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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Double boot, Inner Boots, molding, fitting, styles and options

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:

From James:
" 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 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
Dear Dane
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.
Rebecca Carroll
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)

After Care:

•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



Daniel Harro said...

Scarpa's 6000 liner looks like something from the 90's... Seems a bit of a regression, but who knows maybe I am wrong..

Dane said...

6000 inner? Velcro closure on the side of the boot, really hard to get in and out of. Thin and not very durable. '90s Retro is one word for it :) Incredible outer boot though and worth finding a good inner boot for it...super light, full gaiter and very easy to climb hard technical terrian in. Easy to get in and out of. Nothing else even in the same catagory at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Dane. Thanks for the blog, I check it everyday. So have u ever played around with the Vasque Ice 9000's? I've got a pair and the liners in them are not working for me, lot's of heel lift. I'm thinking about buying the Barunste inner boot and stuffing it in there. What do you think of the idea? Truth be told I think I messed the inner boot up when I heat molded them(it was a home job)

Dane said...

Anon, glad you are enjoying the blog. A couple of us had the 9000s early on and neither my main partner or myself could ever get the dang inner boots to fit right. We finally both gave up and ditched them. Good shell though. Pretty thin liner as I remember. I tink i even tried my 9000 liner in my Spantiks at one point. A Baruntse might actually work in that boot but I would be sure to buy your normal street shoe size as I suspect it will be a tight fit ;) Good luck and let me know how it turns out will you?

miguelsampedro said...

Hi Dane, thanks for the blog indeed. Nice to see so many reviews.
I am about to retire my Scarpa Invernos so I started searching for new boots, unfortunately all the new models are not available in Argentina due to import restrictions. In your opinion after reviewing so many, which one do you recommend for our "stony" Argentinian terrain? Going to Aconcagua in January :)
I have to order them and get it delivered to a friend in the US so trying them on isn't really an option!
Cheers and thanks a bunch!!

Dane said...

Greeetings Miguel,
For once an easy qustion for me :)
Aconcagua can be rough on boots up high and rough on your feet for the walk in. If I had to choose the most durable of the new boots it would be the Baruntse and a good pair of something to hike in.

Last time I was on the mountain we had good weather and little snow. So I was lucky enough to be able to wear simple trainers to Berlin camp and dbl boots from their up. Other routes will obviously be different. And I wouldn't leave 14K without good boots in my pack on any route.

If I was going again I'd do the same for the walk in and only put on boots when I had to because of the cold or new snow. Although a tiny bit lighter the Scarpa 6000 and the Spantik don't have the added durability I think the Baruntse offers.

I found a a full size larger than normal was required on the 6000. La Sportiva seem true to size for me. 12US=45.5 in the dbls.

Good luck and let us know how your trip went when you get back!

miguelsampedro said...

Thank you Dave!
I totally agree on using regular trekking boots for the walk in, I generally use the Boreal Bulnes or Asolo Powermatic 3000 (discontinued or renamed now) for those hikes. In good weather they got me to many 18k ft summits. Boreal has the advantage of taking automatic crampons...
I prefer to leave hiking boots in Plaza de Mulas and use the doubles for the rest of the expedition up mostly because of the weight saving.
Great tip on the sizing, have no chance to miss there!
We'll be in touch!
Thanks again :)

Dallen said...

Dane, Your blog is very informative and a good read. I am looking at both the Spanik and Baruntse. I need a boot that will hadle the very cold of up north but climb well. I know in your past blogs you have talked about the differences. I believe at one point you said you like the Baruntse better? My question- is the Spantik worth the extra money?

Dane said...

Hey Dallen,

Opinions vary but not to me it isn't. I have owned and climb in both. I think they are equally warm. The single advantage is the Spantik carries less snow on its laces. Not enough of an advantage for me. Everything else equal a good fit is what defines a technical boot for me. But it isn't equal. The off the shelf Baruntse with a easily heat molded liner fits me and I suspect most everyone else in the world better than the Spantik inner boot ever will.

I find the Baruntse much easier to use and lace on really cold multiday trips. Top of the Baruntse is softer while the sole is stiffer than the Spantik.

Either are good boots. Spantik I want a Baruntse inner boot fitted so I can use them properly. With the Baruntse I just want to go some place cold to go climbing.

Dane said...

Forgot this..The Baruntse is way more reliable and durable than the Spantik...innner and outer.

Jon Rhoderick said...

I'm thinking about some baruntse liners in my Nuptse, should drop weight and add warmth hopefully. Do you have any recommendations for size?I'd also love to hear your general impression on the Nupstes compared to the current generation of boots.

Anonymous said...


Do you know what liners come with the Scarpa Invernos? And if they are thermo moldable? Love your blog, check it multiple times a day!


Dane said...

Sorry Andrew I don't but did see this..on the Omega

It is certainly worth looking into for your boots.

Dane said...

The Nuptse has certainly seen it fair share of cold weather climbing. I have always thought the inner boots pretty basic but a good outer boot. Using a Baruntse liner might well change that. I would start off with the same size liner as the boot shell. Hope it is just a bit too big. The liners will shrink when you heat them up. Let us know if you do it and how it turned out for you. Good luck!

pit said...

I´m really impressed with your blog and experience dane.

Speaking about the omegas.. what its your opinion about this plastic boot

I been using alphas since a long time ago (cold winter use moderate snow/mixed climbing) ...

At that time I choose The alphas because were much lighter and cheaper than others "new generation fabric double boots"

Now Im searching a new pair of doble boots And thinking in the omegas (lighter, with intuition liners and beter plastic) but it seems that everybody has abandoned the plastic boots

Have you some experiences/advises/thougths/opinions about the scarpa omegas to share ??

Thank you in advance (and sorry for my grammar)


Dallen said...

Did you fit both your Spantik and or Baruntse larger then your other La sportiva Boots. You mentioned that that the liner shrinks when you heat it. So would you stay with the same size as your other boots from La Sportiva.
Also do the two boots fit simularly when trying them on. Noone around here has the Baruntse so I am going to have to try to fit it off the Spantik.
Thanks for your help.

Marc said...

Hi Dane,

You've really got a great blog. It really is one of the best online source of information I have found on mountaineering.

I have recently bought a pair of
Scarpa Phantom 6000. My first main use will be climbing Mera Peak (6400m) and I am planning to do some technical climbing at lower altitude later.

Do you think these shoes are good enough for that? Also, I do not have any problem with the 6000 inner boot for the moment (easy enough to get my feet in and out) but it does not look very durable.

Based on your experience, should I get a new inner boot? Also, what inner boot model and size would you recommend ? (my 6000 are size 43)

Thanks a lot.


Dane said...

Hi Marc,
Thanks for the comments.

I really like the 6000 with the exception of the inner boot. It is as good as anything available. A few of us have found the La Sportiva Baruntse inner boot a very good replacement for most dbls. I think you cna match the same size Baruntse inner with your 6000. (that is what I did) Then make sure to get them fit by a proper (ski) boot fitter.

Good luck!

Carlos, my apologies for answering this so late. Sorry, I don't have any experience with the Omegas.

Dallen, again my apologies as I missed these two questions soem how. I would just stick to your normal sizes in La Sportiva both for dbls and the inners.

Max said...

Hey Dane, your blog is a fantastic resource for alpinism and gear! I have a pair of Scarpa Omegas right now, I bought them online and they ended up being a bit too I'm looking for something new. I'm mostly looking for a double boot, because I'm interested in multi-day outings..but I'd like the technicality of a single boot. You said that baruntses climb as well if not better than nepal evos...really? Would that be the go-to double boot? Or are single boots usable enough on multi-day trips? Thanks a lot!

Dane said...

hey Max, For all around technical climbing a good single like the Nepal will be a better boot than the Baruntse. But for technical ice, water fall and alpine I like the Baruntse better. It is warmer by far and more supportive. A Scarpa 6000 is cutting the line even finer but isn't as supportive as the Baruntse while excelling on technical ground..

Multi day trips in cold weather I like a dbl but the best singles like a Batura or a Scarpa guide or Nepal Evo will make do if you take care of them and your feet.

I don't climb anything hard enough that the boots get in the way generally so I will go dbls when it is cold and I know I'll be out a long time. if I go with a single I just make sure to climb faster :)

Max said...

So the Baruntse is like a Nepal Evo but warmer and more supportive, plus a little bulkier? Seems like more people would be using them! Are they too chunky for alpine mixed (say, up to M6+)? Guess its about the climber not the boot. Also, do you know any way to cut that $600 tag?

Dane said...

The Baruntse is not clunky. M6 is easy in them even for me. WI6 is sweet in this boot.

Why don't more buy them? Fools..they buy the Spantik 'cuz it looks cool. Seriously.

Deals? Know your size. Shop on the Internet..look every day..$500 shoudl be easy. $450 if you keep looking.

Max said...

Excellent, thanks for the quick follow up Dane! I look forward to checking them out!

Rodney Tucker said...

Sorry in advance for the ignorance, but would you be so kind as to describe what exactly you employed for your "toe cap" during this thermo molding exercise? I recently picked up a pair of Spantiks and though quite happy with them I do have a low volume foot, particularly my ankle and am also having some issues with the shin area blistering from the unflexible outer boot. This being said, it only occurs on hard uneven terrain during an approach. My solution, unless you have a better idea, has been to leave the upper portion of the outer boot quite loose, thus affording some flex. Once I'm in the stuff and having to kick in or point, I cinch down the uppers and the problem doesn't seem to manifest itself under those condition. So two questions there....greatly appreciate your suggestions.

Mark Beattie said...

Dane, saw that you used both Intution liners and then Palau's Baruntse liner in the Spantik.

I just bought pair of size 45.5 Spantiks and I'm wondering if I won't get a slightly better fit with some molded liners, and whether it's even worth trying to mold the stock Spantik liners. My issue is foot volume (width/height) and I've found removing the two stock footbeds and using only one Superfeet footbed helps,. Also, what you said in one post about the thicker molded liners being warmer would mean I wouldn't need to wear thick socks, in which case one or two thin liners socks would be fine. Did you match the Barunste liner size to your Spantik, eg size 46 Spantik size 46 Baruntse liner? Sadly the Barutnses didn't fit my foot as well as the Spantiks.

Anyhow, if the Baruntse or Denali Inutions are working out for you I'd love to hear a follow up, or I'll just call La Sportiva and see if they have the Barunste liners in stock. Hope the Alps are treating you well. Thanks for all the good posts.

Dane said...

Hi Mark,

I did match liner size to boot size. 46 liner to a 45.5/46 boot. If you want a ski boot the Intuition liners are good. They will make the Spantik a stiff boot. Too stiff to climb in for me. The Baruntse liner will fit better and is softer. The original liner is softer yet. The Baruntse the best fit.

Certainly try forming the Spantik liner first. When I finally got mine done they made the boot much more user frindly for me.

We've had some cold days here. But seems like spring today. So far I have been thrilled to be in the Spantiks. And for the moment on short routes I have been using the stock liners. Tha Baruntse liners are warmer.

Worth getting them if your molded Spantik liners still don't do it for you. But the Spantik is a good boot imo once molded for your own feet.

Not the original plan or what I wear in Canada but here I have been using just one pair of medium weight hiking socks in my Spantiks. Works fine...but the walks have been short.

Bill said...


Where did you find the replacement liners for the Baruntse for sale in the U.S.? I have looked all over the internet and can't find anywhere I can purchase them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane,

your blog is awesome. Thanks for all the information. I have a question for the use of the liners. You say that you use footbeds? Do you put another insole into the liner?
Is the toecap simply to keep room in the front of the liner?
In the end, when you go on outings, what exactly is in your shoe? (outer boot, inner shoe + two? insoles)???
Do the inner shoes work better with insoles or is that for warmth?
What can you recommend as insoles?

Sorry for the extensive list of questions but they all popped into my head while reading your blog.

Thank you very much and keep up the good blog.
Greetings from Portland, OR

Daniel said...

Hi Dane,

I'm not sure what happened to my first message. Please excuse the double post if the first one got through.

First of all congrats to your awesome blog. It's very informative.

I have the Baruntse now. I am wondering about the insole.

- What are the advantages of the insole?
- Does it go into the inner shoe or between the outer shoe and the inner shoe?
- What kind of insoles can you recommend?
- The shoe feels tight on the outside of my feet. Will that improve with the molding process?

I know it's a lot of questions. Thanks a lot for your input.
Best from Portland,