Boot Unrest - What's old is new and the Scarpa Alien RS
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:44AM
Brian in Gear, Scarpa Alien RS, Skimo Co

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.

Article originally appeared on Adventures, training and gear for ski mountaineering (http://www.skimolife.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.
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