La Sportiva Spectre ReviewNovember 8, 2013
- Very good walk mode functionality
- Nimble for more technical forays into the high peaks
- Not very stiff
- Buckles have a learning curve
- Liner is a bit sophomoric
This boot is definitely designed for the backcountry. Deft and good for covering lots of ground, I skinned a lot in the boot and enjoyed its ergonomics for snow travel. Not as powerful and stiff as other four buckle boots in this category.
La Sportiva is coming toward the alpine touring market not from the skiing side of things, but from the mountain running side. The stiffest boot in their quiver, the Spectre is a drastic step up from their two buckle rando race boots. When I first put on the boots, I noticed the low volume toe box, and he nimbleness of foot just standing in them. At less than seven pounds a pair, they were slightly heavier than the Dynafit TLT 6, and almost as fleet of foot.
With four buckles and a solid, easy to use walk/ski mode functionality, the Spectre had a smooth feel for striding far and high on long backcountry days, and I made lots of laps with them on a wonderful pair of Ski Trab Freedom 90s. A lighter backcountry ski, the Ski Trabs were a good match for the Spectre, but I wouldn’t want to pair them with a heavier sidewall construction ski that had a lot of metal.
When I skied down on corn days, I felt La Sportiva could’ve bolstered the upper cuff and the higher reaches of the tongue for a boot of this stature. Even at first glance I noticed the ever so slightly higher upper cuff, which got my hopes up. But instead I got a soft, although consistent flex that was almost too forgiving, and I felt I was about to overpower the tongue and spill out of the front of the boot. Laterally, they edged back and forth well, and snapping short swing turns was easy. Fore aft they were definitely softer than a TLT 6 or even the original Maestrale.
From the get go the buckles were a bit arguable. Though I was able to micro adjust buckle tension without fully disengaging them—a smart, cool feature for sure—I still futzed with them too much, and latching the buckle onto the anchor post wasn’t awesome. I appreciate the effort La Sportiva put in coming up with an efficient buckling system that shaved weight and did its job, but the current iteration of buckles still has a ways to go. I did like how easily I could dial in the forward lean, however, it’s a benefit I’ve been taking advantage of for years in all kinds of boots. Overall, the essence of the Spectre in my mind is the ability to guide a ski, not drive them.