Some things in life go together so well that they should never be fiddled with, such as Simon and Garfunkel, bacon and egg, and the Scarpa Manta and its leather upper. But Scarpa has just given the Manta a facelift that involves losing the blue leather upper and replacing it with a mix of leather and synthetic microfibre overlays. Can this iconic boot survive such a change?
The Manta has been the benchmark 4-season winter walking and mountaineering boot for over a decade, and in that time it’s won Trail tests year after year with ease. But as time has gone by competition has increased and so Scarpa has taken the brave step to strip away the boot’s iconic one-piece leather upper and replaced it with a mix of leather and synthetic fabrics. The result is that the new Manta Pro GTX does not look like the tried and trusted favourite so many hillgoers served their winter mountain apprenticeship wearing.
The Manta Pro GTX is still aimed at the same mountain users as before the facelift. The upper is now built on the same last as Scarpa’s popular Charmoz GTX and Cristallo GTX, making the fit a bit more snug, which improves sensitivity. This is noticeable straight away, and while this was never a serious problem with the previous Manta, the improvement is definitely worth having and allows the Manta Pro to more easily hold its head up alongside developments from other brands that were starting to strongly compete with the previous version of the boot.
The upper also has a good forward flex at the ankle, which enhances the boot’s ability to remain comfortable – and again this is very similar to the Charmoz. Then there is the addition of a Gore-Tex waterproof lining, something the all-leather Manta never had.
Underfoot there is a very aggressive sole unit with a smooth climbing zone under the toe. The sole is B2 crampon-compatible (as the Manta has always been), but the new sole should provide more grip in soft snow as the lugs are slightly more widely spaced.
On the foot the new Scarpa Manta Pro GTX does have a lot in common with the old Manta, but it feels more precise and has a closer fit. I’ve always liked the old Manta, but I prefer the new Manta Pro as its predecessor was starting to feel a little ‘clumpier’ than the competition, despite actually being lighter than most of them. The Manta Pro GTX is 16g heavier per size 11 pair than the old Manta if you are counting, but it actually feels lighter and more dexterous on the foot. The new boot also feels more precise when climbing, and the flex is smoother and gentler at the toe, which helps with climbing as well as walking.
The differences between the old Manta and the new model are small, and I suspect that for many users they won’t be noticed. But if you are climbing or if you found the old Manta felt a little ‘clumpy’ or too loose, then you will probably like the replacement more than the previous model. The differences are small but they keep the Manta up there with the competition.
The new Scarpa Manta Pro GTX certainly marks the end of an era, for it now has more in common with its competition, as it is no longer a unique boot with a single-piece leather upper and no Gore-Tex lining. But the improvement in performance will certainly allow it to compete with the best 4-season mountain boots there are on the market. Is it still the best boot of its type? I’d give it a tentative yes at this stage – because it is even better than old Manta.
Upper materials leather, synthetic overlays
Lining Gore-Tex waterproof
Sole unit Vibram
Crampon compatibility B2
Sizes men’s 40-50; women’s 36-42
Weight 2100g (pair, size 46)
The Scarpa Manta Pro GTX takes all that was good about the Manta and makes its performance on the hill even better. Traditionalists may yearn for a boot with a leather upper but a new era is upon us!
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2013