Scarpa Phantom Lite boots

PhantomliteSo you want to be the next Ghost Who Walks? Well, you have two choices. First, you can be the sole survivor of a pirate attack, get rescued by pygmies and free them from their giant enslavers. Or, if that sounds like too much work – and really, who has that kind of time? – you can go for Phantom Lite.

Scarpa makes a mean doghouse, and their Phantom series starts with the Lite and goes up through the 6000 and 8000 models – the numbers indicating rated altitude in meters. While the 6 and 8 are true double boots, the Lite is not: it’s a lightweight technical boot for cold weather ascents, and the end result is something between a single and double boot. On the plus side it’s warm, thanks to the Primaloft lining, light at just over 4lb and has a waterproof zipper and integrated gaiter.

It also has a trick in its toe: a GSb crampon notch, which is a hole in the front of the boot that takes a tab on the Grivel-Scarpa crampon binding system. The system has yet to catch on widely and Grivel in particular seems lukewarm about the system, but no worries since you can use a standard automatic step-in. The fit is typical Scarpa, which is to say it works best on mid- to high-volume feet.

The sole is plenty stiff, but our testers found it difficult to take full advantage of due to a finicky lacing system. The small-diameter laces run up through standard webbing loops and two sets of lugs before terminating in an odd little plastic thingie. The thingie does not do a great job of locking down the laces, and hence after a short time we found our heels floating. If you take the time to get creative you can lock them down sufficiently to get good vertical performance, but this is a serious flaw in an otherwise stellar (and on the pricey side) boot. Still, if the shoe fits and you don’t mind doing a MacGyver on the laces, this is one of the few technical climbing boots that is built from the ground up for cold temps.

$479.95 at Backcountry



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