The selection of lightweight alpine touring boots available gets better every year. What passed for light four or five years ago now pales in comparison to the boots headed to store shelves next season.
We gathered a good collection of three and four buckle boots from Black Diamond, Garmont, Dynafit, Scarpa, La Sportiva and even Tecnica for a little uphill and downhill comparison testing last week. The number of buckles on a given boot is less category defining than it used to be. Most of these boots are aimed at all-around backcountry skiing and for use with good-sized modern touring skis.
Here's the line-up of boots skied:
Dynafit One PX
Black Diamond Quadrant
Black Diamond Prime
Black Diamond Swift
Scarpa Maestral RS
La Sportiva Sideral
La Sportiva Spitfire
Tecnica Cochise Light Pro
The La Sportiva boots are really the only boots here not aimed at the general touring market. The Sideral and Spitfire come from the rando-racing end of the spectrum, yet they still proved to be very skiable. We paired them with a Dynafit Manaslu ski and it was a great combo. One boot absent from this test group is the Dynafit TLT5. I hope to get time on them this month.
Every one of the boots we skied has a generous walk mode. We found that when a boot shows 60-degrees of walk range, much of the range is found in the cuff hinging backward, and as hard as we tried to figure out when that might be important, short of rando racing with really big strides, it seams more like a marketing tool than actual functionality. The Tecnica Cochise Light Pro came in with the most limited walk mode. It walked ok, but when compared to the very walk oriented cuffs of the others, it was the least forgiving. It was also probably them most alpine boot like in downhill performance (no suprises there), still it is respectably light at 3.28kg/pair.
The Garmont Cosmos, a brand new boot for 2012, offered a great blend of natural walking flex, progressive tongue flex in ski mode and downhill performance. Its fit is also a little bigger volume than say the Dynafit or Scarpa boots. It mostly closely resembled the comfortable fit of my Scarpa Spirt 4's, but is almost a pound per boot lighter!
The new Dynafit boots are a strong continuation of their existing line. Moving to a three buckle system where the upper buckle releases the cuff for touring, the One and Mercury felt very capable of driving bigger skis while keeping thier weights very close to 3 kg/pair.
BD's boots appear unchanged on the outside aside form the new colors, but they all sport new, updated liners. They still use the Boa lacing system, but feature all new foam materials. The Prime remains a solid all mountain performer, while the Quadrant was the burliest of the boots tested, and can clearly drive any ski. The Prime, like the Garmont Cosmos, has a nice progressive flex to the tongue and still holds its own in ski mode.
The Maestrale series offer very respectable weights, great freedom of movement in walk mode and a stiff downhill feel given stout tongue designs. The unique foldover toungue entry has withstood a season of abuse without issue, so although we were a little warry of the design when first unveiled in 2011, it has proven to work great.
We'll have full write-ups on these boots and hopefully a couple more this fall in the print mag. Here is a a growing list of alpine touring boot weights
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