Monday, May 21, 2012

Scarpa Phantom Guide vs La Sportiva Batura Evo


Introduction

Ice climbing in Phantom Guide
On the summit of Rainier in Batura Evo

A little over two weeks ago, I went on a quick overnighter with my wife and father-in-law in preparation for our recent Mt. Rainier trip.  I was hiking in my older Salomon Super Mtn 9 boots (which I've had for years), my father-in-law in Phantom Guide boots, and Kelsey in her hiking boots.

After about one mile of hiking on the trail in my boots, I had a blister on my heel.  In spite of using moleskin, liner socks, and tricky lacing, my feet were a mess after the trip was over.  I knew that I would have a problem on Rainier, so I decided to get some new boots (normally not a good idea to do right before a trip).  I had tested my father-in-law's Phantoms for about four months and knew that I liked them, but I was also curious to try the Baturas.  I searched for a good deal, found some Baturas, and ordered them.  Then I found a better deal on some Phantom Guides, and ordered those too.  I figured I'd check both of them out and send one back.

After hours of walking around the house in both boots, I was stumped.  I couldn't decide which boots to keep.  The Baturas seemed like a more substantial boot; stiffer, heavier, warmer, bigger, etc.  It seemed like I would be getting more boot for the money.  It also gave me a little more confidence.  On the other hand, the Phantom Guides seemed lighter, nimbler, more comfortable, softer, less substantial.  I liked them both, but for different reasons.  So, I kept them both.  In fact, because my father-in-law and I have the same size foot, he bought one pair from me and we figured we'd share boots, depending on what boot would be better suited for the trip we would be going on.  He sold his other Phantom Guide boots that were a half size too big for him.

The Stats

These descriptions and stats and info are taken off of La Sportiva's and Scarpa's websites:

Phantom Guides-
Redefining mountain performance, this boot is suitable for challenging the most technical routes in cold climates, whether ice cragging or in the high mountains.
  • Upper: Cordura® and Elastan 10% (S-tech Fabric)
  • Lining: Waterproof-OD/Primaloft®
  • Insole: Pro-Fiber
  • Midsole: PU/TPU
  • Sole: Vibram® TT3
  • Last: AG
  • Sizes: 38 - 47, 48 (half sizes)
  • Weight: 900g; 1lb 15.7oz (2lb 8.4oz in size 45.5 on my own personal scale)
  • Color: Orange
La Sportiva Batura Evo-

EVOLUTION OF THE ULTIMATE LIGHTWEIGHT, LOW PROFILE, ALL SYNTHETIC MOUNTAIN BOOT FOR HIGH ELEVATION ALPINISM, WINTER MOUNTAINEERING AND ICE CLIMBING.
WEIGHT: 34.67 oz • 983 g (2lb 13.4oz in size 46 on my own personal scale)
LAST: Nepal
GAITER: Elastic CorduraSchoeller® -Dynamic™ with water repellant membrane/ Vibram® rubber rand/ Elastic nylon with impermeable insulating layer
UPPER: High tenacity Nylon®/ Insulated anti-dragging felt/Insulated PE/ Insulating aluminum layer
LINING: Polyamide Thermic layer/ Mesh
INSOLE: Insulating Ibi-Thermo 9mm
MIDSOLE: 8-9mm TPUPU Inserts/ SBR Aircushion
SOLE: Vibram® with Impact Brake System™
SIZES: 38 - 48 (half sizes)
COLOR: Yellow/Black
PRICE: $550 USD


My Experience

As I said, I have been using the Phantom Guides for ice climbing since January.  I love these boots.  They are awesome to climb in and they feel light, nimble, and comfortable to hike in.  I've already posted a lot of my thoughts on the Phantom Guide Boots which you can read here: http://gearthirty.blogspot.com/2012/03/few-thoughts-on-scarpa-phantom-guide.html.  

I wore the Baturas for the first time on Rainier, except the bit that I wore them inside.  I climbed the whole mountain without a hotspot.  I did have sore feet by the end of each day from hiking in them, but I had sore feet after a day of hiking in the Phantom Guides too.  The rest of my experience and comparison will be made with descriptions of the pictures.

Scarpa Phantom Guide in a size 45.5.  La Sportiva Batura Evo in size 46.  They are actually exactly the same length according to the footbeds, and they feel the same length on my feet.  The Baturas are definitely a bigger boot, but they feel narrower in the forefoot than the Phantoms.  I feel like I can get a snugger overall fit in the Baturas than I can in the Phantoms, though the Phantoms lock my heels in place better.  If you have wider feet, I think the Phantoms may fit better.  

The Batura looks wider, but it isn't on the inside.  It is a bigger and warmer boot, but has a narrower last.

Batura has a taller integrated gaiter.  Both zippers are top-notch and should be waterproof and last a long time.  The YKK zipper on the Batura zips easier, but I think the TIZIP zipper on the Phantom is the better zipper.  I would be really surprised if either zipper failed, even after many years of use.

The integrated gaiter is about double the thickness on the Batura than on the Phantom.  That's one reason why the Batura is the warmer boot, but maybe only for the first day or two.  I say that because the Batura dries much slower than the Phantom.  After Rainier, the Phantom was dry after a day.  The Batura was still moist inside the boot this morning, four days after the climb.  I purposely left both boots zipped up after the climb because I wanted to see how long it would take for them to dry.  So, if the Batura gets wet and then doesn't dry quickly, by day two or three it will not be nearly as warm as day one.  For that reason I would suggest that the Phantom may be a better option for multi-day cold-weather climbs.  The Batura may be a good option for multi-day winter outings if you use a vapor barrier.  Better yet, just get a double boot for multi-day winter trips.

Again, the gaiter.


The Phantom is on the left, the Batura on the right.  The toe of the Phantom is narrow, making precision edging and rock climbing fairly easy (for a mountain boot).  It is much more difficult to fit crampons on the Phantom Guides, however, and most every crampon I've tried fits well on the Baturas.

A look at the soles.  Again, the Phantom is on the left.

The Phantom Guide has deeper lugs and has a softer rubber to reduce impact, but the Sportiva uses their Impact Brake System that increases grip and decreases impact.  The Phantoms feel softer to walk in, but I can't tell if that's because of the rubber or the softer shank.  Maybe both.


Both boots have good protection against crampons and wear on the inside of the boot, but the Batura's is all rubber (no breathability) and the Phantom's upper section of black on the instep is fabric (less durable but more breathable).

Sportiva's Impact Brake System.  The lugs are offset to increase grip and decrease impact.  The logic behind it seems sound, but I can't tell how well it works.  They seem to slip just as easy as other boots.  Can't hurt, I guess.

Narrower toe welt on the Phantom making crampon fitting a pain.  The toe of the Batura seems a little more robust too, meaning they will probably be more durable over time while kicking ice during ice climbs.

Phantom Gaiter again.

Batura Gaiter again.  The Batura gaiter is definitely the nicer gaiter, but the Phantom gaiter works just fine.  I kind of feel that the Batura gaiter, though very nice, is extra unnecessary weight.  The Phantom gaiter is much lighter and works fine in snow.  The Batura gaiter is warmer.

Batura Gaiter cinched.

The Phantom insole is on the top and is quilted with Primaloft.  I'm not really sure how much warmth the primaloft adds because it gets compressed while standing on it, but I'm sure it doesn't hurt.  It is definitely a nicer footbed than the one in the Batura.  The Phantom footbed provides more cushion and warmth than the Sportiva footbed.

This time the Phantom footbed is on the bottom.

The gray Scarpa footbed is under the Sportiva footbed. The size 46 Batura is almost the exact same size as the size 45.5 Phantom.  If you can see in the picture, the Scarpa insole extends just a little bit longer and wider than the Sportiva.  

The Batura boot uses a thicker 3D mesh padding to insulate, which is why the boot feels lower volume than the Phantom.  The Phantom is insulated by Primaloft which is lighter and takes up less volume.  It also dries quicker than the 3D mesh.  I think the combination of the 3D mesh and the thicker, neoprene gaiter is why this boot dries slower than the Phantom.


The quilted Primaloft insulation on the inside of the Phantom.

The ankle of the Phantom is fairly soft and very comfortable to walk in.

The Batura ankle is bit stiffer than the Phantom, but not too stiff.  It is slightly less comfortable to hike in than the Phantom, but still not bad. 


The longer Batura zipper that extends to the side of the boot allows for a big opening for drying, but it adds more weight.  The Phantom zipper is shorter and therefore lighter than the Batura.

The Batura fitted with a Grivel G14 crampon.  As you can see, the bail doesn't fit perfectly, but it's not too bad.

The Phantom Guide fitted with the Grivel G14 crampon.  The narrower toe and toe welt equals a horrible fit.

The Petzl Dartwin with stock bars on the Phantom Guides.  Not a perfect fit, but not bad.  The crampons don't move on this boot while ice climbing as long as they're snug.

The Batura Evo and the Petzl Dartwin crampon with stock bars.  They are a perfect fit on the front, the the heel is a little narrow on the back.


The Phantom Guide has a softer shank than the Batura which is nice for hiking, but not as ideal for steep climbing.  With the Dartwins, these boots climb ice like a dream, but the stress is put on the crampon to keep the boot stiff, instead of the shank of the boot doing the work.  That means that this type of boot, according to Black Diamond, could potentially lead to crampon breakage/failure sooner than a stiffer-soled boot.


The Batura Evo has a stiffer shank than the Phantom, which means it's not quite as comfortable for hiking but a little better suited for endurance ice climbing.  Both boots lock my heels down pretty well, but the Phantoms lock my heels down better. 


The Phantoms have a rocker of about 2.8cm.  To measure the rocker I put the boot soles together and measured the distance between the two toe welts.

The Batura Evos have a rocker of 2.9cm.  

2lb 8.4oz per boot in a size 45.5 Phantom Guide

2lb 13.4oz per boot in a size 46 Batura, which is actually the exact same length as a 45.5 Phantom.  That's 5oz heavier per boot, which is noticeable when walking in them.  Because of the added weight and stiffness, the Batura feels clunkier than the Phantom.  The Phantom feels more nimble.


9.7inches circumference from the top of the footbed, around the ball of the foot, and to the top of the footbed on the other side.  Though these boots are relatively low-volume for their warmth, they do feel bigger than the Phantoms.  

8.5 inches circumference from top of footbed, around the ball of the foot, and to the top of the footbed on the other side.  The smaller boot and light weight make this a great technical climbing boot.


The Verdict

If it's not already clear by the comments above, I personally prefer the Phantom Guides to the Baturas in most situation.  The one situation in which I would choose the Baturas is for single day outings in really cold weather.  While ice climbing this winter, my toes got a little cold while standing around in the Phantom Guides on some of the colder days (about 10-15 degrees F).  I doubt my feet would get cold in the Baturas until it was quite a bit colder.

I really like both boots and I am glad to have both to use when I need them, but if I had to choose just one boot, I would choose the Phantom Guides.  They are roomy enough in the forefoot that they easily accommodate a couple layers of thick socks which would stretch their comfort range to pretty low temps. For most anything in the lower 48 states and for all four seasons, I think either of these boots would work great.

Update (1/25/2013):

I have continued to use both boots for mixed and ice climbing and my opinion of the two haven't changed.  I still prefer the Phantom Guide.  After lots of use, my opinion is the same.  A few people have asked me about the Batura 2.0.  I have no experience with it and any information I have heard has come from various Sportiva sales reps (who are biased, as most any good rep would be).  Anyway, the best information I have found on the Batura 2.0 so far is at Cold Thistle.  No real surprise there.  I am eager to get my hands on the Batura 2.0, but without selling the Evos first, I can't justify the price (or rather, I can't convince my wife it's a good use of our money), especially with a baby on the way.  She's probably right.  She usually is.  Anyway, here are links for more info on the 2.0s.  






16 comments:

  1. HI,

    Thanks for that. Your reviews are among the clearest and most informative evaluations on the internet. Nicely done!

    Bruno

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  2. Thanks, Bruno. I'm glad these reviews are helpful to you. I have often been frustrated with reviews that aren't very informative, so I try to avoid that.

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  3. Wow, great and thorough comparison! I demoed the Phantoms in Cody last winter and liked them alot. When I need new boots I would probably go for them except I'm not sure about the gaiter system. Are you supposed to just stuff your pants into the gaiter? Use traditional gaiters also? What do you find works best?

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  4. Well, the idea with the super-gaiter-style boots like these is that you don't have to use another gaiter with them. You can stuff your pants in the gaiter and you're good. I think this works fine, but I actually like to use my pants as a gaiter OVER the boots by tying the pants down over the boots with cord using grommets in the hem of the pants. If your pants don't have grommets, then just using the boot's gaiter is probably the best option.

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  5. Gregory, it seems like your single biggest complaint with the Scarpas is that the front welt is too narrow to fit a lot of crampons. Why don't you just use Newmatic attachments instead? It seems they would fit really well. What is the advantage of crampons with toe bails instead of the Newmatic style?

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  6. James- I prefer toe bails over the newmatic style crampons for a few reasons. First of all, if you get the right fit, they're very secure. With the right fit, I don't ever worry about the binding loosening on me. Second, I think they feel a little more sensitive, which is nice for delicate ice and mixed climbing. Third, they're clean. At least, my dartwins are cleaner than a newmatic-style crampon (The G14s, not so much). There are less straps to come loose or get caught on things. Finally, I use them because both of my crampons have toe bails already and I don't want to have to buy a new crampon.

    My dartwins have the sidelock system, which I don't really like. I pulled hard on the handle one day and bent a metal lever piece. Now they're kind of difficult to get on without bending the lever again.

    I definitely think newmatic crampons have their place and are very versatile. Phil has a pair of newmatic Cyborgs so that he can wear them with overboots in really cold weather, and he really likes them, even on steep waterfalls without overboots. He also has a pair of darts with toe bails for mixed climbing and really technical ground.

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  7. And crampons with toe bails fit more securely on plastic AT ski boots, in my experience.

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  8. Wow, this is one of the most substantively review and comparison of these models, which I read. Great job !

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  9. Anon-
    Thanks for reading. I appreciate it.

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  10. Replies
    1. I haven't used the 2.0 yet, but if it's all it's cracked up to be, I think it will be a killer boot. I really like the Phantom Guide because it's more comfortable to walk in (in my opinion), a little less bulky, lighter, and climbs technical ice as well or better (for me) than the Batura Evo. With that said, it is not as warm as the Batura. The 2.0 is supposedly as warm or warmer than the Evo, is definitely lighter, less bulky, and therefore climbs technical ice and mixed better than the Evo. If that's the case, I think it may be the boot to beat out my Phantoms. I hope to get a pair for this year, but we'll have to see what the budget allows. I'm in need of a new pair of double boots first. I may not be able to afford both. I think Dane at Cold Thistle has a pair of 2.0s. He would probably be a good resource for actual use. http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/04/la-sportiva-batura-20.html You may have to email him for info on actual use. I haven't seen anything yet from him on that. But, in my experience, he's a really helpful and friendly guy. Hope this helps.

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  11. Thank you for the review. What size street shoe do you wear?

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    Replies
    1. I generally wear a euro 45 or american 11.5 in trail runners and 45.5-46 or size 12 in most mountain boots.

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  12. y name is Cale Hoopes. I'm a mountaineer/alpinist/rock climber/etc up here in the Pacific Northwest. I started reading your blog a couple months ago.

    I just wanted to say THANKS! I interact with Dane Burns quite a bit on Cold Thistle and I had been using many of his reviews to make boot decisions.

    However, I really appreciated your blog entry about the Batura vs. the Phantom Guide. I recently went through this complicated matter with Backcountry.com and ended up with a total success in the Phantom Guide. So, there it is.

    Your blog was instrumental simply because I had purchased the Salewa Pro Guide and the Batura 2.0. Then after two horrible "break-in" hikes with the Batura, I read your blog and your specific review about the differences you found between the Batura and the Phantom Guide. So, I thought the Phantom Guide might be better than the Batura for me. I was right. Your blog correctly stated that while the boot is narrower on the outside, the inside of the boot is a bit wider. This was a huge impact to foot pain I was having with the Batura.

    Anyhow, I just wanted to say THANKS! We need people discussing their experiences like that - especially in very expensive specialty items like boots for alpinism.

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  13. Cale,
    THanks for reading! I'm glad I could help. It's comments like this that keep me motivated to write. I appreciate your words.
    THanks

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  14. If circumference = circle
    Average walmart boot = 14 inch
    Ski Boots = 16 inch

    Your measurements:
    La Sportiva batura EVo = 9.7 inch ?
    Scarpa Phantom Guide = 8.5 inch ?

    Any idea ?

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