La Sportiva Vega Review
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La Sportiva Vega
|Price||$680 List||$449.97 at Evo|
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|$674.21 at Backcountry|
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$635.93 at REI
|$543.73 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Well balanced performance, easy on and off||Excellent downhill performance, lightweight, proven style||Light, free-pivot cuff, appropriate stiffness and flex||Balanced up and down performance, wide/high volume fit||Light, simple, balanced performance|
|Cons||Neutral fit is both a pro and a con, flimsy liner||Moderate insulation, hard to get in and out of||Cold, finicky transitions||Ski/walk mode prone to issues, recall to past versions||Wide, short fit; likely rear shell discomfort in touring mode|
|Bottom Line||A solid, well-balanced touring boot that emphasizes your downhill experience while still allowing most touring paces and giving freedom of motion for mild technical ascending||Whether a newcomer adjusting from the resort or a seasoned expert gunning for 100+ backcountry days a season, here is a top of the line shoe contender||Balanced, all-around ski touring boots that lean in the light-and-fast direction; these are optimized, probably, for what you like about the mountains||Proven ski boots with modern updates and an overall performance profile that is optimized for the majority of bc riders; if you have high volume feet, even better||A great lightweight touring boot that gives those with particular foot shapes an alternative|
|Rating Categories||La Sportiva Vega||Tecnica Zero G Tour...||Scarpa F1 LT||Scarpa Maestrale RS||Fischer Travers CS|
|Downhill Performance (35%)|
|Uphill Performance (20%)|
|Comfort and Fit (10%)|
|Ease of Use (5%)|
|Specs||La Sportiva Vega||Tecnica Zero G Tour...||Scarpa F1 LT||Scarpa Maestrale RS||Fischer Travers CS|
|Weight size 26.5, pair||6 lbs 8 oz||6 lbs 0 oz||4 lbs 7 oz||6 lbs 5 oz||4 lbs 7 oz|
|Weight of one boot shell||1220 g||1119 g||0809 g||1180 g||0870 g|
|Weight of one stock liner, no footbed||253 g||204 g||214 g||252 g||142 g|
|Weight of one complete boot, no insole||1473 g||1323 g||1023 g||1432 g||1012 g|
|Range of Motion; degrees||60||55||72||60||79|
|Binding Compatibility? Tech only, or Tech and DIN AT standard, or Tech, DIN AT and DIN Alpine/WTR||Tech and DIN AT||Tech and DIN AT||Tech only||Tech and DIN AT||Tech only|
|Stated Flex Index||115||130||95||125||Not reported|
|Stated Last width||102.5mm||99 mm||102 mm||101 mm||106 mm|
|Alpine wrap or Tongue||Tongue||Wrap||Tongue||Tongue||Tongue|
|Shell material||Grilamid||Grilamid||Grilamid, Carbon Core||Carbon Grilamid||Grilamid|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The La Sportiva Vega is a four buckle, tongue-style ski boot built at a reasonable weight and tuned to tour uphill with modern stride and pace, in tech bindings. The downhill performance isn't "resort boot" quality, but as compared to boots of just 5 years ago it is an amazing skier. Skiers of a broad range of abilities and desires will find the Vega to serve their needs on skis and terrain across the entire spectrum. Consider these next to all our major award winners and next to the boots you see queued up at trailheads and skin tracks everywhere.
Downhill performance of a ski boot, after proper fitting, is a function of overall stiffness in all major directions and forward "progressiveness" of the flex. The La Sportiva Vega is rated, by the manufacturer, as having a flex rating of 115. For once, we feel that the manufacturer is underselling the stiffness. As compared to the closest competitors, 115 is a low flex rating. In our testing we found them to be stiffer than these closest competitors. The flex allowed by the Vega is useful and functional. It isn't perfect but, especially for a "tongue style" boot, it is progressive and gentle. As you press your shins forward against the upper cuff of the Vega it gives easily at first and, in a sort of "step by step" fashion, ramps up to eventually block all forward ankle flexion. This is good. We wish it were a touch smoother, but only hard-to-get-into overlap boots are currently providing better progressiveness in the forward flex than the La Sportiva Vega.
La Sportiva equips the Vega with a wide range of cuff motion and reasonable friction within that range. Like lots of traditionally constructed, "tongue" boots, the friction within the range of motion will loosen up with time. Also, that cuff friction will depend on what liners you put in them. The stock liner is relatively flexible. Virtually any sort of "upgrade" to the liner (and this goes for all boots) will inhibit, at least a little, the touring mode.
We weighed our test pair of La Sportiva Vega at 1473 grams for one boot, sans insole of any kind. That's 2946 grams or 6.5 pounds for the pair. Of that mass, for one boot, the liner weighs 253 grams and the shell weighs 1220 grams. These weight numbers are competitive with the set of boots that has achieved wide acclaim in the last five years. There are a few boots that perform very well at this weight. There are many that don't. The Vega is one that performs well at this "sweet spot" weight range.
Comfort and Fit
None in our test team found major discomfort in the La Sportiva Vega. The toe box is roomy, the midfoot is held securely (and can be modulated by buckles), and the heel pocket cradles without squeezing. We would call the fit perfectly "neutral". It isn't particularly wide or narrow. La Sportiva claims a 102.5 millimeter last. In other boots with a last of that width, the narrow and average feet in our review wobble around a bit. Somehow La Sportiva leaves that room while also holding at least average volume feet securely.
Much of your warmth experience in the La Sportiva Vega will depend on how you fit it. But that isn't unique to this boot. What we can compare is the materials and their impact on your warmth. The shell of the Vega is relatively thick and protective. On the other hand, the liner is fairly prone to "packing out". It will be thick and warm at first but rapidly lose both support and insulating value. Upgrade to a liner with stiffer foam and you will certainly get better insulating value, as well as better downhill ski performance.
Ease of Use
In ease of use we look at a handful of random things. We consider transitions, getting the boots on and off, binding and crampon compatibility, and sole traction. The La Sportiva Vega has average compatibility and traction. You can use all the major styles of crampons on these boots. Similarly, they are compatible with all common, modern touring bindings. We noticed nothing dramatic about the sole traction. As compared to close competitors, we appreciate that the shell and buckle arrangement is pretty darn "typical". Getting in and out and making transitions doesn't require any weird moves or manipulating any very small parts. The one weird usability issue, and this is a bigger deal for testers switching among boots than it is for the end user, is that the touring mode lever in the back of the shell is upside down. Other ski boot manufacturers set up the ski/walk mode to be down for downhill and up for uphill. No so, La Sportiva. This lever is backwards from that.
Should you buy the La Sportiva Vega?
Yes, you should. If they fit, if the cost is acceptable. These are well-tuned all around backcountry ski boots suitable for users across the entire spectrum of backcountry skiing. Only specialized, discerning users will want something lighter or heavier, and those shoppers might also need/want boots in the middle of the range like the Vega.
What Other Backcountry Ski Boots Should You Consider?
This is purely anecdotal, but we have observed that a huge percentage of dedicated backcountry skiers in recent years use either the Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro or the Scarpa Maestrale RS. This is with good reason. Both of these boots are excellent and widely available. We grant each an award in this very review. Out in the real world, when our lead test editor is asked for boot advice he has long narrowed his recommendations to these two boots. "Try them both on and get the one that fits". That advice is now broader. The La Sportiva Vega earns its place right "in the mix" with these other two big dogs. "Try them all on and choose the one that fits best. If two fit well, choose the cheaper one". They really do perform that similarly to one another. You will likely read, elsewhere, impassioned comparisons that put one or the other way ahead. Before you place much stock in those voices, question their authority. Many reviews are somehow compensated or tied to brand loyalty. Many reviews involve skiing inbounds only. Many reviews come from those that have used the compared products in very different settings or with very different levels of familiarization. We try to address all these traps with our procedures and system.
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