My new mountaineering boots!
Plastics. Why? La Sportiva Nepals are too narrow for me and similar leather climbing boots are all around 2.3 Kg. Leather gives good ankle flex and is very long lasting, but it does freeze overnight if sleeping out, and the winter boots have moderate insulation. I was tempted by newer designs like the Mammut Mamook, but the low weight synthetics come at the price of durability. Added; they don’t cost any less, would still freeze, and are not any warmer.
That left me with the Scarpa Omega. Curiously light for a plastic boot, these weigh only 1800g a pair: that’s half a kilo off the feet compared to the leather options, which is as good as taking 3 Kg out of your rucksack. They have a fully stiffened B3 sole for steep climbing all the way up to ice/mixed, but still flex like a leather ankle. The clincher is the separate liner boot: this can be custom molded to your foot, provides great warmth, and can come into your sleeping bag to dry out. The Peebax plastic outer will not freeze. Awesome.
I bought these directly through work so had to fit them myself. The internet proved useful.
- Paper spacers between big toe & wee toe
- Light sock
- The cut out toes of about 4 socks
- Light sock
This ensures good space around the toes after molding.
The liners need heated in an oven at 110 Celcius for about 10-12mins
. I put a towel on the rack and flipped them over at half time. Fit each separately. On the gas oven I set it really low and put in a digital probe to monitor the temperature.
The liner will come out noticeably softer and rather warm to the touch. Quickly put it on your prepped foot and slide in to the outer. Get the tongue where you want it and lace up the outers: really tighten them if you want a roomy fit, or looser if you want a neat post-mold fit (the foam expands). Stand normally and wait for them to cool in about 10-15 mins. You probably want the other boot on the other foot so that you stand level while it sets. I noticed a vast improvement after the molding, but may repeat the process: I didn’t pull the tongue up on the first boot so it shrunk down, and must have had strange weight distribution on the second boot as it feels like I’m rolling out a bit. Live and learn; but the fit is in there! Full review after the Alps in March.
edit 9th March – more on fit
I didn’t use a heat gun on the outer in the end as I was advised it probably would quickly regain the original shape (the plastic is quite flexible). The instep really is very long and high and attracted comments from boot fitters like, “I don’t know anyone who would have a foot shaped like that”! The solution was to use a footbed/volume reducer to raise my foot above the main intrusion. As someone who doesn’t feel the need for midsoles and support in footwear initially I had not inserted anything – the Scarpa literature leads to believe that this is quite normal with the Intuition liners. From my experience this is not the case, and you would be advised to put insoles or volume reducers in the boot when fitting! They are going to get intensive use next week, so fingers-crossed that I have no problems…