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2018 Gear Test Preview: Booting Up

As Backcountry Magazine’s 2018 Gear Test draws closer, we’re looking ahead to the latest in skis, boots and bindings that will be showing up at Powder Mountain next week. Each year, to make sure we’re testing the most contemporary gear, we operate under a simple rule: Only first- and second-year skis, boots and bindings, or older models with construction updates, are eligible for review. Luckily for us, companies exceed this standard each year, leaving us with new technology, construction and shapes to look forward to.

Here’s the some of the newest innovations in boots: from brand-spankin’-new models to redesigned AT favorites.

SCARPA Remakes Their Bestsellers
Plastic surgery is not for everyone, but for the boots in Scarpa’s AT line, some nips and tucks are giving the Maestrale, Maestrale RS, Gea and Gea RS a fresh look. And while this lineup includes some of the world’s top-selling AT boots, that didn’t keep SCARPA’s engineers from striving for something better. The boots’ new slimmed-down walk mechanism aims to make transitions easier, and brand new upper and lower shell designs increase the range of walking motion by more than 20 degrees. So, what can we expect at Gear Test Week 2018? From SCARPA, there’s the potential for a new crowd pleaser that speaks to those who like the up just as much as the down.

The Scarpa Maestrale, new and improved. [Photo] Courtesy of Scarpa

Salomon’s Lateral-Flexing S-Lab
Salomon jumped on the lightweight AT-boot bandwagon with the Salomon S-Lab X/Alp, the sister boot to last year’s Arc’teryx Procline, which the companies developed in tandem. The similarities between the Procline and the S-Lab are limited to the lean lock system that allows for side-to-side ankle flexion on the ascent. Compared to the climber-focused Procline, Salomon’s offering caters to the uphill traveler who needs to rely on a sturdy boot for challenging ski-mountaineering descents, and the two-buckle design is reinforced with a booster strap, carbon cuff and lower-shell mold to increase stiffness. Gone are the Procline’s rubber toe and oversized gaiter, too.

Booting onto the lightweight bandwagon. [Photo] Courtesy of Salomon

Roxa’s Stout Tech Boot
Roxa’s R3 130, dubbed the lightest high-performance alpine boot on the market, comes outfitted with a tech fitting, three buckles (the top-most being a booster strap buckle combo) and a full Grilamid shell with a focus on stiffness and stability. And at 1520 grams (compared to the 1410 grams of the Maestrale RS), there is not much sacrifice in the weight category. Testers who are fond of charging couloirs and busting through crud and variable conditions may find this is a glass slipper for their bc skiing needs.

Roxa’s Grilamid slipper. [Photo] Courtesy of Roxa

Scott’s Out-Of-The-Box Walk Mode
With their new S1 series, Scott is rethinking an AT boot’s walk mechanism, placing it on the tongue, rather than the cuff—pop the switch placed beneath the instep buckle to enable the S1’s 60-degree walk mode. The line is comprised of three boots—the 130-flex Carbon Pro and Carbon models and 120-flex Carbon Longfiber—with Grilamid/carbon construction and 101mm lasts. Another unique feature? The entire sole of each boot—not just the toe and heel—is replaceable.

Scott’s S1 Carbon Boot. [Photo] Courtesy of Scott Sports

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