Sep 22 2015

Review: Fischer’s TransAlp AT boots

Fischer's TransAlp Thermoshape - good bang for the buck.

Fischer’s TransAlp Thermoshape – good bang for the buck.

Fischer is going all in with the two-pin tech system for Winter 2016. Starting this year Fischer retailers will be selling Dynafit bindings, albiet with the Fischer logo on them, and they have beefed up the TransAlp boot series with taller cuffs and an economy version that offers better downhill performance.

Trans Alp w/Vacu-plast

Returning this year with a taller cuff are the TransAlp and TransAlp Lite, in men’s and women’s versions. These boots are built using Fischer’s proprietary Vacu-Plast Technology, with the ability to heat the entire shell for a custom shape. As a result, the stated last width of these boots is 97mm to 107mm, suggesting the range of adaptability. In practice Fischer’s vacuum molding process expands more reliably than it shrinks. Thus, these are a great boot for folks with ultra wide feet who want a snug fit without sizing up, or tend to need lots of customization to normal ski boots to get a comfortable fit.

On the other hand, don’t mistake that ability to deliver adaptability to your unique foots shape for it being a mandatory procedure. Out of the box the Fischer TransAlp series fits an average width and height foot quite well. And should you only need a spot punch or grind, that can be easily accomodated, arguably even easier than traditional ski boot materials.

Trans Alp w/PU

New for this year, is the TransAlp Thermoshape. Fischer doesn’t want you to think this boot isn’t moldable either, it is. However, since it uses traditional polyurethane it can only be modified the old-fashioned way – with heat and pressure in specific zones. If you only need one or two such modifications, using reliable known technology may be the better way to go.

Fischer TransAlp Thermoshape has great ROM.

Fischer TransAlp Thermoshape has great ROM.

The main reason is that the downhill performance of polyurethane boots is hard to beat. Which means that the Thermoshape TransAlp is arguably the best AT boot Fischer offers. It has a medium stiff flex that is progressive through most of its range, but it stiffens up nicely the further you flex it, yielding a resistance that earns a 125ish flex rating. For the first 10 degrees of flex though, you might think it’s a tad soft, more like a 110. That variation in flex means better soft snow sensitivity, or when you need it, the power to hold an edge on the icy stuff.

Four buckle fans will find the TransAlp series is a tad underpowered, and for hammering bumps in-bounds that might be true. In the backcountry three buckles with a power strap should be plenty provided the instep buckle holds your heel in the pocket securely. For average to high volume feet, that will be true out of the box. For low volume feet, you either need to pad up the tongue, or get the heat moldable, TransAlp TS and do the full custom fit procedure.

Touring wise the TransAlp Thermoshape is no slouch. It doesn’t set any records, but it has a 50° cuff range of motion, 20° to the rear, a range AT skiers would’ve killed for not so long ago. The mode switch is at the back of the boot, and is simple and intuitive. Lift it up to release the cuff, push it down to lock. And if you need to lock out release on a climb, you’ll appreciate that Fischer is using genuine Dynafit inserts.

Nice, simple mode switch at the back of the boot.

Nice, simple mode switch at the back of the boot.

Weight wise the Thermoshape sets no records either, it’s on the light side of mid-weight AT boots meaning it won’t slow you down on day tours, but it will deliver solid, reliable turns when you’re ready to point ‘em down. You wouldn’t use the Thermoshape if you’re planning to win a rando race, but if you’re just participating, they won’t make you suffer either.

Whether or not the TransAlp is the boot for you largely depends on the fit. The TransAlp TS and TransAlp Thermoshape come with a pre-lasted, heat moldable liner made with Ultralon foam. With an average volume foot, chances are good that you may not even need to mold the liner to get a decent fit. Gram counters may lean toward getting the TS-Lite, but be aware the main weight savings on this model comes from using a Palau liner which is thinner and makes molding pretty much mandatory for a comfortable fit. Overall, best bang for your buck will be the Thermoshape, unless you simply must have lots of shell customization.


Improved TransAlp TS for 2016

Improved TransAlp TS for 2016

Transalp TS
MSRP: $900
Weight/boot (sz 26.5): 3 lbs., 8 oz. (1588 g)

TransAlp TS Lite
MSRP: $950
Weight/boot (sz 26.5): 3 lbs., 6 oz. (1550 g)

TransAlp Thermoshape
MSRP: $700
Weight/boot (sz 26.5): 3 lbs., 14 oz. (1757 g)

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