Tecnica Agent AT — Backcountry Skiing Boot Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Tecnica Agent AT

Tecnica Agent AT

Update, summer 2009: Agent will be available in super small sizes come winter 2009/2010
Size 25.0/25.5- sole length 298 mm
Size 24.0/24.5- sole length 288 mm
Size 23.0/23.5- sole length 278 mm

At first glance, the Tecnica Agent AT backcountry skiing boot looks like a pure breed alpine ski boot missing the 4th buckle. It has all the bells and whistles including full canting capability, replaceable soles (but no sole blocks with Dynafit fittings), easy-to-use-with-gloves buckles, and a moving spoiler which at first glance appears to be the ultimate gimmick. In walk mode, the spoiler draws down, and in ski mode it pushes up — and it works (more below). The shell is complete with integrated power strap. Weight is average to light for this class of boot, 1854 gr, 65.3 oz for one size 27.5 boot (they run large for their stated size).

Backcountry Skiing

Tecnica Agent AT, with ski/walk catch in walking position as seen at rear of boot.

(Please note, in this review I refer to WE as my brother Steve, and mountaineering partner Jim Gile. We are sponsored by Tecnica, but we have looked closely at many top boots before settling with the Agent AT. Lou asked me to avoid writing a “puff piece,” so I made an extra effort to give my honest take.)

Backcountry Skiing

Skiing the Agent AT.

The Agent AT liner is a heat moldable, has a convenient walk-around-no-slip sole, and is complete with a green plaid cuff that makes you want to hike your pant cuff up as high as possible — provided plaid is in style at the moment.

When you first put the Agent AT on your foot, you realize this is a real ski boot. The cuff feels high and laterally stiff (though average to soft in forward stiffness), and the overlap design has a smooth forward flex that eliminates the rebound found in many AT boots; e.g., you don’t get thrown in the back seat. It should be noted that this boot has less forward lean and ramp angle than some other brands/models. We don’t mind that, but other WildSnow testers have found the angles to not be aggressive enough, and they are not adjustable without professional customization. See WildSnow boot spec measurements here.

Out of the box, we headed for the bumps of the Ridge of Bell on Aspen Mountain; if you can ski a boot in the bumps, you can ski it in the backcountry on anything. From the first turn, we realized someone got this boot right. And don’t let the 4th buckle issue dissuade you; the only benefit I see in the four-buckle boots I have skied is that the vestigial clasp serves to add unnecessary weight and is thus the ultimate industry gimmick. And speaking of gimmicks, I should again mention the moving spoiler, which is actually a super integration that allows for an aggressive ski position when you need it, but takes the high cuff out of your way for walking. It works!

Tecnica Agent ski boot.

Instead of a fourth buckle, Tecnica Agent has two catches for the third buckle; one for downhill mode and one for touring. This combined with dual density plastic, overlap cuff and the automatic spoiler make for a very comfortable walk mode.

In walk mode, with the spoiler lowered, the AT, totally to our surprise, walked and climbed better than the hinged tongue AT boots we loved so much before. As with many of the other overlap boots now on the market, Agent’s overlap design allows for a walk mode that almost totally eliminates forward pressure (when you tune your buckle tightness and location). There is also a walk-mode lower boot latch that moves the buckle down the foot of the boot for added mobility, yet lets you strap the boot on snugly to avoid heel lift.

Backcountry Skiing

Inside of rear cuff (shown in horizontal position) shows how the spoiler moves up and down using slots under screws and washers, actuated by a simple cam/lever attached to the exterior walk/ski latch.

The knocks on the boot are few, but nothing is perfect. While the liner is plenty warm in general, we needed more warmth for high altitude skiing in the Andes and Himalaya. Upgrade for that was the Intuition Luxury Liner. Along with extra warmth, the aftermarket Intuition makes the boot lighter and also added a stiffness and feel to the boot that sacrificed a bit of walk comfor, but improved an already super skiing boot. (I highly recommend this liner for any ski boot). Also noted, that while the walk / ski mode lever fits perfectly to the boot in ski mode, in walk mode, it hangs off the back; not a huge problem, but it impedes the use of over boots and if nothing else, and looks unfinished. It is, however, very glove friendly, and works with step in crampons. While I’ve never had trouble with the walk/ski catch icing, others have mentioned this so it’s worth noting that the catch works by inserting a metal tang into an exposed socket that can fill with ice, so keep that in mind. Also, we would like a bit more rocker to the sole (upside of that is the Agent can be used, with care, in a regular alpine ski binding).

Backcountry Skiing

Tecnica Agent AT ski/walk latch as viewed from outside the boot, with catch removed from socket. Some users have reported icing of the socket.

Since getting our Agent AT boots last spring, we have put in many days around the mountains here in Colorado in a variety of conditions, and took the Agent ATs to 21,000 foot Coropuna in Peru where we had an 18 hour summit day including 6,000 feet of climbing and skiing in about every condition you could imagine. The Agent AT is rugged and extremely comfortable, and performed well beyond our expectations. For the up, the Agent AT performs like a climbing boot, and in ski mode is what you need. All around, a super shoe!

Wildsnow overlap construction AT boot guide.

Shop for the Technica Agent AT boot here.

(Guest blogger Mike Marolt is known for the depth of his experience in numerous expeditionary ski mountaineering adventures. Mike along with his twin brother Steve were the first Americans (first from the western hemisphere) to climb and ski from 8,000 meters. Mike and Steve also became the first Americans to ski from the death zone on the Mt. Everest (although they didn’t make it from the summit, still resulting in some good stories and video!). The Marolts live in Aspen, as have two family generations before them. When they’re not skiing they work as CPAs.)

Comments

19 Responses to “Tecnica Agent AT — Backcountry Skiing Boot Review”

  1. Jonathan Shefftz April 17th, 2009 10:56 am

    The only parts Tecnica took from their alpine boots were the graphics and color scheme – it’s merely a rebadged Lowa X-Alp. (Just like the Lowa Struktura EVO used to be available for alpine race coaches in a version with Tecnica race boot colors.)
    And what a change (for the worst): Lowa was once cutting-edge with its Struktura series when the only competition was the Dynafit TLT All Terrain, Scarpa Laser, and Garmont GSM. Now Lowa delivers an 8.2-pound boot that condemns a skier to suffering with Diaxo-type bindings yet still can’t be used safely with alpine downhill bindings. By contrast, Dynafit, Scarpa, Garmont, Black Diamond (and soon Dalbello too) are producing boots that, well, the wide array of choices and yes-you-can-have-it-all balancing acts continues to astound.
    I do have to admit that the movable spoiler looks good – I always like the removable spoiler on the Dynafit TLT4 series, but removing it for the ascent and reinserting it for the descent
    Otherwise, too bad Tecnica apparently won’t permit just buying some other company’s boot and paint Tecnica graphics on it to keep up the sponsorship look.

  2. Drew April 17th, 2009 11:55 am

    Who cares that this boot is rebadged? It’s whats available in the US and Tecnica/Lowa are under the same “roof”. It’s a company using their assets.

  3. Jonathan Shefftz April 17th, 2009 12:19 pm

    The only point in noting the rebadging of the Lowa X-Alp is that people get confused in thinking it’s somehow a version of Tecnica’s Agent alpine downhill line adapted to alpine touring. So, no, compared to Tecnica’s Agent alpine downhill boots, it doesn’t fit the same and doesn’t ski the same despite the misleading marketing.

    If you want a heavy yet not particularly stiff albeit typically highly price-discounted boot that banishes you from the ranks of potential Dynafit (or even G3 Meetu) binding users, then sure, sounds like a great choice. But otherwise, it’s very disappointing that Lowa has fallen so far behind the competition.

  4. Lou April 17th, 2009 12:38 pm

    I purposefully in my editing have not focused on this boot being a rebadge as it’s indeed “what’s available,” but perhaps we should have edited in a mention of that as Jonathan does have a good point about avoiding confusion. On the other hand, if the flex and fit of the Agent work for a given skier, and they don’t use tech compatible bindings, and they happen to get the deal they want (MSRP is high but who ever pays MSRP for ski boots?), then hey, what’s not to love and who cares if it’s a rebadge or not? That’s why I thought it would be good to get a review into the mix and got Mike to do it, since he really skis the boot and I’ve only got a test pair that I’m only testing…

    Some comments from you guys help keep it all in perspective, so thanks and keep ‘em coming!

    P.S., I noticed Mike had a sentence in there about Tecnica R&D influencing this boot. I think he was speaking more in generalities but since we don’t know for sure what kind of cross pollination there is between Lowa and Tecnica, I took that sentence out so we can keep it real.

  5. Dave Field April 17th, 2009 12:46 pm

    I would think that at some point somebody would manage to install dynafit toe fittings onto the replaceable toe piece and make em compatible. Is there enough beef in the plastic to consider that or would it be a fruitless home modification?

  6. Lou April 17th, 2009 12:50 pm

    Dave, it just wouldn’t be worth the effort since as Jonathan points out there are so many terrific tech compatible boots out there, at least a half dozen (or more) that equal or surpass the Tecnica in downhill performance.

  7. Charles April 17th, 2009 1:14 pm

    I skiied Agent AT all last year and really enjoyed it. It was light, and easy to tour, yet stiff enough to ski the resort. Also very comfortable, and never had trouble with only 3 buckles.

    The only negative was on one boot the pin that the tour/ski lever clips into bent. I was worried about gettting stuck far from home after that, and went to the Radiums “industrial” locking instead this year.

    Great boot overall, just wish the locking mechanism was a bit beefier.

    Charles

  8. Jim in the Midwest April 17th, 2009 10:14 pm

    I love my Agent AT’s (although sometimes when I am having a rough go I shout out “Lowas don’t fail me now”). That being said, I understand the concern about lack of tech compatibility. I’d be interested in the same thing Dave mentioned, the ability for a tech toe fitting.

    So, how did I go the Agent AT with Barons route when I was starting down the path of gotta have Garmonts and Fritschi because that’s what Coombs used? In some of Lou’s binding reviews, I believe there is mentioned the concept that if one is going to spend most of their time in a resort environment with occassional treks out of bounds, the Marker Duke is a good choice. In my case, that led to the Baron (lighter, and I don’t need the high DIN) without a need for tech compatibility.

    9 out of 10 boot fitters in the Midwest have absolutely no idea that Garmont, Scarpa, BDEL, Dynafit, etc. exist. They all know and/or sell Technica. Kind of a sad excuse, but if one wants local support of the boot where I’m at, the options were limited. As an aside, one will get strange looks around here if you walk into a ski store and say “Hey, you guys got any skins?”.

    Lou mentioned “if the flex and fit of the Agent work for a given skier, and they don’t use tech compatible bindings, and they happen to get the deal they want …”. The truth is, my setup is one big compromise that works for me. I like equipment that leans toward AT because I think that is the way it should be, as a kid I did both cross country and resort skiing and I don’t like the encumbrance of “pure Alpine”. I have 50 days of skiing this year, primarily on the ice sheets in Wisconsin and the obligatory family trip to Colorado. If there is snow on the ground at home, I spend two hours every evening skinning through the neighborhood. So –

    The Agent AT’s are:
    - Comfortable, I can run in them after the kids and wear them all day long. Skiing, walking, skinning, running, all day long.
    - Flex fore and aft well, if you have the Marker setup you can get good stride length out of the Agent AT without freeing the heal if you … well, for some reason don’t feel like taking your boots out of the bindings at that point in time.
    - For my needs, extremely light. My Agent AT/Baron/167 Coomba setup is lighter than my wife’s Head boots and K2 One Luv skis setup.

    I understand the concerns when they are compared to the offerings with tech compatibility. But in summary, I believe they provide a solid option for those of us who, in a similar manner, believe Marker Duke bindings more appropriate for their needs .

  9. vanessa October 27th, 2009 5:59 pm

    I just want to say that I ski the Lowa Struktura and think they’re great. If the Tecnica boot really is just the Lowa struktura with Tec graphics that’s awesome. Is the boot stiffer than the old struktura or about the same? I found the liners to be slightly heavy in the stock struk but replaced w/ intuition the weight is a little better. Hiking 14er’s and skiing as much bc as possible NEVER hurts in these boots and I’ve overnighted in the bc wearing them until I crawled into my tent w/o problem. They are soft so if the stiffness hasn’t been beefed up for the agent this may be a concern for some, however I’ just a girl:) so for me they ski great! 5’6″ 125 ski a 25 shell.
    Lou, Love your Wild Snow book and all the great guides you’ve put out!!! Thank you for taking the time.
    Vanessa

  10. Lou October 27th, 2009 7:52 pm

    Hi Vanessa, thanks for the kind words. Those books are a labor of love and it’s been great to have contributed them. I’m more likely to do guidebooks on the web now, or just let the cloud take care of it… I’m trying hutski.com but it really doesn’t seem to be needed… we shall see.

    yeah, Agent is Struktura, perhaps with some small changes.

  11. Alex C February 10th, 2010 1:35 pm

    Does anyone know if there were any changes made to this boot for the 2010 model (other than the graphics)? The one reviewed here appears to be the older one. I’m considering buying a pair because they fit better than anything else I’ve tried on, but I’m concerned over some reviews that say they’re too soft. Thanks.

  12. Stephen B November 23rd, 2010 8:43 pm

    I just checked out these boots at the local ski shop in town and it appears that there are now two versions of this boot ( one stiffer) and both are Tech compatible.

  13. Kyle M December 15th, 2010 7:35 pm

    I have a pair of the 2010/11 Agent AT’s. $400 Cdn, last pair in Ontario (not my video, but guys I know! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkdKUk9nHMM) for use here and whenever I head out West.

    Tech compatible, but not sure if they will be stiff enough (6’2, 185lbs, more brute force then delicate grace…). I’m coming off (I don’t even know how old, 2004 maybe?) Solomon XWave 10′s. I coach so I would love the capability of a great walk mode, but need the stiffness. Hold out out for boots that will be another $200-$300 and for sure stiff (Titan, Agent BC, Virus) or go for these?

    Thanks for the help,
    Just found this website today and love it, thanks for all of the hard work Lou

  14. Colin August 13th, 2011 8:19 pm

    I’m starting to assemble my first back country set up in Colorado, and I’m looking for a boot that will be good in the back country but would also be able to handle a fair amount of resort skiing as well. I have Volkl Gotamas and Marker Barons right now, and just wanted to make sure if these would work well (especially with the Barons). Thanks.

  15. Lou August 13th, 2011 8:41 pm

    Colin, the Tecnica boots are great but this is an older model, what you want to do is look at the latest. All are recommended. Check the following link:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/4483/tecnica-cochise-boot-review/

  16. Colin August 15th, 2011 4:30 pm

    Yeah, I actually found a very lightly used pair of this model online, so I’m very seriously considering purchasing a pair of these. Im looking to do about 40 percent back country and 60 percent resort skiing, and it seems like these would work pretty well for that? I also just wanted to make sure these would work with the marker barons, because i know not all at boots with with all bindings.

  17. Jonathan Shefftz August 15th, 2011 5:48 pm

    Fairly heavy on the up, not especially stiff by current standards for the down, and incompatible with all dedicated alpine touring bindings (i.e., Dynafit, G3, Plum, La Sportiva / ATK).
    They’ll of course work with a hybrid binding like the Duke/Baron (or the various Diamir iterations), but so will any alpine boot (either alpine downhill or alpine touring — well, except for a few superlight touring/racing boots).

  18. mark thomas January 22nd, 2012 8:03 pm

    I love this boot. Wish it were a bit stiffer for Alpine but find it serious enough to use all around. I am on Barons and 177 Vendo Volkls. I weigh 200 and these are putting up with my abuse so far…. the firm bumps under and snow drifts over can compress them to the max, but generally, I am very happy – coming off a 120 flex race boot…

  19. sierracruzer February 20th, 2013 1:46 pm

    I tried to love this boot and went to lengths to get a proper fit (I do have boot fit experience). I maybe could have sized down but the shell length was correct. Hmmm. In the end this boot was just too high volume for my foot despite several boot fit aids. This thing was one sloppy fit. The low ramp angle did not help matters either – I now felt I was driving from the back seat with free-moving feet that did not engage the ski. Yikes! I got a ‘good deal’ on them and I guess this is another example of getting what you pay for. In their defense the Agent AT does climb nice, but be prepared to make adjustments in your stance and style to charge any serious backcountry.

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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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