(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry.)
A ski boot is a critical piece of equipment that affects ski performance, but it sure is tricky to find a boot that fits comfortably and still gives you solid contact with your planks.
If you’re shopping for a performance ski touring boot, La Sportiva’s women’s Sparkle is worth a look. It’s light compared to the beefier AT boots out there, but performs as well as any 4 buckle boot I’ve skied.
I weigh 120 pounds so the Sparkle with a stated flex of 115 gives me the perfect amount of stiffness for this class of boot. A rigid cuff vertebra and latch provide forward/backward flex resistance in downhill mode. The accordion hinge in the tongue adds a nice amount of progressive flex.
The buckle hinges took some getting used to. At first it was fiddley to snap them into place. But once I practised and got them adjusted, they work. A threaded nutt on the cable makes it easy to dial in a precise tension. Now when I put on the boot, I snap the buckles into place and lift the levers for walking and uphill mode. For downhill, I simply snap the levers down and I’m ready to go.
My shoe size is between an 8.5 and 9. Because my forefoot is slightly wide, I usually wear a 9 in a street shoe. But I’ve noticed that I get a much better performance fit in a smaller ski boot, so this winter I’ve sized down to 24.5.
In the Sparkles, a 24.5 gives me a snug heel pocket but it took a bit of work to get the toe box right. After punching out the Grilamid shell and heat molding the liner, the fit is concise and serves me well. A detailed report about my fitting process here.
Some boots have a plushy liner that feels yummy when you try them on at the shop but beware, it’s like icing a pastry with sugarless frosting to disguise an otherwise bland and tasteless concoction. The Sparkle’s liner, on the other hand, is made with denser foam. What it lacks in gooshy cush, it makes up for in performance.
The Sparkles are comfortable on the uphill and makes me feel like Michaela swooping on the down. I notice good side to side transfer. I have strong contact with my skis, no heel movement and excellent purchase when rolling edge to edge.
Overall, I’m psyched.
La Sportiva Sparkles will have new graphics next year but otherwise 2018/2019 Sparkles will be unchanged.
Sparkle 2.0 specs: