Update: La Sportiva Spectre

Paul Forward reviews the La Sportiva Spectre, Blister Gear Review

La Sportiva Spectre

Update: La Sportiva Spectre

Size 27.5

Boot Sole Length: 304mm

Stated Flex: 110

MSRP: $599

Stated Weight: 1445 g per boot

Blister’s Measured Weight (size 27.5):

  • shells, no liners: 1180 & 1185 grams
  • stock liners, no footbeds: 243 & 246 g
  • shells + liners, no footbeds: 1423 & 1431g
  • Boots as Tested:
  • 1465 & 1470 g with Intuition Powerwrap Plug liner and insole

Days Tested: 15

Test Locations: Alaska: Talkeetna Mountains, Neacola Mountains, Kenai Mountains, Chugach Range

Skis/Bindings Used: 2013-2014 DPS Lotus 120 Spoon 190cm and 2009-2010 DPS Lotus 138 192cm (both w/ Dynafit Radical FT 12). Praxis Backcountry 190cm – stiff carbon layup (w/ Dynafit Vertical ST 10)

I have more time in the La Sportiva Spectre and am better able to discuss the overall performance of the boot. Please see my initial review of the Spectre for full details on its design, as well as some information about the various types of alpine touring ski boots.

Weight

As I described previously, at about 1,470 grams per boot, the Spectre sits in a very competitive place when it comes to weight. The Spectre is about half a pound lighter (per pair) than my Dynafit Vulcans with the same Intuition Powerwrap Plug liner, and the weight difference is definitely noticeable. On the other hand, the Spectre weighs about a pound per pair more than my old Dynafit TLT 5 Performance boots.

More on the Design

In my First Look, I noted the unique buckles on the Spectre, and I still feel their design is totally viable—it makes for a lightweight buckle that offers a great deal of adjustment. I did, however, have some issues with buckles popping loose while booting up in deep or variable snow. Occasionally, this would result in the exposed metal post becoming iced up, making it difficult to reattach the buckles for the descent.

Paul Forward reviews the La Sportiva Spectre, Blister Gear Review

Iced-up buckle attachment point on the La Sportiva Spectre.

Forefoot buckles coming loose allow the yellow tongue to lift up from the lower shell while touring, which sometimes resulted in snow being able to enter into the lower shell and work its way into my liner. This was not a common occurrence, but it was quite noticeable when it happened.

Caveat: It is possible that the issue of snow entering the boot may be a result of my increasing the volume of the instep area during the fitting process, making the opening under the tongue in the lower shell larger than intended. And as noted in our initial review of the Spectre, Sportiva has now increased the instep height of the Spectre.

Fit

I spent a lot of time working on the fit of these boots, even after posting my First Look. I had some issues with the boot’s instep being too low (see the Caveat above), and it took several sessions with a heat gun, adding volume to the shell, until it was comfortable enough for all day touring.

I again tried the stock liner, but was only able to get the instep room I needed using an Intuition Powerwrap LV liner. According to my local bootfitter, Corey Anderson at Powderhound Ski Shop in Girdwood, AK, my instep is higher than average, but isn’t especially unusual. I have owned a lot of alpine, AT, and telemark ski boots in the past few years, and have often needed a little extra volume over the instep but it’s almost always been achievable with a liner mold or swap.

Uphill / Touring Performance

With the fit of the Spectre dialed, I was able to go log a lot of hours in it, and found it to be great touring and climbing boot. The Spectre’s range of motion is perfectly adequate, matching that of any other boot I’ve used, including the Dynafit TLT 5.

A pet peeve of mine on interchangeable-sole boots such as those in the Salomon Quest line or the Tecnica Cochise is how much farther forward from the ball of the foot, the tech fittings are on the replaceable sole blocks. In my experience, this yields a less natural, less comfortable stride. But this isn’t the case on the Spectre. The tech fittings on the Spectre’s toe are well positioned and allow for a natural stride.

The boot’s short, rockered sole (304mm long in a size 27.5 – same as the Vulcan) makes the boot nimble on rocky ridges and quick scrambles. The sticky, full-rubber soles and rockered profile also make the Spectre one of the better ski boots I’ve used when it comes to riding a snowmachine in challenging terrain.

Paul Forward reviews the La Sportiva Spectre, Blister Gear Review.

Paul Forward on a bootpack in the La Sportiva Spectre, Alaska backcountry.

Flex & Downhill Performance

The Spectre is a solid choice for most ski touring applications. As I’ll discuss below, I was able to find the boot’s limits when it came to downhill performance, but bear in mind that I weigh 190lbs without my gear, usually tour with a 15-20lb airbag pack, and spend most of my time skiing the Salomon X-max 130s. I should also clarify that every boot I will mention in comparison here was skied with the same Intuition Powerwrap LV liner that I have in the Spectre.

7 Comments

  1. Andrey February 18, 2015 Reply

    Paul, what do you think about such a set-up like Katana V-Werks 191, Marker Kingpin and Spectre? Will La Sportiva be able to handle prety stiff ski?
    Thank you for brilliant reviews!

    • Blister Member
      Jakob March 9, 2015 Reply

      Andrey, have you tried the setup you described yet? I am asking, since I have been thinking about the exact same setup (just the Katanas in 184 cm). I would also like to test it with the Dynafit Vulcans, but I can’t find them in size 31 anywhwere (any suggestions here would be appreciated too). Today, I have tried the Scarpa Maestrale and Maestrale RS (in size 31) and the Vulcans (in 30.5). The La Sportiva provided a much better fit than the Scarpas whereas the Vulcans were too small. Thanks!

      • Andrey March 23, 2015 Reply

        Hi Paul,
        I tried Carbon Katana with Marker Jesters in 191 and alpine boots (Dalbello Krypton Pro) and they performed fantastic.
        BMT 109 186 cm. seemed more playful compared to V-Werks Katana. It is also lighter and is touch softer. Hope that will help and thanks for reply!

  2. Author
    Paul Forward February 18, 2015 Reply

    Hi Andrey,
    I haven’t skied V-werks Katana yet although I am really looking forward to skiing the V-werks and BMT skis as soon as I can get my hands on them. That said, I think the set-up you describe will work well. As I said above, the Spectre was enough for me most of the time even using big, stiffish skis like the DPS Lotus 120 spoon. Given the choice, however, I prefer the extra power of the Vulcan for my style and size.

  3. Josh May 12, 2015 Reply

    As far as my somewhat high instep feet are concerned, the higher volume Spectre shells still have a major problem. When buckled tightly for skiing, the shell deforms inward and downward, crushing my medial malleolus when the ski is rolled up on edge. Multiple aggressive punches from two different very careful and experienced fitters barely helped. Ultimately they ground off all the lower shell plastic overlapped by the tongue, which completely solved the problem. Another shop in town did this fix on almost all the Spectres they sold, as did a VDBS guide working in Canada this winter.

    The lower shell has a very loose heel pocket and the inner has seams right across the ankle, but those issues are more straightforward to solve.

    • Kirk September 3, 2015 Reply

      Josh – “Ultimately they ground off all the lower shell plastic overlapped by the tongue, which completely solved the problem.”
      Could you post a photo showing where & how much lower shell plastic was actually removed? Am considering similar fix, but want to avoid causing water-leakage problems.

  4. Lindahl May 17, 2015 Reply

    I noticed you’re no longer on the Cochises, but instead the X-Maxs. How would you compare the two boots?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*