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Climbing Boots

SCARPA Phantom Guide Insulated Single Boot

Scarpa Phantom Guide mountaineering, ice and alpine boot field tested by the climbing magazine Rock and Ice.

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The scrap Phantom after several years of use.

Scarpa Phantom Guide | $569 |

The Phantom Guide is the secret weapon for really enjoying ice and alpine climbing. Although this is a single boot, it has nearly the warmth of a double boot. I’ve worn the Phantom Guide in 0 degree F while ice climbing. For me, that is the boot’s bottom end if I’m moving. (I tend to have neither hot nor cold feet and wear one medium-weight sock.) Weighing justover two pounds per boot, the Phantom is a solid alternative to double boots in the lower 48. I’ve heard of people using this boot down to -20F, but I think that extreme use would put your toes at risk. If you want to push the warmth, fit the boots large and wear a thick sock. I fit mine snug with a thin sock for performance … after all this is a performance boot.

The Phantom Guide is a low-bulk, soft-upper boot with high-end climbing performance. A composite upper flexes in all directions, making hiking (even in crampons) on low-angle slopes easier than in most stiff boots, but the boot is rigid from heel to toe, creating a front-pointing and edging machine. I’ve kicked up thousands of feet of ice in this boot and my toes have never suffered, a testament to the boot’s rigidity and ability to disperse shock.

The Phantom Guide has a thinner sole than that of most boots. This reduces weight and adds to the boot’s “feel,” but it also puts your foot closer to the snow and ice; I recommend adding an insulated insole to reduce conductive heat loss. Until I replaced the stock insole, my feet got cold.

A full rubber rand, lightly tensioned slingshot heel rand and low bulk give the Guide as close to rock-shoe performance as you’ll get in a mountain boot, and lock in your heel for front-pointing.

Details I liked most: The zipper on the built-in gaiter is beefy with a rubberized cowling that keeps ice water out and protects the zipper, which is the Achilles heel for many boots and prone to premature blowouts. With care (keeping the zip clean and not forcing it). After four years of use the zippers are still fine on my boots. I also like the lacing system and tongue. I have a wide, high-volume foot with bone spurs that grate like barbed wire on the tops of my feet. I can’t tolerate any boot with hard spots or pressure points. The Phantom Guide’s floating, padded tongue cradled my feet and allowed enough forward flex to remain comfortable without sacrificing front-point performance. The laces are fat, easy to grab and tie, and a mid-foot cinch strap lets you snug up the forefoot with a single tug, yet releases on its own when it’s time to whip on the hut slippers.
Weatherproofness is excellent, although over a season this was compromised by numerous crampon punctures and holes in the gaiter, and the failure of the stitching in the elastic that seals the cuff. The rubber rand makes the Phantom Guide completely waterproof nearly three inches up.
Compatible with step-in crampons, the Phantom Guide is a premier technical boot. It’s comfortable enough for endless approaches, and warm enough for most ice and mixed climbing and mountaineering, although it is not a double-boot replacement. Rather it is a warm single boot. This is not a summer rock alpine boot; it’s too bulky and warm for those conditions.

Note: due to the Phantom Guide’s thinner-than-average sole, some crampon bails will pop off the boot toe. This can be solved by switching to a low-profile toe bail such as that by Petzl. Be sure to test your crampon fit and security on this boot BEFORE getting on the ice.

Available in sizes 38-47 in half sizes, plus 48.

Two pounds two ounces (per boot, size 42).

Warm to roughly 10 degrees F.

Single, insulated boot.

Comfortable and trim.

Excellent for ice, alpine, mixed climbing and mountaineering.


I gave the Phantom Guide four out of five possible stars because the stitching on the elastic band that seals the gaiter came unraveled the first season. The boot’s climbing performance is five star—only the more recent generation of super light alpine boots such as the Asolo Eiger are comparable.