This post was first published April 2015, here’s an update from Wil:
“The Spectres go unchanged so far this season which means they are a known commodity. By the end of the last season I had managed to ski them about 20 days, most of it in the backcountry. I used them on a family hut trip, on winter and spring steeps, very often alone with the dog. In fact anytime my 11 year old didn’t shame me into telemarking with him. So what’s the extended verdict? These things rock! They hold up well and I have the confidence to ski lines even when alone. Most of all though they make traveling uphill a joy. Do it!”
Can you drive in your ski boots?
If the answer is no then it is time to build a pyre and burn them in a mass of toxic nasty-ness. You are now in a position to buy a boot that re-examines the meaning of “the best thing since sliced bread.” The fact is sliced bread really cannot define just how good these puppies are.
So why am I raving like I have just been bitten by a dog in a developing country? The rabid saliva is the result of being really excited by my new La Sportiva Spectres. Why are they so special I hear you say? More importantly why should I reach so deeply in my pocket and throw down good cash for this product?
Fit & Comfort
The ecstasy starts when you pick up a boot and realize it is so light your granny could hurl it and hit a thieving marmot at 100 yards. Then you put it on and decide your slippers can join your old ski boots on that fire. These things are seriously comfortable! What blew me away though is just how much the Spectres articulate in walk mode. When your feet travel a mile in front of your navel in a gait somewhat akin to Freewheeling Franklin (it’s a 70’s thing) or John Cleese’s Ministry of Silly Walks the whole world of skinning takes on a new meaning. Skiing uphill has always been a religious experience but this completely puts a new foundation in my church. Old man Rickards has found a new lease of life and I no longer flail at the back of the skin track. Move over young bucks this geriatric is striding through in his black and yellow Sportivas.
The 60° articulation is also why I can drive in these things. Morning at Loveland Pass with the dog followed by an afternoon at the ski area and I don’t have to change my footwear. How convenient is that? Then throw in the fact that you can shuffle with your heels clipped into the ski simply by flicking the switch on your boot and you have the ultimate tool for busting out a few strides in a short flat section without having to deal with your bindings.
“What about the downhill?” I hear you ask.
While it tours superbly it is also a real four buckle boot; and one you can adjust easily on the fly. The low profile buckles are really cool once you get used to them (i.e. they stay out of your way and do not catch on anything). Tip these boots and the skis react instantly. Push against the cuff and you pressure the front of the ski, pull back and the tips rise out of the snow (as someone who predominantly telemarks this never fails to blow my mind!) If you want the added security of an aggressive stance: crank them up, if you are cruising uphill: loosen them. In addition there is plenty of adjustment from canting to toe box. Bottom line, they ski way better than I do and paired with my G3 Empire carbon skis and ion bindings I may actually live up to my pre-descent mantra. “I am a god on gossamer wings, I am a god on gossamer wings.”
Wil Rickards was born in North Wales and steeped in its rich maritime, mountain and river folklore. In response to the request to “get a real job” he became first a teacher then professor of adventure education and emigrated to where the sun shines for 300 days and snow falls for 100 (Colorado). During more than 25 years as an outdoor educator he worked Scottish winter seasons, taught canoeing, climbing, kayaking and skiing throughout the States, Europe and Australia, and regenerated the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Outdoor Education program. He wants his outdoor qualification pins to be the size of shields, he likes to think they might fill a castle.