Scarpa North America Blog

I Had to Have ‘Em: SCARPA’s Phantom Guide

Jan. 20th 2015

I pulled the hood on my belay jacket over my helmet. Spindrift hissed over my shoulders and I remember looking at my buddy’s feet. “They’re like a belay jacket for your feet,” I said. He didn’t quite hear through the wind and his hood. “Those Phantom Guides! They’re like a puffy jacket for your feet!”

He just smiled. Right then and there, I knew I wanted a pair. Insulated, warm, zipped up and battened down – SCARPA’s Phantom Guide.

Redefining mountain performance, this boot is suitable for challenging the most technical routes in cold climates, whether ice cragging or in the high mountains.

If you do a little research you’ll see they weigh what a traditional leather boot does, about 900g a boot. You’re getting all that warmth without a weight penalty. Primaloft insulation, too, so even after 12 hours hiking, sending, belaying, and sweating in them, they’re still warm.

I had to have ‘em. I begged, borrowed, and then demo’d a pair. Just enough rocker to bang out a five-mile approach, talus-hopping and all. More precise than the heavier leather boots I’d been wearing. Climbing rock, dry-tooling, tap-tap-tapping into thin ice, kicking steps in snow – yep, as good as my buddy said.

Waterproof Cordura armor on the outside and no interior membrane, which means your feet actually breathe, pushing moisture to the outside. Instead of swamp-foot by the end of the day, I ended up back at the car with feet so dry I’d forgotten to do my customary midday change of socks.

Unzip, loosen the speed laces, step out. No soaked leather, no moisture-induced hot spots, dry socks, relaxed feet. A few pitches of ice and mixed, ten miles of walking, and I said to myself, “Damn, I gotta get a pair of those.”

For climbers from Colorado to Canmore, the Phantom Guide is the do-it-all solution, from October to April. It walks well, climbs superbly, and you can’t find a higher-quality boot anywhere. Handmade in Italy, of similar materials to SCARPA’s 8000-meter boots, it’s like an insurance policy for the feet. Forget the cold, forget fit issues, forget blown seams or some ill-fated backcountry let down.

I married my Phantoms with C.A.M.P.’s Blade Runner crampon. Set up as a vertical mono-point, they cruised ice and front-pointed on rock with surprising sensitivity. My buddy ran his with a Black Diamond Stinger. No asymmetrical bar necessary.

Could they be any better? I’m sure somebody at SCARPA is thinking up the next generation, but me… I’m stumped. Warm, light, durable, comfortable, and capable. What else do you need?

Rob Coppolillo is an IFMGA/AMGA-certified mountain guide based in Boulder, Colorado. He’s co-founder of Vetta Mountain Guides and he’s partial to handcrafted Italian boots.

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