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 ain’t Prada but it ain’t bad.
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. (Available fall 2017.)
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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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.
Synchro overlap liner.
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 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. One buckle, distributed pressure.
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. Me like. Catalog weight 930 grams, size 27, so they’re easily a one-kilo boot.
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 four buckles, how about five? Way better.