Gear Shed

Q:

Which alpine touring ski boot is most comfortable on long traverses?

I want an alpine touring boot that will allow me to climb, hike, and ski without trashing my feet. I can live with weaker downhill performance as long as I can spend multiple weeks on long traverses without being in serious pain. Are AT boot manufacturers figuring out a way to build a boot for the long traverse that has the forgiveness of, say, Scarpa's T2? Tony Vancouver, British Columbia

Terminator X Ski Boot     Photo: courtesy, Scarpa

Scarpa Terminator X Ski Boot

Terminator X Ski Boot

A:I think what you’re after is the Scarpa Matrix, Tony. It’s an AT boot that Scarpa has designed with enough flex to keep you pretty happy on the ascent and traverses. And after some complaints that it was a bit noodly on the downhills, Scarpa stiffened the shell a little on the 2007 model. Reports are excellent. I wore a pair last January at Outdoor Retailer and thought them comfortable and with plenty of power for downhilling, although that was on just an icy downhill run and not a day or two in the hills. Price is about $570 (scarpa.com).

You might also take a look at Scarpa’s Terminator X. This is a new boot for 2007, featuring the new NTN (“New Telemark Norm"), also introduced this past winter. The new binding is meant to be beefier than traditional telemark bindings and better suited for downhill and stiffer boots. In turn, a boot designed for the NTN lacks the “duckbill" toe, and the binding instead clamps into a cutout in the sole of the boot. I tried this last winter as well, and found it to be an extremely secure binding system. I also thought it complex, and at $350 somewhat pricey. The Terminator X, which sells for $620, also is compatible with Dynafit AT bindings. It’s a bit taller than the Terminator, with more support for downhilling.

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