I finally managed to get hold of a pair of Vasque Ice 9000s this spring. Here’s an initial review of how I’ve liked them.
Out of the Box
At one point Vasque was making big claims about the weight of these boots. In fact they are no lighter than a traditional plastic boot retrofitted with a thermofit liner. My Scarpa Invernos weigh about 3.7lbs (each) with the stock liner and 3.4lbs with an Intuition liner, this is about the same as the Ice 9000. The sizing is however way off. I usually take around a 13.5 US. My La Sportiva Nepal Extrems are a 47.5. The Ice 9000’s give me roughly the same fit in a 12 US, about a size and a half difference.
They are a much lower profile boot than I would expect for a double. The liners are about half as thick as most other boots making the overall boot not much bigger than my single, but insulated Nepals! The liners are thermofit, Marmot did this for me but to be honest I didn’t notice much difference before and after.
I replaced the stock footbeds with my custom ones. Like every other boot I’ve ever bought the footbed that comes with it is totally inadequate.
I climbed a 7000′ route in the Yukon in these boot. The route involved about 4000′ of rock climbing both with and without crampons and a further 2500′ of mixed and snow/ice climbing. For a double boot the feel was pretty precise. My Invernos were horrible on rock whereas these felt similar to my Nepals.
The inner boot has additional padding to lock your heel in place which seems to make a big difference when front pointing. On the summit day I made the mistake of not lacing my boots tight and what looked like an easy snow slope turned out to be very icy requiring a lot of time on my toes. In my old boots this would have been hellish but the Vasque’s heel shape reduced heel lift so that it was hardly noticeable. Like any boot fit is going to vary with the shape of your feet. In other words just because the fit works for me doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.
They’re warm. I wore only a single pair of socks with them the whole trip and never really got cold feet. I slept with the inners. The only real issue here is that the design puts more of the insulation and mass of the boot in the outer, which you don’t generally sleep with. This means that there’s more cold boot to put on in the morning. If the outer did start to get damp and iced up then you’d have problems as it would be hard to warm/dry – a conventional plastic doesn’t have this potential issue. I never had problems with the outer getting damp but was using full super-gaiters the whole time (anyone who doesn’t do this on this sort of trip is crazy IMO anyway).
The boot also seems to stay pretty flexibly when cold. Traditional plastics are pretty much impossible to lace up on a cold morning because the shell has stiffened. I didn’t have this problem and it was well below freezing most mornings on the route. I suspect that this is partly due to the shell material and partly because the tongue has fabric sections that flex regardless of the temperature.
The Mk1 version people complained about the sole balling up badly. I had no problems with this. On the final part of the descent we took our crampons off because things were balling up so badly (we both had anti-bots) even in that sort of snow the boot soles presented no problems.
I’d like to say something about durability but on the basis of two weeks climbing I really can’t say much. I was wearing super-gaiters the whole time and after several thousand feet of rock these are beat to hell. The soles on the boots show some wear but really not that much. I’ll be posting more feedback as I get more use out of them this winter.
The top two lace hooks had burrs on them which caused the laces the shred quite quickly.
The inner boot seems to be sized incorrectly at the top of the ankle. When laced up there’s no play in the lacing at all, the two sides meet in the middle. I think they need to give you more play here. I don’t think I have very slim ankles or anything.