Monday, April 26, 2010
La Sportiva's Batura
Sportiva's Batura came on the market 3 seasons ago. In some ways it is an old answer to an old question. But now seemingly a new technology for the alpine climber.
In the 1970's Peter Carman in Jackson Hole came up with a new way to make single boots warmer, the "Super Gator". Great Pacific Iron Works (a combo company of what was or would be Chouinard Equipment and Patagonia) eventually sold the Super Gator on a broader scale.
So adding a short "Super Gator" to a single boot is not a new idea. Making it a integral part of the boot is fairly new. Scarpa's Phantom Lite Series of Boots and the Kayland 6000 are other boots using similar technology. One of the biggest advantages to a Super Gator on the old leather boots is you had some serious weather protection but that the protection also allowed your boots to breath. For the most part you could keep your leather boots dry and warm in some pretty nasty weather. The other advantage is that you gained an additional layer of insulation on your lower legs helping to keep your feet warm.
The La Sportive Batura and similar boots like it are generally a fabric layered single boot underneath a bit of insulation and a water resistant or in some cases water proof outer shell. With the Batura I find that the boot does not breath well enough to warrant its use on multi day cold weather trips. It is certainly warm enough for use in the Canadian Rockies in winter but my feet get wet from perspiration and then the boots get damp. They just don't breath well for me. I have taken to adding a good amount of Mitchum's anti-perspirant to keep my sox and feet more dry. A VBL sox would be a better answer. The real problem on over night trips in cold weather is the boots get wet and they are just too hard to get dried out on a multi day trip. Like impossible if you need to keep moving of a couple of days. It becomes a perfect situation to get cold injury.
The Batura was designed to be a cold weather technical boot.
La Sportiva sez:
The ultimate mountain boot for high elevation alpinism, winter mountaineering and ice climbing
This six layer synthetic boot has an integrated highly water resistant gaiter that opens with a Riri Storm® zipper for excellent water resistant warmth. The inner boot uses thermally expanded PE foam and a polyamide layer for warmth. The shock absorbing PU midsole makes these boots comfortable on long approaches and the 8-9mm TPU midsole stiffener accepts automatic crampons.
WEIGHT: 34.67 oz • 983 g LAST: Nepal CONSTRUCTION: Board Lasted GAITER: Elastic Cordura/ Schoeller® -Dynamic™ with water repellant membrane/ Vibram® rubber rand/ Elastic nylon with impermeable insulating layer/ Riri Storm® zipper UPPER: High tenacity nylon/ Insulated anti-dragging felt/ Insulated PE/ Insulating aluminum layer LINING: Polyamide Thermic layer/ Mesh INSOLE: Insulating Ibi-Thermo 9mm MIDSOLE: 8-9mm TPU/ PU Inserts/ SBR Aircushion SOLE: 8-9mm TPU/ PU Inserts/ SBR Aircushion
Here is what I know of the Batura from my own use over 3 seasons and not all of it is good. Let me make some comparisons to the other Sportiva boots I currently climb in. All to be reviewed at some point in the future. (Trango Extreme GTX Evo, Nepal Evo, Ice Evo, Prime, Batura, Spantik, Baruntse)
The Batura is the softest cuffed boot in the line imo. I have a 11.5 size foot and there is virtually no ankle support in the Batura. Even the Trango Evo Extreme offers marginally better ankle support. And that tiny bit of extra support makes a difference in my calves on steep endurance ice or moderate alpine ice. I start looking for any place to get off your calves and French technique with a soft ankle boot. The Batura is warm enough, but not a lot, if any warmer than the superb Nepal Evo. Only the gator adds enough protection to put the Batura in the same category for warmth as the Nepal Evo. Covered laces on the Batura keeps the boot clean of snow and that helps add some warmth a bit as well.
The ankle support is marginal for ice climbing imo. (this is boot size specific I think) The same soft ankle makes modern mixed really fun though. A board stiff sole with a bit of rocker makes walking just OK. I use the boot specifically for both long approaches, and good mixed routes here in the Cascades and on long, one day, Canadian alpine climbs. But even walking I find the rigid mid sole and cheap, lwt insole extremely uncomfortable with my feet cramping by the end of the day walking out from climbs.
The two eyelets that lace the upper cuff are marginal at best for heel hold down and the cuff is cut so big that I am forced to use the Velcro Nepal Evo tongue liner to get the ankle tight enough to offer what little support that is there. Admittedly l have the second skinniest ankles in world. 1st place would likely go to a 6 year old girl. But it would be close. I would have preferred three sets of lace hooks on the upper cuff and a stiffer material to make the cuff more rigid as well. And if we are going there how about just making the upper more supportive?
Better yet how about a Nepal Evo version of the "Batura"?
Then a lot of us could stop wishing.
I have not had any durability issues with the zipper or the gator. But others have. That was recently changed by using a new and better zipper that is water proof and black in color. It is an inline change for the better. I love the Batura's last which is the main reason i ma still using this boot. The last feels like it has a big toe box area. So you have room to spread and wiggle your toes to keep up the circulation on cold belays. Best of the bunch between Trango and Nepal.
I have friends that climb way more every winter than I do and simply loves this boot for everything. They generally have size 9 and under feet. The smaller the feet the more the owners seem to like the boot. Others have found the multi day "wet boot" issue disappointing and the broken zippers and ripped gator unacceptable. But the idea is sound. Scarpa has the enviable reputation of a more durable boot. Many of the original La Sportive Batura users have simple changed brands. I have yet to see any real complaints on the Phantoms. And now Scarpa has a two new Phantoms upping the game one more time.
Even with the lack of ankle support and comfort on long hikes for a stiff soled technical boot the Batura is my go to boot for the long day trips in the Cascades. I like not having to worry about a gaiter, they climb hard mixed really well, steep ice reasonably so and they are certainly warm enough for the first 36 hrs as long as they are always on your feet. Easiest boot to walk in I own.
Just buy a better insole than what they ship with.
Would I buy another pair? Maybe. But I'll be looking at Scarpa Phantom Guide first.
Too bad as the Batura with a better, more supportive upper and now the better TIZIP water proof and more durable zipper it could be one of the best, single, alpine ice boots available.
65 degree alpine snice on Pinapple Express, Cascades early Jan '09. And me looking for some calf relief!