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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scarpa Phantom Ultra and Scarpa Phantom Guide updates

I got an email pointing out a mistake I made identifying the "Phantom Ultra" as a "prototype Phantom 6000" in Jon Griffith's photo of Steck on le Droites. Thanks for the heads up Will!

Way beyond the sales hype. Jonathan Griffith's photo of Ueli Steck soloing the Ginat on Le Droites early in 2010 in the super lwt version of the Phantom single, the "Ultra". Weight is down around 1600g in weight per pair for a 42, where the Guide is 1800g and the 6000 is 2000g in that size.

This boot is not currently available in North American but is in Europe and England. The over all weight is getting down to an ounce or so of the more traditional, bench mark, fabric "silver bullet" boot, La Sportiva's Trango Extreme Evo Gortex. With a full boot gaiter and better insulation the Ultra offers much more protection in nasty, wet, cold conditions. And most importantly once wet, dries faster than the Trango in my experience. The Ultra, by the numbers is 3.5 oz lighter in my size 45 and $30/40 LESS expensive than the Phantom Guide if you can find it. 3.5 ounces per boot in a size 45. Or another 7 ounces or 198g for the pair.

Part of the weight savings is using the thinner and lighter sole/mid sole system also used on the Phantom 6000 and noted in that review earlier. Lacing inside the Ultra is the same system that is used in the Guide. Slightly different material on the Ultra's inner boot for insulation and a different gaiter material for reinforcement and durability with crampons than the Guide. I get a better fit in my Ultra than my Phantom Guides. That could simply be the difference in specific boots though not boot models. The Ultra seems to dry faster as well. Again could be a subjective call but the inner boot materials are different between the two very similar Scarpa Phantom boots.
While making inquiries about these boots, Scarpa NA and several retailers who stock the Ultra in
England gave similar replies:
"Re: The Ultra,
Boot is less stiff and less warm than the Guide. Sole is very fragile. Sole is not as durable as the Guide. Only the Guide is available in 1/2 sizes."
Me thinks they protest too much. As neither "less stiff or less warm" is true from my experience. No retailer wants to carry such a specialised alpine climbing boot in a full size run which would sell directly against the Phantom Guide even if the Ultra is $40. less expensive. I might even swallow the "less durable" issue with the boot soles as they are a lwt version also used on the Phantom 6000. Not a boot I'd use on a lot of rock but might well be a nice advantage to drop another half pound off your feet on alpine ice and mixed routes where you'd be wearing 'pons anyway.
But the sole issue is important. The Ultra and the 6000 come with a new super low profile and I think sticky rubber sole. At least they seem as sticky as the La Sportiva sticky rubber available on some of the Trango series. Which is saying a lot. And it wears quickly. Has to be sticky the way I can walk boulder fields with them. The Vibram® Mulaz outsole, has an edging platform in the toe area and is the newest, super sticky, "Supertrek Rubber". The rear sole profile of these two boots is a vast improvement over the Spantik sole where you can collapse the foam mid sole when you flip up your crampon lever locks if you get carried away on how tight you want your crampons. "No can do" on the Ultra or 6000. Well done Scarpa! But the front of the sole is a super low profile toe area. I have yet to manage a perfect front crampon bail fit (and am using Petzl bails) to keep the crampon in one place. It isn't dangerous mind you just annoying. But don't let anyone tell you it is a great fit, it isn't without some real effort. My 'pons end up off center from French technique and a decent gap on the inside of the toe bale. If anyone has an answer to that let me know will you? And it is something the crampon manufactures will need to address sooner than later because the new low profile Scarpa sole profile is a really good improvement over all I think. The lighter weight sole profile boots (Ultra and 6000) are much easier to walk in than even the Guide. Of the 3 boots by far the Ultra fits my feet the best and is the easiest to lace for a good fit. Even though all three boots use a similar lace system and the Guide/Ultra system is exactly the same.

BTW, both the Ultra and 6000 boots I got this year came with Primaloft and a Outdry tag. There may be the reason they seem to dry faster and get less wet than my Guides but I am only guessing. Too limited on data to go any further. By the Spring of 2011 all three are suppose to be all lined with "Outdry" at Steck's suggestion, replacing the time proven Gortex liner.

Here is Scarpa's 12/20 response on a reader's 6000 query:

"Many thanks for your email. The Phantom 6000 has never been manufactured with a goretex lining so there will be no change in the way that this is produced over the foreseeable future. Check out the product review:

The waterproof membrane that it refers to is Outdry."
Not a huge amount of added info but I use the Mtn Hardware gloves that if believed are again Steck's designs and lined with Outdry all of last winter and was happy with them. Obviously someone knew a bit about climbing in the design process. I've not seen Goretex in a glove system do as well. OutDry seems to work exceptionally well. I have intentionally totally soaked Mtn Hardware gloves and only got the leather palms wet (which take forever to dry) and my hands have stayed bone dry inside the glove.
If the boots only do so well.
The gaiter? Between the La Sportiva Batura and the Phantom gaiter surprisingly the La Sportiva gaiter is better imo. It breathes better and is easier to fit with pants tucked inside. I found the Guides gaiter beginning to fully iced up internally and begining to give me cold wet feet as the c mlted lower in the boot in th cold windy conditions (-7C and lower) in the Canadian Icefields last week. Moisture from my perspiration wasn't getting out of the boot fast enough. In the same place and temps the Batura was solid, warm and dry for the most part. Easy fix is just wear the pants over the boot (Steck photo above) which keeps everything unfrozen and the boot breathing better. But I liked the Batura's option of doing either pant in or out. That option removes material from the bottom of the leg. Less chit to snag a 'pon on.

Iced up inner gaiter on a Guide that is now soaking my sox.
I have not seen a lot of feedback on these boots and used them just a bit myself so take my comments with a grain of salt here.
This boot has been out a full year on climber's feet. Scarpa's professionals I the very least some very good climbers, most all European and British bad asses. I try a lot of different boots and don't always climb in what I really like because of it. My feet are difficult to fit as well. But I actually buy my own boots so this isn't some hype I am spewing for a "gift". And in this case it took a buddy making a big effort to actually get me a pair from Europe because they were unavailable to me in any easy manner here.
I have one pair of Guides and one pair of Ultras so the comparison may simply be between different boots not between different models. The Ultra seems to have a bigger toe box and a narrower heel fit. The inner boot materials are different. A closer and more comfortable fit for me with the Ultra. Out of the box they walk well and climb well on steep water ice. More than enough ankle support for long bouts of alpine ice. I hardly noted the boot on my foot which is a good indicator to me just how much better they fit than the Guide and the difference the new mid sole makes walking.
I don't have a huge experience base in the guide or the Ultra...way too early for that but I do have enough boot experience to make these comments. I was having a huge case of buyer's remorse on the Ultra as even I can't justify $500 for a 7 oz difference over a pair of Guides that are easy to procure and try on locally. But it only took me a few minutes just trying the Ultra on indoors to know there was a difference enough for my foot and worth the effort Will went through to get them to me...Thanks again Will!
Walking and climbing in them just reinforced that first over all impression.

A caution. Few modern mtn boots can be laced as tightly and securely as the newest Phantom line....all three of them. It is easy to have operator error and over tighten the boots on the lower or upper and cut off circulation. For me to want to mention that fact in a boot review should give you an idea of how easy it is to do. This boot series is exceptional but like any gear you will need to learn what works and what doesn't for you. The Dyneema laces, btw, are nice. You won't be breaking them...ever.... I suspect.

"SCARPA announced they have teamed up with OutDry in order to make my all time favorite technical mountaineering boots even better. OutDry's waterproof breathable technology will appear in SCARPA's Phantom Collection for Spring 2011.

Both SCARPA and OutDry worked with renowned alpinist and speed-climber Ueli Steck on the design of the new Phantom Collection. Steck wanted a technical mountaineering boot with improved waterproofness that would cut down on the boot's "wet weight" while climbing in wet snow conditions.

OutDry is currently used in gloves from Mountain Hardwear and footwear from Lafuma among others. OutDry uses a three-dimensional laminating technology to adhere a windproof and waterproof breathable membrane to the inside of the outer most layer of shoes, boots and gloves. The permanent membrane bond creates a flawless fit with no folds, seams or the requirement for seam-sealing tape.

The waterproof breathable membrane will be laminated directly to the inner side of the K-tech boot upper on the SCARPA Phantom technical mountaineering boots. The use of OutDry in the boots also allows the addition of Primaloft for increased insulation qualities.

OutDry will be featured in all the new SCARPA Phantom styles including the Phantom 6000, Phantom Guide and the Phantom Ultra."

By the numbers:
Multilayer uppers:

S-Tech outer fabric

Waterproof membrane

3D Mesh insulation

Felt reinforcement

Wicking mesh lliner

Dyneema Laces with Fast Lock


Lightweight TPU crampon inserts allowing full crampon use

PU shock absorbing inserts in the heel and forefoot for added comfort

Vibrams Mulaz Outsole

High density microporous midsole

Pro Fibre XT insole provides proven stiffness with enough flex to ensure approach comfort




1600g pair of 42

Sizes: 37-48

Multilayer uppers:

S-Tech outer fabric

Waterproof membrane

Eva + Aluminium support and reinforcement

Felt reinforcement


Dyneema Laces with Fast Lock


Lightweight TPU Midsole with variable thickness for walking comfort

PU shock absorbing inserts in the heel and forefoot

Vibrams Total Traction sole

Pro Fibre insole provides proven flex characteristics




1800g pair of 42

Size: 37-48 including half sizes

Colour: Orange

Read more and make your own comparisons:

Will's photos:


K said...

I'm glad I found your blog as it's nice to see someone as gear obsessed as myself! I was just cuirous if you've tried the new Arc'teryx gloves and if so how they compare to the Outdry MH line-up?

Dane said...

I have not..sorry to say. I hear you can actually pick up a coin with the newest Arcteryx glove but @ the cost of a new pair of boots I'll likely never get in a pair of the gloves. Gloves are simply disposable items for me. I look for sales on the Internet...$100 is my magic number. I just don't buy anything that costs more.

The OutDry Mtn Hardware gloves have been exceptional. My climbing partner actuallly thought his Hydras too warm while in the Icefields last weekend. It was -5C in the parking lot, much colder at our high point and the wind was howling.

With even the super thin Mtn Hardware Minus One I can't easily pick up a coin. But they are water proof, breath well, have a leather palm and are easy to climb leashless in. $70 delivered on sale. Hydra was $80. Good enough.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your report.
I have a correction regarding the weights. Last week I was in a shop and weighed the Phantom Guide and the 6000 (both size 42) with my small kitchen scale. (I know, I am a Ultralight-Freak..)
The Guide weighs as same as the 6000 => exactly 2000g as a pair!
So the 1800g for the Guide is only for marketing or in other words, a lia, bluff, etc..

Dane said...

Thanks for the feed back.
I'm not saying any company wouldn't stretch the truth on products but I have weighted all three of my own Phantom series boots on a very accurate digital postal scale.

All are size 45 and only one boot's weight is listed to keep the numbers as accurate as possible.

Ultra 2# 4 oz = 1020g
Guide 2# 7.5 oz = 1120g
6000 2# 10 oz = 1190g

The most impressive boot weight wise is the 6000 I think. Until you realise my Spantik with a Baruntse liner is almost as light.

Spantik /B liner 2# 12 oz = 1248g

The Spantik is a LOT more boot than the 6000 in every way. Good only if you need a lot more boot.

Still, weight to warmth, nothing touching the Ultra for weight at the moment. I suspect the Spantik still serves a similar role.

Anonymous said...

Dane, where did you order the ultra's from? Ive been trying to get a pair shipped to Canada with no luck. Thanks,

Dane said...

I found the same problem. It seems Scarpa won't allow anyone to ship the Ultra to NA. A buddy was gracious enough to get mine (in England I think but might have been Germany..I need to ask) then get them to Canada and I physically picked them up in Canmore. No easy way that I know of besides buying them on the other side of the pond and physically bringing them in yourself. If you have the chance, I think they are worth the effort.

Dane said...

Here is where mine came from:,007

Kevin said...

Hi Dane,

Do you know when OUTDRY was applied to the phantom series? From the promo, it sounds like it's only coming spring 2011?

I think I might've had the one of the earliest shipments of the Ultra (I received them in May 2010 in the UK) and am not sure if OUTDRY was used then. Unfortunately don't remember if it came with an OUTDRY tag.

I definitely agree with what you said regarding over-tightening the laces, especially with the new dyneemas as I tend to just tie a dead knot. Over a trip to Athabasca glacier this summer, I definitely felt the consequences of excruciatingly cold feet in certain positions!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Dane, they were shipped yesterday ;)

Runar said...

Hi Dane.
good to see somebody that is really into ice and gear. You have saved me a lot of research ;)
Are the Ultras and the guides the same size? Have tried the Guide and they fit my feet, but am thinking of ordering the Ultras.

Any thoughts?

Dane said...

Hi Runar,
The Ultras seem a tiny bit bigger. I have the same size Guides and Ultras and that is my take on it. Not enough bigger that I would want to change sizes though. But a signifigant amount of extra toe room in the Ultra for me.

I haven't used the Guides since the Ultras arrived. The Ultra is my favorite boot of all the lwts. They dry faster than the Guides (or Batura)..seem a lot lighter than they really are and the low profile sole, besides being super sticky, walks exceptionally well.

No comparison on how much better the Ultras climb than the Batura. Or how much more comfortable they are.

The real advantage of the Ultra for me though is they simply fit much better than the Guide. It is the one thing I noticed when I first tried them on...while suffering some buyer's remorse at buying them.

The difference was enough improvment that I put both my Guides and my Trango Extremes up for sale shortly after getting the Ultras.

If they fit you I think they are an exceptional boot for most of the types of alpine/ice climbing. Not the warmest boot but warm enough.


Dane said...

Kevin, I know this is late but I did get an email a month or so ago saying that the Ultra and 6000 were only being built with OutDry. Not sure what the status of the Guide was or when it was changed. I do know that all three are now (as of Nov/Dec 2010) OutDry lined by the Scarpa info I recieved.

Runar said...

Thanks Dane!
I've made up my mind thanks to you. Ultra's it is. the Guide fitted, so the Ultra should fit as well. Gonna use them for ice climbing in Norway (just startet) and alpinism in chamonix during the summer. Should be good :)

Dane said...

The Ultra on ice in Norway?
Great boots but I hope the Ultra is warm enough! I really like mine as I mentioned but please let me know how they work out for you.

No offense but when anyone starts talking ice in obviously really cold places and "beginner" in the same sentence I worry about the advice I offer.

Please check with your friends and the local guys climbing a lot in your area before buying the Ultras. See what boots they are using first before making a decision. If the majority of them are using single boots the Ultras will be fine. If a lot of them are wearing and climbing in dbl boots the Ultra won't be enough boot would be my take on it.

Good luck!

Runar said...

You're a funny guy :)
Most ppl climb in Kayland M11, Nepal and Batura. Also seen Spantik on some, but that's not a common site. Survived the first day of ice in my Trango Evo S (not extrems). So I think it should be fine.
A friend of mine recommende me the Guide, but after reading your review I'm changing it.
The temp here is around -2 C til -15 C when we climb. Ususally not colder than -8 C. So it's not that bad or cold.
Anyway. gonne get em from Britan and let you know how it goes.

Good climbing!

Dane said...

Cool :) Sounds like you have done your home work. Norway just sounds really cold for us flatlanders! By the look of the temps and your friends suggestions the Ultra will be a fine choice. Climb on!

Hendrik M said...

Hei Dane,

another beginner here, been going through your site since last year, so much great information. Now is the time to get boots, and the Ultras seem to be the ones to get, I think. Starting ice-climbing here in Finland, walk-ins are usually short, but temps can be anywhere between -10°C and -20°C. The Guides would probably be warmer, but I don't think that I will be out over night in the beginning, and that the Ultras should be fine for a day on the ice (could carrying warm Mukluks as back-up =). What's your take, do you think they will be warm enough or would the Guides for a beginner be the smarter choice?!

Dane said...

Hi Hendrick, I like the Ultra better than the Guide. I don't see a lot of differenece in warmth. And I think the Ultra breathes better and just a few grams lighter. I've used the Ultra mid winter in Chamonix on one day climbs or staying over noight in a hut. They were plenty warm enough for that. But others have disagreed. I have pretty sensitive feet to the cold and until I need a full on double boot the Ultras have been great/perfect boots imo. Plus they are easy to walk in and climb steep ice easily.

Hendrik M said...

Thank you for the quick reply Dane. I'll go for the Ultras then - are they true in size, or smaller/ larger (I have a pair of Scarpa Kailash in 42 which are a good fit but there's a bit of toe jamming so sizing up a half number or number might be wise?)?

Dane said...

They do run true to size imo. I wear a US 11.5 and a 45 in the Ultra. You'll want to make sure they are big enough that your toes do not bump the boot. If they do you'll have cold and sore feet. And useless boots to climb in.

rob said...

yo there, thanks for a good blog...i'll link to it from mine (on Elevation Outdoors mag). curious if you've ever tried the Mammut Eiswand...just saw a pair out in NH and they were crazy the workmanship on the Lowa Weisshorn, too, though it lacks the integrated gaiter rig...thoughts?


rob said...

you know, what, dane, sorry...i meant the Mammut Nordwand...thanks!

Dane said...

I do have a pair of Mammut Norwands here now. A review for them will be up shortly.

They weight 1110g per boot. The new Batura 2.0, 972g.