|Scarpa Manta M4-Tech First
|Weight: 1940 grammes (pair size
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.
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.
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
at least surprisingly precise on your feet for big boots.
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.
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
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.