AtomicWith the introduction of Backland, it is clear that Atomic is the brand that will appeal to the skimo tribe while Salomon sticks with the sidecountry crowd. At 2.5 pounds for a size 27, the Backland is a very light boot. It’s only two buckles, but that’s enough to crank solid turns in a steep couloir if you have the skill to be there anyway, but not for setting a downhill speed record. It has the requisite lugged sole with a rocker profile to make it walk well. The marketing range of motion on the cuff is a respectable 72°, so it has the credentials to be a boot made for walking, whether on dirt, snow, or rock.
DynafitThere’s a lot to like in the feature set of Khion, Dynafit’s new AT boot. As befits a Dynafit, it’s light, less than 3 pounds per boot. The downhill performance derives from a patented Precision Lock System that ties the cuff, a Magnesium spoiler, and lower shell together to act as a single, torsionally stiff unit to maximize power transfer. To date, the problem with making the cuff and boot stiffer to maximize power in a light weight package means sacrificing the progressive feel of heavier, inherently powerful boots. To impart that progressive feel, Dynafit adds bumpers on the outside of the shell for the cuff to press against. It creates a flex pattern that gets stronger as you press forward, without trying to force the lower shell to bow out, as happens with heavier, race caliber boots. The Khion also incorporates BOA lacing on the heat moldable liner for a snug yet comfortable fit. A special Formula Pomoca sole resists snow sticking to the lugs and the buckles can be open or closed with a single hand.
La SportivaThe Sportiva crew continues to focus on light is right products and their new Spitfire, Siderial, and Starlet boots will appeal to skimo racers and fitness skinners alike for how little mass they add to your feet so you can, literally, run up mountains with skis underneath, whether for the aerobic fitness high, or to maximize the number of laps and vertical feet of human powered skiing you can achieve. Each model locks or loosens the cuff via the lone cuff buckle. Stiffness comes from a Grilamid shell but the real beauty of these boots is their compatibility with all AT bindings, plate-style, 2-pin tech bindings, even Ski Trabs new TR2 binding with special heel inserts. It isn’t like anyone in their right mind would use these boots in a plate binding, but for the guy who want to transition to light is right, these boot will let him upgrade in stages with the boot first, binding second; ladies too.
SalomonTwo boots from Salomon will vie for attention from skiers who want a boot that is strong enough for in-bounds charging, and comfortable enough for a lap and back OB. MTN Lab is the beefier of the two, with an easy to throw mode switch that moves sideways, near the top of the cuff, not up and down near the bottom of it. It has lugged soles and tech inserts, but also works in an Alpine DIN binding. Walk mode doesn’t set any records for cuff mobility, but you won’t feel constrained either when skinning uphill. It’s a good mid-weight boot, at 1576 g per foot (sz. 27)
The MTN Explore is a lighter version (1390 g) of the MTN Lab, using CFX Superfiber and a stated cuff ROM of 47 degrees. Again, it doesn’t set any records, but that’s enough to keep it comfortable when hiking.
ScarpaThe popular Freedom boot line will expand to three models next season with the addition of the Freedom RS ($830), a stiffer, 130 flex rated boot thanks to a polyamide cuff. The new RS model will come with Mountain Plus, tech-compatible sole blocks that can be swapped with Mountain Piste soles for use with alpine DIN bindings. In addition the price conscious Freedom, Scarpa’s only boot with a polyurethane shell, trims weight by eliminating two cuff buckles with a single, wider one and substituting wire buckles elsewhere and replacing the stock liner with a heat moldable Intuition liner.
ScottNew for next year is a beefier version of the Cosmos called the SuperGuide. It builds on the same 102mm wide last for a fit that average to high volume feet will find quite comfortable. Where the Cosmos ran out of gas, the SuperGuide offers a solution. The lower shell has carbon fiber reinforcements to keep the lower shell from yielding too easily. On top, the power strap is wide, and buckled to mimick a 2nd buckle up top, with fast loosening of the cuff when changing modes, the better to beat your buddies to fresh tracks with.
More to be added as they are discovered.