shoe construction—specialized, meticulously crafted and refined to perform at the highest level on demanding boulders and steep sport routes.

The Drago LV:  A low volume version of one of the most iconic shoes in the SCARPA line. Aggressively downturned and highly asymmetric with a forefoot wrapped in sticky rubber, the Drago LV represents the pinnacle of rock shoe construction with a modified fit that suits lower-volume feet.

While you can read online many of the customer reviews on each of the shoes we have pictured here,  as a parent of a competitive climber I thought I would provide you with my review with some insight from Paisley herself.  Paisley started off her climbing foray about three years ago with the Scarpa Instinct.  I am not real sure why she choose Scarpa or the Instinct to begin with.  We did see a lot of of the turquoise around the gym and she does like the color.  It is a lower profile shoe, and it was great for starting out.  The shoe itself lasted longer than her foot size so she outgrew the pair before we could really see a lot of wear.  Today we still see many of the new team climbers getting  a lot of good use from them and many of the kids still use them into higher levels.  They have a real good value when it comes to cost and life of the shoe.

As Paisley needed a new pair she moved into the “colorful” Drago, and that she “loves the yellow and red”.  This is a bit more pricey shoe, but we found that many of the gyms will have special demo days and you can get some good deals.  Check with your gym to see if they participate.  The Drago was a nice shoe, but Paisley complained early on of air pockets.  Air pockets?!  Well, I cannot for the life of me understand how climber’s get their feet into these shoes and are still able to function in the first place, let alone complain of an air pocket.  Where in the world is there any space left after cramming your foot into that thing?  As Paisley describes it, climbers want all of the shoe wrapped around every inch of their feet.  No gaps!, as she has described.  While she did say they were not the best for her feet, she went through a number of these and really enjoyed them.

Since her second year, Paisley had developed some brand loyalty and she noticed a neat little black and white shoe called the LV.  She also noticed that a number of the top climbers were wearing them.  After busting through her “Red and Yellows”, we ordered a pair of LV’s from Back Country.  We got them surprisingly cheap at that time, $159 and she immediately loved them.  (BTW… Back Country was also incredibly cool to work with.)

What I didn’t love was how soft the rubber was.  After a month or so Paisley had busted through and it was time for a new pair.  Now keep in mind these kids climb five days a week for hours and these shoes are getting a lot of use.  Still, $199 a pair after each month and half can do a number on the old man’s pocket book.  I have asked Paisley are they really worth it?  After an sinister looking stare down I eventually get an answer.  “Yes, Dad!  There are no air pockets, the the arch is perfect and I have no pain or discomfort.  You can just feel the wall better.”  Paisley and I talk a lot about mental management, which we share a lot about here on Sport Climber.  If the equipment is one less thing to worry about and gives the competitor confidence, then that is a positive in the conscience ring.

Now on the down side, many out there have voiced that the rubber is too soft and that the life of the shoe is too short.  I believe it depends on your perspective.  Parents loathe the life of the shoe and the cost, while the climber loves the feel and performance.  As an ex-racer I know having the best equipment gives a distinct advantage over the competition.  It’s funny the parallels to racing, the softest tire produces the most speed on the track, however, it also has the shortest life and will need to be changed quicker.  Obviously, each climber will have to find a balance and what works for them.

A little history about Scarpa is that it can trace its roots all the way back to 1938 and was founded in the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains, in the Asolo / Montebelluna region of Italy.  I believe there is a pretty good racing team out of Italy as well.  I believe their cars are red  and have a prancing pony as a logo hmmm.  Anyway, SCARPA’s initial mission was to bring together all the best shoemakers in the Asolo area toward the goal of producing the best footwear anywhere.  In fact, they were the first manufacturer from the Asolo region to export to the U.S.

It has been a family business known as the Parisotto family.  Sandro, Piero, Davide and Cristina Parisotto continue to lead the company with their mission to produce the finest footwear for mountaineering, trekking, hiking, alpine running, climbing and skiing.

For us here at SportClimber we can easily recommend any of the three Scarpa climbing shoes we have tried,  for both beginners, competitors and enthusiasts.  Hope this helps!  Thanks for reading! ~ Mitch



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March 2023

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Cameryn Cass

Cameryn is graduating in May from Michigan State University. I’ve long enjoyed any and every activity that reminds me I’m alive; it’s no wonder I’m entranced by rock climbing. The connection you feel to everything — the rock, nature, yourself — when climbing is unparalleled and I’m so lucky to be able to write all about it.  In 2023 I will be embarking and a new adventure to Sydney, Australia where I will be sharing with readers the hot Australian  climbing scene and techniques making its way to the U.S.   

Steven Hu

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Jason Chang

I’m Jason Chang, R32 dad, and Southern Cal dude, and I run the instagram account @theshortbeta. 

Edgar Martinez

Team Texas Climbing Dad and Sports Photographer

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Andy Moss

Andy Moss is a traveling photographer currently based in Ohio. Her work focuses on landscapes, outdoor adventure, and lifestyle. 
Outside of photography, Andy loves rock climbing, backpacking, and drawing. She works as a route setter at a climbing gym and as a park guide for the NPS.

Troy Bassham

Troy is the primary instructor for high school and collegiate athletes at Mental Management Systems.  He works with players ages 13 and up.  Troy has been teaching Mental Management since 1995 and has been working with competitive golfers since 2004.  His main focus is helping players develop mental consistency during play, perform under pressure, build self-image of a winner, and training principles that focus on developing the mind and body at the same time.  Troy’s clients have won local, state and national events using Mental Management.  

Matt Dendy

Matt has been around for a long time in the Texas climbing community and started out working as a route setter and assistant manager at the Summit Carrollton location (currently Team Texas Training Center) when it was called Exposure in 2000. He then was a head route setter of a few different gyms around town over the next several years. 

In 2006 he started a business as a contract route setter where he set for many of the gyms in the metroplex commercially and for competitions. While coaching and setting part time Matt earned an Associate of Applied Science degree from Brookhaven College in 2008 and passed his registry exam for Radiography which he still maintains his certifications. Matt’s passion has always been coaching kids and helping them grow as climbers and most importantly helping them become better people. Matt has been coaching competitive climbers since 2004 and has been a coach with Team Texas starting in 2011. 

Matt has worked with climbers of all ages and abilities either during practice times, camps, clinics, or through private lessons. Matt has many athletes he’s coached over the years have success at the local, national, and on the world stage. Matt has coached notable climber Delany Miller who has won many National level events in youth and adult and who is now a professional climber and writer. Matt also coached a former local youth climber Grace Mckeehan who won the overall at the 2015 Youth World Championship in Arco, Italy. 

Matt is currently focused on preparing the the youth climbers of Team Texas and some adult climbers for all different levels of competition or training for outdoor pursuits. Matt also has a passion for developing new bouldering outside and has established well over 200 first ascents and counting in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Matt started documenting and writing guidebooks for local outdoor areas around 2003 and has written several published books already and has plans to write more in the future. When Matt isn’t coaching, route setting or writing guidebooks he enjoys spending time with his wife Amy and is always trying to keep up with his two boys Jackson and Carson who are also developing into great climbers. 

Matt’s oldest son Jackson earned a spot on the U.S. National Team this past year for the first time at the 2022 Youth Nationals placing 3rd in bouldering. Matt’s current role at Summit and Team Texas is coaching and route setting for the youth climbers either through commercial/competitive means, clinics and or camps to prepare them for high level competition.

Noah Hardwick

Noah has a Bachelors of Science, NASM CPT, MAT Jump Start and 15 years training experience with elite and professional athletes of all ages with a focus on biomechanics and injury prevention.

Marisa Michael


Marisa Michael is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics and author of Nutrition for Climbers: Fuel for the Send. She serves on the USA Climbing medical committee and has a private practice in Portland, Oregon. Find her online at,  download free fueling guides, or follow her on Instagram @realnutritiondietitian for nutrition coaching, workshops, and writing services.

Merritt Ernsberger

My name is Merritt Ernsberger, and I am 22 years old. I grew up in Norman, Oklahoma which is where I found my love for climbing. I began climbing at 13 years old, which is very late when compared to the average competitor, in an old, outdated climbing gym that had been converted from a grain silo. Throughout my entire life my parents had been plagued by financial struggles, but they still sacrificed a huge amount of what they had to support my brother and I through our youth careers. I began competing in USA Climbing youth competitions in 2014. 

I quickly moved to Dallas to increase my training regime and to become a coach for Team Texas, which I am now the head speed climbing coach for. After years of hard work, in March 2021, I finally took my first victory in any USA Climbing event, local or national. Since then I have competed more regularly in the international circuit. For the vast majority of my climbing career I considered myself a nobody, but I never stopped believing in myself or working as hard as I could to make my dreams come true. I still have many more dreams that I will not stop working towards until they have been achieved.

Selah Taylor

Selah is the Director of Youth Programs as Summit Gyms in Plano, Grapevine, Denton and Carrollton.  

Mariana Steelsmith

United Rocks Story: After receiving the news that our newborn baby Jake had down syndrome, we were concerned of what the future will look like for him. We started thinking about what we can do to create a legacy for him and other kids like him so they will excel in their lives and be accepted, included and respected. Having extensive experience and support with our oldest son Gabriel in the rock climbing community, we decided to pursue the idea of creating a rock climbing team for kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Practicing and competing in the sport for over 7 years, coaches and teammates not only helped my oldest son to get strong and fit they also helped him with developing and improving his confidence, problem solving skills, focus, trust and social skills. I believe that the sport of rock climbing will help my son Jake and other kids with disabilities improve their physical skills, focus, confidence, independence and social skills. I am also confident that the rock climbing community will help us create awareness and inclusion so they can shine in their lives and in their communities. 

That’s how “United Rocks” Unity with Community came to life. We have come a long way in one year. From the inspiration that rock climbing might be a way to support our son, Jake, who was born with down syndrome… To the vision for a rock-climbing community where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities could not only be safe and accepted, but where they could also grow and thrive… 

To the creation of a non-profit organization with a business plan, forward-thinking goals, a governing board, and a physical location where it could happen. Our Grand Opening took place on November 14, 2021, with around 50 people who supported and shared our vision: participants, vendors, and volunteers. On February 6, 2022, we had our first practice with 5 participants. From there we have grown steadily in numbers of participants, in support persons, in volunteers, and in guests. Our goals and dreams are growing as well.

bouldering indoor rock climber

Niko Romero

Niko is the Head Coach of the world renowned, Team Texas competitive climbing team. Niko has been coaching for 6 years and was an accomplished climber himself for 16 years.

Niko was a member of the Youth National Team in speed climbing, a youth national finalist many times over, and has competed in France, Ecuador, Chile, Italy, and Mexico representing the US in youth and adult competitions.

As head coach of Texas Texas, Niko has led the team to the top of the podium in every regional and divisional championship, and at the Youth National Championships, has won bouldering and speed in 2021, and bouldering and lead in 2022.

Mitch Hagy

Mitch grew up in Indianapolis, IN and after ventures into aviation, music and auto racing, Mitch moved to Denton, TX in 1992.  

Mitch attended Indiana State University and Purdue University and is a graduate of the University of North Texas.  Mitch received his M.B.A. in 2004 during the year of the birth of his first born, Nathanael.  

His youngest, Paisley was born in 2010, the same year Mitch founded FOTOSPORT, a sports photography and publishing company.  An entrepreneur at heart, Mitch innovated the use of a green screen to create team composites for high school football teams.  His efficient format allowed football coaches to avoid the 3-4 hour dreaded picture day, and complete the process within an hour.  Word spread and his reputation grew to many other schools and teams, 

In 2014, Mitch began to publish sports media guides that were sold during high school football games.  Recognizing an industry increase in the cost to print as well as the limited ROI for advertisers, Mitch created some of the first digital sports magazines for high school sports teams.  

After ten years, nearly 200 high school teams and over 17,000 images a year taken,  Covid-19, closed all the schools and Mitch was forced to shut down operations of FOTOSPORT and seek other opportunities.  

Today, with the 2022 high school graduation of his son Nate, Mitch has embarked on a path to help his daughter reach the highest levels of competitive sport climbing.  Recognizing the limited support and media coverage of the sport, Mitch has created SPORTCLIMBER, a North American media hub dedicated to the promotion of Youth Sport Climbing Athletes.  

Mitch has brought along some of the top coaches, trainers, fitness and health experts, olympic gold medalists and incredibly talented photographers to help promote and grow this great sport of sport climbing.