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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:42 am 
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I actually find softer snowboard boots rock climb just fine. The only thing I'd want spark boots for is kicking steps. And I actually prefer shwacking in softer boots vs a stiff sole. Easier on the knees.
I almost pulled the trigger on Spark boots but felt they didn't have enough advantage over normal boots to make the 350 worth it (I just found a brand new pair of T1's for $110. Easy choice)
I think a much better boot will be made in the near future. Spark boots feel like a $350 band aid to the problem we all want solved. For that price put a damn crampon welt on it.


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:50 am 
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I started off splitting in soft boots years ago before moving to mountaineering boots and finally ending up in AT gear. I was pretty excited to pick up a pair of these up and swap between hard/soft boot setups depending on the type of tour.

However, after trying them on I don't get what the target audience for these is. I find it odd that a boot marketed for backcountry boarding would have such a big squishy toebox. Am I the only guy who kicks steps into icy or windjacked steeps?

The thought of having to kick steps in moon boots made my stomach hurt. Maybe if you're looking to buy new softboots anyway, these are just as good of an option as anything else. I'm just not seeing any significant advantages in these over the other softboots on the market though.

I love it that someone is trying to innovate on what's out there. I was just surprised that it's such an incremental uprade instead of the dramatic improvement I was hoping for.


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:20 am 
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^^^^ I guess I assumed the boots would have a metal toe box or whatever they use on hard boots/mtneering boots that allow you to hammer kick steps into hard slopes. That's definetely my biggest concern with soft boots. When I used only soft boots I would lose my two big toe nails every year for that reason. It's the number one reason I wanted to get these so it's dissapointing they wouldn't improve the #1 area that needs improvement. A stiff vibram sole I guess could help with side stepping/french stepping up icy slopes but........ darn I was getting super stoked on these cuz money's short and I critically need both new hard and soft boots. What are the T1's you speak of BG?


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:06 pm 
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I stiff toebox is only one component for better kicksteps in hard snow, you really need the full shank to put the power behind the toe kick. Full shank = not ideal for snowboarding (just my opinion). The toe box is a bit soft, but at the same price as a Driver x or close to the Malamute its an easy choice for me. That said I obviously haven't ridden/skinned/climbed on them yet so we will see...

You WILL have to sacrifice either riding or climbing performance one way or the other, period.

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:23 pm 
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russman wrote:
Am I the only one who thinks that these boots are still nothing special?

Haven't ridden in them yet, but....... I went for a hike in them yesterday and I still feel like I'm wearing a squishy, kinda cheap feeling resort boot?!

Two main points of feedback for Deeluxe:

1) The toe box is as squishy as any other snowboard boot; If you take your thumbs, you can press them all the way into the toe-box. I was kicking a tree has hard as I can yesterday, and gave myself toebang. In my La Sportiva's I can kick all I want and all is dandy...

2) Sole is too thick, and too soft: For a hybrid snowboard/climbing boot, I feel that you need thinness for board feel, and rigidity for climbing performance (which also actually enhances board feel). This sole is super thick, and also extremely soft. The actual Vibram sole and tread pattern is FANTASTIC, but its support structure is nothing more than neoprene foam. I would be willing to pay an extra hundred bucks for a real crampon welt!

.



russman wrote:
First impression:

MILES BEYOND EVERY BOOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE!

They are light, stiff soled, good fitting, and the ankles are still bendable. Pretty much the opposite of the Salomon Malamutes and DriverX's; which are both way too stiff in the ankles, but then have super flimsy and crappy soles that don't take crampons worth 2 shits.


what?

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:36 pm 
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I have 5 days ahead climbing and riding in the glacier snowfields called Garden of Eden, here in NZ. This will be a mix of skinning, walking, climbing while we tour the area. Only footwear I am taking is my Deeluxe Sparks and I am confident they will do the job I expect of them. My strapon Petzl Charlet Vasak will do everything I ever want to try with a snowboard boot (no need for welt in my opinion) so in terms of fit for purpose they will be I am confident. We will do a comprehensive post trip review as there will be three sets of Deeluxes on this trip hopefully, plus 2012 bindings too. Cheers, Rich

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 3:14 pm 
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Location: the bottom of NZ
russman wrote:
Am I the only one who thinks that these boots are still nothing special?

Haven't ridden in them yet, but....... I went for a hike in them yesterday and I still feel like I'm wearing a squishy, kinda cheap feeling resort boot?!

Two main points of feedback for Deeluxe:

1) The toe box is as squishy as any other snowboard boot; If you take your thumbs, you can press them all the way into the toe-box. I was kicking a tree has hard as I can yesterday, and gave myself toebang. In my La Sportiva's I can kick all I want and all is dandy...

2) Sole is too thick, and too soft: For a hybrid snowboard/climbing boot, I feel that you need thinness for board feel, and rigidity for climbing performance (which also actually enhances board feel). This sole is super thick, and also extremely soft. The actual Vibram sole and tread pattern is FANTASTIC, but its support structure is nothing more than neoprene foam. I would be willing to pay an extra hundred bucks for a real crampon welt!

When I ride them I'll post more thoughts.


There's a fundamental difference in the way that snowboard and climbing boots are fitted that will always lead to some compromise. Mountaineering boots are (should) be fitted to provide decent room in the toe box with a thick sock to avoid toe bang when front pointing in hard conditions. You shouldn't be "kicking steps" in conditions where that would be a problem... Snowboard boots are meant to fit neat with a thin sock for board control. Maybe this comes down to whether you fit it for climbing or riding, but I am not keen on having slop in the front of my snowboard boots. I don't anticipate doing a lot of front pointing on hard ice in snowboard boots, the crampon compatibility is more appealing for allowing travel over bullet proof wind blasted slopes (which we get a lot in NZ) and for morning climbs in the spring when the snow is still soft. It's actually more difficult to get a good fit in climbing boots because you want something with space in the front but heel lock as well (having tried on a shitload of climbing boots lately I can attest to that, ultimately decided that I'll stick with my trusty Asolo's for Antarctica, partly because nothing I can currently get hold of has the right combination of toe room and heel hold for my feet).

I really can't understand why people are so determined for automatic crampon compatibility. If I was in a situation where I thought a wire bail crampon would really help the climbing (I normally use BD sabretooth pro) I wouldn't want to be climbing in a snowboard boot, I'd want a much more nimble mountaineering boot. I can live with using a strap on crampon for snowboard boots. Plenty of mountaineers use strap crampons for far more technical climbing than most of us are likely to encounter in our snowboarding pursuits without issue. Actually, my main preference for a full wire bail crampon is that they have less of a tendency to keep sticking in blue glacier ice when you lift your foot up for the next step. I spend a lot of time on glacier ice, but I don't really plan on riding on it..!

I'm sure the boot will improve with time, but it's not like Deeluxe are new to the game, at all, and look who is pushing their R&D. If it can keep Xavier happy with what he's doing, then I'm sure they'll keep me happy too.

edit: might be worth mentioning that I've yet to try on a leather climbing boot that doesn't flex at all when I'm on my forefoot. The fully rigid climbing boot thing is a bit of a fallacy these days.


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:22 pm 
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Location: Tahoma, Ca
i still am holdin to it and saying these boots are awesome. maybe not perfect, but a huge step in the right direction.

I would change a few things though.
1- yes stiffer toebox. (these are still gonna be better for kicking steps than any other sb boot)
2-lighter, better liner, maybe intuition?
3-gore-tex.
4- overall smaller profile.

I figure if i can kick steps up mt hoods cooper spur in 75 dollar vans high standards, this should be a freaking revelation for me! in my eyes they are perfect for cascade volcano corn runs.

Biggest thing to remember is that these are not mountaineering boots. they are something totally different. they are made to climb snowboard friendly pitches, not huge mountaineering feats.

if your gonna buy a boot for splitboarding its a no brainer to buy this boot rather than a resort boot. they cost just as much as other high end boots.

i personally am a gear hoarder and this season will have vans jamie lynn's for ridin pow and hittin it freestyle, sparks deeluxe for snowboard mountaineering and some scarpa AT boots for skiing and for multiday trips on the split.

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:31 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:34 pm 
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what do you guys think of these guys i found in the bargain basement the other day?

Image

Image

Image

they almost were there 20 years ago

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:25 pm 
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HFT: I must admit I am curious how you feel a softer sole helps snowboarding performance when one uses a binding featuring an absolutely rigid, ~10 mm thick metal baseplate (Spark or Karakoram)? When I rode solid boards, with soft boots, I always preferred a a binding with a composite baseplate (Burton C-14)., because metal baseplate bindings eliminated any board feel, and seemed to create a flat spot in the flex pattern of the board. With splitboards, I accept a slight loss of board feel (but find this is less using the weak/flexy Voile plate than with Sparks) for all the advantages of splitting (but I do wish for a carbon fiber slider plate, and may venture to build my own at some point); I just to fail to see/experience much differences in board feel with stiff soled boots when the binding is a massive rigid plate.
Not trying to disrespect your opinion, my experiences just seem to vary compared with yours.

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:16 pm 
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I'm kind of with BG on this one. I would like to have a stiffer toe box for kicking steps but I feel like soft boots climb pretty well. I don't really have a problem with strap on crampons either and I'm not so sure I'd want give up the feel when riding with a stiff sole.

Perhaps something like a trad climbing shoe with a soft sticky sole and a stiff edge to help with any delicate edging footwork?


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:41 pm 
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Barrows,

This is based on my personal experience riding in both plastic PMBs w/voile plates & burtons and leather LaSportiva Mountaineering boots (Nepal Extremes) and Spark Ignitions. Im not specifically talking about AT boots and plate bindings. I am talking about not wanting a full shank on a soft snowboard boot. For starters putting one in a snowboard binding was problematic. My leather mountaineering boots were stiff, ratchet straps around stiff leather did not allow for much play with strapping them on tight, like with a softer snowboard boot (plastic PMBs were even worse). The next issue was the fact they were too skinny to properly fill out a snowboard binding, leaving wiggle room and a loss of control. Then the fact that they were longer than my snowboard boots which resulted in the toes hanging off the edge of the binding, at an upward angle due to the integrated toe ramps on the sparks. Lastly, with the soles being so unforgiving, I really had to change my riding style to get the board to react on turn initiation. I had to roll more weight to my toeside edge because of the stiff shank. I had to force my way through a turn as the boot didnt do any of the work. Perhaps that was due to lack of calf support as well though.

So maybe im not doing a fair comparison, perhaps a stiff shank in a snowboard boot would perform differently than in my mountaineering boots.

Bottom line, I dont need a snowboard boot that can climb vertical ice ala: Russman. If I did I would just use an AT boot as they are more properly designed for this. Ultimately you want a boot that can support your body weight from a tiny toe edge or crampon point for that type of activity. Which is not what I would want for surfing through pow.

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