January is a great month for new gear. Trade show time rolls around and every ski vendor out there is strutting their stuff in hopes of enticing customers for the following season. The AT market is interesting because of the diversity of customers and their uses.

One one hand you have the light weight obsessed, who sacrifice performance for the sake of more vertical. On the other hand, you have the people who are about the downhill performance. The challenge is most people want a blend of both. With skis getting wider the need to have a more powerful boot is warranted but at the same time lugging a 1900g monster up with you is less then desirable.

Scarpa and Dynafit have been pushing the limits of tourability and power over the last few years. Each company has carved out a section one on the more powerful side the other on tourability. With Dynafit’s signing of Eric Hjorleifson you knew that something must be coming down the pipe that would give us both power and excellent touring capabilities. I sure hope retailers aren’t sitting on lots of boots, 2013 will be a banner year for boots.

 

Powerful Big Boots

 

The TLT 5 platform has been largely considered the most efficient boot for touring on the market, but left a lot to be desired on the down. There have been modifications abound to make them stiffer to help drive larger skis the crew at wildsnow.com have been pushing the envelope.

review-vulcan

Dynafit Vulcan

At only 1590g, no toe flex zone and the same 60 degree cuff movement, this is the most powerful lightweight boot Dyanfit has produced. Designed with HOJI in mind needing a boot that you can confidently earn your turns saving valuable energy throughout the day for that extra lap. Some skiers will rejoice as the volume in the toe box and forefoot increases slightly from the TLT5.

This boot might be overkill on the stiffness side for most. The target market is Scarpa Mobe’s, Skookum’s, Titans. Tech bindings are no longer for the soft-riding weight conscious skier. If you look closely in the movie All.I.CAN you can see Callum Pettit lining up on of the knarliest lines in the movie on a tech setup. Wondering how this boot stacks up against the TLT5? Steve at Tetonat.com gives some insight.

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Scarpa Maestrale RS

Drawing on the popularity of the Maestrale, Scarpa ups the stiffness but retains the free touring feel in this boot. The lower flex Maestrale is often over powered in challenging terrain with big skis as they don’t have the support needed to push the skis to their limit. This will speak to the people riding a 105mm waisted stiff ski who fit the Maestrale but just needed a little more support.

Also of note, riveted buckles in the 2013 lineup will help solve some of the frustration of missing hardware of years past. Given its 1559 gram weight it will be one of the hottest boots for 2013. Couple the legendary touring and a price of about $300 less than the Vulcan, Scarpa will likely be the go to touring boot for many next year.

review-cosmos

Garmont Cosmos

I will have to admit Garmont has had a few rough years. None of their boots have adjusted to the new reality of AT. They were heavy and touring function was marginal. The last real success was the Radium. This boot tips the scale at 1450g and a stiff 125 flex.

Boasting a 60 degree range of motion (same as Dynafit TLT5 based boots) will provide ample freedom and minimal shin bang in touring mode. With the same wallet damage as the Scarpa boot at $699 it will a personal fit choice that will guide the buyer in this boot. Scarpa does have a slight advantage with the adaptable Intuition liner. For anyone who was a big fan of the Radium this will be your boot.

Boots For Us Common Folks

 

The power boots will be great for the hard chargers but for most of us a boot with around a 110 flex is plenty to drive most backcounty skis. This is the most exciting category as the choice is so vast that everyone will be able to find a boot that fits their foot shape.

We all get caught up in the weight, stiffness and obviously colour. But boot fit should always be your number one criteria. If the boot is low volume and you have a monster wide foot look somewhere else. If you are not sure go see your local boot fitter and support them. Nothing is worse than a boot that causes you agony on a daily basis. I have always trusted Fanatykco Whistler for my boot fitting. When one of the boys says that boot is no good for my feet I listen.

All the Dynafit boots will feature the ultralock buckle for quick and easy touring freedom. This year dynafit has gone with the tried and true good, better, best strategy attempting to capture both ends of the market while at the same time providing the best fit and touring comfort.

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Dynafit Mercury

High performance and low weight backs off the stiffness of the Vulcan. This boot should work for most people out there and the price drops down due to material choice.

This boot is light at 1600g. Likely to be one of the volume sellers for 2013 watch out Scarpa.

review-one_px

Dynafit One PX/U

Essentially the same boot made to hurt the wallet less than the mercury. The PX version sports a stiffer Pebax shell and cuff where as the U is a simple polyuerethane cuff. The trade off is almost 110 grams this makes the Dynafit One PX in direct battle with the Scarpa Meastrale. These boots won’t drive the big sticks in challenging conditions but for most of the skiing here midseason in BC it doesn’t matter cause you are slaying pow anyway.

review-orbit

Garmont Orbit

Once again Garmont is showing they are serious about AT boots again. This boot touted with a flex of 115 and a svelte 1345g is pushing the limits of what an all around boot could be. The 60 degress cuff articulation will make touring feel free and easy. With this offering Garmont has positioned itself to take a run at Scarpa’s market share.

2012/2013 is shaping up to be the year of the boot. The last few year have been dominated by ski technology with everyone and their uncle building a hide early rise tip reduced camber skis. It is encouraging to see a concerted effort towards the most important piece of equipment the boot. Can’t wait to get my hands on a few of these boots!

Feature Summary

 

Dynafit Vulcan Dynafit Mercury Dynafit One PX Dynafit ONE U Scarpa Maestrale RS Garmont Cosmos Garmont Orbit
Category Power All around All around All around Power Power All around
Cuff Material Carbon Fiber and Grilamid Carbon Fiber and Grilamid Pebax PU Pebax Grilamid Grilamid
Cuff articulation 60 degrees 60 degrees 60 degrees 60 degrees 40 degrees 60 degrees 60 degrees
Weight 1590g 1600g 1490g 1650g 1550g 1450g 1345g
Boot material Grilamid Grilamid Pebax PU Polimide Grilamid Table Cell
Relative flex N/A – About 130 N/A – About 115 N/A – About 100 N/A – About 100 120 125 115
Buckles Ultralock Ultralock Ultralock Ultralock 3 Buckle 4 Buckle 3 Buckle
Forward Lean 15-18 Degrees 15-18 Degrees 15-18 Degrees 15-18 Degrees 18-22 Degrees 11.5 Degrees 11.5 Degrees
Sole Klauen At Sole Klauen At Sole Klauen At Sole Klauen At Sole Vibram At Sole Vibram At Sole Vibram At Sole
Price $999 $699 $600 $549 $600 $699 $649
Last Width 103mm 103mm 103mm 103mm 101mm 103.5mm 103.5mm

 

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