Scarpa Phantom Guide Boots review

Overview

What a boot! If you are looking for a winter climbing/alpine boot this will tick all of the boxes.  A great looking, waterproof, hardy and comfortable mountaineering/climbing boot.

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Features (in plain English):

  • Easy to use quick lace system with Dyneema laces
  • Improved shock absorption and durability
  • Ergofit system
  • New Vibram Total Traction sole
  • Waterproof T-zip and waterproof integrated gaiter
  • Aluminium support and reinforcements
  • Primaloft insulation for extra warmth
  • Integrated Kevlar fibres in part of the boot, to increase durability (Kevlar is what bullet proof vests are made from)

From the first moment you wear them, they are comfortable, no need for the long painful road of having to wear in your boots.  The built in gaiters keep your feet dry, and dry feet means comfort.  Whether wading through knee deep, wet, sticks-to-everything Scottish snow, or hanging on a belay whilst your friend is dealing with the crux pitch, or accidently plunging your boot in foot deep water because a snow bridge collapsed over a river/stream, your feet will remain dry, and that can mean the difference between enjoying a day out, or having to suffer through it.

Scarpa have constructed the Phantom Guide boots of the same material as their high altitude boots, meaning it will retain heat more.  Again, comfort is a big part of enjoying the outdoors, it allows us to concentrate and take in the surroundings, all part of type 1 fun (*).

At 1800grms (per pair), these are some of the lighter B3 boots on the market, and weight does matter.  Whether climbing in the Alps, or lugging a great big rucksack in Scotland for all eventualities, plus climbing kit, these do make a difference.  As these are lightweight, they also seem more sensitive, and can feel small placements, even with crampons on.  Even though these boots are light, they have not compromised on the quality like some others on the market.

The Vibram sole featured on the Phantom Guide boot is very grippy on wet rocks, which is very useful on the approach or descent of a route, or even when you get caught out mid-way on a route in the rain.

The Phantom Guide is low cut, which makes articulated movements with the ankle much easier, combine this with its light weight, you have a very sensitive B3 rated boot, with a freedom of movement that makes climbing easier.  Unlike some of the other boots on the market which lock the foot and lower leg in a fixed position.  This can mean the difference of being able to reach that crucial foothold or not.

Another feature of the Phantom Guide boot is that it has a shock absorbing heel insert, which when tired at the end of a day climbing, descending on a hard surface will remove some of the shock put upon the knees.  Over the course of a few years/life time it does make a difference.  According to research, your knees take an increased impact of up to 7 times the weight walking downhill due to shock loading. And when tired… Ah well, I’m sure you get the message.

Last but not least, no more fighting to try and keep the tension on those laces whilst tying them.  The Fast Lock lace system means you pull your laces, and it automatically tightens around the toe, without releasing its tension, which makes tying them the rest of the way so much easier.  Once the tension is on, that’s it for the rest of the day, till you take them off, when you pull the easy release tag.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Sensitive
  • Waterproof
  • Stylish
  • Warm
  • Comfortable from the moment you wear them
  • Fast lock lace system
  • Shock absorber for the heel

Cons

  • Pricey, but worth it

Whether you are first starting out into winter/alpine climbing, or are a professional looking for a high performance boot, the Phantom Guide definitely ticks all of the boxes.  Why do you see so many Mountain Guides, professional climbers and Mountaineering Instructors wear them?  Because they want a high performing boot that is tough, versatile and comfortable.

(*) there are 3 different types of fun:

  • type 1 – fun whilst doing activity, fun looking back on it
  • type 2 – not fun whilst doing activity, only fun on reflection
  • type 3 – not fun whilst doing activity, no fun looking back on it