Alpine Touring Boots for Powerful Skiing

The race to make the lightest boot for Alpine Touring has Randonée enthusiasts foaming at the mouth for the newest single-buckle carbon fiber boot, and people will pay well over $2000 for the latest and greatest.However, if you’re not racing (uphill, that is), and you want to get the most performance possible from your AT boot, you probably value stiffness over light weight.  Up until a few years ago, no Alpine Touring boot could really hold up to the stiffest Alpine boots available.  While no AT boot is going to fully replace a race plug, the newest crop of boots are amazingly capable, and can take the most talented skiers down the most challenging lines.

Dynafit Vulcan. Flex 130. $999
Basically taking the industry by storm, the Dynafit Vulcan won “Gear of the Year” from Outside, “Editor’s Choice” from Backcountry, “Skier’s Choice” from Powder, “Editor’s Pick” from Freeskier, and “Gear of the Year” from National Geographic Adventure.  Some reviewers have said that it is the best performing alpine touring boot they’ve ever tried.  At $1000 a boot, it better be, but here’s the amazing thing: even with a flex rating of 130, this boot still has a full 60 degree range of motion in touring mode.  There is no other 130-flex boot that can tour like this.   Made purely from exotic materials like carbon fiber, Grilamid, and magnesium, this is the lightest 130 flex boot on the market, at 7lbs per pair.

Tecnica Cochise 130 Pro. Flex 130. $850
Made by renowned racing boot maker Tecnica, the Cochise 130 is for people that want a tight, low volume, stiff boot for people used to a traditional boot fit and feel feel.  Another great choice for people that ski most of the time in resorts.  Basically the Demon 130 with a better walk mode and different sole, the Cochise is actually not particularly heavy at only 8 lbs per pair.

Salomon Quest Max. Flex 120. $815
If you can only afford one boot and you ski big lines, drop big jumps, and have a hard to fit foot, the Quest Max is a great choice.  While it only has three buckles and a power strap, it’s still beefy enough at 9.7 lbs to earn a flex rating of 120.  It’s available in two different width lasts (98/104mm), and both the lower shell and liner are heat moldable.   If fit has always been an issue for you when it comes to AT boots and you want something with a lot of power, the Quest Max is an excellent choice.

Scott/Garmont Delirium: Flex 130. $774.95
Next down the price ladder is the Garmont Delirium (Garmont has been purchased by Scott and may be soon rebranded as Scott boots).  With removable soles, 4 buckles, and a beefy build of a solid 10lbs a pair, these are a boots designed to be a quiver of one for front-country and backcountry skiing.  The liners are 100% thermo-moldable, and the high overlap makes them very stiff.  This is an ideal boot for folks with a wide forefoot or higher volume foot, and offers a feel very similar to a dedicated Alpine boot.  An excellent choice for patrollers or guides, this boot is best suited for people that want bindings like the Marker Duke, and who will be skiing primarily at the resort, but want the option to tour.

Black Diamond . Factor 130 Flex 130. $739
This was the boot that really rocked the AT market when it first came out, because it was the first AT boot built to be as stiff as a dedicated Alpine boot, and the first to integrate modern Alpine boot features like an Alpine Overlap shell construction, an adjustable sole insert, and a Boa liner closure system that’s easy to operate with gloves.  Unlike many other boots, the Factor 130 has a lasted liner, which means that even though it is thermomoldable, it fits well right out of the box.  Comes with an Alpine sole but AT soles are available as an aftermarket accessory.

Scarpa Maestrale: Flex 120. $699
For someone who splits their skiing 50/50 between backcountry and frount-country, the Maestrale is an excellent choice.  Long a favorite of professionals, patrollers, and guides, the Maestrale has earned its reputation as a great all-around boot.  Intuition Liners are  often coveted as an aftermarket option for many skiers, but they come standard in Scarpa boots.  Additionally, Scarpa utilizes a unique second buckle that goes over the flex point of your ankle, the perfect place to achieve maximum heel control.  Not crazy heavy either, at 6.9 lbs.

La Sportiva Spectre. Flex 120. $599
The Lightest 4-buckle boot on the market, and certainly the lightest with a flex rating of 120 or over, the La Sportiva Spectre weighs in at just over 6lbs per pair.  While this boot won’t be available until this Fall, we’re mentioning this boot now because that’s really, really fucking light.  They achieve this by using carbon-reinforced Grilamid as in the Dynafit Vulcan, but also a new type of plastic called Marfran for extra rigidity.  While these will not work in any alpine bindings, the person who gets this is probably skiing almost exclusively in the backcountry anyways.  These also sport therm-moldable liners and Vibram’s new IceTrek outsole, which means it’s the grippiest ski boot on the market on ice.  Like the Vulcan, this also offers a full 60-degree range of motion in touring mode.  While they don’t fit particularly wide or high volume feet due to their low profile design, they are certainly a well-priced contender that can’t be ignored!

By Hans Schneider