- 960 Posts. Joined 5/2004
- Location: Western New York
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There are alpine boots with a limited walk mode, which I call a "stand up straight mode." They simply release the cuff to allow it to go upright but to not change the forward flex. There are also heavy duty AT boots suitable for everyday on-area use that have a release which gives you a wide range of motion without undoing your buckles, but they do not flex and ski like a true alpine boot. Your first decision should be how much "walk mode" do you really need. IMO the best skiing true walk mode boot is the Black Diamond Factor 130, and the best skiing boot in this category is the Lange XT, but the walk mode is pretty lame. Check the Sept. Powder Magazine Equipment issue, it has a good run down on all the boots in this category.
A new candidate for a boot with a good walk and ski mode is the Scarpa Freedom. The walk mode latch is a serious piece of steel that will maintain alpine boot forward stiffness when locked, but fully releases when open. I tried some on in the shop and was impressed, but unlike many of the Scarpa true AT boots, they are not very light.
Daleboot (custom) was probably the first manufacturer with this feature, as well as many other patents. I wouldn't call it a touring boot. You also want to be sure this type of feature works with whatever binding you are using (e.g., the lever for a "walk" feature could be blocked by a Look Pivot heel).
Also have a look at the Fischer Ranger series? They are Vacuum Fit and have great specs. Just got my 12's fitted and can't wait to try them for real. In the shop, they felt like a breeze, both in weight and in actual flexibility while walking around.
I eagerly joined the ranks of AT boot users.
My first pair of Black Diamond Factors were state of the art. They turned with the advertised power, and the cuff allowed a freer ankle flex to hike. Then in my excitement at the summit I'd click in and launch the cornice only to land like a goober gaper traversing barely in control. Sometimes I'd even finish the run wondering why I could not turn for my life.
Only then I realized YOU NEED TO LOCK THE CUFF. Ironically one of my favorite powder days was just perfect. The snow wasn't especially deep but a nice silky texture nonetheless, I was centered all day with no drama whatsoever. On the last run down, I saw both cuffs were unlocked and did not bother to do anything for the last ride down, I just kept it relaxed and centered to ski the whole powder day unlocked, something I never thought possible while enjoying it.
After four seasons, I went to the bootfitter and he hooked me up with some Nordica Hell' n Backs. "On the way to hell, you're bound to find a little heaven" emblazoned on the side, these have an ingenious unlocking mechanism. The top bale, when fully disengaged unlocks the cuff with a cable. So now I cannot forget to relock my boot, and fly off a cornice to the run with my usual aplomb.
Your mileage may vary, but please remember to relock that cuff after a hike.
One of the things I really liked about my Factors was the big range of motion, which has been improved even more in the latest MX model. When boot packing I could simply unlock the boots and hike without messing with the top buckles or powder cuffs, and then at the top click into my bindings, flip the locks and go. When walking around in deep snow it is nice to be able to go back and forth to walk mode without screwing up the water proof fully buckled and powder cuffed state. For basic on-area skiing, IMO if you need to also unbuckle your walk mode boots to do what you want, then why bother getting a boot with a walk mode?
I agree, but I was looking for a walk mode, which is only on the XT model. There is no question the "130" XT forward flex is much softer than the riveted RS and RX 130 shells, but the lateral stiffness is supposed to be about the same. I have some custom liners and Booster Straps that should stiffen up the forward flex a little, which will still make them softer than the 130 RS/RX, but not as soft and reboundless as the stock XTs. At least that is what I am shooting for. If I want a walk mode I know I will be making a sacrifice in the skiing performance, but hopefully they will end up being an acceptable compromise like my Factors turned out to be.