To the La Sportiva Vanguard, wide-open GS turns on a big face, and driving high-fat powder skis are in its nature. The rigid 130 flex will thrive on even your largest pow planks. However, it will surprise you on the way up with its generous 63 degrees of cuff rotation. Once you figure out the V-shape cuff and asymmetrical scissor closure system, booting up will be a breeze - even if they spend the night in your trunk. If you are concerned about your carbon footprint, the Pebax shell and cuff of the Vanguard are derived from Rnew 1100 castor oil seeds, which will have you skiing cold smoke feeling less guilty! The thermo-moldable Ultralon performance foam liners will help you dial in the fit, and keep you comfortable all day long. If you want to take your downhill to the next level, but need enough cuff rotation to handle a Wasatch skin track (see: steep), get yourself a pair of La Sportiva Vanguards.
- ISO 9523 Compliant means the Vanguard is MNC compatible.
- EZ-Flex double tongue allows great uphill mobility, but a stiff flex for the way down.
- Abrasion resistance V-Guard Interfaces in the toe and heel will handle that rocky boot pack with ease.
- Twin-PWR double band ensures a precision fit in the cuff.
- Intelligently designed Ultralon liners have two flex zones and differentiated thicknesses.
- Rnew 1100 Castor Oil-based plastic offers a touch of sustainability.
Update 2023/24: La Sportiva updated the paint, otherwise, the boot remains unchanged.
|Weight (pair)||3022g [27.5]|
||3 Buckles & TWIN-PWR™ Strap|
||Tech, Hybrid, ISO 9523|
||Ultralon® Performance Foam - Vanguard Liner|
||Vibram V-LUGS (ISO 9523)|
|Skimo Co Says|
|Usage||Side country, backcountry, different countries|
|Notes||All-day comfort for big tours|
|Bottom Line||Inbounds, outta bounds, knows no bounds|
|Compare to other Freeride Boots|
Questions & Reviews
The main difference is the fit!
The Vega is wide at the forefoot, then narrows abruptly towards the heel. The Maestrale is a bit narrower at the forefoot, but tapers more slowly into the heel pocket. The instep in the Maestrale is also a bit lower.
Sizing: I bought these boots in a 27.5. In other brands I am typically a 28/28.5, my regular street shoe size is 10.5 or euro 44 (10.5+). After significant time contemplating in store between the 28's or 27.5's I went 27.5 as the heel felt more snug and any problems in the front of my foot seemed fixable with a light punch or heatmold. This resulted in a pretty performance 1 finger + shell fit for a touring boot. The wide last made this fit feel roomy enough for me, aside from my right toe (bigger right foot) bumping the front of the boot and getting cold compared to my left.
Over the months skiing this boot I did have doubts about the fit, I found I was getting pretty significant top of the instep pain while at the resort in this boot that heat molding never really solved for me. While touring for whatever reason I noticed this less. Aside from that the fit in general has always felt proper.
I eventually bought some new insoles for the boot which made the fit feel too tight, I shortly after purchased a pair of Intuition Pro Tour Low Volume liners in size 28 and had that heat molded by a boot fitter with toe caps and pads. Today the fit with these liners and insoles is about as perfect as I could ask for, plenty roomy especially in ski mode, only a little toe bumping on my right foot while touring.
Touring: Initially I found the walk mode to be pretty comparable to other beefy boots I've toured in, despite the fancy cuff design. Once I put the intuition liner in the articulation got much better, an improvement on any other beef boot I've skied. On the original model the buckles were a soft cable loop, which I broke. The new ones I got warrantied have a solid, rigid wire loop. This wire loop, especially on the ankle buckle sticks out further from the plastic and has improved articulation even further for me. Walking around in my house in them today I would say they walk darn near as well as my Dynafit TLT's. Which is pretty huge for a boot in this class.
Downhill: The boots ski great, they have a nice progressive flex for me and feel quite responsive. I only wish they had the option of a slightly steep forward lean, but as it is, they ski quite well for me at the steepest lean setting. The buckles are little finnicky at transitions for me, which is a downside, but it's not so bad, the only other beef boot with a better, faster buckle system is probably the Dynafit Hoji line. The new wire buckles on the warranty pair seem to help with the finnicky-ness.
Durability: On my original pair I broke a buckle just last week, ankle of the left foot. The power strap on the right foot had stitching failing. The liners on my right foot blew the fabric and exposed the foam at the heel just before I bought new liners, and the footbed thats glued to the shell of the boot cracked and came out on my right foot. I also had one of the bolts on the cuff come out in the TH right before a long tour.
I think for the weight (1508g for one foot on my scale at home) these boots ski excellent and they walk about as good as any beef boot I've ever skied, that being with the asterisk that I changed the liner on them. I think the updated version with wire buckles is a huge improvement and I'm excited to put another season on the boot. The only cons to me are the durability issues I had, but given the great warranty at sportiva it's hard to knock it too bad. They fit in the same weight class as many other beef boots with really only the Zero G Pro Tours being lighter for the most part. If this boot fits your foot and is available in your budget I wouldn't hesitate to ski it. If you're willing to spend a little more, I think the liner upgrade is huge for this boot.
Sportiva easily and painlessly warrantied these boots for me.
The Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro has a very different fit as compared with the La Sportiva Vanguard. The Zero G has a lower volume fit overall, with a narrower last width and low instep height.
The La Sportiva Vanguard has a wide last width, and pretty average instep area. I would say the instep is definitely higher in this boot as compared with the Zero G.
With regards to the liner, the Vanguard has a more robust liner out of the box. However, it sounds like this boot does not align well with your foot shape. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to email@example.com!
Between the two Technica boots (zero g tour pro, zero g peak carbon) and three Sportiva boots (Vega, skorpius, vanguard) I’ve used over the past two years, I find the height over the instep in Sportiva boots is definitely lower
Pros: they ski great, the stiffness is exactly what I needed/wanted. The liner is beefy and responds incredibly well to breaking in/heat molding. The ski/walk lever is super solid and locks in with authority, I feel really confident on the down. Range of motion for a 130ish flex boot is the best I’ve tried compared to the other options in this category, it exceeds my ankle mobility on the up.
Cons: Initial durability, on my fist pair the glue for the footbed failed in both boots after less than 3 days on them. Sportiva immediately warrantied them and I have not had any issues with the second pair the remainder of this season with >80k’ of vert and a lot of days on them. The ankle cable buckle broke on my first pair as well. Sportiva is now sending out a hard buckle replacement for the cable buckle. I have not weighed them side by side to compare the weight change, but recommend that SkimoCo stocks/includes these if they haven’t received them from Sportiva. Weight, Sportiva states 1370g for a 27 on their site. SkimoCo’s weight of 1511g for a 27.5 is accurate and 27/27.5 is the same BSL for these boots so that delta should not be as large.
Overall, the durability issues are the same as other new boots I’ve tried in the past and the warranty/replacement process with Sportiva was quick/easy. I highly recommend the boots if you’re looking for an alternative to the ZERO G pros everyone else is wearing that charges hard.
Regarding ski-ability, I really like the feeling of the progressive flex when skiing aggressively. Plus the V closure makes getting boots on and off way easier than all other 130 flex boots I’ve ever tried, especially cold boots after camping out.
The La Sportiva Vanguard is not compatible with GripWalk bindings. However, the Vanguard is ISO 9523 compliant, which means it will work with MNC bindings. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!
The Vanguard has a ton of cuff rotation for a boot in the freeride category. Great on the way up! Also, it will have no problem on hardpack, corduroy, or driving wider skis! It is not as stiff as a resort boot that is 130 flex, but it will give you plenty of power and control.
Walk: I would say it is again middle ground amongst beef boots. Walks better than the Lange, but not as good as the radical. The build quality on the vertical throw latch is quite high and confidence inspiring. Regardless of fit and funky tensioning systems, it is a highly engineered and well-built boot. The sole indoors feels very grippy and based off my experience with other la spo Boots, I suspect it's great.
Cons: It uses the effective but finicky forefoot tensioning system that the Scorpius uses for better or worse. You can be the judge on if you like that or not, but regardless of what you think, the ultra-thin cables and having to place them into the tiny holes to dial a fit is just not as simple and confidence inspiring as the Burly buckles on other beef boots, regardless of if you only have to set them once or twice. I also found placing the upper buckles into the walk slot which is the end of the buckle and then getting them to appropriate tension for downhill skiing is a process, a far cry from the single throw effectiveness of the radical. It was moderately challenging just with my fat fingers and I really would not want to do it when it's puking snow and things have potentially gotten iced. They also got rid of the trab quick step which is unfortunate because that was also an appeal for the boot at least to me personally. Also placing three boots side by side. The actual cuff height is the same. The vanguard is perhaps very subtly higher on my shin, but it's definitely within a centimeter or two of the radical and I did not feel it provided in advantage even though I have a pretty long tibia.
Overall, as I've said in other reviews, between these three boots I say get what fits. Lange is most high volume and most powerful, and walks the worst but still pretty good for a four buckle. The vanguard is kind of an in-between all three, but in my opinion is inferior to the other two if you can fit one of the others better mainly due to the overly complex tensioning system. The radical fits the smallest of the three but is still traditionally pretty wide and it has a fairly low instep in my opinion. However, I have found that putting in a different liner makes it way more comfortable around the ankle joint because most of my pressure there was related to the fact that the liner simply doesn't exist in that particular area. It walks the best of the three, but is the least progressive offering a very quick 0 to concrete wall type of stiffness. It's a pretty good time to be alive as far as the different types of fits and quality that are available in modern boots with way less compromise than in years past as far as ski ability to walkability.
I had the opportunity to take some laps in this boot last spring! Here are my thoughts on the fit in comparison with the Skorpius:
The forefoot of the Vanguard is significantly wider than the Skorpius. Additionally, the Vanguard liner has very thick foam in the ankle pocket. Out of the box, it will feel tighter in this area than the Skorpius. I personally found it quite snug. However, a heat mold will change the fit significantly. The Skorpius is known for its lower instep height. I found the Vanguard’s instep to be comparable. Additionally, I found that both the Skorpius and Vanguard have pretty snug heel pockets. If you would like to chat in more detail about your specific fit situation, reach out to us at email@example.com!
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