SCARPA Phantom Tech Boot Review

SCARPA Phantom Tech

This is the 3rd incarnation of the Phantom Boot that I have used, with 4 models having been offered by SCARPA now, over the years. The first being the snazzy red and yellow ones (I never actually used those), then the popular and durable Phantom Guide, followed by the light and comfortable but not so durable Phantom Tech and then this most recent version of the Phantom Tech, which is light, durable, warm, nimble and generally exceedingly good (sorry, I’ve spoilt the surprise).

Steep ice with the Phantom Tech – Crack Baby WI6 Kandersteg (Photo Danny Uhlmann)

SCARPA say: “The Phantom Tech is a super light, technically precise, gaitered boot for cold weather mountaineering and ice climbing.”

Light and precise for technical mixed cragging

The first generation Phantom Tech was an excellent boot to walk and climb in but experienced a catalogue of durability issues. Firstly the sole wore out very quickly. Mine wore out and had to be replaced after 15 days guiding in Scotland in Winter. The zip also split on both boots. With that in mind, I was starting to think that lighter is not always right and despite initial very positive vibes from the current Phantom Tech, I wanted to make sure they had been thoroughly tested before I wrote the review. So this is a long term test of around 18 months of use in the European Alps, either whilst working as a mountain guide on a variety of terrain or ice and mixed climbing with friends.

Warm, supportive, durable. An ascent of the Nollen Spur on the Monch North Face in February 2021.

So what have I used the boots for? Technical north faces, steep and not so steep icefalls, mixed climbing and dry tooling, long hut approach hikes, ski in and ski out alpinism (boots in pack), general alpinism and mixed ridges. Basically a lot of rock, ice and snow – precisely what they have been designed for.

Turfy mixed climbing on Gemsfluh North face (Photo Jon Bracey)

Straight out of the box I knew they were noticeably lighter than the previous Phantom Tech, both in the hand and on my feet. They felt incredibly light in fact. And that’s because they are! 730g per boot for a size 42! And we know that weight makes a difference on our feet. With research showing that it takes around 5x the energy to carry a weight on our feet as opposed to our back – I want light boots and so do you! But as consumers we want it all, we want it light and we want it to be warm and waterproof and we want it to LAST! Well I’m pleased to say with the new Phantom Tech you can have all that. 110g less per boot than the old model and way better!

Rock climbing in crampons

So do what do we get?

SCARPA say: “A new waterproof gaiter design uses PU Tek technology to create a lightweight but extremely durable outer with a high degree of dexterity and feel, while also helping to reduce the overall weight by 110g, making the Phantom Tech the lightest boot in its class.”

I’ve found these to be incredibly waterproof and snowproof, as well as durable. They also seem to breathe better than any other boot I’ve used and this means less sweaty feet, and in turn, warmer feet as the moisture inside your boots makes it harder to keep your feet warm

SCARPA use a Primaloft 100 insulation layer inside and incorporate Primaloft Silver yarns, increasing the warmth and breathability of the boot. As I said earlier, breathability is key to helping keep your feet warm and these boots work very well. I usually suffer from cold toes and on winter north faces or a cold Mont Blanc summit I would have previously have opted for a double boot such as the Phantom 6000. But for cold day routes, I’ve found these to be totally adequate and if I’m unsure I’ll team them up with a pair of heated socks. The outside gaiter of the boot closes with a smooth waterproof zipper and the cuff seals with an elastic which keeps out the snow.

The lacing system is simple but highly effective. I never like those old complicated plastic lock systems and mainly they just broke anyway. It’s easy to lace the boots up, real laces can be fixed and replaced in the field (unlike a BOA) and I can tweak the tension for a nice and precise fit. That word “precise” is one that describes this boot well. Precise fit, precise feel when climbing and precisely the tool for the job when it comes to technical alpinism and ice admixed climbing.

Paired with a modern monopoint crampon these are a super precise and warm tool for technical winter climbing.

One of the key elements in making such a precise boot, is the sole. Vibram rubber is durable and grippy and an AC Tech roll system (derived from the Ribelle family)increases cushioning and offers a very precise feel underfoot. A new TPU crampon insert and carbon tech 3 SL midsole mean that the boots offer fantastic compatibility with latest C3 automatic crampons (this is a B3 rated boot, fully stiffened). I have used a variety of C3 and also C2 crampons from Black Diamond, Petzl and Grivel and all of them fit these boots well. Team them up with a mono point crampon such as Grivel G20 or Petzl Dart and they are formidable on technical mixed ground. They have a slightly lower internal cuff than the previous model which feels great for mixed climbing and I haven’t noticed any downside on this personally, when climbing ice. Even pitch after pitch of 50-60 degree terrain!

Light and nimble on steep featured ice.

So, to conclude. The Phantom Tech is the best boot in it’s class (with the one caveat being that any footwear is only any good if it fits you). The fit of the Phantom Tech is comparable to the previous 2016 version but the only difference to me is that I can feel a bit more room in the heel. I wear an EU 43, the same in the previous version and I also wear the same size in the Ribelle range too.

They are light, precise, nimble and durable. They climb ice and mixed ground like a dream, feel like trainers (almost!) when walking and they are super comfortable. I really hope they never stop making these! Perfect boots for Scottish winter, technical alpinism, Mont Blanc and technical ice and mixed.

Find out more and buy at the SCARPA website.

Price: £500

Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising or link to affiliate sales. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene and safety reasons and more often it’s in no fit state to return!

Kevin Avery is an IFMGA Mountain Guide based in the Alps. He is available for climbing and ski guiding in the Alps, UK and further afield. Contact him via the website: www.truenorthalpine.com or email truenorthalpine@gmail.com

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