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Tuesday
Feb132018

Boot Unrest - What's old is new and the Scarpa Alien RS

Regular readers know that I spent last season giving the Arcteryx Carbon Procline boot a fair shake out. You can read my review here. Suffice it to say, I didn’t love it enough to spend another season in it. As my skiing has sought out steeper, more committing lines, I’ve decided that more support on the down is beneficial. I’m not talking the need for some sort of over-built free ride boot but simply something that “pushes back” when pressing forward in turns. I can make anything work but I want a tic more beef. 

I headed to SLC this past fall to visit Jason Borro and his capable staff at Skimo Co. As I wrote about here when he first opened his retail store, Jason is the proprietor of arguably the country’s and quite possibly, the world’s, best high performance ski mountaineering store. Skimo Co has only gotten better since. So, I traveled down for a long weekend of visiting friends, getting altitude hammered by the same and shopping for boots. 

Skimo Co has nearly all the industry offerings that are relevant in the race boot and performance ski mountaineering categories (yep, just made that up but you know what I mean). Two the most free ride appropriate boots they have are the Scarpa Maestrale RS and the Salomon MTN Lab. All the others are lighter and walk better.If you're really "all about the down" then these two will have you covered. But then again, if you're all that you're not reading this stuff. But I digress..

Fitting my low volume foot has always been problematic for me. Most boots are simply too boxy for my foot. Even Dynafit, the most historically low volume of the lot, has been creeping their width out each year since the TLT 6 went into the dust bin of history. Even that boot was better for me with an after market liner replacement (Intuition Pro Tour). So, trying on the new crop of boots is tricky for me because most would be better with a bulkier liner but many lack the buckle length and plastic volume to accept one. Tricky problem.

Dynafit TLT 6 Performance. It'll due for nowIn the end, I failed to find a boot that felt good enough for me to purchase. There simply isn’t that much exciting innovation this year in the daily driver category. As it turns out, I stumbled upon a friend’s website where he was selling a pair of TLT 6s still in the box for a song. What’s old is new. So, for the time being, I stay in the tried and true boot until something else catches my eye. 

Scarpa Alien RS

One boot I knew for sure I was going home with was a replacement for my tired Dynafit PDG. Now that I don’t race, I want a “near race boot weight” boot that will hold up better than their more svelte counterparts. Access in AK to some amazing ski objectives often requires tours of 25-30 miles. There are simply no roads up here like in the Lower 48. Unless one has a ski plane (which is common here) skiing these lines requires good old fashioned beat downs. Light boots, race bindings and small skis make things manageable. 

Likely the best entry into this category is the Scarpa Alien RS. With its race boot pedigree, the Alien RS fits my foot well with only a small punch for one of my bunions. The liner has been upgraded to a thicker Intuition version that has more warmth and substance than a pure race bikini liner. This should make long days more bearable. The upgraded Alien has a nice gaitor that seals out snow and a fully covered Boa compression system that dials in the fit. From Skimo Co...

The question of cord durability in the heel lock mechanism remains unanswered but Scarpa is close to having the best speed touring boot out. 

Cord shredding cam lock? PerhapsOne way suggested to me to decompress the stress to the cord lock mechanism is to add a powerstrap of some sort. I didn’t like the idea of having to pocket the thing on the up so I performed a simple mod and attached a Dynafit TLT 7 strap to the cuff semi-permanently. Behold...

I like the Dynafit strap as they’ve eliminated the pesky Velcro powerstrap that grabs the inside cuff of my ski pants. I HATE that. The cam lock buckle is slick. Hopefully, this mod will take some of the stress off the cuff and the cord and maybe improve downhill performance. Time will tell.

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Reader Comments (25)

Nodin,

Sorry about the confusion on the lever adjustment. I misspoke. It is the lever catch on the F1 that can be unscrewed and switched around for more lean. The RS has the set screw adjustment as part of the lever itself rather than the catch. sounds like you've already maxed that out. Drilling new holes and moving it even further sounds adventurous. I like it.

With the bindings you have you are likely experiencing something quite different between the two. Looking at Skimo Co's chart, the Turn has over twice the pin height as the ATK (Helio). Do you notice the difference when you go from one to the other? I know I would. Before I knew better I always wondered why I hated skiing on my TLT bindings compared to my race set up. Turns out, the ramp difference was huge. After that, all my skis got race bindings since I favor a pretty low ramp overall.

As a side observation, you are running a pretty big ski for such a light boot. That says something about how well these boots ski.

December 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterBrian

Thanks for the great site!

Liner question - How/do you secure the tongue on the intuition pro tour to the boot liner? I'm having a real issue with the velcro tongue attachment point pulling off when I'm getting my foot into the boot and ending with a foot in boot and liner in hand. I was thinking of just sewing the tongue to the liner, but do want to swap between the stiff and tour tongues as conditions require. Wondering if you have already solved this problem?

January 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGee Willigers

Gee Willigers,

Interesting dilemma. I guess I've had that happen a time or two over the years but it's never been an issue to which I've given much thought. Perhaps my pull is a different angle by accident?? Don't know. Sewing it in is the obvious solution but that creates a problem with tongue swap you mentioned, which, I'm embarrassed to say, I never knew was a thing.

January 6, 2019 | Registered CommenterBrian

Hi there,

Great site with lot of very useful info thanks for that. Got a pair of Aliens RS, Blizzard Zero G 85 and Kreutzspitze GT as my first venture to the realm of fast and light. What a amazing combo. Anyway wanted ask for an advice with punching the toe box. Right foot is bang on perfect fit. My left toe is 4mm longer. Innitialy no problem, a bit of a pressure on the toe nail at the end of a day. But after doing long day with lot of front pointing half on the nail detached. Nothing new happened before with climbing shoes, but need to sort it out if I want to keep the ski boots. I am based in UK and spend winter back home in Slovakia. Tried few places in Slovakia that did punched Aliens RS but nobody wanted to do the toe box. So went to supposedly the best skiboot fitter in the UK. Those guys never done any aliens RS but we tried a small punch in the metatarsal area since I have a small bunnion. It went 1-2mm. But they refused to do the toes. Personally I thing they did not have the right rig for that. Found a shop with the hydraulic jack type stretcher. Any advice on temperature, how far can we push it or any other info? This seems to be my only choice since size up is too big. The only other option in this category is La Sportiva Sytron that might be a bit longer and more generous fit. Could not get much info on it. Stated flex is 100 but been told they are softer and do not ski anywhere near the Aliens RS. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Peter

April 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Durin

Hey Peter,

Well, great question and fun problem to help you solve. Although I have lots of opinions, I try to make them all based on first hand experience. Sadly, I have no experience punching the toe. I, too, have done the bunion area with good effect.

My recommendation is to hit up Jason and Eric at Skimo Co in SLC. They have the best customer service in the industry and specialize in all the gear we love. If anyone has extensive experience with this problem, they do. I will inquire as well.

April 8, 2019 | Registered CommenterBrian

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