Spantik with the factory inner (yellow and black) and a Baruntse inner boot (all black)
This commentary will cover some ideas on La Sportiva's Spantik, Baruntse double boots and the newest Scarpa 6000 double boot and tips on the inner boot care and feeding.
Let me start with the Spantik. La Sportiva's literature that comes in the hang tag attached to the boot reads: "INNER BOOT: Micro-perforated thermo-formable PE/ Water-repellent Lorica® with Antiacqua™ external coating INSOLE".
I have been trying to get the information and directions from La Sportiva Italy and La Sportiva NA since the fall of '07 on how exactly you are supposed to "thermo-form" a pair of Spantik inners.
I still haven't gotten an answer from either source.
Luckily I found another source. Thank you James! This was left in one of the blog comments:
" After months of struggling with the fit on my Spantiks, I just heat formed the inner boots in my home oven. It has greatly improved the fit! The liners are no longer sloppy on my low-volume foot, and the heel lift that I couldn't get rid of is now reduced to negligible levels even when "front pointing" (in my kitchen).
I basically treated them like Intuition liners. I heated my oven to 250F (use convection setting if you have it). I put the liners in the oven (sans insoles) and kept a close eye on them. After about 7 minutes they became very soft--almost a toasted marshmallow consistency to the foam areas. I suspect this is key--if you don't get them hot/soft enough, they won't mold.
Once they attained the slightly alarming marshmallow consistency described above, I pulled them out, stuck my custom insoles in them, put them on my feet, laced them up, put the shells on, and laced those to a moderate tension (i.e., less than would be applied in actual use).
Note that, before putting on the liners, I put spacers between some of my toes (folded-up paper towels), put on toe caps made of old, thick wool socks, and covered it all with a thin liner sock.
After standing in the boots for about 15 minutes, I took them off. The liners are now firmer/stiffer and fit my foot much better. Overall, the boots feel snug and secure but not tight, exactly as they should. Since I have not yet climbed in them, I can't say for certain what the effect on performance will be or how the molded liner will resist pack-out. But given the improvement in fit and how they feel tip-toeing around the house, I expect good things. If they pack out or stretch I will try molding them again. It's also possible that the fit could be further improved with additional molding, use of heat gun, etc., but I'm not inclined to mess with them unless the field performance is less than satisfactory.
I don't know why La Sportiva is so reticent about providing directions for molding these liners--it totally transforms the boot and is an essential step to get the most out of these (very expensive) boots, in my opinion. The lack of information on how to do this made me nervous and kept me from trying it for quite a while, but in the end it was easy. I hope this helps a few other climbers--but please don't blame me if something goes wrong."
OK, so here is my update. After the last failed attempt to mold my own Baruntse liners with the sparse La Sportiva directions with James' info in hand as back up I went to our local master boot fitter, Zach Volmer, at Sturtevant's in Bellevue. (having been a boot fitter in the past, my caution is don't do this at home kids) They have custom fit my ski and most importantly my climbing boots for the past 5 years. But neither of us was brave enough to trash a pair of new Spantik inner boots until today. Luckily again...nothing was hurt, no small animals died as a sacrifice and finally the Spantik can live up to the claim of "thermo formable".
Here are the numbers we used in a boot fitters hot air oven, 225 degrees @ 10 minutes. But a caution if you are doing this at home. It is at the least a two man job and you'll need the proper set of 2 pairs of toe caps, good thin stretch sock and some big plastic bags.
This is what Zach and I did today that actually worked.
10 minutes in the oven until the inner boot's foam "attained the slightly alarmingly marshmallow consistency".
While that is happening. With bare feet add a toe cap while standing on what ever insole you will have in the inner boot. I used both, the flat silver foam insole and the La Sportive "orthodic" insole layered on top. Add a second toe cap that now captures the insoles as well as your toes. Put a tight, light weight sock over all of that to hold it in place.
Pull the fully heated inner boots out of the oven. Quickly...but very carefully.... insert your now stocking feet and toe capped foot and insoles into the hot inner boot. I first did a couple of dry runs before we heated the inner boot to see just how tight my toe capped foot would be in the inner. It helped during actual forming. Lace the inner boot loosely...it is super soft and you could easily wreck your inner boots at this stage by pulling out a lace eyelet. Add a plastic bag to help the inner boot slide into the shell. Adjust top cuff and tongue and lace the outer boot...again loosely. Wrinkles here in the outer boot will give you hot spots on the inner boot later. Now Kick both heel into pocket and toe into front of boot. For the best fit, once all that is done, get a good flat stance and hold in a slightly bent knee position for a few minutes. At 5 minutes walk them till the inner is cold. 10minutes more should do. And you are done.
I got a good custom fit in the Spantik inner boot using this method. Down side? There isn't a lot of foam to move around in the Spantik inner and the ankle hinge area is an obvious week spot in the inner boot design. It is obvious this inner boot won't last for ever. But La Sportiva will sell you a spare set.
Another seemingly down side to the Spantik inner is durability. Eyelets and hooks coming off or breaking plagued the first issue Spantiks. It was so bad I went through three pair before I had climbed three pitches in them.
The hard foam of this inner does not like to flex. If a eyelet or lace fails on the inner boot, having a good fit and good heel hold down is almost impossible. To solve that obvious problem Daniel's pictures show what he did to keep his inner boot working if the lace failed while on a big trip. Call it preventive maintenance.
Spantik shell and a La Sportiva Baruntse inner boot
Next up is the Baruntse inner boot. This time the numbers are 225 degrees at 8 minutes in the same oven. The Baruntse liner will shrink up a full size after being heated so you might want to order it one full size up if you are going to use a Baruntse liner in a Spantik. There are no true half sizes in the Baruntse liner. A 44.5 and the 45 are the same. 43.5 and 44 are the same size.
Better to have this inner too big than too small to start off with if my experience shows anything.
Make sure you don't over tighten the inner or outer shell when lacing this inner boot up when it is still warm and just out of the oven. It is also mandatory that you adjust the inner boot tops and tongue. Work fast but be precise.
Lots of foam in the Baruntse inner. Given the right inner boot size...meaning you want more inner boot than less, the Baruntse inn boot will give any one a great fit if the work is done by a good boot fitter with the proper accessories to do it right.
The final inner boot shown in this picture is from the Scarpa 6000. It is both thin and fragile.
Worse yet it is difficult to get off and on even sitting at home. None of the things that makes me want to trust my ten little piggys to them. But with a little luck the Baruntse linner will also fit in your 6000s if you decide a better inner boot is in order. Mine do.
The best of the current inner boots that I have seen is a foam inner that is nylon lined on both the inside and out and made by Palau in France.
Lucky La Sportiva decided to use the Palau liners for the Baruntse. I've used the Palau/Baruntse liner in my Spantiks and now again in the Scarpa Phantom 6000s. I think the Baruntse liner is better/warmer that either The Spantik's or 6000's original liner. I know it is lighter. The Palau liner is warm, but not overly thick. It is very easy to dry out, easier than the Spantik's from my and others experience, as there isn't much nylon to absorb water. The lace system will allow you to easily sleep in them on a bivy with both warm and dry feet. They are easy to heat form by any good ski boot fitter and even easier to lace up. They are the lightest inner boot I have weighted including the Intuition or 6000's liner. Spantik's liner is 250g, the Baruntse-Palau is 150g. The nylon lining on the inside and outside of the Baruntse inner boot makes them easy on and off in the mountains and durable compared to an all foam inner boot. The Baruntse linner will also soften up the cuff and flex of a pair of Spaniks a bit. Makes them easier to walk and climb in. If you want a ski boot the Intuition liners in a Spantik will make them stiffer in the ankle. The Baruntse inner, on the other hand, stiffen up a pair of Scarpa 6000 boots enough to make them a better endurance ice boot of long bouts of moderate angled alpine ice.
Purchased directly from La Sportiva NA they are $120 a pair plus shipping. A direct comparison to everything else easily available on the winter boot market shows no down side that I can see, including the retail price.
Spare Baruntse liners were not available last season. In limited numbers and sizes they are available now. If they don't have your size you can also get a pair put on back order by calling Rebecca.
"Oct. 6, 2010
We are in the process of updating our website and currently do have the Baruntse liners in stock. The cost is $120 plus shipping. I would be happy to place an email/phone order for the Baruntse liners. Let me know what you would like to do.
Customer Service Representative
La Sportiva N.A., Inc.
3850 Frontier Ave - Suite 100
Boulder CO 80301
303.443.8710 ext 13
Finally in late 2011...La Sportiva chimes in:
Heat Moldable Liner Important Instructions:
La Sportiva recommends that you read the following instructions carefully before proceeding to heat mold your boot. The company does not accept any responsibility for damage caused to third parties due to incorrect use of product. La Sportiva recommends that heat molding is carried our at a specialist shop.
Steps to follow for the correct adaptation of the shoe to your foot:
1) Turn on the oven and set to the ideal temperature of 130 degrees C.
2) Put the La Sportiva liner in the oven and leave to warm up for 10/12 minutes.
3) Make sure the external boot shell is completely open and that it is kept at room temperature.
4) Insert the foot bed into the liner to determine the "top-cap" height within the boot. Use a sock to help the foot slide easily into position.
5) Remove the liner from the oven and insert your foot. Make sure that the underfoot seams present are not deformed. Proceed as quickly as possible so that the lining does not cool down thus losing its properties.
6) Fasten the liner tightly.
7) Allow the foot to slip within the liner and the liner shell, keeping the gaiter open. Be careful not to damage the liner in any way.
8) Make sure the heel is well positioned towards the back of the liner.
9) Buckle the external shell with just sufficient adjustment in tension and set the boot aside until completely dry (about 10 minute)
•Remove the liner after every outing
•Allow the boot to dry naturally, never by a heat source
•Avoid over heating the liners. Store in a cool dry place during the summer months
•The liners can be hand washed in cold water