Pageviews past week

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scarpa Phantom Ultra vs La Sportiva Batura, Jan 2013 2012

The April 26, 2010 previous review of the same boots is by far the most well read post on Cold Thistle.  More than twice the number of reads there than any other blog post I have made to date.  You can review it here:

There are a number of updates on the Batura 2.0 here at the blog.  One is listed here:

In this review I want to update that info for what is currently available for these boots, although not easily in the case of the Ultra.

The boots for this side by side review were a long time coming for me.  And important enough for my own knowledge that I paid for both at retail...although both were on sale at a decent discount.

Here is a list of weights for one boot, size 45 on my digital postal scale

La Sportiva Batura  TWO -0-  GTX                2# 2oz / 970g

Scarpa Phantom Ultra new 2010 model          2# 4oz / 1020g

La Sportiva Batura 1st gen.                             2# 7oz / 1106g

Mammut Nordwand TL                                  2 # 7 oz / 1105g

*Scarpa Omega, with factory Intuition liner   2# 7.5 oz / 1120g

Scarpa Phantom Guide new 2010 model       2# 7.5oz / 1120g

*Scarpa Phantom 6000 with Baruntse liner   2# 8oz / 1134g

La Sportiva Batura 2nd gen.                          2# 9oz / 1170g

I was excited about the 2.0  and wanted so desperately to make the first comparisons in my actual 45 size.

...One boot in a size 45...and a smaller more appropriate comparison

La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTX              2# 2oz / 970g

Scarpa Phantom Ultra                        2# 4oz / 1020g

Scarpa Phantom Guide                      2# 7.5oz / 1120g

*Phantom 6000  w/ Baruntse liner    2# 8oz / 1134g

Before I go farther into the boots and a comparison I'd like to offer some observations.   In the last 10 years I have climbed in just about every pair of technical ice boots made and easily available in North America and some that aren't.  Generally of that selection, some times a couple of pairs and in differing sizes (1/2 and full size differences) of each boot.  What I have gained from that experience  and my on going efforts is that most boots don't fit me very well.  Not that I have a strange foot.   I don't think I do by the feed back I get on the bog.  If I do so do a lot of others.   US 11.5 or a 12, or  Euro 45 generally fits me almost perfectly for length.   I like a lot of heel hold down and have a fairly narrow heel.  That use to be a problem but seems everyone has solved heel hold down for the most part.  Cutting off the circulation in your foot when laced securely may be not yet though!

So I don't generally get the best fitting boots.  And I'd bet most others don't either!  I made a similar statement here a few years ago about crampons.  "Most crampons don't fit very well."  And at first people scoffed at the idea.  Now poorly fitting crampons and taking the extra effort to fit them correctly is generally common knowledge  and a  given in our community.

So what is a correctly fitted mtn boot?  This one is easy.  A boot that fits will be comfortable out of the box.  Not a few weeks in when your feet and ankles have adjusted to the boot with minor complaints.

Here is an example of what I mean.  For several season I climbed in the 1st gen Batura.  Good boots that allowed me to do some hard climbing more easily.  But they had always been hell on my feet.  The longer the walk the worse it was.  But they climbed well because of the rigid sole.  And they walked easily with the soft ankles.  The first year the Phantom Guide came out I bought one of the first pair available.  I did two back to back week long trips straight away with them.  Great boots.  But I was  surprised at the soft shank and mid sole they offered for ice climbing.  I like a rigid sole (or did then)
on my technical ice boots.  The new Batura was almost rigid.  The Guide was almost flexible.  But the Guide was a good bit more comfortable for me.  I'll get into why in a minute..bare with me.  Guide was just as warm and climbed steep ice every bit as well... and imo just a tiny bit better than the early Baturas.

At least my feet were more comfortable and warm in the Guide.

On another Canadian climbing trip I picked up a pair of Phantom Ultras from a buddy that brought them in from the UK for me.  As I handed over the cash I was having terrible buyer's remorse.  The Phantom was "good enough".  I doubted the Ultra would be worth the effort let alone the extra cash.

The Ultra and the Guide are a very similar boot in the places that is counts.  But also very different.  More than the 3.5oz  difference in weight per boot would ever indicate.

But I lost all reservation on that purchase when after a day of climbing I was siting on the stairs of the guest house, I slipped my foot into the Ultra.  There was no question the Ultra fit my foot much, much better.   Didn't even need to lace it up to know that.  Once laced the initial impression was only highlighted.  A comfortable fit!  If someone had told me there would have been that big of difference between two so similar Phantom Series boots I would have said, " BS".

But trust me...there really was a noticeable difference in fit between the two like Scarpa boot models.

My point here is there are may boots available in the market place the will meet your personal climbing requirements.  It is worth making the extra effort to find one that really does fit you.  Not just a boot you can use and eventually get used to as they eat your feet and ankles alive.

OK then,  with that done lets take a look at the Batura and Ultra again.

The now "old" Ultra and the "NEW" Batura.

The Batura is now the lightest ice boot on the market until the Scarpa Rebel Ultra shows up here in NA.  No question the Batura 2.0 is going to be warmer than the Rebel.  But it isn't going to be a lot warmer than the Guide or Ultra.   If the two layers of Goretex they used on the Batura 2.0 will keep the boots drier, then they may yet be warmer in comparison.  But the real issue is how are is either boot to dry once wet.  Answer to that is it is really tough.  Like take them home and wait till next week tough.

Of the three, Guide, Batura and Ultra,  the Ultra has been the one to stay dry the longest and dry the quickest once wet.

Bonus on the stiffer mid sole and less flex of the new honeycomb carbon fiber mid sole on the Batura.
Harder to walk in but easier to climb ice with I think.  But I really like a rigid sole for ice.   My shoe size makes that even more a preference.  The smaller/shorter the boot sole the more rigid a sole will be.  The longer the sole the softer the boot will be everything else being equal.  The one thing I want in an ice a rigid sole.

The Ultra is just stiff enough to climb hard ice in, imo.  Adding a rigid crampon helps its climbing performance.  But the softer mid sole also makes them much easier to walk in.

Fit?  Fit is so personal.  I get a great  fit in the Phantom Ultra.  And because it is only lightly insulated it breathes better on my feet than the Guide or the previous Batura.  I haven't used the new Batura 2.0 enough yet to tell you how well the 2 layers of Goretex will work.   But it is Goretex and once dirty it obviously isn't going to work as well.

The new Batura 2.0 has a sewn in and gusseted tongue.  It is an improvement imo and more comfortable with less bulk.  I am less thrilled with the lacing system.  It is neither simple or pretty.
Although eventually I got a decent fit by skipping the lock lace feature.

Scarpa?  Simple, succinct design work.  And a perfect fit on my skinny ankles.

I like how the Phantom Series of boots laces better than any generation of the Batura.  I finally figured out the only way I could use the new Batura 2.0 was to skip the ankle lock lace all together.  Now they work pretty well for me.  YMMV.  As I said fit is such a personal issue.  You have some good options on fit between La Sportiva which seem to run narrow for most  and Scarpa which seem to run a little wider for most.  Although I don't always agree with that "public knowledge".

Phantom Ultra on the left and the Batura 2.0 on the right.

Gaiter?  Back in the '70s we were cutting up Super gaiters and adding zippers and Velcro closures.  That system never failed in years of hard use.  La Sportiva got a clue and ditched the exposed zipper idea after  lots of failures.  Scarpa's zipper has a better reputation but I have no doubt, from experience,  that the Velcro and zipper combo is a much better way to solve that problem.

Weight?  I am now well under 1000g per boot and a rigid sole for my own ice climbing with the Batura 2.0 .

No more needs to be said does it?

Still, fit really is everything.  Find the boot that fits you!  I want the Ultras fit and added ankle support sewn on to the Batura's rigid carbon honey comb sole and new spiffy gaiter attached then sealed up with Velcro.  Or may be the 2.0 will mold a bit to my feet yet:)


Anonymous said...

Are the Ultras and Guides built on different lasts? If so, that would explain the different fit.

Dane said...

That would seem obvious. But no, same last. Just different insulation and thickness in the "sock". Fit is different because of the difference in liner (insulation) thickness and how (easily or not) it forms to the foot.

Ian said...

The Phantom 6000 is the real stand out weight wise. WOW!

Dane said...

Ian, Glad some one noticed 6000. Drop in the Baruntse liner and you have a very lwt boot, better fit and warmer over all than anything else available in that weight catagory.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Batura EVO:s

The zipper still sucks. Dunno how common problem this is with EVO:s, but I seem to have them. I had the original model, but its zipper broke during first season. I sent them to Finnish La Sportiva importer and I got EVO model back (after 5 months of waiting).

Now the zipper problems are back. And unlike the original, the zipper can rip open from middle even without any visible damage to the teeths. It's done that now 3 times: 2 times in the middle of long route and once during approach.

I also appreciate the Finnish La Sportiva guys attitude to this. First the communicated OK, but after they heard that there's no visible fault in the zipper they washed their hands of the issue.

It's a shame Scarpa shoes do not fit that well to my feet...

-Matti S, Finland

Dane said...

No question there were problems on the zippers on the Batura and Batura Evo. That should all be solved with the addition of the Velcro on the closure for the newest Batura 2.0. It is a big improvement.

I used the first two versions and made a point of being very careful of the zipper. But hated taking them on longer routes or an over night because they were fragile.

Looks like I can worry less now on the newest boot.

John said...

Do the new Baturas upper lace rivets ptotrude like the old ones did? I still have scars from the
1st gen boots.

Dane said...

Only metal on the 2.0 lace system now is the lock lace. Everything else is a fabric lace eyelet. No rivets through the boot. Tongue is totally redesigned as well. Take a look at the earlier 2.0 reviews.

marcello said...

this may seem stupid but the solution to a lot of my upper foot pain was, and don't make fun of me, shaving all the hair off the top of my foot and a few inches up my leg.this may not be your problem but it was a BIG deal for took me forever to figure out how to get rid of that pain.

Anonymous said...

"My point here is there are may boots available in the market place the will meet your personal climbing requirements. It is worth making the extra effort to find one that really does fit you."

True words, I spent over a year looking for the right fit with hiking boots. I smile whenever I put them on. Totally worth the search and effort for the right fit.