It’s no secret ski touring is exponentially maturing, in technology, accessibility, and most obviously in the increasing number of people venturing away from the ski resorts and into the backcountry. But not everyone is dedicated to earning their turns on a weekly basis, so it makes sense that the gear they purchase can be used for both in bounds and out of bounds skiing.
We have seen the development of alpine style bindings with walk functions and we are beginning to see alpine boots with walk functions as well. The increased participation has accelerated the development cycles and beefier boots are now getting lighter to eliminate some of the compromises made going with a stiffer walk boot.
We should reference that alpine style boots have a hike-mode rather than a walk-mode like dedicated touring style boots. The hike mode is made for smaller, moderated distances (ex. a half day behind the ropes at the resort) whereas maximum efficiency is gained with the walk-mode and features of a dedicated touring boot.
Stiff Alpine Style Boots
Scarpa Freedom SL – $750
This boot has had some challenges with quality since it was launched last year. Designed with Chris Davenport, it’s a mere 3lbs 16oz (per boot) and boasts a 120 flex rating. The boot is designed around carbon fiber which provides stiffness but also vibration damping and flexibility. Like most boots in this category, it has replaceable sole blocks to allow the use of traditional alpine bindings in addition to a tech binding. For those looking for a little softer boot can opt for the poly urethane version the Freedom ($599)
The major difference between the Scarpa boots compared to the others is its significant range of motion. The 18 degrees of rearward movement will allow a more natural stride than other boots, where a blocky robotic stride is the norm. www.scarpa.com
K2 Pinnacle 110/130 – $599
As I have been doing research on alpine boots for this upcoming season the K2 boots instantly caught my eye, and is going to definitely be my first boot to try when they start rolling into the shops. K2 have done their research as the refinement of this boot second to none.
To begin, this boot is not something you would buy if you are looking to go after major vertical and trying to break a speed record. It’s a perfect weapon for a slackcountry mission and a solid boot for those of us who still ski the resort on a regular basis. The major advantage of this boot is that it has been specifically molded to allow the use of both alpine and tech bindings without the need for swapping soles. The walk-mode is free flowing and overcomes the clunky nature of most overlap boots with a free moving cuff.
Adding to the pile of features is the intuition liner and the ability to have a Low Volume (97mm) fit in addition to a standard fit (100mm). This boot is destined to be the choice of patrollers, hikers and slackcountry rippers who occasionally are running alpine and tech setups. k2skis.com
Tecnica Cochise – $549
Tecnica has taken a more alpine/performance oriented approach to their boots. With a narrow 98mm last the Cochise line has a more racey pedigre than its competitors. As with other boots in this category it has both alpine (DIN) and Tech sole blocks to choose your weapon for the day. tecnicausa.com
Light Weight Performance Boots
The 2013/2014 season was no doubt about the beefier boots the only notable addition was the new Dynafit TLT6 which sought to bridge the gap between the stiffer One/Mercury boots and The TLT5.
Eliminated the flexing toe area this boot will handle the down hills with more confidence but provide the effortless stride that the TLT5 is infamous for. As with most Dynafit boots the TLT 6 is available in the high performance model with all the weight savings and a more affordable model with all the carbon bits removed to reduce the cost at the expense of a little more weight.
This is one of the lightest non rando race boots out there with the popularity of the One and Mercury this boot completes the line from Dynafit with a specific boot for each user type. www.dynafit.com
Scarpa Maestrale RS
There wasn’t a tour that I did last year in which I didn’t see this boot on the trail. Though there are no major changes for 2013/2014 this boot will remain on many peoples radar due to the combination of stiffness and excellent walk feature. Read the full review of this boot.
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