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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:39 pm 
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Location: Colorado
HikeforTurns wrote:
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.

Yeah, I got it. I never liked trying to ride in PMBs in soft bindings, as you say, they never fit the binding properly, leading to all kinds of problems; not to mention a weird flex pattern which was not really suitable for riding (at least for me).

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.


You might be surprised how well my TLT5s bridge this apparent gap when combined with my binding setup-I honestly like riding my set up in pow equally as well as Driver Xs and Sparks, and the hard boots are lighter, which is always nice. Really the only downside I see with my set up is the considerable expense, and the need for customisation in both the bindings and boots. I honestly feel the ride performance is not compromised in pow, or any other condition. Next time we get out, I'll show ya the flexibility I really have.

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:30 pm 
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Sounds good. :thumpsup:

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:01 pm 
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Location: the bottom of NZ
Another thought, the stiffer you make a mountaineering boot, the more rocker you need in the sole to be able to walk properly. This could have the effect of cutting down contact area between the boot and the binding in a snowboarding context + possibly weird leverage/pressure points..?


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:00 pm 
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Location: The Belly of Ham baby!!
Toe rocker is essential for reducing overhang and drag... ???

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:07 pm 
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Location: mountains of portland, oregon
i rode these boots for the first time yesterday and they were awesome. the boots rode really good and so was climbing with them. used a mix of french and german crampon techniques on rock hard ice. rigid sole works wonders on that stuff. i thought it might be a different ride with the rigid sole and not being able to feel the snow, but that was not the case.

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:09 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 9:57 pm
Posts: 62
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Hmmm, after reading through the posts in here it seems like peoples opinions of these boots went from being the soft boot saviours to nothing special and just another way for companies to suck our hard earned cash. I thought I'd jump on and give a quick review of them as well as a few opinions.

I apologize for the length of this post. It ended up being a small essay. If you can't be bothered reading everything there is a quick summary of the pros and cons of the Sparks at the bottom. :wink:

So far I have had about 7 days on the Sparks here in New Zealand. 2 field days (Mount Olympus skifield and Broken River skifield), 2 days touring and 5 days camping, touring, riding and climbing steeps on one of the glaciers in the Southern Alps.
I put the boots though a variety of riding and touring conditions, NZ spring 'powder', corn, ice, crusty consolidated snow, chop and warmed fresh snow. Booting conditions included the above snow conditions along with loose scree slopes and scrub and tussock terrain.

My solid board is an 08/09 159 Rome Slash with Burton Mission bindings and my Split is an M3 DIY with spark blaze bindings, LT pins and Karakoram board clips.

Initial thoughts on purchase – Pretty expensive at about $500 NZ, Solid construction, very tough sole, stiff through sole and ankle with a little bit of movement in ankle. Bit dubious about lace up system at first. I hadn’t heard good things about similar systems on Salmon boots but the Deeluxe system looked strong enough and being able to keep the boots tight in one area of the foot and loose in another seems like a good idea. The thicker sole gives the boot a slightly higher profile. Fluffy cuff on liner – not sure what to think. The boot definitely fits tight across the toes. Not a whole lot of room for toe movement. The boot seems to be a narrow fit as well. The removeable liner harness really helps to lock the foot down into the boot and seems to help stop heel lift if done up tight. Liners can be easily removed for drying. Foot print of boot is quite large. Possibly the reason why no sizes over 12.5?

Riding – First thought was stiff. To the point it hurt to ride fast over chop. Loosening off the laces above the ankle helped to remedy this. Getting the correct tightness over the foot and looseness above the ankle takes a bit of mucking round. On the first day out in them, my feet started to get numb and had to give feet a rest in the afternoon. After third day out in them they felt fine. On my solid board I was amazed at how responsive the board now felt. I felt like I could feel every part of the board. Found something similar on my DIY split, but also found that the flaws in the board became more accentuated – I now know it has way to much flex through the middle of the board.
The higher profile sole didn’t have any impact on riding. The sole is stiff through the mid sole but the toe of boot has enough flex to allow you to still feel the board on toe side turns. The stiff upper keeps heel side turns tight and responsive.

Booting – The section control lacing allows the boot to remain tight across the foot but above the ankle it can be loosened off for walking which is nice. Very easy and quick to loosen off or tighten.Walking up steps kicked by a skier in hard consolidated snow with an ice crust on the surface was fine. The stiff sole lets you hold a step on the tip of your toes and the narrower sole lets the toe of the boot fit easier into the ski boot shaped steps. Kicking steps with these boots felt good. I was able to kick steps into snow where I wouldn't have been able to in my old boots. Crampons fit nicely on the sole and French stepping on ice felt secure. Felt a bit ungainly walking down hill over rocks and on some scree. The stiff sole doesn't allow you to smear the sole of the boot over rocks like softer boots do. After one backcountry run, we ended up having to boot out through a bunch of nasty Matagouri Scrub and tussock. The vibram sole and leather (tough pleather?) outer took the scrub pretty well with only a few minor scratches. My old boots would have hated the Matagouri.

Touring - Yes. This where these boots shine for me. I mainly hang out with skiers so being able to sidehill easily is a requirement. Hard booters or people who have toured in stiff boots may scoff a little, but I found I finally had decent lateral support from my boot when touring. Being able to feel the sides of the boot supporting my calf and keeping my ankle from flexing sideways while sidehilling on a mixture of spring slush and icey crust was reassuring. I know technique is the way to improve sidehilling, but these boots make life touring across slope a lot nicer. The only lateral flex appears to come from the entire boot moving in the binding or the board flexing. Also the toe of the boot appears to hit the board while taking a step a lot sooner than my old boots did. If the toe of the boot rockered up sooner or the boot foot print reduced this wouldn't be as noticeable.

Durability - Time will tell but these will last a lot longer than my old boots no problems. There are some creases in the toe of the boots already from using the toe straps on the Blaze bindings and from Crampons. Construction is solid and boots seem tough. We'll see after a season or two of use...

On our glacier trip, we camped out on the ice and I lived in these boots for the 5 days we were there. The liners keep your feet nice and warm even when wet which is key when you get hit with a 48 hour snow storm dumping over 1m of wet snow and graupel and you have to dig the tent out multiple times in one night. Not to mention the foot of your sleeping bag getting wet and you have to rely on your liners to keep your feet warm.....
Also watch out for the knots where the laces have been tied off. A mate had one come undone. Seems like Deeluxe may need to learn how to tie a better knot.

In summary........

Pros: Tough construction, solid sole that is stiff through the middle but allows a bit flex at the toe, Section control lacing system allows for quick loosening of the boot above ankle for walking and touring but can be tightened easily again for riding, improved responsiveness in snowboard while riding, stiff sole makes kicking steps easier, crampons fit easily, narrower sole profile for following ski boot kicked steps, improved lateral support during sidehilling

Cons: Pricey, not a whole lot of room around the toes, when done up super tight they can almost hurt riding over hard chopped snow - finding the correct tightness takes a while and a bit of playing around, not as nice to walk over rocks as softer boots due to stiff sole, a larger foot print than other boots - may cause some over hang, no rocker in the toe of boot causing toe of boot to hit board during touring earlier than in other boots, no sizes larger than 12.5 (stoked my feet are 11)

Over all I am personally super stoked on these. They the only snowboard boots I ride in as I have retired my old pair and they are suitable for everything I ride. Although I still need to test them out in the terrain park.....
If you are looking for a good soft snowboard boot that is responsive, tours well but still feels like traditional snowboard boot then jump on these. Hope this helps.

Thanks for putting up with my rant.

(Disclaimer: I have only only owned two other pairs of boots before the Spark Deeluxe boots, Burton Motos and Burton Jeremy Jones pro model, so my experiences with the Sparks will naturally be compared to the boots I owned previously. I definitely don't have some of the experience some of the other posters in here about boots but another perspective is always good. I tried my best to be objective)


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:26 am 
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Thesis on the boot! post some pictures or a tr of the camping trip! sounds/looked like deeper! epic!

From brets photstream
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http://s1132.photobucket.com/albums/m564/Bret_Shandro/?action=view&current=PA261065.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:48 am 
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Location: South Lake Tahoe
Very nice review South Island Split!

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:16 am 
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Posts: 522
South Island Split- great review! And assuming you are Bret and that is you throwing the sick method, nice work! Looks like the deeluxes don't hinder the steeze at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:15 pm 
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Posts: 62
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Haha. As much as would I love to claim that method, it happens to be another member from our party. He is a killer rider as you can probably tell and is awesome to watch. Cool fact about that photo is that he is riding a New Zealand made splitboard, manufactured right here in Christchurch........


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 1:51 pm
Posts: 24
Location: the bottom of NZ
russman wrote:
Toe rocker is essential for reducing overhang and drag... ???


The sole of my snowboard boots is practically flat compared to my climbing boots. Rounded towards the toe yeah, but not exactly rockered I wouldn't say. You want to try and maintain a large surface area between your binders and the sole of your boot, rocker doesn't do much to help with that. If you were to crank your binders tight enough to counter it I'd say you'd be getting some hate from your feet. :twocents:

SouthIslandSplit, rad review, they seem dece. If anything is going to put them through their paces it's a trip like what you guys just pulled off! Stoked to hear they coped with the scrub bashing, pretty common theme that one around these parts!


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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:42 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:54 pm
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Location: Vancouver Island, B.C.
South Island Split,
You mentioned these boots keeping your feet warm even when wet. Did the boots not keep your feet dry? They are supposed to have a waterproof membrane. One of my biggest issues with my Burton Drivers is wet feet. I want my next boots to keep the water out.

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 Post subject: Re: Spark boots?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:51 am 
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Joined: Tue May 03, 2011 2:16 am
Posts: 108
Location: New Zealand
I pretty much wore my boots the full 5 days on that trip aside from when in bed I was boots off and just socks or bare feet , this trip meant plenty of sweat involved while climbing riding etc and also a lot of snow gets down your boots too when you jump out of bed at all hours of the night to shovel snow, so you can't avoid some moisture and drying out is all dependant on conditions and what you are doing. So there is keeping it out and getting it out which are really two different challenges. These boots did as well or better than as any climbing boots and gaiter combo I have had considering the very trying conditions we were in and the amounts of energy involved. Personally I am impressed with them, best boot for this purpose I have had for 20+ years since my Koflach Super Pipes - remember them? I recon they would have been a great splitboarding boot! Cheers, Rich

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