The sun is setting earlier each day. The mornings are beginning to feel crisp and cool. September means autumn is close, which means snow is about to fall. If so facto - winter is just around the corner, right?! With the 20/21 season coming up quick, we're excited to preview the latest and greatest in alpine touring boots.
Some general themes for the backcountry boot industry this season are an improvement in progressive flex, a step-up in downhill skiability, and lower flex profiles for already great boots. There is a focus on downhill-oriented development for this season which is great to see. People love getting out into the backcountry, but we all are interested in skiing better while back there! More skiability equals more smiles - as long as it doesn't mean a dramatic sacrifice in uphill performance. Let's take a look at our hand-picked favorites for this season.
The New Benchmark for Speed Touring from Scarpa
Scarpa F1 LT
After testing the F1 LT through last ski season, we're convinced that LT stands for Light and Tough. This 1000g boot is more durable and skis better than it's [already incredible] Alien RS predecessor. The boot takes the best parts of the Scarpa F1 and Alien RS. It keeps the ultralight, but rigid cuff and shell of the cult-classic Alien RS, then adds the durable cuff buckle and spring-loaded walk/ski mechanism from the F1. A rear spoiler was added to the liner for a more active forward lean. A 3D Lambda Torsion Frame was added to the cuff for even better rigidity while skiing down. It's a tragedy to say goodbye to the Alien RS. But with the replacement being more durable/reliable/skiable, we're learning that change is a good thing. If you prioritize another lap over lunch or dream about far off ski mountaineering objectives, get your hands on the Scarpa F1 LT.
Innovative Freetouring Design from Scott
Scott Freeguide Carbon
The Freeguide Carbon is a freetouring (freeride + backcountry touring) boot that now stands amongst the ranks of other stiff, yet touring focused boots such as the Hoji Free, Zero G Pro Tour or Hawx Ultra XTD 130. The Freeguide has some new boot innovation with it's cabrio/overlap hybrid design. The boot gets it's stiff [yet progressive] flex from both the tongue and the cuff of the boot. This unique design lends the boots a true 130 flex while clocking in at a slender 1400 grams. The boots has a Grilamid construction with carbon reinforcement to add additional elements of stiffness to the boot. It features a BOA-adjustable liner, a strap-style cuff buckle, a lower cuff buckle to secure your heel into the pocket of the boot, and a wire-style buckle on the shell. This is a beefy boot with a lot of downhill oriented features. Again: only 1400 grams! An internal walk/ski mechanism is the last design feature to mention. That's nice to avoid getting banged up while charging downhill. We're excited to see what a season's worth of skiing in the Freeguide Carbon will bring, but for now we're impressed with the innovative design and downhill capability of this sleek freetouring machine. Check out our more in-depth initial impression here.
A Hard-Charging Hybrid Boot from Salomon
Salomon Shift Pro 130 & Shift Pro 110 W
Salomon introduces the SHIFT Pro 130 touring boot as a more downhill-oriented option to the popular S/LAB MTN. The SHIFT Pro has four alpine-style buckles and a 50mm cuff strap. The boot is made from a TPU cuff and shell to allow for a progressive flex that is hard to find in lightweight carbon fiber touring boots. This true progressive and aggressive flex comes at the expense of added weight, weighing in at 1700 grams. It's great to see that the boot also comes in a 110 flex option for lighter riders. If you want a single boot that can charge both on and off piste - with no sacrifice in downhill performance - the Salomon SHIFT Pro 130 or 110 will blow your socks off. Salomon looks to be pairing this boot with the SHIFT binding in efforts of providing hard-charging resort skiers a ticket to the backcountry without compromising in downhill ski performance. If you want more info on the boot, check out our in-depth gear review.
A Softer Flex Freetouring Boot from Dynafit
Dyna Hoji Free 110
The Hoji Free debuted last season and caused a ruckus of activity with its expert-level downhill skiability. A simple flick of the innovative Hoji-designed walk/ski mechanism opened the boot up to a huge range of motion and allowed for easy uphill travel. The Hoji Free set the standard for freetouring boots. This year Dynafit introduces the softer flex 110 version for smaller/lighter skiers. The boot uses less material to provide for a lighter weight and lower flex profile. Ski with style and ease both on and off the resort on the Hoji Free 110. Thanks Dynafit for providing a powerful boot to a larger population.
A Four-Buckled Touring Update from La Sportiva
La Sportiva Vega & Vega W
The Vega and Vega W are an update on the La Sportiva Spectre and Sparkle. The Vega is a four buckle boot with a slew of design features that lend itself to a personalized fit for downhill skiing: micro-adjustment in all four buckles for the fine-tuned feel, adjustable forward lean for your desired style of skiing, and an updated, thicker liner for improved moldability. The Vega can be tweaked and tinkered with in order to get that exact right fit for maximum comfort on both the up and the down. Extra style points for the fully blacked-out color scheme [in the men's version]. Cheers Sportiva for an update in your 'big-boot' category.
Snow Dancing Starts Now. Winter 20/21 Here We Come!
A lot of new offerings this year within the world of free touring: The SHIFT Pro, Hoji 110, Vega and Freeguide Carbon. It's great to see a general focus on this area of backcountry skiing: uphill capable boots with extreme downhill confidence. The Hoji Free 110 is a nice offering of an already phenomenal boot. The Vega will be a four buckled boot for those who want personalization and with a generally wider foot (103 mm last). The Shift Pro will pair nicely with the Salomon Shift binding and QST series of skis for a freeride-style set up for both on and off piste. Scott developed the Freeguide Carbon into wants seems to be a touring boot with some serious firepower for the ski down. But what takes the cake this year for touring innovation for is Scarpa improving on an already neoclassic boot (the Alien RS) by making a 1000 gram speed touring boot more durable and downhill focused. There will be some seriously impressive skiing happening this winter in the F1 LT. I can already sense it. If you want to talk about touring boot innovation, ask 'What's YOUR perfect touring boot,' or just say hello - reach out to us at Cripple Creek Backcountry.