Scarpa Manta GSB 2008

When Steve Jobs released the Apple iPhone, it must have been seconds before someone said, “Great – but when are you going to make it smaller?” Just look how tiny the iPod Shuffle is compared to the chunky original iPod Classic.
The Scarpa Manta 4-season boot has stood the test of time well, with surprisingly few updates to keep boredom and doubt at bay. However, progress eventually catches up with all classics and so the boot has had a facelift.
The Scarpa Manta name now includes the sexy, silver, go-faster GSB signature, which stands for Grivel Scarpa Binding. This is a simple, secure way to attach crampons to boots, which halves fitting time, eases this procedure and ensures that crampons are far less likely to slip off. The crampon’s front bail or strap is replaced by a metal peg that slots into a special matching hole in the boot’s toe, and only a few boots have been produced with this feature up until now. The GSB system means that the Manta is now arguably the safest winter walking boot available as GSB crampons appear to be far more securely attached than conventional methods (plus it is hard to see how they could be fitted incorrectly).
My size 46 pair weighed only 2110g, making them a notch lighter than the original Scarpa Manta, which weighed in at 2250g (size 46 pair). The most obvious change is a huge rubber rand around the edge of the boot. This looks ideal for increasing its durability – although most walkers would probably feel the thick leather original was durable enough for rough terrain.
Get the Manta GSB on your foot and there is something even more appealing. This boot sits closer to the ground. The result is better dexterity and more stability when stepping from rock to rock because you feel more in touch with your feet.
However, the heel and the sole curve does not have the same smooth, rolling action as the older Manta, making this new model feel more like a dedicated winter boot than its predecessor. However the new ankle cuff does provide a little more flex, so while the heel roll is not so smooth, this is still a very comfortable boot to wear when walking.
The old Manta occupied a unique position in the winter market as a dedicated 4-season walking boot; but the Manta GSB has moved slightly up the mountain due to the sole profile and extra rand. But, as it is lighter than the old Manta, has better ankle flex and looks more modern, I think it will continue to be a classic. Perhaps it may be less dominant in the winter boot sector though.
Of course, I’m already thinking about an even lighter version without the rand and more of a sole curve – but then I also feel my iPod Shuffle could do with an update! Some people are never satisfied....

Price £185
Upper leather, rubber rand
Sole Vibram
Sizes 36-48
Trail fit profile heel 2; forefoot 2; volume 2; length 2
Crampon compatibility B2
Weight 2110g (pair, size 46)
Made in Italy
Stockist details – tel. (0191) 296 0212; www.scarpa.co.uk

Verdict
Secure Grivel GSB crampon attachment; 8 per cent lighter than previous model; lower to the ground; rand for durability. But not such a good rolling action when walking as old Manta; is that rand necessary? Overall, still a classic winter boot, but perhaps less walker-orientated than the original.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2008