The verdict is up to you dear readers. The new (limited availability this year, full retail 2014-15) Scarpa F1 Evo ski touring boot has so many innovative features it could be called a new species. Or is this only a stage in the Darwinian process by which all life forms eventually live or die according to how well engineered their plastic parts are? We are here in Asolo Italy checking it out. I’ll opine, you decide. Field testing will tell the ultimate tale but this thing has been tested by everything from World Cup skimo racers to a 100,000 cycle slam test machine. It thus appears to work.
Scarpa F1 Evo to be retailed 2014-15 comes in at claimed weight of <> 1,130 grams, size 27. Features 'Tronic No Hand' mode changer, more. The Tronic device is nothing less than Einsteinian, or Darwinian, or both?
We’ll save the best for first. In what Scarpa is calling their “Tronic No Hand” lean lock system, F1 Evo switches between downhill cuff-locked mode and cuff-free mode simply by clicking in and out of your tech binding. Complex? Don’t let your imagination run wild. The patented Tronic system has only 6 parts. It is genius in simplicity. Basically, a couple of small metal tabs protrude down into the area where your rear binding pins sink which you click into a tech binding. These spring-loaded tabs are pushed up by the binding pins, in turn actuating a lean lock. Pictures below, and I did a video as well that I’ll publish ASAP.
Designer and production manager Davide Parisotto demonstrates the 'no lean' lean lock, I'm quite impressed, was expecting something perhaps over-designed. Should have known that a company making boots for World Cup racers was going to come up with something elegant.
The mechanism is obvious. Two tabs indicated by arrows are spring loaded. They move up when you snap your boot down on the binding pins and are held up by the pins. Take your boot out of the binding and they drop back down. This movement engages and disengages the lean lock without the use of your hands. The only trick for doing this totally hands free is you have to pre-adjust your boot buckles so they're not so tight as to be uncomfortable for walking. The way the boot is configured makes this easy, but there could be times when you'd want to tighten things for the downhill, thus obviating the hands free effect.
Looking down at lean lock machinery, the magic is hidden.
Lower portion of the shell tongue is the side hinged type Scarpa uses on Maestrale. This has the advantage of adding solidity to the boot feel. In this case a Boa system cinches it down. I carpet tested this and it feels bomber, though the boot does have the overall somewhat flexy feel of a lightweight touring boot, not a freeride boot -- expected -- but due to a carbon structure that wraps your ankle you do get more stiffness than the overall look and weight of F1 would indicate.
Stiff carbon yoke is laminated to the lower shell's nylon plastic. It's not just for show as visible through the oblong windows, it really works.
A short history of F1. Scarpa released a boot called “F1″ in 1999. It was an ultra-light yellow ski touring boot with flex at the ball of the foot. Scarpa’s pioneering work in telemark boots gave them the edge for making such ‘living hinge’ systems. Versions of the yellow F1 dominated skimo racing until other manufacturers came on the scene with boots appropriate for racing. By they time Scarpa discontinued F1, they’d sold more than 100,000 copies. Their story is that the heritage of F1 leads directly through their Alien race and recreation models, straight to the F1 Evo. Hence the name.
Thermo moldable liner is high quality Intuition. Boot board is included to add warmth and fitting options to shell.
Underside of boot board interlocks with shell to prevent movement. This sort of attention to micro-movement is how you make a lightweight boot ski ok downhill.
Wide velcro strap on the cuff buckle is routed through an anchor to prevent movement.
No detail appears to have been forgotten. Cuff lean is adjustable two degrees to either side of standard factory set 18 degrees. Note the X shaped structure in the cuff plastic (indicated by my red scrawls) to add rigidity.
Cuff articulation is more than adequate, liner has flex zone to help make it real.
Every part of the boot is easily removed and replaced for service or customization. Nice.
Parts come on, parts go off, I have to say I'm loving it. You mean, no more die grinder?
Carpet testing. The last was super interesting, way more room than it looks like but not a bathtub. Internal length is maximized per BSL. The warm room combined with thin plastic resulted in a fairly flexy feel that I'm sure will tighten up a bit in normal temps. Plus, carpet testing always makes boots feel softer than they are in real life. That said, I'm thinking they could have made the carbon laminate area a bit longer and higher to compensate for the thin lightweight plastic.
Scarpa says the sole has a texture designed to pick up less sticky snow. That one will be easy to test!
We also visited the injection molding factory where Scarpa was making their F1 demo boots for coming shows and such. This F1 Evo scaffo was just out of the mold; it felt like a nice warm chunk of Italian bread.
Another view of the clockwork.
– Estimated MSRP $699.00 USD
– Weight size 27, >< 1,130 grams
-- Materials: Nylon plastic similar to Grilamid, laminated with carbon composite ankle yoke, what Lisa and I call "Davide's Secret Sauce."
-- Full retail for 2014-15, demo sizes 25,27,28 produced for winter 2013/2014
-- Tech fittings at toe are mounted 6 mm back from standard; we love the more ergonomic stride this induces, though it does cause some confusion when mounting bindings.
We're excited to be guests of Scarpa and the Parisotto family. That's me with CEO Sandro in front of their main Asolo, Italy factory and offices. As always, certain things are true: Italian food is good, and Italians ski fast both uphill and down.