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La Sportiva Spectre Ski Touring Boot - Teton Tested

Check out's entire lineup of alpine ski touring boots here.

The four buckle Spectre alpine touring ski boot represents La Sportiva's first foray into the beefier end of the market. At a claimed flex of 110 (which is close to downhill boot stiff) coupled with a weight of 1445 grams and an eye-popping and gratifyingly reasonable price of $599, if it lives up to its claims, La Sportiva will have shaken up the market .

I weigh 160 pounds and ski mainly in the Coast and Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia. I've had 14 days on the Spectre in variable snow ranging from cold sastrugi to pow to hardpack to soft corn snow (unseasonably warm temperatures). My skiing is usually in high moisture-content snow. Accordingly, my preference is for bigger skis and relatively stiff boots. Personally I own a pair of Dynafit Vulcans and Scarpa Maestrale RS touring boots, but have had the opportunity to test a wide variety of boots that are now too numerous to count. So if you have a question comparing the Spectre ask in the article comments and I will try to answer.


The La Sportiva Spectre demonstrates an enormous walk mode having an eye popping 60 degrees of free-floating motion.

Reviewed here is a size 27.0 Spectre. They weigh 1450 grams in stock form (5 grams more than claimed, which is in my opinion close enough). The liners weigh 260 grams, which is about as light as liners of these types get (certainly comparable to the weight of a pair of Intuitions).

Essentially the Spectre is a tongue boot with the lower boot shell and upper joined by a metal bar walk mechanism; a proven design. The boot is made of Grilamid, a wonder plastic that tends to hold its shape once punched (unlike Pebax) but which does not change stiffness much as temperatures vary (like Pebax).

The Spectre is exceptionally customizable; see the manual from the product page for more information. Liners can be molded, of course. The rear cuff spoiler can be adjusted or removed completely. Forward lean can be adjusted from 10 to 14 to 18 degrees. The tongue can be adjusted. Buckle hardware allows for removal. Due to the flat bootboard, you can easily customize fit by removing the liner foam, or by adding shims to achieve the height you want.

Comparison pictures depict the Dynafit Vulcan (green), La Sportiva Spectre, and the Scarpa Maestrale RS (white). All the boots are close to the same height front and rear but are constructed very differently.

The Spectre has canting adjustment to accommodate fit concerns. The Spectre soles have 2 compounds in this sole unit both of which compounds are Vibram. The harder yellow compound at toe and heel is designed for durability and binding interface precision. The black compound is softer and offers more traction for snowy and icy conditions. I have no data on how the sole will last over time so check in on the Spectre discussion thread (referenced at the end of the article) for long term reports

Other features

Some other features of La Sportiva's Spectre worth mentioning follow:

Included with the Spectre is a fairly light (260 grams) EZ Thermo liner. Of the 14 boots I've reviewed, this is the first non-Intuition liner that this Intuition fanboy has not binned and replaced. It's actually comfortable, fairly warm and responds well to thermofitting (I needed some toe-box room). It's also built for cuff rotation, so complements the fantastic range of motion of the boot. I cannot speak to longevity, as I only had 14 days on this boot but so far, its held up well.

Speaking of cuff range of motion, the Spectre is outstanding. The only other boot I can compare this too which I have tried is the Dynafit TLT5 sans tongue. When the boot is switched from ski to walk mode, instantly you can feel the magic of the 60 degrees of cuff rotation. Of course, I loosened the buckles and powerstrap for long uphills, but it's worth noting that the Spectre offers an otherworldly walk mode.

The Pegasus buckles are, uh, interesting. Unlike the more common wire bail buckles, these slot onto closures on the boot shell with wire and micro-adjustment knurled knobs. I liked the fact that the adjustment could be done while the boots are buckled, simplifying the fine-tuning of fit. I found the Pegasus buckles gimmicky and suspect they will be a pain in the ass handling them on cold days. Having said that, it didn't take much time to get used to them. It's worth noting that the buckle has a self-cleaning action where in snowy and icy conditions, pushing the Pegasus buckle down onto the post clears the buckle hole .

The Spectre will fit both tech and frame bindings (i.e. Marker, Fritschi, Salomon, etc.).

Regarding Fit

Buckles are screwed into the boot shell so there are options to remove or replace buckles. Weight weenies could remove the fourth buckle (mine is buckled so loose as to be useless). Note the arrows on the toe markings showing where you can customize how the tongue fits (I left my tongue at the stock setting).

The Spectre's fit is anatomical, which is shorthand for saying that its on the low side of medium volume and is contoured to fit the average human foot. When reviewed for 2013, there was one peculiarity in that the instep of the boot is quite low. My foot tends to fit most boots at the instep, and yet I still encountered issues with the Spectre's instep. Personal fit issues was cured by an aggressive liner cook, but my guess is that most people are going to need some punching at the ankle/instep of the boot shell. The good news here is that the Spectre's Grilamid plastic holds a punch exceedingly well. As also previously mentioned, a decent bootfitter should be able to work with the Spectre as there are many design features that make both bootshell and liner easy to mold.

I fit the La Sportiva Spectre in size 27.5 and also fit a Dynafit, Scarpa and Garmont size 27. I fit a Tecnica size 26.

NEW FOR 2014

Note the flat boot board–nice for bootfitting. Boot interior is clean and standard for tongued boots. Spoiler is adjustable and can be removed or adjusted up/down. Walk mode is a standard metal bar design

In 2014, the Spectre's liner remains the same as does the boot shell, but with two key changes to dramatically improve fit. Liner thickness was decreased by 0.5mm at the instep. The lower boot shell was increased in height by 3mm from the base of the inner boot to the instep. For me, this alleviated the boot fit issue of pinching around ankles from the 2013 version. Otherwise, the Spectre remains a price point king.


Note the micro adjustments on the boot buckles (they're green), which allow you to adjust the Spectre's fit even when the boot is done up.

Unsurprisingly, the Spectre is among the best in its class in terms of touring. For uphills, it is light. For the flats, it exhibits a tremendous walk mode perhaps best experienced on long glaciated or flat approaches where the added stride afforded by the touring-friendly bootshell and liner can be appreciated. Quick transitions are also possible, as the boot goes from being stiff to having a very good tour feel simply by flipping from ski mode to walk mode. For longer approaches, I found it better yet to loosen buckles and power strap, which changes a very good walk mode to an excellent one.

The Spectre is a fine downhill ski boot in many respects but, in my opinion, lacked the fore-aft heft to be considered a big man's ski boot. This qualification requires pontification. La Sportiva labelled the Spectre as a 110 flex which, in the capricious and somewhat arbitrary world of  ski boot flexes, puts it at close to downhill boot flex; a tall order to meet. The Spectre's tremendous touring ability means that it has a softish tongue and a softish liner. If I hit variable snow or chunder or was in a situation where I needed to apply cuff pressure, that's where the Spectre would waver as the boot's fore-aft stability would be overmatched. And recall I am a light guy; I suspect bigger skiers would find the Spectre to fold.

Having said that, the Spectre is remarkably stiff laterally. The boot's spine is carbon-reinforced Grilamid, which no doubt contributes to lateral stability. Unfortunately, this quality is difficult to detect in shop carpet tests, and can be best felt when the boot is skied on snow laying tracks with more modern technique.

In summary, the Spectre is a very capable boot on the downhills. But I suspect that those who are thinking of using the Spectre as  one boot to do it all, or those who mostly ski inbounds and plan to do just the odd backcountry lap, might find other, more burly and stiffer boots to be more to their liking. It would be very interesting if La Sportiva included a stiffer tongue as a customizable option, thus letting consumers indulge in the tried and true sport of boot customization; perhaps using the currently existing tongue as a softer snow option and a stiffer tongue for more inbounds-oriented days.

Bottom line and pricing

With the Spectre, La Sportiva hit many of the right notes. You get one of the best pure all-round touring boots on the market, one which is capable on the downhill and excellent for all but hardpacked snow, while getting exceptional value for your money at just $599 retail. Many of the boot's competitors price up closer to $1,000. Minor nitpicks concerning design features aside (admittedly attributable to personal preferences), if you are hunting for softer snow and looking for value, the Spectre should be one of your logical choices. Even if you are a skier who does some inbounds followed by backcountry laps, if you are either light or have finesse, the Spectre is more than adequate for your needs. Again, retail price is $599, and sizes range from 25 to 31.5.

Again, if you have some questions about the Spectre vis-a-vis other boots, feel free to post questions to the ongoing TGR discussion thread.

Pricing is $599 for La Sportiva's Spectre. Sizes are 25 - 31.5.

Check out evo's entire lineup of ski touring boots here!

From The Column: TGR Tested

About The Author

stash member Lee Lau

Professional Recreationalist. I ski mainly in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia in the Whistler/Pemberton area. I often travel to the Selkirks, the Monashees and to other touring destinations.

Lee, thanks for this review.  I found the 2013 model online in my size for a great price and grabbed them….before I read your review.  That ankle pinch on the cuff is a serious issue in my model.  My ankles were screaming by day 3 in Japan.  Do you (or anyone else) have any ideas of what people are doing to that inner cuff, that Sportiva clearly redesigned for this year:(  Also disappointing for me was the buckle screws loosening after just two days.  An issue people should be aware of, carry your leatherman while skiing this boots!  You’ll need to tighten the screws.

    That part of the ankle can be punched.  Be gentle as the plastic apparently holds the punch well.

How do these ski compared to the Maestrale RS’s ?

    Not as stiff.  Comparable in touring.  See and Spectre thread discussion at end of article