Phantom Tech vs. Original Phantom Guide
While both built for all-conditions ice, mixed, and alpine climbing, the Phantom Tech has seen some serious upgrades. According to the manufacturer, their goal with this boot is to increase warmth and decrease weight, though we've yet to test this out ourselves. It also features a new zipper configuration. To see the differences for yourself, check out the Tech here, left, compared to the Guide version that we tested, right.
- Weight — While Scarpa is claiming a big weight shaving, we'd like to test this out ourselves before confirming.
- Zipper construction — The new Flexseal zipper construction from Scarpa hopes to eliminate stress points while still being waterproof. We're excited to check this out!
Because we haven't yet tested this update, the remainder of this review will reflect the original Phantom Guide.
The Scarpa Phantom Guide in action on the Roadside ice in June Lake, CA. The fully rigid sole allows for a solid platform for front-pointing in vertical ice.
The Scarpa Phantom Guide weighed in the middle of the other super-gaiter boots. We think that the added warmth of a supergaiter boot is often worth the slight increase in weight over a single boot, but if you need the ultimate in lightweight super-gaiter sytle boots consider the La Sportiva Batura 2.0 which weighed in 63 grams lighter in our test. While that is only around 6% lighter, consider the compounding affect of added weight on your feet over miles and miles.
Rock Climbing Ability
The Phantom Guide, though wider in fit, has a distinctly narrow toe compared to every other boot in the review. We found that this was a slight disadvantage when edging and smearing, but could be an advantage in just the right size crack. The Vibram sole is slightly thicker than most, which puts you farther from the rock and takes away slightly from rock climbing ability.
Ice Climbing Ability
The Scarpa Phantom Guide has a stiff insole made from Pro-Fiber, which gives you a solid platform for front-pointing. The welt on the toe is considerably narrower than other toe welts, which at first appears as if it would limit crampon fit. However, ee found that the narrow shape of the toe welt did the exact opposite, and had a perfect fit with our test crampons. The inner boot is composed partially of leather, which adds stiffness and aids in ankle support while climbing vertical ice.
The limiting factor in the Phantom Guide when climbing ice was a slight amount of heel lift when standing on front-points. We feel that the heel cup is not as finely tuned as in other boots, and causes an uncomfortable pressure point on the heel. It is important to remember that fit is key in all boots. We feel that people with wider feet, especially in the heel, will not have the same problem with heel lift.
Deep lugs on the sole grip dirt and snow well, but it does not have as much rocker in the sole as it could, which results in a clunky ski-boot-like gait. The leather components of the inner boot are stiffer than the fabric components on other super-gaiter boots, and results in more ankle restriction when walking.
Super-gaiter boots are warmer than single boots due to an added layer and the small amount of airspace between the inner boot and the outer gaiter. The Phantom Guide is insulated with Primaloft, which is one of our favorite synthetic insulators. The boot even comes with a removable quilted Primaloft footbed, which is much nicer than most stock footbeds. The wider fit of the Phantom Guide will allow for more wiggle room in the toe area than other boots, and therefore allow more circulation to your coldest parts.
While the eVent membrane keeps the Scarpa Phantom Guide very dry, the tongue of the inner boot has slits which extend down the sides of the tongue. These slits allow the tongue to be pulled farther out to make it easier to put the boot on, but there is no inner layer from preventing water to get to your sock if it makes it past the gaiter on the Phantom Guide.
On the very first day, right out of the box, we broke the lace lock on both sides of our test boot. We ended up removing the useless broken lock and using the boots without it. After this initial failure, we were unable to find an area of break-down on this boot. The outer gaiter is made from a burly material that Scarpa calls S-tech fabric, which holds up well to sharp rocks and errant crampon points.
Ice climbing in cold wet conditions. People with wide feet will want to consider this boot as an alternative to the more narrowly fitting La Sportiva Batura 2.0.
At $750, these are reasonably priced super-gaiter boots.