Scarpa F1 Ski Boot Review
I’m no rando racer, but I still have a solid appreciation for the trend in lighter backcountry ski gear. Following design innovations pioneered in the randonee race world, alpine touring boots have, perhaps, benefited the most from slimmed down, lighter designs born of the rando race world. These new svelte boots still offer strong downhill performance and are gaining momentum amongst the non-racer backcountry ski community. The Scarpa F1 ski boot is the latest model in our test quiver to walk the line between rando design and strong backcountry ski function. As I lined out in a preview look at the Scarpa F1, the boot is a redesign of the earlier F1 Evo. The new boot drops the Evo name tag and loses the auto-locking cuff mechanism in favor of a simple manual mechanism and a more rounded backcountry appeal.
I matched the Scarpa F1 to the DPS Wailer 112 Tour 1 for testing. I know the ski well and the boot is proving to be a great match for the wide but light backcountry powder ski. I’ve been alternating days with my go-to boots, the La Sportiva Spectre, for the sake of comparison. There are four main points I like to address when evaluating alpine touring boots: touring, skiing, transitions (what it takes to switch between walk/ski modes) and features (liner, buckles, fit, etc).
The Scarpa F1 ski boot walks just like you’d hope – it’s light, full of cuff range and low in profile for smooth shuffling on the up track. Matched with a light ski, the boot breaks trail with ease and its advertised 62-degree cuff range lets you pull a long stride. One detail that has caught my attention, though, is that in the size tested (25.5), the forward cuff range is slightly limited by the BOA closure knob. Basically, in the small boot size, the boot cuff makes contact with the BOA knob before the cuff’s full range is maxed out. The issue is not a show stopper by any stretch as the cuff still provides a solid range of motion, but it’s a detail to consider in the smaller sizes should you be comparing it to another boot. I’m guessing that size 27 and bigger don’t have the issue.
The boot’s distinct svelte appearance may look like the running shoe equivalent of a ski boot – all up and no down, but Scarpa maintains a good degree of rigidity and cuff driving power without making the boot so stiff that it fights back every time you lean on it. In other words, there’s plenty in the F1 to drive a ski in deep or difficult snow. The boot features a Pebax shell with a proprietary carbon core design for added rigidity. Now, it’s no three-piece overlap alpine boot, but when compared to similarly scaled AT boots, the F1 holds its own. I’d say it’s actually a little stiffer than my La Sportiva Spectre. Of course, my Spectre has seen way more use than the F1, so they are a bit more “broken in.” Regardless, the F1 is respectable in its power transfer. I am relatively lightweight and find that some “light” boots compensate for their lightness with an overly stiff (carbon fiber) build that only a clydesdale can flex. The F1 is reasonably progressive in its flex for a light boot, though not as progressive as the Spectre. All in all, it was well matched to the Wailer 112 and could easily take on more ski. The boot lets you choose 20- or 22-degree forward lean (by flipping the lock mechanism on the heel) and I found the 22-degree position helped me maximize the boot’s power.
One of my criticisms of some of the new lighter AT boots is that the various buckle/cuff lock/transition moves require a lot of space in your pant cuff and/or the manipulation of hard-to-grab buckles, cable parts or removable tongues. Scarpa has found a nice compromise in transition ease on the F1. The boot moves between ski and walk modes with two moves: flip the simple heel lever and flip the cam buckle on the power strap. Both moves are easily accomplished with gloves and with little pant cuff adjustment – nice work Scarpa. It’s a clean system that works. Fine tuning the strap tension requires more fiddling but, for the most part, it’s a set-it-and-go program once you’ve figured out your desired tension.
The Scarpa F1 ski boot rates high on quality features. The Intuition liner is top notch and is, in my opinion, a step above other boot liners. They are warmer, more comfortable and, in my experience, more durable than most. Thanks to the great liner and a middle-of-the-road boot last (102 mm), the F1 fit me right out of the box. Of course, fit is subjective, so get on down to your local shop and try ’em on if you have funky feet. Perhaps the most noticeable design feature of the F1 is its lack of traditional buckles. The boot features two velcro power traps and a single BOA dial closure. The BOA system is a head turner for sure, but the system snugs up nicely and allows for good tension modulation. The result is a clean, non-traditional appearance, but it works well.
The Scarpa F1 ski boot is a top notch touring boot. From fit to function, it’s a fine example of Scarpa’s ski boot know-how. It’s not a boot for resort chargers or crossover use, it’s a dedicated backcountry boot that is well-matched to the growing crop of super-capable, lightweight backcountry powder skis. It walks like you wish your old boots could and skis with precision in the backcountry.
Scarpa F1 Ski Boot – $699
Weight 1.19 kg / 2 lb 10 oz – one boot w/liner