Weight on your feet is more tiring than weight on your back by a factor of five. So lighter boots means you’re less tired when you reach the summit, you get more runs in on a day when you’re hiking for turns, and you get back to base with enough energy for après.
La Sportiva has a new secret weapon for backcountry skiers: the lightest four-buckle touring boot on the market. The company will show the boot for the first time at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the end of January.
The Spectre (men) and Sparkle (women) weigh in at 1,395 grams—just 3.075 pounds—per boot in size 27. That’s nearly half a pound lighter than anything else currently available.
But it’s not just the weight that will make you want to ski this boot—it’s the range of motion. In "walk" mode the Spectre and Sparkle have 30-degree front and 30-degree back rotation and a full 60-degree range of motion to reduce resistance in steep terrain. In the Spectre and Sparkle, your skinning strides will be limited only by your ankle flexibility, not by your boot.
The rear vertebra—the Achilles area—of the Spectre and Sparkle are carbon-reinforced Grilamid—a stiff and light plastic. The shell and tongue are also Grilamid, which has excellent progressive flex. La Sportiva used Grilamid in the two-buckle Spitfire and Sideral boots it introduced this fall. The cuff of its new boots is made from Pebax, while the spoiler is molded from a plastic called Marfran, which the boot designer describes as "stiff as shit." Patented buckles lay flat when they’re open for skinning—they look like they’re closed. The design keeps the boot unrestricted and the buckles flat so that they can’t get kicked or scraped off.
The 120 flex boots (the 2012-13 Spitfire has a 100 flex) have three adjustable forward lean angles—10 degrees, 14 degrees, and 18 degrees—and a 102.5 last width. But it also has four millimeters of adjustability in the toe piece, which allows you to fine tune fit and performance. Move the toe piece forward for higher volume feet or backcountry comfort; shift it back for low volume feet or for a performance fit.
The Spectre and Sparkle are both tech and touring binding-compatible. They’ll work with Dynafit, Fritschi, and Marker Duke. They are not alpine binding-compatible. Both models have a thermomoldable liner and Vibram IceTrek rubber sole for grip when you’re cruising the parking lot. And they’re competitively priced at $599. Available fall 2013; sportiva.com.