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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Sunday, June 23, 2013

the best of the lwt ice climbing boots

 The LWT ice boots:

Things have changed in the last couple of years and it continues to be for the better!

 Scrapa Rebel Ultra size 45 1# 14oz
Scarpa Phantom Ultra size 45 weight 2# 4oz

La Sportiva Trango Extr Evo GTX size 45 weight 2# 3oz

La Sportiva Batura 2.0 size 45 2# 2oz

La Sportiva Trango Extr Evo GTX size 45 weight 2# 3oz


Larger volume on the left,  the Batura 2.0 and the smaller volume, the Rebel Ultra, on the right
All these boots fall between these two for volume and warmth. 

 weights are PER Boot:
Scrapa Rebel Ultra size 45    1# 14oz
La Sportiva Batura 2.0 size 45  2# 2oz

Scarpa Phantom Ultra size 45 weight 2# 4oz

La Sportiva Trango Extr Evo GTX size 45 weight 2# 3oz

Zamberlan Paine GTX  2# 8oz

(how much do your gaiters weigh?)

Every boot listed here except the Trango has a gaiter built in.
All are Goretex lined.  Except the Phantom Ultra.  Which is notable imo.

La Sportiva Trango Prime is another  boot that would fit this category.
These are five of my favorite lwt single boots for winter use.  Given the option  it is a hard decision on which to choose when looking at the temps that will easily allow any of them.

Soles flexibility depends on you shoe size.  The bigger the boot the more flexible the boot sole.
All of these boots are rigid enough for vertical ice using the right crampons.  "Right" crampon choice on these boots is the key to performance IMO.

Scarpa's Phantom Ultra 
Phantom Ultra in use with a Petzl Dartwin

I am a big boy weight wise.   190# stripped and a good bit more kitted out on the ice.  The Scarpa Ultra (both versions) and a Dartwin is IMO a very good set up for vertical ice.   This coming for a guy who really prefers a rigid crampon and rigid boot mid sole.   I learned to appreciate the softer flexing mid soles Scarpa has offered recently.

But given a choice I still like a fairly rigid boot with lots of support.  The lighter weight the better, imo.

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

I have long skinny feet with very (VERY) narrow ankles. I'm a Size 45 or 45.5 in these boots. The Scarpa and Zamberlan lasts seem to fit me the best.   I see a lot of comments saying the La Sportivas are a narrower last.    I am not convinced as I can wear any of them with little complaint.  Best to always try on the boots you want to consider.  I find all of the boots listed very close on sizing and lasts.  Only toe boxes changing the fit very much  and of course the lacing systems.  For me lacing systems are best designed, KISS.  KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.   They make or a break a boot in the end.  I think that gets forgotten some times by the design teams.  I run between a 45 and a 45.5 in all of these boots.

Here is my 2 second review on all of them.

Scrapa Rebel Ultra size 45 1# 14oz

Best fit of the bunch for me in a 45.5 by far.  Easy enough to get in and out of.  Lacing is slick and ankle support very good.  I like this boot.  For the fit and support it offers for the weight I'll put up with the lack of warmth to a point.  1/2# per pair lighter than the Batura.

La Sportiva Batura 2.0 size 45 2# 2oz

Likely the warmest of the boots listed.  But the Phantom Ultra is right in there as well.  Very flexible ankle and a high tech honeycomb carbon mid sole.  Hard to not like this boot.  I find the lace system annoying.  If the lace system offered a better fit for me this would likely be "my" boot.  

Scarpa Phantom Ultra size 45 weight 2# 4oz

Advantage Scarpa here.  Almost the fit of a Rebel Ultra.  Almost the warmth of the Batura.  Heavier than either.  Easy in and out.  They dry faster than any of the GTX boots and they climb well.   I suspect they dry faster because they never get as wet on the inside.  The Goldilocks boot?  May be.  It needs a Scarpa update and to be imported into North America in half sizes.  Likely never ever happen though.  Phantom Guide is already well established in the market.
La Sportiva Trango Extreme Evo GTX size 45 weight 2# 3oz

Super slid all around performer.  This is the boot that needed a gaiter.  One designed "out of the box." But a super hard boot to dry out once  wet.  I really like this boot for a lot of reasons.  The best reason?  It is simple and it works every where.....till it gets wet inside. 

Zamberlan Paine GTX 2# 8oz

Old school fit and finish.  Which are good things.  The mid sole is pretty rigid and very supportive.  They fit almost crampon exceptionally well.  Not every boot here does.  They are a bit heavy.  But the craftsmanship and materials clearly show you why they are  6oz heavier per boot than the Batura 2.0.  If you have the money for only one boot and need it to last for a while.  This is your boot.    May be the most comfortable boot of the bunch for me out of the box.

FWIW until recently the Zamberlan boots were extremely hard to get a hold of in the USA.   That has changed.  I'll have full, detailed reviews up shortly on the Paine, Eiger and Denali versions.  They are boots you will want to know more about.  Took me 3 years to finally get a pair in hand and I think, worth the wait.

They are available here:

All but two of the boots offer sticky rubber soles with minimal lug height. The Zamberlan Paine and the La Sportiva Batura 2.0 being the exceptions with a full size lugs.   Makes short lugs a little slick in some snow conditions.  But that is why we wear crampons isn't it? 

I have heard of the Trango having too narrow of a foot print and being unpleasant on "ankle twister".     "BS" was my first thought...but I heard it more than once and always from people I trust using the boot. Not something I personally experienced though.  And I have walked a bunch in the Trangos. 

The Ultra is a OutDry lined boot. The rest Goretex lined boots.

All stay dry if you keep the water below boot top height. The GTX boots seems to retain more moisture from foot sweat. All are difficult to dry once wet.

More here on an Ultra and Trango comparison I made earlier.  I was wrong on the Dart/Dartwin/Ultra combo btw.  There are crampons that can be made to fit better but none more reliable and proven over the last couple of years now than the Scarpa-Dartwin combo.

Lots of options these days to get a really good boot and more importantly to me a GOOD fit.  It has not always been so in this category of boot.  Some work to be done yet.

As I have mentioned so many times previous.
A super light weight double boot that will climb ice, under the magic 1.5# in a size 45.  And something you can actually dry in the field over night should be the on every one's mind.    

Till then I will do my best to wear a few of these out!



Reto Baumann said...

Great info - thanks a lot. I also have very narrow feet and I'm looking forward to get one of the Ultras somewhere to try. Unfortunately they seem very hard to get in Switzerland (no shop has them in stock). I wonder if ordering them only in "my usual mountaineering boot size" (same in La Sportiva Nepal and La Sportiva Trango S - always a 45.5).
It's interesting to read that you're not convinced that La Sportiva offers a narrower fit than Scarpa. As before this post I was always sure the "community" would agree. I always run in the risk that the boot offers too much volume (and my feet can twist slightly whan walking sideways steep glacier terrain).
Do you usually wear thick socks with the Ultra?

Dane said...

Of all these boots the Rebel Ultra is by far the most narrow last and closest fit around the entire foot. Intentionally the fit is more like a rock shoe than a bigger boot even the lwt Phantom Ultra. I use a lwt or medium wool sock in all of them usually with a silk weight poly pro liner sock as well. If you are a 45.5 in La Sportiva you'll very likely be a 45.5 in the Rebel Ultra. The Ultra was just delivered world wide to suppliers so you may see it shortly in a shop close to you.

Unknown said...

Hi, have you climbed in the Scarpa REBEL PRO GTX? Just wondering your thoughts. I'm looking for a new boot for Colorado mixed, Canadian winter ice and spring alps routes. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Dane said...

I have not used the Pro. Just the Ultra. Nice boots (either modle) if you can stay warm enough in them. I would expect the Ultra to be a tiny bit warmer fwiw. Take a look at the Ultra reviews here. Should give you an idea of what the Pro can do.