Pageviews past week

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Phantom Ultra vs the Trango Extreme GTX

Scarpa Phantom Ultra size 45 weight    35.5oz

La Sportiva Trango Extr Evo GTX size 45 weight    35oz

(how much do your gaiters weigh?)

These are two of my favorite lwt single boots for winter use.  For those that missed it in the Hot Aches Production of  "Pinnacle",  MacLeod was wearing  the similar Phantom Guide (slightly heavier and may be a bit warmer/harder to dry, than the Ultra)  while Turner was using the Trango Extreme GTX.

Given the option of either boot it is a hard decision on which to choose when looking at temps that will easily allow either.

Let me do a run down of my thoughts on each and let you choose.

I have long skinny feet with very narrow ankles.  I a Size 45 in either boot.  The Ultra has a slightly bigger toe box.  Enough to notice.  The Trango a slightly more snug fit in the over all foot.  The Ultra a better fit in the heel for heel lift tightly laced or even a bit loose.

The Ultra offers marginally more ankle support...but the Trango certainly offers enough for steep ice and both  offer great flexibility.

Both boots offer super sticky rubber soles with minimal lug height.   Makes both brands of boot a little slick in some snow conditions.   I have heard continual complaints now of the Trango having too narrow of a foot print and being unpleasant on "ankle twister".  Hog wash was my first thought...but I heard it more than once and all from people I trust using the boot.  Not something I personally experienced though. 

The Ultra is a OutDry lined boot.  The Trango a Goretex lined boot.

Both stay dry if you keep the water below boot top height.  The Trango seems to retain more moisture from foot sweat.  Both boots are difficult to dry once wet.  The Ultra has a removable insulated insole, the Trango a removable, thin foam insole.  The Ultra seems to dry slightly easier, to much faster.

The Ultra obviously offers  more weather resistance with the built in gaiter than the very traditional Trango's open tongue and lace system.    To make up for that I believe the Trango offers more insulation.

I think both boots really require an over the boot gaiter or pant gaiter.  I have been using "pant" gaiters with both boots and done well in some very sloppy conditions.  The Ultra will always fair better here as you have one more layer of protection from the elements.

The Trango is much, much easier for me to lace and manage the laces,.  The Ultra has a zipper (which everyone seems to worry about) and a gaiter to deal with  as well as the sorta complicated and super slick Dyneema laces.  Advantage on ease of lacing and keeping your boots tight goes to the Trango I think.
The sole has some flex on the Ultra.  But they are super easy to walk in and just stiff enough in my size 45s to climb vertical water ice very well, mixed even better.     What really saves this boot imo is the added ankle support and exceptional heel fit on technical terrain 'cuz I really do wish they had a stiffer sole platform.

The Trango has a rock solid mid sole.  I don't flex this boot's sole which is comforting.  But the ankle offers almost zero support in any direction.  Great for mixed, not perfect for long bouts of steep ice.  But the super stiff sole also makes this boot a little unpleasant to walk in.   I think it is a far better fitting boot than its stable mate, the Batura.

No question the Ultra can be laced very close to the foot.  Almost like a rock shoe.  And if you are not careful way, way too tight.  None of those problems, even with a great fit and a tight boot in the Trangos.

The Trango will give you an almost perfect fit in any current crampon made.   The exception is some crampons (Petzl) will bite the back of your ankle when you flip up the binding lever.  BD heel levers don't and will fit most any full binding crampon, including Petzl's.

I have yet to find an off the shelf crampon that fits the Ultra perfectly or even very well.  The front toe profile on the Ultra  is super thin and very narrow.    To date I have tried Grivel G12s, G20s, Rambo IVs, BD Sabers, Seracs, Neve, Cyborgs, Camp Utralites and Petzl Darts and Dartwins.  Petzl and Scarpa tell me there is no problem  Others have repeated that matra.   BD admits it is an issue with their current bail.  So they will be introducing a totally new bail.

Ueli Steck on the le Droites in Dartwins and the Ultras...gotta say I don't particularly like that boot crampon combo.  That crampon/ boot combination fit is poor imo.  And I really like both the boot and the crampon and have used the combo a good bit myself as have others.  It works but could be bettered on the Ultra.


Anonymous said...

any idea how the Scarpa Jorasses fits into the picture?

Dane said...

Jorasses? Just a tiny bit heavier than the two listed here and Goretex lined. I've not used them but I'd suspect very similar performance +/- of the Trango. Best to make the comparison at Scarpa's web site first, then on your own feet.

Anonymous said...


I found the same issue as you now with my Guides/Dart combination. If you get that hard dry snow between the sole and the crampon you get some lateral shift on. Not dangerous at all but not great either.


Unknown said...

The Jorasses do not work well with the BD front Bail. I just tried the Sabretooth pro's and the front half of the Crampon moved laterally about 1.5cm . Conversations with BD tell me they know this is a problem and are developing a new bail, but it's won't be out until next season. Likely best for Jorasses owners to go with a C2 style, which should be just fine.

Dane said...

Thanks for the feed back.

The Scarpa boots and some of the La Sportiva boots work well with any of the BD crampons if you add Petzl front bails. The newest BD bail is in a gen two version currently and I'm told will be the standard bail once it is sorted out. The idea is to lower the bail profile and improve the fit on all the thinner profile soles...which Scarpa is the poster child for. The Jorasses and the Phantom Guide have the same profile sole.

Lots of folks using factory stock versions of all the Black Diamond Crampons on both versions of the Scarpa and likely all four new boots. I use BD crampons but like the Petzl bail front fit on my Scarpa boots much better than the factory BD version.

But it is an obvious Scarpa issue not a BD issue although it will obvioulsy be up to BD to fix the fit.

Petzl crampons doen't fit any better than BD crampons do in factory form on the new Scarpa boots believe it or not. I have yet to be able to fit Petzl crampons to my Scarpa Ultra boots to my satisfaction.

But with a little effort the Scarpa Ultras do fit my Sabertooth crampons using a Petzl front bail.

Unknown said...

Bit of a blast from the past but I picked up some Phantom Ultras on clearance from Scarpa. Love the boots but i'm struggling with crampon fit.

I'm after some general mountaineering poons (G12 etc) rather that more technical numbers.

Have you had any success? (I'm a size 45 if that helps.)


Dane said...

Hey Allen, NIce boot. I am still using an Ultra in 45 myself.

Petzl bails seem to fit them better than most. I use Dartwins. But a Vasak should work just fine. G12 may work better with a Petzl front bail. But it is a heavy crampon compared to your boot weight. Saber tooth with a Petzl bail was a prefect fit. I just don't trust stainless. YMMV