Ever since Lange first entered the Alpine Touring market with the XT I’ve only had one question. Not how well it skied, or how well it fit but when would it come with tech inserts? When parent Rossignol inked a deal last year to put a Look label on a Dynafit Radical the writing was on the wall. At the 2016 SIA show in Denver Lange unveiled the Lange XT Free Tour with genuine Dynafit inserts.
First impressions say it was worth the wait because Lange didn’t just put tech fittings in their existing XT; they knew that would land in the market with a thud, as in ooof, that’s a heavy AT boot. Lange went back to the drawing board.
I spoke with Thor Verdonk, Lange’s Director of Alpine products and the man in the backroom working the magic in design that resurrected Lange’s reputation as a gold standard in downhill performance. Their criteria from the get go in developing boots for the backcountry was to equal the downhill performance of their in-bounds boots. Not necessarily at world cup gate bashing levels of performance, but at the highest levels of recreational skiing where Lange has cemented a well deserved following.
Without a doubt they did that with the Lange XT, heavy as it were. For occasional forays earning turns it remains a great option. But if you wanted XT performance with a Lange fit, but lighter weight, according to Thor that meant traditional materials had to go and they had to figure out how to make Grilamid flex progressively. Based on competitive boots available in the Limp-Niño winter of 2015/16, Grilamid is stiff and light but it doesn’t like to bend. Or so Lange thought. In the end they figured out how to give it some give – a smidgen of yield so it could deliver a progressively stiff flex – not inflexibly stiff as is typical of many lightweight AT boots these days.
Trademark Lange Flex?
It only took one run to confirm their claim and I must admit Thor didn’t lie. The Lange XT Free Tour is one of the smoothest flexing AT boots out there without compromising the power inherent in a rigid shell. When shaping the Grilamid shell, to get a progressive flex the thickness had to be modulated to get the results desired.
Solid Touring ROM
That’s not all. Lange also improved the touring range of motion dramatically. While they didn’t set a record in terms of total cuff range of motion, they clearly jumped from mere sidecountry acceptability to a range you’ll have a hard time truly experiencing the limit of. Put it this way, it’s better than one of the most popular AT boots seen in skin tracks around America, Scarpa’s Maestrale. It still wouldn’t be the boot of choice to win a rando race, but it wouldn’t be a bad choice for participating in a rando event in the recreational division either. At under 4 pounds per boot, it’s not as light but is in the ballpark of lighter AT boots.
Fit wise it’s classic Lange out of the box. If it fits beautifully, and there’s a good chance it might, then it’s probably too big only because the Free Tour uses a heat moldable liner of Ultralon® foam that compresses homogeously for more consistent density after molding. Thus, if it fits tight out of the box and then you mold it, it will hold that shape for a long time. It has loops for laces if you like, and a soft zone of foam above the ankle for less resistance when touring. Part of the reason you won’t notice any limits in cuff range of motion has as much to do with a low resistance flex as an increased range of motion.
As you might expect, these boots come with genuine Dynafit tech inserts which are molded into the shell of the boot. The grippy soles that you need for walking dry trail can be replaced, but not an entire sole block that includes the tech insert. For those who want to use these in their alpine rigs in-bounds, the soles are Walk To Ride compatible.
There will be four models of the Free Tour, two men’s models with flex ratings of 130 in a 100mm and 97mm (LV) last widths, a 110 in a 100mm wide last, and a women’s model with a 110 flex rating but only in the LV width. The women’s liner also includes Thinsulate® insulation. The biggest bummer? Even the women’s model only goes down to size 24.5, which cuts out at least a third of women who might want this boot.
If you’ve been waiting for Lange performance in a true backcountry boot, the wait is over.
XT Free Tour 130
MSRP: $950 (100mm & 97mm)
Weight/boot (sz 26.5): 3 lbs., 15 oz. (1770 g)
Sizes Available: 24.5 to 29.5
XT Free Tour 110
MSRP: $800 (100mm only)
Sizes Available: 24.5 to 29.5
Women’s XT Free Tour 110
MSRP: $750 (97mm)
Sizes Available: 24.5 to 27.5