In the world of beefy Dynafit compatible AT boots, Scarpa Spirit 4 takes the prize for their feature set. We recently got a pair for the WildSnow boot-scope. Check ’em out.
|Constructed with a “Dual Density” molding process, Spirit 4 ends up with a skeletal effect in the shell not unlike what other boot brands are providing. This type of construction saves weight, thankfully, as these shoes still come in at 67.5 oz (single size 28), placing them slightly lighter than Garmont’s Axon but heavier than many other rando boots.|
|Let’s start with the liner. Spirit 4 comes with a lasted, dual density wrap-around Intuition thermo liner that’s easily matches top alpine boots in quality and beef. Height of liner is adequate, though we’d like to see a centimeter or so more rise in the back for better transition to the adjustable spoiler that Velcros to the rear of the liner. This “Liner Support,” (object shown in photo above) is a clever gadget. Very easy to adjust and a snap to remove. We suspect it’ll also ease calf-bite as it moves with the liner rather than being part of the boot back.|
|And features. Clockwise from lower left corner:
1. Any real ski boot should have a cuff alignment (cant) system. Not everyone needs this, but the adjustable cuff pivot adds only grams of weight and is incredibly important for skiers with alignment problems.
2. Forward cuff angle tune is less critical but nonetheless appreciated, and is integrated with the lean lock in ingenious fashion.
3. Some skiers like having a boot buckle over their ankle bend rather than their instep. Scarpa calls this no-brainer their “Heel Retention System.” We suppose (or at least hope) other boot brands have good excuses for not locating their buckle in this way. Kudos to Scarpa for doing so.
4. So density and strength of shell plastic is less an issue, Scarpa attaches the lower buckles with this nicely engineered yoke arrangement. What’s more, all buckles, the lower buckle anchors AND THE CUFF PIVOTS are removable with hand tools. This is huge. I can’t tell you how many times in boot fitting I’ve had to grind out cuff rivets then replace — all for want of something with threads on it. Downside is that threads can loosen, but I’m pretty sure that’s why they make a product called thread locker. A++ on this feature!
5. Last arrow points to the dual density plastic, which Scarpa uses in significant enough quantities for it to be more than cosmetic.
We should also mention that inside the cuff you’ll find flex limiters (stops), as you will with most other stiffer AT boots these days. These are another nice customization feature as they can be ground off for an easier flex.
|For its coup de grÃ¢ce, Spirit 4 comes with two tongues. The regular version (on right) is articulated and provides little more forward support than that provided by the boot buckles and cuff. Nonetheless it skis fine for many and does contribute to a comfortable walk mode. If you want more beef, swap in the appropriately colored black tongue that’s as stiff as a steel shovel blade (same tongue as used with the beefy Hurricane model). As one of the originators of this concept for enhancing Scarpa AT boot performance with tongue swapping (see historical Frankenboot), we applaud Scarpa for providing this option as a commercial feature rather than assuming we’ll all continue to burrow through ski shop trash for old boot tongues (though a bit of dumpster diving can always lighten up the day.)|
What else? As always, our gripe with Scarpa boots is the high arch and lack of a flat boot-board under the foot. To help with that, Scarpa AT boots ship with a heel block in the shell you can swap for a 4 mm shim that slips into the heel area and runs the length of the boot. You can use this shim simply to take up volume, or a boot fitter could remove material over the arch area to create a flatter boot-board (or add material for even more radical fit adjustment). For Spirit 4 the shim is available as an aftermarket accessory.
In all, we’re highly impressed by Spirit 4 and have to hand it the prize as the most versatile and fit customizable heavy duty AT boot we’ve seen yet. Just the removable fasteners alone won an instant place in our hearts, and the other features are sweet icing.
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.