Scarpa Manta M4-Tech First

Look

Price:

£150.00

Weight: 1940 grammes (pair size

43)

Features: 3mm

reversed Crosta leather upper, Proflex mid-sole (nylon with

steel insert), Scarpa Vibram M4-Tech sole, 'comfort

technology' inner with Cambrelle lining, sizes 40-48 men's /

36-42 women's, built around RS mountaineering last,

Minispeed lace system and E.last lace hooks.

scarpamanta1.jpg

we've never got round to testing Scarpa's current Manta - a bit of a

big 'somehow' since it's built a reputation as the benchmark

all-round winter mountain walking boot - so we reckoned we'd stick a

finger in the dyke and remedy the situation.

Like all current Scarpa boots, the Manta ooozes a feel of quality.

Think posh leather sofa. Details like the beautifully made lace

eyelets and the neat sprung upper lace hooks - E.last to you -

suggest that Scarpa really do give a stuff and it's an impression

that's confirmed as soon as you slip your paw into the boot.


Like slippers?

Stiff four-season boots are never going to feel like slippers,

regardless of the advertising hype, but there's an inherent

'rightness' about the Mantas that meant not only did we find them

comfortable straight out of the box, which is no mean feat for a

fully stiffened, B2-graded boot, but they feel, if not delicate, then

mantasonsedge.jpg

The comfort is down to well-designed internal padding which cups

and holds ankle and heel bones and defuses any pressure from the

tongue, plus the supportive but flexible ankle section. The precision

we put down to relatively lightweight - for a winter boot - combined

with the use of Scarpa's RS mountaineering last.

A lot of testers talk about lasts without explaining what they

are. Literally they're an artificial foot around which the boot is

built. The RS last is a climbing design which is aimed to be

close-fitting at toe, heel and mid-foot and concentrate weight

towards the big toes. It's the basic shape used for Scarpa's more

technical climbing boots and it works really well to reduce

'clumpiness' on the foot.

The sole is almost totally stiff thanks to the nylon mid-sole with

steel insert, so lateral support on rough ground is excellent as is

kicking into hard-ish snow, but shock absorption is also acceptable.

The ruffty-tuffty Vibram sole grips well on wet or dry rock and

well-defined sole lugs make it easy to kick slash steps as well.


Crampon Use

So far we've only had the chance to use them once with crampons -

a pair of Grivel G10s with quick release heel clip - and again the

stiff sole construction and tough uppers worked very well, giving an

extremely stable platform that would be spot-on for all-day

cramponing.

We reckon they're ideal for winter mountain walking use, and with

the right crampons could also tackle the odd graded climb up to say,

Scottish 3, though for sustained front pointing on steep

ice there are better options out there.

One proviso was that the leather behind the heel is relatively

thin with no substantial padding and we could feel the heel clip on

the left crampon through the boot. For short periods it wasn't a

major problem, but we'd suggest either crampons without heel clips or

at least careful trying out when you buy the crampons to make sure

there's no pressure here.

What else? The HS-12, silicone-impregnated, 3mm reversed leather in

fetching blue has kept our feet dry so far and after a day in the

snow, dried quickly. Regular treatment should keep it working that

way and means that the lack of a waterproof, breathable lining isn't,

in our opinion, a disadvantage.


Verdict: After just a few outings,

it's already clear why these are accepted as the benchmark

in four-season mountain walking boots. Comfortable,

relatively light, precise and stable with or without

crampons, provided they fit you, the Mantas are reliable,

sturdy, all-weather mountain friends. Build quality, so far,

appears to be excellent with great detailing and top

materials. If there's a downside, it's the £150 asking

price, but you're getting what you pay for. Top mountain

walking boots and up to some easy grade climbing as well if

you decide to dabble. Also available in women-specific form.