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The New Boreal Satori – Superior In Every Way

Let’s get this out of the way – I’ve been a fan of the Satori since it was first released more than a few years ago. The original version was a versatile soft shoe that excelled on steeper terrain and plastic, while still providing enough structure and support for more vertical climbing. So I was more than a little intrigued (and excited) when Boreal announced an update to the Satori. Upon initially reading the online specs, I assumed the new Satori was more of a cosmetic update than a radical change to the shoe. I was wrong. It seems that Boreal went back to the drawing board and completely redesigned the Satori. And as I’ve stated in the title of this article, the new Satori really is superior in every way when compared to its predecessor.
  •  The New Boreal Satori 2018

    The New Boreal Satori 2018

Let’s start by looking at some of the more notable Satori changes beginning with the last. The new Satori feels a bit less pointy (more like the Boreal Mutant?) while still retaining the asymmetry and downturn needed for hard climbing. This less pointy shape improves the shoe’s fit and in turn its performance on small edges. The midsole has also been updated for better fit and performance. Boreal has also changed the material on the Satori to a soft synthetic. This material easily conforms to the shape of your foot and makes the shoe feel more agile and less bulky. The shoe’s tensioning has also been tweaked, as has the rubber toe patch, which is now softer. The new Satori also features Boreal’s new closure system – a combination of two Velcro-style straps that offer excellent control. Finally, the new Satori uses Boreal’s Zenith Ultra rubber, which is softer than the previous Zenith Pro and more suitable for smearing and pulling on tenuous features.

Ok, that’s a lot of changes, and in my opinion, this is pretty much a new shoe, so I was curious to see how the combination of all the updates impacted the new Satori’s performance. For many of these high-performance shoe tests, I initially use a 10-problem circuit on our home Moon Board. I find that using the shoes in this relatively controlled environment gives me a good impression of their overall performance and eliminates variables like heat, humidity, hold polish and other factors that crop up when climbing different routes and problems outdoors or at commercial gyms.
  •  The New Boreal Satori 2018

    The New Boreal Satori 2018

Putting the shoes on for the first time, I immediately noticed the new fit – they were snug with a foot-hugging fit that better mirrored the shape of my foot and the new uppers felt more supple and less restrictive than the old version. And where the previous Satori required a short break in period, this updated model seemed ready for hard climbing right out of the box. On my Moon Board circuit, I was consistently impressed with how the Satori delivered exceptional precision and control regardless of whether I was standing on small edges or pawing at insecure holds. Heel hooking was just as inspiring with the structured moulded heel cup delivering surprising holding power on a variety of heel hooks. Clearly, the new Satori climbs exceptionally well, and while the new last and midsole play a big role in the Satori’s improved precision, I feel the new tensioned rand and lighter synthetic uppers are perhaps the biggest contributors for the marked increase in performance. The new rand and upper seem to give the Satori a springiness that you can feel when wearing and flexing the shoe. The Satori seems to load up with tension (adding power and control) when you stand on small holds and then relaxes when you move your foot. Yes, I really could sense the shoe increasing in compression as I was using it, which is precisely what you want from a high-performance climbing shoe.
  •  The New Boreal Satori 2018

    The New Boreal Satori 2018

Continuing with the updates assessment, the new toe patch was at least as effective during toe hooks, but the real win in my mind is that its softer construction allows the Satori to better mould to your foot. This improves the fit, reduces the break-in time and allows the shoe to flex more naturally – all good things. The old Satori had a unique closure that provided excellent control but was a bit difficult to adjust compared to more conventional Velcro-style closures. It seems that Boreal felt the same way because the Satori’s new closure system is easier to use and does not compromise the locked-in fit of the previous setup. I prefer it over the old system and see it as a genuine improvement. Finally, the new Zenith Ultra rubber is noticeably stickier and (at least on my training circuit) performed at least as well as any of the other soft rubber compounds currently on the market.
Do I have any criticisms? Not really. I wonder a bit about the long-term durability of the small elasticized panel in the tongue/closure, but even if it starts to sag, it will not impact the closure or fit. And after a few months of use, I have not noticed any issues.

There you have it, a glowing and well-deserved review. The new Satori is a remarkable high-end climbing shoe and is currently one of my top choices for steep climbing. Size it properly and you won’t have any excuses when it comes to sending your latest project. Highly recommended.

You can find out more about the new Boreal Satori and other fine Boreal shoes at http://www.borealoutdoor.com/products/climbing.
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.