A Few Days of Garmont, Part 2 — Axon Multi-day Test


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Editor’s note from Lou: Okay, time to get our blogin’ behinds out of the convention center and on the snow. To that end, a while back we got Garmont to send a pair of test Axons to Bob Perlmutter, a well known Colorado backcountry skier as well as longtime snowcat powder guide with Aspen Skiing Company. I’ve got immense respect for Bob. Not only has he made a nice career for himself in the industry, but I know of few people who get in as many powder days as he does — both human and diesel powered. More, Bob is a terrific technical skier and thus the perfect person for some in depth analysis of what’s becoming a fairly complex part of the ski boot industry. (Also be it known that Bob originated the “Green Machine” moniker for the Dynafit ZZero CF boot.) Bob’s take on the Axon:

Shop for Garmont ski boots here.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
The boot at hand, Garmont Axon.

As a kid growing up there was an iconic commercial on television with the then famous and oft quoted tag line, “Where’s the beef?” These days the answer to that question is on my feet in the form of Garmont’s new Dynafit compatible AT boot, the Axon.

In the past, AT boot manufacturers have placed Dynafit binding users and new school AT skiers riding ever bigger boards into separate categories. They have finally seen the light. The Garmont Axon is a true one boot quiver that allows going from the resort/sidecountry step-in convenience of Dukes and Fritschis one day, to the tour friendly weight savings of Dynafits the next. All without missing a beat.

My one-rig boot of choice since its inception has been the trend setting Garmont Adrenalin. This served as my basis of comparison to the Axon over the last few weeks. I skied, skinned and booted up in the Axon — which ultimately kept calling me back like a siren’s song. Sorry faithful Adrenalin.

First and foremost, any AT boot has to deliver on downhill performance to some extent or all else is meaningless. In this respect, Axon does not disappoint. Initially I considered grinding the flex stops out of concern that the boot would be too stiff. While the flex is clearly another level of stiffness up from the Adrenalin it is still smooth and progressive. At first I found myself skiing with more exaggerated movements as if in the Adrenalin, only to over steer and put too much pressure on the tips of my skis. Quickly I realized the more responsive Axon allowed me to adopt a more upright stance and use much more subtle movements to achieve even better results.

Like the Adrenalin, Axon has two forward lean options. I often use the greater forward lean option with the Adrenalin but found it a detriment with the Axon — it resulted in too much tip pressure to my skis. The ultra responsive Axon worked best in the more upright forward lean position. Using that slightly more relaxed angle I could still make instantaneous adjustments to the turn shape, without being penalized.

The other noticeable difference is the increased lateral stiffness of the Axon. Result is a more positive and powerful feel when laying the skis over on edge. (Either that or all of my skis have miraculously started to ski better on their own.)

I find the Axon, Adrenalin and I suspect other high performance AT boots tend to overpower shorter, narrower and softer old school AT skis. Such skis feel as if they are not substantial enough and fold under your feet. The Axon in particular begs one to move towards ever wider and bigger planks to maximize the potential of both the boots and dare I say, new school skis. Yes, an old dog can learn some new tricks as long as we leave the word “huck” out of the conversation.

For me, the one Achilles heel of the Axon (and Adrenalin) has always been and continues to be the Garmont liner. Regardless of my preference towards a wrap style liner vs. a separate tongue, in my opinion the Garmont liner should be built with denser foam to realize the full performance and response of stiffer boots such as Axon. More, Garmont liners also pack out more over time then any of the other thermo liners I have used over many years. Therefore, the one caveat of this review is that other than a requisite day or two for testing purposes, all of my comments are relative to the use of a liner other than the stock Garmont liner.

What goes down must go up to get there in the first place. Despite using the exact same walk mechanism as the Adrenalin, the Axon does not skin or boot exactly the same. The difference is slight, but compared to its little brother the stiffer plastic of the Axon cuff does limit range of motion some while skinning or booting. That said, this is a minor inconvenience compared to the significant downhill performance advantage.

Much has been said about the noticeable heft of the Axon (around 9 lbs.), especially compared to the Green Machine from Dynafit. While I did notice a little more weight on my feet when skinning or booting up, the true comparison should be made against the new crop of high performance Dynafit compatible boots flooding the market from BD, Scarpa and Dynafit. On that basis the difference is a matter of a few ounces and hardly worth mentioning. Or as Lou wrote in a blog comment yesterday: “Worrying about the weight of a freeride AT boot is like obsessing on the gas mileage of a Hummer.”

Features worth mentioning are the removable boot-board which enhances the ability to create a more custom fit. Also, I particularly appreciate the noticeable amount of rubber under the toe area of the sole compared to the skimpy veneer of rubber found on boots such as Spirit 4 and Green Machine. I would like to think when I buy a new pair of boots I won’t be searching for a resoler or new boots after a handful of scrambles up a ridge.

With Axon, Garmont has fired a powerful shot across the bow of the burgeoning high performance Dynafit compatible AT boot market. Boot wars have thus been declared and to the victor go the spoils. In this case, the victor is the consumer and the spoils are the cornucopia of boots hitting the market, as evidenced by WildSnow’s blogs over the past week or so. Let the games begin!

Shop for Garmont ski boots here.

(Guest blogger Bob Perlmutter and his wife Sue live in Aspen where Bob manages Aspen Mountain Powder Tours, a snowcat skiing operation. Bob has sought adventure skiing over the past thirty years, in the nearby Elk Mountains as well as locales around the world.)

Comments

29 Responses to “A Few Days of Garmont, Part 2 — Axon Multi-day Test”

  1. Mark Worley February 1st, 2008 12:11 pm

    Boots like these make me seriously consider going to a beefier boot–someday.

  2. ethank February 1st, 2008 4:43 pm

    thanks Bob, after the bombardment of AT boots and reviews around here lately this hits home. I have been an Adrenalin fan since they first came out and I am still in the same pair and on my second set of rubber soles.
    I have been fearing the day that I will have to retire them because sure enough as soon as you find something that works and that you like they quit making them. Adrenalins are still available for now but after your review the Axon may replace my trusty Adrenalins. By the way the skiing in LCC was insane today.

  3. Lou February 1st, 2008 5:02 pm

    Ethank, bombs away!!! I had to do it, as I don’t think there has been a product intro in the AT ski world as big in terms of volume as this new crop of boots. I can honestly say that covering them has been a burnout, but worth getting the facts out there for you guys — felt like the right thing to do.

  4. ethank February 1st, 2008 5:41 pm

    Lou, thanks for your blog. I enjoy checking out your ski adventures and gear reviews. As far as the boot bombardment it seems that the buzz word in the industry is AT whether its bindings or boots. All the boots seem to be an alpine type boot with a semi walk mode and a semi rubber sole. I guess the bottom line with all the new boots is would you want to wear them for lots of hours and lots of miles. With bigger skis its nice to have a high performance boot to drive them and you have to put up with a few extra lbs. to haul around. Keep up the reviews, give us some ski trip reports, and did you ever make a ski rack system for your new sled? Oh yea I like the hunting/shooting reports to!

  5. Kevin February 1st, 2008 7:50 pm

    Bob, as a guide aren’t you suppose to wear 10 year old squishy dynafits? Thanks for the review. Can you compare them to the green machine, or would we be comparing apples to oranges?

  6. Bob February 2nd, 2008 12:23 am

    Kevin, Yes, I think it would be comparing apples to oranges. Certainly there is a demand and need for lighter weight touring-oriented boots that do not leave performance behind. The Green Machine is a fine example, but in a different category than the Axon, in my opinion. I think Dynafit’s new Zzeus is the more appropriate comparison.

  7. George T February 2nd, 2008 5:33 am

    Great review on the Axon! A concise and informative piece that also painted a picture for me. I think the Aspen Times, Backcountry and Ski Magazine could use Bob’s talents.

  8. Dave B. February 2nd, 2008 7:32 am

    Great review. Thanks. I really appreciate the confirmation that Garmont liners are lousy. The liner in my Megarides packs out in no time. Turns out the shell is too small to accommodate an aftermarket liner such as the Intuition. No more Garmonts for me when the Megarides are done.

  9. laseranimal February 2nd, 2008 8:11 am

    “Worrying about the weight of a freeride AT boot is like obsessing on the gas mileage of a Hummer.â€?

    great quote Lou ;-)

  10. Marc February 2nd, 2008 7:59 pm

    Thanks for the review Bob. The Axon is definately a fine looking boot. Rather than comparing it to the Zzero CF, it might be better to compare it to the Zzero U, (the red polyurethane boot). I don’t understand why the Zzero U isn’t recieving more attention. It’s stiffer than the Green Machine and less than 200 grams heavier. In my opinion, it performs as well as my trusty Adrenalines did, yet it’s Dynafit compatible and far lighter than something like the Axon. Honestly, I don’t think I would want to ski something beefier than the Zzero U! I’ve got 181cm Coombas (102 underfoot) with Dynafit bindings. I tour 3-4 days a week and will usually ski 4-5000′ vertical on one of those days. I’ll even get into some steep (40-50 degree) chutes from time to time. I have no problems with stiffness. A beefier boot is heavier and as you mentioned Bob, doesn’t tour as well. I think the current market pendulum is swinging to the beef side of things, but in time it’ll come back towards the ultralight Euro style. Like the Buddha said, avoid extremes and take the Middle Path!

    On another note, Lou, any thoughts on weight comparos for the plethora of new AT boots?

    Cheers, Marc.

  11. Tim M. February 2nd, 2008 8:51 pm

    Hi Lou,

    Enjoying the boot discourse here, and following closely. I am prepared to pony up for some new shoes of the AT varietal soon, and so far feel good about going with the aforementioned Green Machine. I might consider the red DF model, but can’t find any to try on. The Axon and BD variations are out b/c they’re not available til next year. (Also, the Adrenaline and Endorphin, and I presume Axon, don’t seem to fit right (too shallow of a heel pocket?), and a brief, bandito inspection of the new BD line left a singular impression: Fischer-Price “play” boot (maybe this is what prototype smells like?). In the meantime the Grail quest continues–happy feet meet steep.

  12. Marc February 3rd, 2008 7:38 am

    Tim-

    They’ve got the Axons on store shelves here in Idaho… for what its worth. And I’d have to agree with you, there is something about the look of the BD boot I don’t like. Not that that has anything to do with performance. Another advantage of the Dynafits is the toe fitting in the boot is diffferent than any other brand and super easy to get into!

    Cheers, Marc.

  13. Lou February 3rd, 2008 7:56 am

    We’ll do weight comparo when we have the boots here to weigh. Catalog and sample weights are frequently inaccurate and we make a policy of not publishing those unless absolutely necessary.

  14. Lou February 3rd, 2008 9:28 pm

    Tim M., make sure you ski the Green Machine before you pop for them. I love ‘em, but they do have a “different” feel due to them being so light and stiff.

  15. Mark February 3rd, 2008 9:57 pm

    Good review Bob. I picked up a pair of Axons when they came out and I love them. They are a great boot for going OB at the ski area in Jackson where the best skiing requires boot packs and they provide good performance in the steeps when needed. I’ve combined them w/ BD Verdicts and I use them alot on Teton Pass for multiple laps on Glory as well as skinning the south side. If I go deep into the backcountry in the Park I’ll do a quick binding adjustment and use my old Megarides (I weighed them approx. 8oz per boot less than Axons).

  16. Rando Swede February 4th, 2008 12:03 am

    Lou-
    I very much appreciate all of the boot reviews and comparo’s. Your insight is invaluable. And with the whole industry deciding that any money to be made will be from converting the regular resort crowd to side country set-ups, it makes touring-minded folks wonder if we have been forgotten about! You eluded to this in a previous post…

    Also, please consider running a side-by-side comparo of the plethora of Dynafit binders. Digging around on their webiste, it’s darned near impossible to tell which binders offer: brake or crampon compatibility, for/aft heel piece adjustability etc.

    Thanks!

  17. Lou February 4th, 2008 7:26 am

    Rando, I’d agree that as a lightweight gear skier I feel a bit neglected at the moment in the boot department. But this stuff happens in cycles, and I’m sure the pendulum will swing back. Also, there are plenty of good lighter weight boot options out there, though hardly anything innovative.

    In my view what’s really happened is that AT is now hip like tele used to be, so there is this huge population who basically wants to be in AT gear even if they don’t use it much for walking uphill, or they want it for short walks. That huge population is indeed a market, and will really help us because it’ll make the boot companies more viable and thus more able to work on their lightweight innovations.

    Look what happened to tele. The majority of telemarking used to be about ski touring, then it morphed into a lift served snowsport, with a subset of ski touring oriented telemarkers. AT might not morph as radically as tele did over the years, but the same process is definitely happening.

  18. Rando Swede February 4th, 2008 8:10 am

    Just about had coffee come out my nose… We are witnessing the telefication of AT! You know, the cognoscenti are all going XCD.
    :)
    Keep up the good work and congrats on blog 1000.

  19. bob yates February 6th, 2008 11:12 am

    can you give me a mm boot sole legnth for a 28 axon??

    my multiple sets of tlt tech’s would lke to know

    thanks much

  20. bob yates February 6th, 2008 11:40 am

    found it, same as endorphin; 317mm

    axon in the states= $840-$860 plus shipping

    axon shipped to my door from france= $518 including shipping

    any questions?

  21. berto February 13th, 2008 12:00 pm

    bob yates, may I ask where you found that deal?

  22. fido July 30th, 2008 9:05 am

    0Bob,

    thank you and all other who have contributed to this link, this isi the info. that truely HELPS us bc bashers, get our gear ON!!, I went from packed out Lange 10 Racers, w/A.Treckkers for BC runs, early in the season, then aquired a pair of Axons, and mounted them on Naxo 21B’s (95% BCC, 5% bc tahrgee) and was so happy that i finally found an AT boot that gave me the stiffness and solid under foot feeling that i had always doubted an AT boot could provide. I did break the heel peice of one of the bindings, and kindly BCA replaced it. Originally, i did find at higher din’s(13) i was assisting closing the heel,. This is when one heel broke. So after a brief google search i found a thread that a garmont rep recommended grinding 1/16″ off the heel, (not the angled end, just dead bottom) and the problem was solved. I love these boots. and kudos to………………….laseranimal Says:
    February 2nd, 2008 at 8:11 am

    “Worrying about the weight of a freeride AT boot is like obsessing on the gas mileage of a Hummer.”

    That is an AWESOME QUOTE…THX BOB.

    CHEERS GUYS. FIDO. (SOMEWHERE BEHIND SOLITUDE AND HEAVEN)

  23. canwilf December 19th, 2009 1:24 am

    I have skied this boot for two years. Probably 40 miles of touring plus 20+ days of downhill skiing everything at resorts.

    * It is a heavier boot for touring
    * It fits super-well. Most well fitting boot I’ve owned.
    * The buckles, hiking sole, super-thick foot bed pad, tech-toe and heel fittings, all awesome designs.

    They also power my new 191 cm Head Monster 95 OB quite well.

    I recommend for those who do lots of downhill or like a good boot for the down hill. This boot is overkill If you need a light touring boot and wimp your way down with a light daypack. However, if you like to drive your skis, carry a big pack or a big stick, or plan to also do resort skiing, THIS IS YOUR BOOT.

    Cheers,
    CANWILF

  24. Paul P December 31st, 2010 1:34 pm

    Hi Bob, I have a pair of this boot and found the forward lean off-putting in the resort as well. However, I have not been able to find a way to adjust the forward lean, and out of the three shops I’ve been to in Whistler who are Garmont dealers, they didn’t even think it’s adjustable. I would appreciate if you could describe briefly how it’s done.

    Thanks in advance.

  25. Paul P January 1st, 2011 1:01 am

    Well, my kids figured out how to ‘click’ into the normal lean position today, i.e. stand up straight whilst someone else switch from walk to ski, the first click is the normal lean position. My mistake has been to crouch then switch to ski guaranteeing it locks into the 25deg forward lean position.

  26. Lou January 1st, 2011 9:57 am

    Paul, yeah, the way I do two-position lean (which I hate) is to first buckle boot into alpine mode, while standing in somewhat upright touring position without the lean lock engaged, then engage lean lock and drive knee and shin forward to catch the FIRST click. Also, we’ve been known to put Sharpie marks on the boot where the first position of the cuff ends up, so as not to go to far. This stuff is super important for people with sensitive knees. One run with too much cuff lean can irritate knee cartilage to the point where it takes weeks of ibu and ice to recover…

  27. Paul P January 21st, 2011 5:27 pm

    Bob, the sharpie mark is a great idea, and I’ve now managed to adopt your method which is great (thank you very much), I think my old habits from telemarking of crouching down to pull on the leash initially made me crouch down to switch mode with the Axon.

    With two weeks in the boots now, I think there is just one comment I would make about the boots, they are very precise as you say with the GFit liner (probably the most snug fitting boot I’ve had), but I think a padlock liner might be more comfortable for back country trips (walking/skinning).

  28. Tim December 27th, 2012 2:26 pm

    So, what do you say? Is this still (2013 coming) a valid boot to ski? Would be used with K2 Apache Crossfires. My late 80s-early 90s Sangiorgio Vectors should die any day now.

  29. Bob Perlmutter December 27th, 2012 10:17 pm

    Hi Tim, yes, the Axon is still a valid boot. One can find new Axons on Ebay for a very reasonable price. That said, as you will read in my upcoming review of the Maestrale RS, the times they are a changing and only for the better.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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