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La Sportiva Spantik Review

La Sportiva Spantik mountaineering boots
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Price:  $750 List | $750.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 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)
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Luke Lydiard ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2013
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Our Verdict

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.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


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.
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.

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


Medial view of the Spantik showing the smooth sole rocker which allows it to walk like a much lighter boot.
Medial view of the Spantik showing the smooth sole rocker which allows it to walk like a much lighter boot.
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 S Evo - 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 setup. 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 ourselves 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


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.
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.
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 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 a 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.


Luke Lydiard