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Field Tested: Scarpa Manta GTX Tech

Basics

Scarpa continues the three-decade legacy of its all-around mountain boot the Manta with some new touches to the Manta GTX Tech: A 3mm Perwanger Suede upper provides a rugged capsule for the Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort interior. All this is encased in full-perimeter rubber, further enhancing protection for both the boot and its wearer. A Vibram Pentax Precision XT / Mont sole provides for semi-automatic crampon compatibility and edging performance on rock.


Pros

Leather upper provides durability over the long haul // Classic lace-up design adds to field functionality // Ample toebox provides comfort for wider-width feet

Cons

All-around design means it excels at nothing // Lace-up system makes it hard to counteract heel lift // Light insulation limits its winter functionality


Our Thoughts

If you’re looking for a hard-working, durable, all-around boot over the long haul, the Scarpa Manta GTX is a good bet—though I wouldn’t bring it to the races. Keeping contact with its classic mountaineering roots, the newly redesigned Manta GTX is a true alpine truck, though what it provides in durability, it gives up in performance: Its traditional lace-up design, without any lace locks, makes it difficult to eliminate heel-lift, limiting the Manta’s applications in steeper alpine terrain. Ultimately, mountain walking and long-haul comfort are where the Manta shines, thanks to the medium-width toebox, rigid Vibram outsole, and sturdy leather exterior. And its Gore-Tex interior staves off steady drizzle and provides a reliable barrier for summer stream crossings. When that drizzle turns to snow and the streams lock up, climbers with cooler internal thermostats or those looking to climb in frigid mountain environments may find themselves wanting more warmth than the lightly insulated Manta provides.


Size Reviewed

Varies

Weight

63.5 ounces/pair (men's size 10)

Price

$349

Brand

Scarpa


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Washington’s North Cascades present a range of glacial, snow, ice, and rock challenges. And this season’s flood- and fire-induced road closures added some considerable approach miles to those challenges. The Scarpa Manta GTX Tech—the latest iteration of its venerable all-around mountain boot—worked all season, worked hard, and came back looking almost just out-of-the-box. But all that work didn’t necessarily translate into technical climbing performance.

My alpine guiding season started just as this summer’s “Heat Dome” hit the Pacific Northwest. Though my toes typically run cold, even the light insulation of the Manta made for a warm boot. Climbers with better circulation would have suffered. The Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort interior handled the near-liquid slush and snowmelt stream crossings on our Shuksan approach with aplomb. Shortcomings began to surface during several steep snow sections on the Fisher Chimneys route up the peak. In early season, snow chokes several of the chimneys, calling for 45- to 50-degree cramponing up everything from firm névé to slush. While the Manta accommodated my strap-on crampons well (it also accommodates semi-automatic crampons), no matter how tightly I tried to cinch down on the bridge of the boot, the lace system’s lack of locking mechanisms meant heel-lift was inevitable. These performance shortcomings continued on the Southeast Ridge’s fifth-class rock terrain. While the stiff Vibram Pentax Precision XT sole provided an opportunity for excellent edging, that opportunity is lost due to the rigidity of the 3mm Perwanger Suede upper, which makes it impossible to firmly lock in the front of the foot. While I’d hoped that suede would soften over time, alleviating this problem, those hopes were dashed during my months of testing.

But sometimes you go into the mountains with the boots you have, not the boots you want. And, at an affordable $349 MSRP, the Manta is an easy boot to have. The Manta and I continued to tackle mountain objectives throughout the North Cascade Range, including rock objectives like the West Ridge of Forbidden and the Southeast Ridge of Shuksan, ice objectives like the Kautz Route on Mount Rainier, and several snowy summits of Mount Baker. Throughout the Range and that range of terrain, the ample foam cushioning around the ankle, coupled with the stiff sole and upper, protected my feet during the whole season, without a single blister—not even a hotspot. Still, as my well-protected feet trod down from yet another peak, I couldn’t help but feel some envy for folks headed up with some of the flashier, lighter, boot-meets-trail-shoe alpine options that have recently come on the market.

My last climb of the season involved descending down an icy glacial toe on Mount Rainier. While that might sound beautiful, I’ll add that the ice was covered in three inches of gritty glacial slime that had left permanent grooves in my locking carabiner after only three rappels. One month later, I’m still picking grit out of my ears, but the Manta’s cleaned up to near-new condition. All those flashy new-school boots I saw this summer would have definitely been faded beauties.

Winter is on the way, and I don’t see much of a future for the Manta and I during the coldest months. It could serve as an excellent duty boot for ascending Northeastern peaks like Mount Washington, but the lightly insulated Manta will be no friend to my cold feet. And, with a lace system unable to counteract heel lift, it finds no home in frontpointing terrain. What will become of my Mantas? I’ll likely keep them around for springtime snow and mud mountain slogs and other similar heavy-duty, low-technicality scenes where these boots shine.

Kel Rossiter

Kel Rossiter is an IFMGA/AMGA Certified Mountain Guide based in the Northeast, where he climbs and guides among the regions many rock and ice objectives. During the spring and summer seasons he guides in the Pacific Northwest, Peru, and Alaska.

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