ISPO (extended) 2017 — Sportiva Boot Conversations

Post by blogger | March 6, 2017      
Italian design details attract my camera.

Italian design details attract my camera.

While in Italy a few weeks ago I scored a private showing of next season’s La Sportiva boot line. The gig wasn’t as good as attending Prada’s annual fall/winter show in Milan, but hey, I was still in the old country of the Medici, and I’ll take a pair of ski boots any day over the latest belt. I’d checked these out at OR show, but it was nice to dig into the details.

It aint Prada but it aint bad.

It ain’t Prada but it ain’t bad.

First thing of interest. Sportiva wired up their Spectre boot to figure out exactly where the boot deformed during skiing, so it could be 'body mapped' for reinforcing.

First thing of interest. Sportiva wired up their Spectre boot to figure out exactly where the scaffo deformed during skiing, so it could be ‘body mapped’ for reinforcement. This led to the new beefed Spectre 2.0 available this winter (Sparkle for women)as well as the entirely new Synchro (Shadow for women), available fall 2017.

FYI, the Spectre 2.0 (27.5) catalog weight is 1440, Synchro is 1480. Frankly, I don’t see the reason for Spectre being sold next winter with Synchro available. In my opinion, the only thing making Spectre a bit more of a touring boot is the tongue liner, as opposed to Synchro having a wrap liner. Indeed, one wonders at the purpose of having the two piece tongue when the wrap liner is blocking your leg movement. I suppose continued testing will tell the story. We’ve got a pair of Spectre 2.0 in play, and will probably get the Synchro going at some point as well. (I did uphill and ski in the Synchro. It worked well, though I could feel the wrap liner obstructing my leg movement.)

Synchro (bottom) and Shadow  womens.

Synchro (bottom) and Shadow womens. (Available fall 2017.)

New Sportiva Synchro available fall of 2017 has solution for stiff tongue in touring mode.

I was so into getting the details in Italy from Sandro, I forgot to shoot an unbuckled shot of the Synchro, a beefed up Spectre. This shot from the Outdoor Retailer show this past winter.

Sytron beef.

Sytron beef. But no cuff alignment rivets. We have computers that’ll fit in the palm of your hand, and we still dont’t have cuff alignment rivets that are 100% reliable? I do not understand.

Example of the beefing.

Example of the beefing. Sandro told me they were surprised how much the Spectre deformed under the lean lock anchor, so they added thickened plastic (left). This is the kind of detail work that results in how amazing our modern ski touring boots are in terms off weight vs performance.

Research also indicated the need for  strengthening in the shell area connecting to the cuff pivots.

Research also indicated the need for strengthening in the shell area connecting to the cuff pivots. Easy to guess, but how do you know exactly how much plastic (weight) to ad? Their instrumentation probably helped. All the new beefier Sportiva boots will boast reinforcement in this area.

Best feature of the new Synchro should have won the Prada innovation award.

Best feature of the new Synchro should have won the Miuccia Prada innovation award, which unfairly went to a new belt they showed in Milan. Oh well, know that the last great problem of ‘tongue’ type ski boots is to get the tongue hinging easily in tour mode instead of just sitting there stabbing you in the shin during each step. I really like this solution. Does it work? I tested while visiting. I would have liked it to provide even less resistance, but it did work surprisingly well for something so simple. In any case, Synchro two piece tongue fits Spectre, will be available as a SKU through Sportiva dealers, is clearly an upgrade worth looking into. Perhaps it could be modified for better hinging action.

Sandro and I spent quite a bit of time on  the Sportiva boot heel that's  compatible with classic tech, Kingpin, and Trab TR2.

Sandro and I spent quite a bit of time on the Sportiva boot heel that’s compatible with classic tech, Kingpin, and Trab TR2. I find this to be surprisingly innovative for a bunch of guys who only ski on skimo race bindings. But the journey of the human mind knows no bounds! To configure for TR2 you remove the small metal tab “fillers.” These can be left off for classic tech bindings as well. To configure the boot with standard heel that’ll work with Kingpin, you install the fillers. Bench test releasing of the Kingpin appeared quite nice, no excess friction or binding.

Fillers installed, Kingpin doing its thing.

Fillers installed, Kingpin doing its thing.

Synchro overlap liner.

Synchro overlap liner.

Synchro also gives you a Booster brand ultra beefy elasticized power strap.

Synchro also gives you a Booster brand ultra beefy elasticized power strap. Overkill, or beautiful?

Back to our roots. Sytron is my favorite new Sportiva shoe.

Back to our roots. Sytron is my favorite new Sportiva ski shoe. It’s a Grilamid “one motion” mode changer that’s designed for ski tourers who trend to using race style gear. Undoing the upper buckle releases the lean lock, and reverse. Instep “Spider” buckle has a nice 2-position action for less pressure during walking. All this effort to eliminate fiddling can seem overdone, but makes sense when you’re in the field and it works.

The spider.

The spider. One buckle, distributed pressure.

As covered in previous blog posts, lighter weight Sportiva ski boots have their S4 insert.

As covered in previous blog posts, lighter weight Sportiva ski boots have their S4 insert. You can step these down into many tech bindings without bothering to open the binding! And they clearly make the normal step-in process easier. Downside? Missing sole rubber on both sides of your boot toe.

New Sytron for men and women.

New Sytron for men and women. Me like. Catalog weight 930 grams, size 27, so they’re easily a one-kilo boot.

And, ta da, the new Race Borg.

And, ta da, the new Race Borg. A full-on race boot, carbon cuff and Grilamid lower. Bikini two-piece liner. Size 27 weighs 750 grams. Are you a good enough skier to deserver? If you can afford a Stratos at around $2,500 you can come in at about 500 grams, perhaps for that World Cup championship you’re invited to. Otherwise, Race Borg.

Note, La Sportiva will also offer a re-worked two buckle Spitfire for 2017-2018. Along with that, they’ll market their Sideral 2.1 with internal lean lock and two buckles. In my view, these two boots tend to overlap in the mid-range of the Sportiva line. Those of you who do core ski mountaineering and don’t prefer vulnerable external lean locks, Sideral will be worth a look at 1240 grams, Grilamid shell. Only reason I can see for Spitfire is it might provide a bit more progressive flex than the Sytron.

Overall, it’s clear that 2017-2018 is the year La Sportiva’s ski touring boots matured. Props for coming so rapidly from their 2011 soft launch. Seven years later, look at what they’re offering!

Interestingly, Sportiva did attempt to enter the plastic ski boot market way back in  1972.  You guys who can't live without 4 buckles, how about five? Way better.

Interestingly, Sportiva did attempt to enter the plastic ski boot market way back in 1972. You guys who can’t live without four buckles, how about five? Way better.


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17 Responses to “ISPO (extended) 2017 — Sportiva Boot Conversations”

  1. Kirt Brown March 6th, 2017 12:30 pm

    Do you know if the Synchro tongue would work on the Spectre boot? Is the tongue mount at the bottom identical, I wonder if it takes up more room under the cuff and would fit? I ask because the only feature I would like more on my Spectre Boots is for them to be stiffer. Is this a question that happened to be addressed at the factory? Or one that will have to wait until you have both boots.
    Besides the great fit, after multiple punchings of the shell, I appreciate the Spectre 1, because it is one of the few touring boots with cuff adjustment, to accommodate my very bowed lower leg, too bad they eliminated that feature in the newer boots.

  2. jay March 6th, 2017 1:57 pm

    I’d love to see that boot deformation heat map.

  3. Jeff March 6th, 2017 4:10 pm

    Quick mention of the Sideral 2.1 at the end. What’s the change from 2.0 to 2.1 for the Sideral?

    Sportiva says the difference between the “90” flex Sideral and “110” flex Spitfire is simply that, with the extra stiffness in the Spitfire coming from the aluminum spine and carbon-reinforced cuff. Agreed that these two nearly-identical models seem to overlap, despite the different style of lean lock.

  4. See March 6th, 2017 6:41 pm

    I haven’t tried it, but I bet you could drill out the cuff pivot and install a canting pivot scavenged from an old pair of boots.

  5. See March 6th, 2017 6:47 pm

    Why can’t I remember, search first, comment second–

  6. Jernej March 7th, 2017 1:22 am

    Having never skied with overlap liner… what are the pro/cons?

  7. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2017 7:40 am

    Jernej, overlap liners give a lot of support and a very smooth feel in forward pressure, and they fill up quite a bit of space in front of your shin which can be useful if you have skinny legs. They’re also a bit warmer. Downsides are that they don’t lace, the extra fill in front of your shin changes your effective cuff lean angle, and they have more resistance while walking. I’ve always liked them, but tend to use tongue liners as that’s what usually comes with boots and I like the feel when walking. Lou

  8. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2017 8:12 am

    See, yeah, I’ve added canting rivets probably a dozen times. It’s time consuming and has the potential of ruining the boot, so I now tend to just shim one side of the liner with dense foam, glued on. I have some ideas for a solution that a machinist could make, involving something that had a fixed amount of angle rather than adjustable. Problems are many, for example the carbon cuffs are difficult to mod, and boots such as Atomic with their excellent pivot bushings don’t lend themselves to an obvious solution. Shimming the liner cuff does pretty much the same thing, perhaps even better in some ways. Lou

  9. stefan Requat March 7th, 2017 11:08 am

    I would suggest they better improve their soles for more durability – one season and it was gone at my spectre – used just one and will never again!

  10. Lou Dawson 2 March 9th, 2017 3:21 pm

    Synchro two piece tongue fits Spectre, will be available as a SKU through Sportiva dealers, is clearly an upgrade worth looking into. Lou

  11. Kirt Brown March 10th, 2017 6:22 pm

    Thanks for the response on the tongues. I’ll look into it.

  12. Leonard March 21st, 2017 5:28 am

    Any word on last width?

  13. Lou Dawson 2 March 21st, 2017 6:36 am

    Based on my skiing some of these boots as well as carpet testing others, I’d call the last width “average.” Not particularly narrow or on the other hand not particularly wide. The Grilamid is very easy to punch wider at the mets. Heel pocket is average as well. Lou

  14. Marc December 5th, 2017 9:24 pm

    Any days skiing the Sytron yet? Looks intriguing for sure, but I wonder how it skis, how durable the cuff buckle/lean lock system is, and what the fit is like.

    Please keep us posted!

  15. Marc December 9th, 2017 5:06 pm

    Buhler… Buhler…?

  16. Marc December 9th, 2017 6:26 pm

    Someone’s had to have skied a few days in the Sytron. Any impressions?

  17. Nick December 18th, 2017 11:08 am

    I’ve owned these Synchro boots for a month now. ~ 10 days skiing in the Tetons. My 2 cents:

    – Walk/Ski mechanism has gotten stuck in ‘walk’…2 out of my 10 days out. Major bummer, just contacted Sportiva. Can’t say I’d recommend these until this gets sorted out. Which is too bad, because otherwise I like them.

    – Pretty darn comfortable. Can get real loosey-goosey when touring, then all those buckles get them pretty darn precise and tight when skiing. Fit/last width definitely improved from Spectre 1.0. I’m a 26.5/27 in Scarpa, but a 26/26.5 in these, and it’s in no way too tight. Plenty of room. That’s a 307 vs. 294 bsl difference…weird.

    – About as stiff as Maestrale RS (2nd generation, NOT the current RS2). So…pretty good. They seem lower-volume than Maestrales, and I feel better climbing ice/mixed in Synchros. Though not as good at my old beater TLT 5’s.

    – “EZ-Tour” buckles should be called “Fiddle-Tour” buckles. They work fine, but they are not my favorite.

    – Though the boot shell ‘technically’ has a large range of motion, the ‘actual’ range of motion is in practice much smaller. The overlap liner inhibits backwards lean, and the 2-piece plastic tongue interface with the cuff doesn’t really allow full range. The ‘plastic crap bungling up with other plastic crap’ factor is pretty high when touring.

    Overall, I like the boot, but I think there are better options out there. Ski/walk mechanism could be total deal breaker though.

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