Dave Simpson, from Scarpa PR, called me last week to see if I wanted to test some of Scarpa’s new boot offerings for the 07/08 season. I have been skiing Scarpas for the past few years now and they tend to fit my foot well, so I jumped at the chance.
Dave had a pretty good selection of models down at the Base Camp Communications office, located in ‘West’ Jackson, and I decided to start off with some Spirit 4s and then move on to some F3s once the hike-to-ski ratio increases as the snow melts. I currently ski Spirit3s in the BC, so it will be a good comparison to the new four-buckle model.
Today is kind of a ‘healing day’ in the mountains around here, but I managed to get out for a lap on the pass and my first outing in the Spirit 4s. My initial impression was that I really didn’t feel the 4.7 ounce/pair weight increase from the Spirit 3. I guess because weight is not the main concern when choosing a four-buckle boot like the Spirit 4.
I did feel a difference in skiing performance though, and I felt like I had a bit more control in the dust-on-crust conditions today. The Spirit 4s also felt as if they where taller than the 3s, but a side-by-side comparison shows the shells to be nearly identical, with the lower buckle position being the only difference. The Spirit 4 shell is made with a stiffer version of Pebax, and that is how it gets most of its increased stiffness.
The Spirit 4 will come with a stiffer, one-piece tongue, in addition to the stock flexible one. I have some of these stiffer tongues for my Spirit 3s, but I find I don’t use them much for touring, but at least it is an option. The overall fit feels similar between the two models, but next years Scarpas will come with a new thermo-moldable liner, made with better materials, and a nice minimalist ‘sole’, for when wearing the liners at camp, or a quick trip out of the tent to relieve oneself. I think it would be a cool option to have even more of a sole stuck onto the liners, with more side protection and even more waterproofness. I think I would be less apt to bring booties on overnight trips if so…just a thought.
Anyway, the Spirit 4’s will go for $669 next year, $30 more than the Spirit3’s. Today was just a bootpack day, but I will continue to use these boots to get a bitter feel for their ski-ablity as well as skin-ablity. Off the bat though, I think they fit in well as a quiver boot for BC gear gurus dedicated to Dynafit bindings…to drive the biggest skis on the fattest of days. The Scarpa Spirit 4’s will also work nice for someone that wants one boot for both the area and the BC, cuz it is plenty stiff for the hardpack…IMHO.