Lighter, stiffer, better… next winter’s best ski boots revealed
We’ve seen new models available from several manufacturers which are working with the increasing number of powerful pin bindings to deliver flex and grip in uphill and mountaineering mode, and then lock stiff for skiing. Arc’teryx has worked on allowing the cuff of its Procline boot to move laterally when unlocked to get the sole gripping on angled terrain.
La Sportiva’s carbon-infused Grilamid construction is nearly five times stiffer than their previous super-lightweight boots. Meanwhile, Scarpa has sorted the F1’s teething problems (the one with the cuff which goes into walk mode when you release the heel), as has Fritschi’s Vipec binding, which gets a new toe piece for this current season. It seems that new ideas still sometimes need a bit of bedding in time.
Other boots to hit our radar are the Lange XT freeride four buckle boot in a mid-to-narrow last – we’ve just skied it and it’s clear that this is a proper freerider with a conventional clog and cuff shape, pin-binding compatible but noticeably less weight – 1500g as opposed to well over 2000g for most current hike and ride boots. We expect prices to be around a competitive £500.
In other boot news, Head’s Edge – one of the best-selling boots in the UK – has now got a wrap around cuff which is integral to the clog, so no hinge and a very effective grip around the ankle plus progressive forward lean before the resistance holds you in place.
The march of the hinged boots continues with Movement’s Alp Tracks – straight into the touring market with a two-buckle external tongue boot. The upper buckle acts as an adjustable power strap. All very convincing and likely to be around £400, as is Fischer’s new Boa-fastened Travers, which uses the wire fastening system along the tongue and then a single clip onto a power strap for the upper cuff.
Both of these boots are genuinely light and yet felt robust when leant into. We suspect a lot of this tech will be migrating into more all-round boots over the next few years – why wear heavy footwear?
Atomic’s new Hawx Ultra claims to be the lightest alpine boot on the market at 1600g. It has borrowed tech from the brand’s touring-specific Backland range to keep weight down. We’ll be trying them as this goes to press, as we will the new Salomon QST – there were prototypes out at the Ski Test which are getting a longer tongue before production, but first turns indicate a more powerful hike and ride option than the previous Quest series.
Guess who’s back…
It’s the Nordica Speed Machine. Yup, it was once the darling of the Nordica line up, and after five long, sad years out of production it’s back and better than ever before. Why? Customisation for starters. A new infrared heating mechanism means bootfitters can precisely shape the plastic around pesky pressure points without weakening the super-light, high-performance Tri-Force PU shells. Then there’s the impact-dampening cork liner, which can be heated for even more of a bespoke fit. The power strap, canting and buckles are all easily adjusted, making it a boot fitter’s best friend.
And how does it ski? We got a sneak peek of the 130 model back in November (yes, we’ve been sat on this news since then) and were impressed. The fit, even without all that customisation, walks a perfect line between comfort and performance, with a generous forefoot and that cork liner keeping heels firmly in place. An all-mountain boot, it’s responsive and powerful in all conditions, and acts as the perfect connection between you and the ski. Get your feet in a pair if you can.