|Scarpa Star Lite looks to be one of the best women’s boots out there, and would hold its own for any gender. Click image to enlarge.|
My wife Lisa likes her Scarpa Magic backcountry skiing boots and they’ve served her for years. But the honeymoon was over for those shoes long ago. Time for an upgrade:
Lisa: “This year finds me feeling strong and on top of my game. Recently I’ve had my best ever fitness uphilling and subsequent runs down Aspen Mountain. My turns were effortless and my trusty old Black Diamond Miras felt nimble under my feet. Perfect corn, blue bird mornings and excellent partners had a lot to do with my glisse bliss. But the defining factor could be my new Star Lite boots.
Because I was afraid of cold feet, I allowed my old Scarpa Magics to get packed out and loose. Yes, there was room for thick socks and they were comfortable, but performance-wise they were sloppy. For the Star Lites, my boot valet molded a snug fitting liner. I was apprehensive at first, but after climbing 9,000 vertical this week my new boots left no blisters and my feet always felt comfortable. Plus, I feel like I am really controlling my skis on the descent. Scarpa’s Star Lites are taking my skiing to another level, just in time for another glorious spring season in our majestic Colorado backcountry.”
Back to Lou’s take: Honestly, I’m stunned at the advancement in randonnee boot technology these shoes represent. Scarpa has kept the power up and the weight reasonable (though slightly heavier than Lisa’s Magics) by using dual density plastics in the shell, and by mounting the lower buckle on a support tab that mimics that of the Scarpa Spirit 3 and 4. More, the Dynafit pivot point is farther back toward the ball of the foot, resulting in a small but noticeable improvement in stride ergonomics (when using Dynees, of course).
|Everyone needs their own personal boot fitter and toenail valet. These guys actually bring their liner oven and tools to your house and fit your boots in your kitchen. They’re booked solid for the next fifteen years so we won’t be giving out any phone numbers.|
The “magic” of the Star Lite, however, is in the liner. Scarpa has teamed up with liner maker, Intuition, to craft the ultimate heat mold inner boot. After working with these inners I can testify that, first, they mold like putty to every nuance of your feet. Second, they appear to mold “true” to your foot volume instead of ending up too roomy as many other liners seem to do.
We molded the Intuition liners with bare feet as always, and I dare say we could probably have molded with thin socks after seeing how snug they ended up. The only compromise I could see with the Intuition/Scarpa liner provided with the Star Lite is that it’s quite dense. That’s great for the downhill but possibly not as comfortable for long days of slogging. That said, correct fit can compensate for most (if not all) such comfort issues. Also, the Intuition/Scarpa liner will be available in different densities, so one could always swap for a bit more cushy version if necessary.
(Note, this new liner has the upside of allowing dozens of heat moldings before it fails, but Scarpa is recommending not using an oven but rather a blower/heater system. This may obviate homebrew liner baking unless you want to buy the Scarpa heater. We’ll be evaluating this diligently over coming months since molding our own liners is essential to the WildSnow ethos.)
In terms of shell fit, the Star Lite does appear to favor those individuals with two X chromosomes as it makes allowance for more lower leg volume. I felt the boot could have a bit more width to work with in the toe box — but that’s a common problem with Euro boots and one we’ve learned to deal with by any number of tweaks (in this case, we molded with fairly wide toe spacers and got the room we needed.)
What else? The Star Lite color combo might appear over-designed and let’s just say our opinion is “neutral” about that. Reflective white does keep your feet from roasting during hot spring climbs, so that is an upside.
As for cons, our main concern is a weight increase of about three ounces (per boot) over Lisa’s Magics. I thought the Star Lite dual density shell would have had more reductive effect, but these boots do lean toward downhill performance so they need enough plastic for that kind of beef. Hence the added ounces. We’ll compensate with a few weight reduction mods, but any mass increase whatsoever is always a concern. Less is more when you’re pumping out the kind of vertical Lisa does.
If you’re shopping for a terrific choice in a woman’s performance AT boot check out the Star Lite — especially if you’re a husband looking to instigate that second honeymoon (lest he gets upgraded along with the boots?).
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.