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La Sportiva Spantik Review

   
Top Pick Award

Mountaineering Boots - Men's

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: January 16, 2014
Street Price:   $750 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Easy to lace, Warm enough for anything under 8000 meters, Supportive enough touring on approach skis, Climbs and walks like a much lighter boot
Cons:  Cuff bites after miles and miles of skiing, Heaviest boot in the review (so not a good all-around boot)
Best Uses:  Cold weather mountaineering, generally above 6000 meters. Great on Denali.
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
Review by: Luke Lydiard ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ May 12, 2013  
Overview
The Spantik is the boot of choice for cold weather mountaineering in the world's serious mountain ranges, such as Aconcogua and Denali. It is an insulated double boot designed for cold weather mountaineering on peaks above 6000 meters. In the category of insulated double boot, the Spantik is the flagship and has become the most commonly used around the world.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Performance Comparison
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Jason Kuo rappelling Ham and Eggs on the Moose's Tooth in Alaska wearing the La Sportiva Spantik, which is the most common boot worn on routes in Alaska.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Weight
Predictably, the Spantik is the heaviest boot in the review, but also the only double boot we reviewed. This is one of the lightest most technical double boots available. The midsole is made from carbon fiber which keeps it lighter. For warmth to weight ratio, we find the Spantik to be on par with the amazingly warm and light La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTX.

Rock Climbing Ability
These clunkers are probably not the footwear to send your project in the Red River Gorge. We have seen people following hard, dry rock climbs in the Alaskan Ruth Gorge with the Spantik, while the leader wore climbing shoes with socks. In this case the follower had to be more creative with their footwork but their feet were a whole lot warmer than the leader's. Overall these boots climb rock surprisingly well for beefy double boot.

Ice Climbing Ability
With a fully rigid sole with the perfect amount of rocker, the Spantik is designed to be used with fully automatic step-in crampons. The Spantik is also the most supportive boot we reviewed. Since it is a double boot, it has two sets of laces that can be cranked tight, providing enough support to stand on front-points, even while wearing a pack, forever. When kicking into pure ice, we found the extra weight of the Spantik to be an advantage in sinking your front points. We never experienced heel lift while wearing the Spantik. Our overall ice climbing conclusion: awesome.

Hiking Ability
Click to enlarge
Medial view of the Spantik showing the smooth sole rocker which allows it to walk like a much lighter boot.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
Walking in this boot comes down to one thing: sole rocker. This boot has just the right amount to make them walk like a much lighter boot, but still allow you to fit your crampons with ease.

Obviously a double boot will never be as nimble as a summer mountaineering boot like The North Face Verto S4K or the La Sportiva Trango Evo S - Men's. The Spantik, however, is leaps and bounds better for walking than any double plastic boot. This is due to the hinge at the front of the ankle cuff which allows for some forward motion.

Cold weather climbs in snowy places like the Alaska Range often involve skiing to your objective on some sort of lightweight touring set up. We used our Spantiks on a foam core ski with a pair of Silvretta 500 bindings. The Silvretta binding uses a wire toe bail similar to the toe bail on a step-in crampon to anchor the front of the boot. The Spantik is a great boot for this type of set up when you need to make it miles across a relatively flat glacier. If the terrain steepens, the Spantik is not a replacement for a real ski boot. We found that the Spantik has a decent amount of medial/lateral support but it lacks the fore/aft support of a real ski boot. With a heavy pack on, we found ourself working hard to stay out of the backseat because of the fore/aft movement. This lack of support, however, does make touring more comfortable and efficient, which is when you would likely need to use them in a ski application.

One of the only flaws we found with the Spantik also comes in this category. After many miles of glacier skinning, we found that the upper portion of the outer cuff began to painfully dig into the top of the foot. We feel this is a minor issue because compared to the alternatives, the Spantik far out-performs anything in its class on the approach.

Warmth
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Spantik inner boot. A double boot allows this inner part to be removed so it can be warmed and dried in a sleeping bag overnight. This is what makes a double boot ideal for extreme cold in places like Alaska.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
Being a double boot, the Spantik is the warmest boot in the review. Both the inner and outer boots are insulated. This boot is a step beyond the warmth of any of the super-gaiter style boots we reviewed, including the amazingly warm La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTX.

When considering warmth for a double boot to be used in very cold climates, it is important to consider toe wiggle room. If your boots fit too tight and don't allow your toes to wiggle, your feet will be cold. After surveying many winter mountaineers, we found that the consensus is to size your Spantiks a half size larger than other Sportiva mountain boots that you may own. While this may sacrifice a small amount of performance, it equates to extra warmth in places where you need it most.

Waterproofness
Usually when climbing in colder environments, for which this boot is intended, moisture from the inside is more of a threat than from the outside.The outer of this boot is waterproof just in case. The advantage of double boots is that the inner boot comes out and and can be dried with body heat in your sleeping bag at night.

Durability
The Spantiks laces are a potential fail point for some people. Our test pair has seen many days of use, and the lacing worked without problem. The lacing design allows you to rig up a do-it-yourself lace should you slice through one with a crampon. (You will need to take your gloves off to do this.) It's not a bad idea to have an extra lace or two with you if you are getting dropped off by ski plane for a month someplace cold and steep.

Best Application
These boots are designed for multi-day trips in cold climates. Alaska, the Andes, anywhere you need to ski in your mountaineering boots, and hard technical climbing in ice and snow.

Personal Stories
After a recent trip the Alaska range's Ruth Gorge, we decided that the Spantik was the one piece of gear that was absolutely perfect for the trip. We wouldn't change it in any way or consider any other boot for next time. Alaska. Spantik. Done.

Value
The Spantik is the most expensive boot in the review by far. How much are your toes worth? Assuming you have the regular quantity, this boot retails for $75 per toe. We think that this is a deal.

Other Versions
La Sportiva designed the Spantik as a lighter, warmer replacement for the now discontinued Nuptse.
They also makes a more traditional double boot called the Baruntse, which shares much of the Spantik's warmth but weighs in slightly heavier. The Baruntse uses a TPU midsole as opposed to the Spantik's carbon fiber midsole. The Baruntse retails for $125 less than the Spantik, and could be considered for similar situations.

Luke Lydiard

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 16, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 2 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Jan 16, 2014 - 02:17pm
richnyc · Climber · NY
Great winter and high altitude mountaineering boot. Lot more comfier than my old Koflach Arctis double plastics. Definitely better uphill walking comfort. And I was able to run downhill in them, too, which is next to impossible in my old Koflachs. Plus, they fit my Grivel G12 crampons perfectly, even with the fairly pronounce rocker sole.

I tested them last week during the "Polar Vortex" sweeping the Northeast hiking in the Presidential Range (White Mountains, NH). Summit temps were around -20F, my feet were nice and warm. Only wore either liner or lightweight hiker merino wool socks. It was plenty. Definitely warmer than the Koflachs.

I sized them the same way as my Koflachs (44.5). They fit just a bit tighter on the top of my arches. Overall, they wrap around my feet better. Definitely a great buy. Got them from EMS at 20% discount.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 18, 2012 - 03:03pm
TYeary · Climber · State of decay
I have been using the Spantik for about four years now.They have held up well and taken a lot of abuse. Very warm and lightweight, they are so much better/comfortable than the plastics I have used in the past. I have used them ice climbing from Lee Vining to 6000 meter peaks in Peru. They rock climb well too: much better than plastics! I have climbed up to 5.6 and not felt too pressed!If you get a good fit you will be sold! Worth every penny.
TY

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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La Sportiva Spantik mountaineering boots
Credit: La Sportiva
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