Ok guys and gals, I’ve been in the 2013-2014 La Sportiva Spectres enough for a take.
I know, I know, do they ski? I’m used to fairly rigid boots without much progressive flex. Spectre works in similar fashion to those boots, in that a rigid cuff spine and latch are intended to provide your forward/backward flex resistance, while the cuff tongue is there mostly for comfort — obviously the case because the tongue has a “Flex Zone” that’s essentially a soft living hinge (obvious in photos). Difference from my other boots is that due to how the cuff and lower shoe of the Spectre work (combined with liner), you do get some progressive flex that feels sweet compared to ultra rigid shoes.
Too much flex? To me the flex was perfect. It felt soft while carpet testing, but terrific on skis. Oh, and laterally? Spectre easily has all the beef I’d want for tilting my skis, powder or hardpack. I’m not going to guess at a stupid flex number, but in comparison to other “4 buckle” category ski boots I’d call Spectre average in beef. You can find stiffer (and heavier) boots — and you can find softer boots.
And yes Virginia, you asked about swapping in a stiffer tongue without a hinge? Could easily be done, but would harshly compromise tour-ability. Would be interesting if Sportiva provided this as an option.
Adjustments: No skimping here. Cuff canting is provided. Cuff lean is adjustable. Buckles micro adjust down to the micron. Even the tongue has an option to align it to your leg and cuff angles. Interior boot board can be customized. Liner molds nicely. Rear spoiler is removable. I probably forgot something, but you get the drift.
Fit and touring comfort: As detailed in our Part One blog post, shell of the Spectre is low over the top of the instep. That will delight some of you — and be a problem for others. Luckily that’s an issue that any competent boot fitter can fix in her sleep. The liner heat molds nicely, and compensated for all but one of my four jagged ankle bones, one of which required a shell punch (again, easily done as the Grilamid of these boots molds like modeling clay).
Conclusions: Spectre has a quite good stiffness to weight ratio, but does not ski like a massive beef boot. If you want to run Worldcup GS in your AT boots, you might want something more on the PU overlap side of the equation. But in the real world, I’d say these are worth a look by anyone wanting something on the stiffer side but still with excellent tourability. Shell fit is low at the top of the instep, medium forefoot last, a bit narrow at the heel. Stiffer tongue could easily be swapped in. Somewhat flat bootboard has a slight arch bump that thermo-mold of liner will take care of for most users. Lots of tuning adjustments is a nice feature. Overall quality and appearance are tops. A nice boot that’s worth a look if you’re shopping.
Weight: 1,439 grams (50.7 ounces) per size 27 boot. Shop for La Sportiva Spectre.
Spectre first retail unboxing.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.