Test Report 09/10 – Boots

by Don Portman

Salomon’s S-Lab Skate Pro

October 10, 2009 – Last year was the year of new top-end race boots from most manufacturers. For the 2009/10 season we looked at one race boot, a touring boot, and a smattering of off-track boots. We began testing at the Outdoor Retailer (OR) winter show in Utah, with more testing at Methow Valley, Wash., and finished up at Whistler Olympic Park, B.C. in April.

Salomon S-Lab Skate Pro
These flashy, black-and-white skate boots are all about power. An extended carbon chassis, buttressing wings underfoot and a powerful carbon cuff help achieve this without paying a weight penalty. The most visible new feature is a ratcheted, buckled strap across the arch, kind of like high-end bike shoes. This allows a very secure fit and precise boot control. We skied the boot with the buckle undone and felt as if we were skiing a slightly improved S-Lab from last year. Then we ratcheted down the strap — wow,  instant power! Salomon has also moved the bar that attaches to the binding back to a point 17mm behind the toe for a more ergonomic pivot point. Powerful as they are, testers found the boots very comfortable and natural-feeling.

Madshus CT 120
Old plastic pop bottles on your feet? The water-repellant and breathable softshell uppers and lining of this classic Norwegian touring boot are made from recycled PET. The attractive blue-and-black (gray-and-blue in the women’s Amica model) boots fit well, using a simple lace system that stayed put once laced and tightened. We used the boots on high-end classic skis, and were impressed by the nice even flex. It was easy to pressure the wax pocket for optimal grip, and the small plastic heel counter made balancing on a gliding ski effortless.

Alpina’s 75mm BC 1675

Alpina’s 75mm BC 1675

Alpina 1650 BC
A perfect match for the Red Bird ski (see above), Alpina’s new 1650 BC worked well on- and off-track. Striding was comfortable and turns were solid. It sports a medium flexing sole and a nice-fitting anatomical footbed. Alpina’s Alpitex membrane and Thinsulate lining keep your feet dry and warm.

Alpina 1675-75mm

This is basically the same boot as above, but with a 75mm sole. We found that the NNN sole flexed easier and was better when skiing in groomed tracks, while the 75mm sole had a slight edge on turning power.

Fischer’s BXC 6

Fischer’s BXC 6

Rossignol BC X9
I could wear BC X9’s all day and lounge around in them all evening — they were that comfortable. Like many NNN BC boots, X9’s have a plastic skate-like cuff and a soft material lace cover. The flex was in the right place and there were no hinge points or sore spots. The cuff, sole and heel counter were well-connected to transmit power, so edge hold was secure even on skis 90mm wide.

Fischer BCX 6

Well-finished, good-looking and big, the BXC 6’s were surprisingly lightweight. Comfortable when touring and striding, they hid their power until it was time to turn. Once turning, the skate cuff and sole kicked in for superb control. These boots could handle bigger skis such as the Fischer Outtabounds with ease.

Rossi’s new BCX 9

Rossi’s new BCX 9

Rossignol BCX 11-75mm
This backcountry boot flexes like a leather boot, but with tons of power. Two well-placed ratcheted buckles secure a plastic skate-boot-style cuff and heel counter. A neoprene lace cover aids in flexibility when touring and waterproofs the lace area. We found the heel pocket and buckles held our foot fast — no heel rub on the up and big power on the down.

Madshus Glittertind BC
This off-track touring boot is environmentally friendly, as it uses mostly recycled materials and leather that has been processed in a new way, reducing CO2 emissions by 35% and water consumption by 50%. I found the fit and flex comfortable, with no hint of heel blistering or rubbing. The NNN BC sole teamed up with a plastic cuff delivered all the power needed to guide light touring skis through most snow conditions on moderate terrain.

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