Despite all the hype about overlap cuff ski boots, you can’t beat “tongue” style shells for a variety of reasons. While I don’t run a lot of boots each season, I usually play around with a few pair. So another WildSnow foot toy for this winter is a brand new pair of Scarpa Skookum.
First, what’s the advantage of tongue boots?
1. In and out SO much easier. Critical when you’re putting boots on while prone in a tent, at 30 below zero, and you’re not feeling well because of the altitude.
2. For a fairly light weight, you get a stiff feel on the down. That’s of course also the detriment of tongue shells, in that they resist movement while in touring mode unless carefully optimized.
3. Easy flex tuning by swapping tongues.
Next, what makes Scarpa Skookum so great in particular?
I’m here to say these are indeed state-of-art backcountry skiing shoes — with a feature set you’ll find in no other such zapato. Let’s list ‘em.
1. All buckles are ultimately attached with end-user serviceable threaded fasteners. Mank a buckle on a boulder? Just call Scarpa, get the part sent, swap it in yourself in minutes (caveat, the lower two buckle cams are riveted to a plastic yoke. Avoiding the rivet gun would require swapping the yoke, though removing and pop riveting these buckles is easy as you don’t have to work inside the boot to do so.)
2. Cuff alignment pivot is included. Most people probably don’t need this, but when you do, and it is missing, you will be frustrated.
3. Removable boot board. Don’t like the shape of the last under your foot? Want to change your delta? Customize the boot board and don’t look back. If you mess up, just order another set.
4. Dynafit toe fittings located 4 millimeters back from standard. Trust me, this makes your stride more ergonomic.
5. Beefy thick sole rubber in toe area. For real world mountaineering use, incredibly important.
6. Weight totally reasonable for a boot this beefy.
7. Included power strap is real.
8. A bit more volume in toe box than most other brands, allows for more fitting options and warmth.
9. Liner is a high quality head molder by Intuition, dual density foam, stiff foam around upper cuff area for that powerful feeling we all crave.
Of course this is a review, so I’ve got to find a gripe. As always I don’t prefer having two different cuff lean positions in the lean-lock. This is probably easy to mod out, but not everyone want to take a $700 boot apart and give it to a welder. Nothing else leaps out at me, other than reminding that the shell still has the usual Scarpa “bump” under the instep (some people notice this, some don’t), though this is much easier to tune out by modding the boot board.
There you go. Scarpa Skookum, a terrific option if you’re considering new boots. You can check the street price here, but it pays to shop around.