On the right, the Golden Pillar on Spantik
Love them or hate them the La Sportiva Spantik is without doubt one of the lightest double boots currently on the market. Although the new Scarpa 6000 should be a good competitor to that claim when it is available this fall. The Spantik was named after an amazingly beautiful mountain.
"This stunning ridge line is located on Spantik (7027m) in the Karakorum Range near the Hunza Valley, Baltistan in northern Pakistan. The route was first climbed in 1987 by an international team of mountaineers which included Victor Saunders and Mick Fowler, among others. Fowler’s photo of the arete highlights the extreme rock and ice climbing involved in their ascent. Spantik is considered one of the finest and hardest mountains in the world."
To purchase the photo look here:
The boot's retail price currently is $700 but with some smart online shopping the going price over the last three years seems to be around $500.
The Spantik is exceptionally high tech. Unlike the typical double boot the Spantik is two distinct layers of insulation by design. In other words both the inner boot and the outer shell offer a certain degree of insulation. Not the first attempt at such technology but so far the most successful. That technology is what allows such a "small" profile boot to be so warm in comparison. "Small" might not be the right descriptor there as no question in any size the Spantik is a BIG boot. The innovative lacing system was designed to offer an easier system to use one handed or with gloves on. How well that was accomplished depends on the opinion of the end user. I find it hard to get the boot really laced tight across the instep when I want to cinch it down for harder climbing and eliminate heel lift. But I can, with some effort, get the lace system to work well enough even on my skinny ankles. But it doesn't eliminate the worry of a broken lace or eyelets. A better system? Not imo.
Here is the La Sportiva spiel :
"The Spantik is perfect for 6-7000 meter peaks or anywhere that you need a toasty warm performance fit. It is step-in crampon compatible and provides excellent technical climbing capabilities.
WEIGHT: 44.48 oz • 1261 g LAST: Nuptse CONSTRUCTION: Outer: Board Lasted Inner: Slip Lasted OUTER BOOT: PU-Tech transparent PU-coated embossed Benecke CeraCom® PUR leatherette/ Water-repellent Lorica® with Antiacqua™ external coating/ Vibram® rubber rand/ Molded TPU ankle backstay reinforcement/ PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam lined with a thermo-reflective aluminum facing coated with an anti-abrasion flockingcoated with an anti-abrasion flocking INNER BOOT: Micro-perforated thermo-formable PE/ Water-repellent Lorica® with Antiacqua™ external coating INSOLE: 5mm thermal structure carbon fiber and aluminum insulation MIDSOLE: TPU/ Dual-density Micropore EVA SOLE: Vibram® Montagna"
Weight? Even in my size 45s aka 11.5 US you should be right at 5# for the pair. Which is very good.
"Step-in crampon compatible"? Well, may be not on every crampon. The Spantik has an extremely wide heel and getting some crampons to fit perfectly is a PITA. Trimming the heel on a grinder is one solution. Black Diamond Cyborgs, Grivel G12s and Petzl Dartwins with lever locks seem to fit with no hassles. The rest (and those I have listed as well) I would check first and not assume anything.
Besides the extra wide heel the Spantik has an extreme rocker on both ends of the boot sole which makes a perfect crampon fit a little tedious to accomplish with some/most 'pons. The intention was to add rocker to the boots so we could walk more naturally on easy ground
I am on my 3 season with the Spantik. And hard to believe but also on my fifth pair of boots! The first 3 I broke inner boot eyelets on. When you start playing with the inner and outer lace system you realise they are Spartan at best. Missing an eyelet might work in a pinch high on a winter wall but isn't a good sales point if they are breaking in your office or the parking lot at Lake Louise while just lacing up.
Thankfully breaking eyelets seems to be solved these days. My 4th pair I eventually realised were just too big. My suggestion now (and it has not always been this way) is buy the same size Spantik as you wear in all the Sportiva boot line. I seem to be a 45 across the board with Sportiva.
But the real reason I have a new pair of Spantiks is not that I think they are the end all double boot. Nor do I think they are the best technical double boot Sportiva builds...it is simply the lightest.
Palau's Inner boot web site:
It was the French foam inner boot made by Palua for the the other La Sportiva double boot, the Baruntse, that made me think of trying the Spantik again. The Palua inner is truly heat formable by any good ski boot fitter and had given me an exceptional fit in the Baruntse. Which made me think, 1st, maybe I was buying Spantiks in too large of size and 2nd, that that same inner boot was lighter (than the Spantiks inner or a Intuition) and just might fit perfectly in a smaller size Spantik shell. Which in turn might make a wider array of crampons fit better.
I was right on all counts.
As a side note if anyone has had success with heat molding the original Spantik inner boots would you please post your thoughts and the details in the comments? While the Sportiva literature claims the Spantik liner is heat formable I don't know of anyone who has done it and I could not get Sportiva NA to give me any direction let alone written instructions. The expert boot fitters I showed the liners to refused to take on the job because of the worry of wrecking an expensive pair of inner boots....but had zero issues molding the simpler Baruntse liner or the Intuition liners with perfect results.
(update 4/28/10 I actually broke down and bought a high quality, professional heat gun and attempted to heat form my Spantik inner boots with almost ZERO success. I worked as a ski boot fitter at one time so not something I would suggest to everyone. Yes they fit a tiny bit better but there just isn't enough foam there to really get a custom fit. On the other hand my Baruntse inners, which do have enough foam, fit the Spantik shells perfectly with a much better fit on my foot and less weight. )
I only wish La Sportiva USA offered spare Baruntse inner boots...at the moment they do not. (They do as of 9/1/2010) I'll get into the details of the Baruntse in an other review. Short version? If you are looking for a cold weather double boot specifically for technical climbing....the Baruntse is an unqualified success imo. I'd give it a 5 star rating no question. Only a small part of that story but take a look at the over all weights of both Spantik and Baruntse in the previous weight blog as a first comparison. You will likely be surprised. Sportiva's sales comment abou tthe Baruntse at one time was, "less technical than the Spantik ". It is not. And in many ways it is the better technical boot on steep ice and hard mixed.
There have been many, many hard, technical and cold climbs done now in the Spantik. Just not on Nanga Parbat as most will assume from House's youtube clip of what he "used" on Nanga Parbat. That was the Nuptse another La Sportiva double boot.
More on Steve House and Vince Anderson
The Spantik has routinely summited Denali on quick trips with no over boots. You can use a very thin sock with the boot. And because the inner boots don't breath also work as VBL liners and keep your feet warmer and the inner and outer boots don't freeze.
The minimal lacing system on the outer shell collects little snow and in turn allows you to have warmer feet in really cold and deep snow conditions. The extra layer of foam in the sole also helps insulate you from the cold coming through the sole of the boot and your steel crampons working as a heat sink.
The down side of that same foam mid sole is you can collapse the mid sole if you over tighten your crampon bindings. Take a close look at the mid sole when you snap the lever in place and be conservative here. Enough of a problem on my size 46 Spantiks that I never really trusted most of the crampons I could fit to the boots. Thankfully the 45 shell is easier to fit.
You'll want to check here just under the heel clip...it is obvious when snapping the clip on and when in position if you are collapsing the mid sole. Either change 'pons or loosen the heel lever to an acceptable level of retention for boot integrity and crampon retention. The gap in the crampon heel fit is obvious in the picture as well. The crampons pictured are a perfect fit for what it is worth. Just a 5 to 6mm gap between the back end of the boot and the base of the crampon because of the additional built in sole rocker. Smaller gap up front depending on the crampon and bail style. A little disconcerting on the Spantiks until you get use to it.
Admittedly I have a difficult foot to fit. Long and narrow in the heel. And because of the added leverage of a size 12 foot I don't tolerate heel lift well. The 45 Spantik, using a thin insole and a custom fitted, heat molded Baruntse inner boot fits me as well as almost any double boot I have used. The side flex is almost non existent in the Spantik which i like and the progressive forward flex is tolerable. The Baruntse's flex is better in both areas for my needs and has a solid midsole. But by ditching the factory Spantik liner I can get a lighter and more comfortable Spantik and use a smaller shell, which is saying a lot.
Still not convinced the Spantik is THE best dbl boot available. And not in love with the Spantik as some of its supporters are. But at least I no longer hate it. And I do admit it is ONE of the best dbl boots available from a very short list. Just don't let the high tech lace system and fancy looks fool you if you can't get a an acceptable and hopefully perfect fit.
Spantik with a light weight, Black Diamond Sabertooth/Never crampon set up. Size 45 boot and crampon combo weights in at 3lb 10oz for a single side. Which sounds heavy but is actually pretty good :)
Here is a cautionary tale on the Spantik from a buddy. I mentioned the crampon fit and how the mid sole will collapse if the crampon fit is marginal.
Daniel Harro's comments and photos:
"As far as the spantiks go here is what I had to go through.
Before the resole. Obvious cracks in the toe piece.....10-15 days of use....maybe."
"After Dave Paige did the Resole. Note that I had to pay $100.00 bucks and of course La Sportiva does not import the Spantik sole, hence the Nepal sole on my Spantik boot... Short story don't buy boots direct from the company or they will screw you, like they screwed me. Dave Paige did do a good job for what he had to work with. First pair he has ever had to do."
The bright side of Daniel's resole? He now has some of the advantages and all the EXTRA weight of the of the Baruntse midsole. I think the Baruntse is a better technical boot than the Spantik becasue of the stiffer mid sole. Just a tough way to get that advantage and still have the heavier liner. It is the worst combo you could hand out imo.
My caution.... like Daniel's...is never, as in, never ever, buy boots directly from a boot manufacturer, or their state side wholesaler. All the best climbing boots are made out side the US and imported...getting any of the US importers to stand behind defective boots is damn near impossible and expensive. Vasque, La Sportiva, Raichle and Kayland have all been problems that I have personally whitnessed with ZERO satisfaction.
The bastards laugh at us all the way to the bank is my thought. But hey if you work for a importer I'd love to here your side of the story. Happy to publish it here. My suggestion is buy your boots from a reputable retailer with a unconditional guaranteee...Like REI, Backcountry.com or Zappos.