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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mammut Eiger Extreme Nordwand TL Boots

Mammut sez:

"Despite a complete range of technical features, this full-gaiter boot is the lightest in its category, making it a perfect fit for the Eiger Extreme range."

Weight is not the end all for even a weight weenie like me.  But since it is the very first comment of the online Mammut description I'll address that.

And since the same misrepresentation has been repeated in a couple of Internet reviews so lets put that to rest up front.

all in size 45EU/11.5 US per one boot

The lightest ice boot to date:
Scarpa Rebel Ultra 1# 14.4oz

Intergal gaiter ice boots listed by weight:

Batura 2.0 2# 2oz (current version)
Scarpa Phantom Ultra 2# 3.5oz (35.5oz) / 1006g
La Sportiva Batura 1st gen. 2# 7oz / 1106g
Zamberlan Paine 2# 7oz
Mammut Extreme Nordwand  2# 7oz
Scarpa Phantom Guide 2# 7.5oz / 1120g
Salewa Pro Gaiter 2# 8oz
Zamberlan Eiger 2# 8oz
La Sportiva Batura 2nd gen. 2# 9oz / 1170g

Full double boots with External gaiters attached for comparison
Scarpa Phantom 6000 new 2010 model 2# 10oz / 1190g
Lowa 600RD 2# 14oz
La Sportiva Spantik 3# .05oz / 1362g
La Sportiva Baruntse 3# 2.5oz / 1503g  
Zamberlan Denali 3# 6oz

OK then,  so now we know where the Nordwand TL actually fits in the mix for weight.

You can only imagine  when I start doing another boot review  that I have to start  really looking for things to say.  "Game changer",  "the flagship", simply "the best" are terms I like to bandy about.  But I also like them to mean something.

There are over a dozen really, REALLY good mtn boots listed above.  And without a doubt I have some distinct favorites in that bunch.  Truth is I really like some of the colors.  And I like how some fit and not so much others.  Sometimes it is just purely the cosmetics that might get me into a boot first.  But if the boot doesn't fit even that attraction isn't going to last long.  First pick the category of boot required.  In this case we are talking a rather rigid boot that will easy and securely take a technical crampon.

First and fore most the biggest decision on any boot should be made by "how does it fit".
Nothing else really matters. 

Only then do you need to start worrying about what crampons will fit your boot and just how warm will it be.

OK, everyone is different.  I admittedly have difficult feet to fit.  But I can climb (and have) in both Scarpa and La Sportiva boots in the last decade.   I have favorite boots, not a favorite brand.


The Nordwand TL fit?

For me I find the last's heel more open/wider than I like.  But then I have an extremely narrow heel.  The toe box is not overly roomy but good enough to wiggle my toes and keep the circulation up.  Again the last is a bit boxy for my skinny feet because with the laces snugged up I almost match the sides of the boot.  Smaller size and it is a little short.  Common problem with my foot.

If I were to dare a comparison.  Wider in the heel that La Sportiva or Scarpa.  Wider in the fore foot than La Sportiva but only a tiny bit wider than Scarpa in the forefoot.  All good things if you have a foot wider than mine.  Reminds me a lot of the Raichle lasts.   Which only makes sense  as Mammut took over Raichle in 2009.   But with a almost 100 history many will know what a Raichle last feels like and if it will fit their needs. 

Last pair of Raichles I owned was in 1973.  Wow!  Take about a trip to memory lane!

Mt Temple, Canadian Rockies, 1973 and my *very first* boot picture!
Raichle Zinals of course :)  Last Raichle to fit me. Wish I still owned them

But I might have been able to make the Nordwand  work if I could have snugged the heel down with the lacing.

But that didn't work out as well as I would have liked.
There were/are a lot of complaints with the laces on the Scarpa Phantom series of boots about the Kevlar laces.  Too skinny and too slick. The Nordwand suffers from the same issue imo.  Not a big deal but a PIA to lace the boot tightly for me.  Once done the last locking eyelet set above the ankle  joint and the mechanical lock on the lace sorts it all nicely.

Again like the Scarpa...6000 double boot this time, the last bit of "lacing" is done with a velcro strap.  Easy enough  to use and well positioned to aid in a proper fit and ankle support.  I like it on both the Nordwand and in the Scarpa 6000.  It is well done here.

The tongue is exceptionally well made and positioned for my feet.  It really adds to my comfort in the  the boot.  The tongue also has a "pull" cut into it and is extra high in front to allow that.  One on the side in back to match.  So easy on with the boot.  But may be a little too much thought put there.   With a velcro positioning tab on the tongue as well.  All nice touches and well thought out.  Me? I am a big fan of simple.  Phantom Ultra still has my vote for a the best lace system of the bunch.  How the lace system fits my foot has much tot do with that.  So try ALL of these boots on first before you buy.

Like all of this genre of boots the actual internal boot is synthetic.  Mammut uses "Thinsulate 200B & a WaterProof Warm Lining".  The Thinsulate I can vouch for.  It is a warm boot.  The water proof lining?  Doesn't everyone have something of the sort?

The real issue of these boots isn't if they are water proof.  I don't think any of them really are, certainly not over extended use and walking in ankle deep water.


The real issue is how well they breath and stay dry from your feet internally  On that front the Mammut is better than most IMO.  I wouln't expect them to dry out any better once wet though.  It is the limitation of this boot design in general...not just with Mammut, but everyone.

Next up is warmth?

Take a look at the list I posted for weights.  In general but not always (depends on how high tech the boot really is) you can add warmth for every added ounce of weight.  Likely the easiest way to keep track.  On top of that look at how big the gaiter is.  Bigger the gaiter, in general again, the warmer the boot.  Several reasons for that but generally you can take that idea to the bank and not worry about it any longer.

You'll see more details on all that in coming reviews of similar boots as to why I think all that "generally" is true.

But if anyone starts telling you  any one of these specific boots is any warmer than the guess it is the fit or simply different conditions and human physiology.

Batura 2.0 2# 2oz (current version)
Scarpa Phantom Ultra 2# 3.5oz (35.5oz) / 1006g
La Sportiva Batura 1st gen. 2# 7oz / 1106g
Mammut Extreme Nordwand 2# 7oz
Scarpa Phantom Guide 2# 7.5oz / 1120g
Salewa Pro Gaiter 2# 8oz
Zamberlan Eiger 2# 8oz
La Sportiva Batura 2nd gen. 2# 9oz / 1170g

And no way in hell do I want to be out for long climbing in -35C temps in any of them.  Save that nonsense specifically for a double boot.  Or risky your pinkies imo!

That said the Nordwand does have an exceptional gaiter and  huge YKK drysuit zipper system.   But the zipper seems to have some durability problems for the early reports I have seen.  Not every one has sorted that all out yet in these boots.   The gaiter is high.  It is heavily reinforced  for crampon wear at the instep.   Half the boot for heaven's  sake!   Nice for punters in crampons like myself.    The gaiter is a full 3" higher than the La Sportiva and Scarpa versions.    Pants in or pants out?  That is a tough one.  Advantages to both sides there.  Given a choice?  I'd rather have the longer gaiter.  Just cut it trim enough not to get in the way of my crampons if you do want to tuck your pants in.  The Nordwand could easily be more trim in the upper part of the gaiter.  Only elastic on top of the gaiter.  Not pull string and no easy way  to add one.   Mistake there IMO.

The carbon fiber shank?

Of all the boots listed above no question the Nordwand has one of the most stiff mid soles. 

If you want to separate this genre of boots there you have it.  Some are "soft".  Scarpa for example.  The Nordwand is "stiff".  Thank the high tech carbon fiber midsole for that.   I like a stiff boot, if it has enough rocker in the sole and it fits me well so I don't get heel slip.  For the right foot the Nordwand will be an exceptional boot.  Worth noting as well that you can play around with the velcro strap on the lacing and get a very supportive ankle or lots of mobility in the ankle depending on how tight you cinch the velcro.  And still keep the laces and the majority of your foot secure as required.  Nice option few other boots have.

Even the lugged sole is worth taking a second look at.  It is a heavy lugged Vibram.  They could have dropped weight by going to a shallow lugged sole.  But there are always trade offs.

More block under the ball of the foot might be handy on rock.

Typical worthless insole like every other production boot I have seen.  May be 2 cents more effort thrown at this one.  But not a nickle more.  A nice carbon shank which is warm by some comparisons to other materials used.  And a heat reflective foil on top of it beneath the previous mentioned insole. in the insole.   Another high tech bit of design for a single boot.  Both add warmth.

Photo courtesy of Mammut

Sadly the Nordwand does not feel light or nimble compared to the Scarpa Phantom Ultra or Batura 2.0.    Although the weight is certainly right in there and lighter than most.  Part of that is the sole is not trimmed as close as some others.  The larger lugs on the sole is something I also feel.   For me it is more the bulk and feel kin to the Scarpa 6000 or Zamberlan Eiger.  Not a bad thing of course but no where near as warm as the 6000 either.  But the  Nordwand is also 3oz per boot lighter than the 6000,  But not as useful for multi day trips.  Every bit as good of boot how ever as any of the singles I've mentioned here.  Better of course if your foot fits a Raichle last better than my foot does.

Bottom line.  Exceptional single boot for  cold weather.  Not a replacement for a decent double boot and doesn't try to be. Wider last and fit is a nice option with so many boots so similar in fit.  If I had wide feet likely the boot I would be in. stiff the sole is.  Not thrilled so much on the laces but the lace system is solid.   Wish they would take some of the bulk out of the gaiter,  And trim the toe of the sole better.  I'd take a grinder to mine.  Better yet just use a much more low profile toe cap for the tech crampons that is farther inset into the boot.  That would help a little how the boot climbs as well.  $575 retail and easy enough to find in the US online.


fkarcha said...

Thanks for the comments on the fit and stiffness. Looks like I'll definitely be waiting on the Nepal Cube or Rebel Pro to be in stores.

Matt said...

I've got a pair, seem to fit well from my shop/house walking. Quick bit of advice: worth walking over the hills in them to "break" them in despite no snow down here and not being anywhere near single digit temps let alone minus figures?

Dave said...

I had these boots and ended up returning them due to issues with the zipper on the gaiter. At first (and this happened several times) the zipper would stick at the top of the gaiter. It literally took a pair of vice-grips and two peoples effort to get it unstuck. My last day out with them the zipper split half-way. I was mid-route and ended up with wet feet from trudging through some slushy spring snow. Integrated gaiters don't work so well if the zipper fails.

With regards to fit, I have a very wide foot and am typically relegated to scarpa for boots, but these fit like a dream. I truly enjoyed hiking and climbing in them. I just wish the zipper didn't suck so bad.

Nick said...

I just got a pair of these to try and it looks to me like they've changed up the zip compare to the photo. Looks like a tizip to me. Not sure about its durability

Dane said...

Two zips shown in the pictures above. Both YKK I think. TZip is good if that is what you actually have. Mine were a huge YKK dry suit zipper that resembled the TZip.

gordie said...

Wonderd what your thoughts are of the mammut eisnwand Gtx from the same series.
they are rated to -25c which is a good range for winter climbing and a light boot cant find any reviwes on them and im itching to get them.
my second choice would be the LS trango extreme.
To be clear im looking for a winter and summer ice/alpine boot.
all these super gaiters just seem so bulky and too warm for summer.

Dane said...

Sorry Gordie, haven't taken a look at the details on that boot.

William Bevans said...

In your opinion, do you believe these would handle Cordillera Blanca / Peru at 5-6000M without major issue, I tend to climb on the "warmer" side ?
Thank you !

Dane said...

Sure, if you want to a take a single boot, these are a very warm single boot.