Invasion of the Weight Sucking Aliens

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot

To right of tried and true F1, Scarpa Alien model 1.0 backcountry skiing boot is amazingly light in weight, appears to perform.

They absorb weight. In a good way. Carbon cuff version, size 27, 680 gr, 1.49 pounds, MSRP $1,700. Plastic cuff “consumer” version, 890g, 1.96 pounds. MSRP about half that at $800.00. Nice to see these totally out in public and apparently ready for prime time. World Cup races have already been won on the carbon model 1.0 version. No surprise. From what I can tell the Boa cable lacing system actually works, despite my habitual denial of alien visitation. Lean lock is a “one move” system of course, that folds up nicely when in walk mode. Inner boot is quite exposed, necessary to use a pant with a good and low integrated gaiter system. Overall a thumbs up. Exciting.

Scarpa Alien both carbon and plastic.

Scarpa Alien both carbon and plastic, Boa lace system is obvious.

Scarpa Alien plastic cuff.

Plastic cuff version weighs 7 ounces more than carbon cuff model 1.0 .

Adjustable forward lean, 13 to 18 degrees (hmmm, one wonders why another well known boot of this sort will have adjustable lean next winter?). Actual amount of forward support in alpine mode is unknown. Consumer testing must commence. Super range of touring motion. High cuff offers obvious alpine feel in downhill mode.

Comments

28 Responses to “Invasion of the Weight Sucking Aliens”

  1. Lou August 6th, 2011 2:19 pm

    Related to this boot and other expensive ones, I just found out that Backcountry.com will have a “Rando” category starting next winter, that’ll include all the high-end race boots including this and the La Sportiva Strato. Interesting the sport is growing and there seems to be a viable market for the spendy stuff.

  2. Halsted Morris August 6th, 2011 6:00 pm

    Any idea if this things are warm and ski well?

  3. Lou August 6th, 2011 8:03 pm

    Like other boots in this category, the’ll probably ski fairly well albeit rather stiff instead of progressive flex. They won’t be known for their warmth, but then, when fit well and with a good gaiter system they’ll probably be okay though they might be more intended for people who keep moving… So that’s my “any idea.” In terms of actual consumer and WildSnow testing, that’ll happen this winter.

  4. Eric Steig August 6th, 2011 8:30 pm

    My understanding from somewhere or other is that they will come with with a gaiter that fits over most of the boot. Of course, this changes the claimed weight.

  5. Lou August 6th, 2011 8:48 pm

    Apparently there are already some race suites that have a gaiter that work pretty well, though a hole may need to be cut and stitched to locate exactly over the lean lock lever.

  6. Jonathan Shefftz August 7th, 2011 8:08 am

    Kudos to Backcountry.com for providing some emphasis for the sport. Previously BentGate has done that. Would like to see MGear get in on it too. (BTW, REI has already started listing 2011-12 Dynaproduct — obviously not available yet, but a nice tease.)
    Jared had a couple pics of the prototype boots at the 2010 Worlds. Back then I had though the long pant legs were to keep the upper cuff design from being revealed, but now I realize how important that is for keeping out snow…

  7. Ptor August 7th, 2011 2:21 pm

    Any good bands in town for the OR?

  8. JCoates August 7th, 2011 9:49 pm

    Lou,
    Thanks for the good news (and for putting out the absolute best ski-mountaineering web-site on the net, BTW!!). I’m glad to hear that the lighter stuff is starting to show up on the US market and backcountry.com will probably push the other distributors in that direction too.

    With that said, I’ve been thinking about getting a race set-up this fall and trying some races here and/or Europe. Can you (or Johnathan Shefftz maybe?) point me to a good web-site for newbie race wannabies? The USSMA looks like a good group to belong to, but I don’t see a lot of blog activity on there for questions.

    Specifically: 1) should I go with the shortest length possible by ISMF standards for skis (160cm) despite being a big guy (6’1”, 220 lbs) or look for something longer? 2) How hard is it to get a team slot for the Patrouille Des Glaciers? Do you need to have some qualifying rando races here in the states similar to what you would do for a larger marathon?

    Thanks Lou, or to anyone else that might know.

  9. Jonathan Shefftz August 8th, 2011 9:13 am

    JC, unfortunately I don’t know of any English-language comprehensive resource or active discussion site for rando racing. This website probably has the most, and then others (especially the blogs of various U.S. & Canadian racers) have occasional pieces or discussions. USSMA is good for the race schedule, but unfortunately that’s about it.
    Almost all rando race skis are available only in 16Xcm & 15Xcm (for the ladies & “cadets”) lengths. Trab has a 171cm. Another option is to get a more all-around ski in the low 70s waist width (e.g., Trab Duo Sint Aero, Dynafit Broad Peak, BD Guru, Hagan Ultra/Carbon, La Sportiva RST, Movement Random) with a bigger selection of lengths.
    My understanding is that PDG has two course lengths: “normal” and “short” which really are “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-difficult” and “ridiculously long” – I don’t know what the qualification requirements are for the “normal” course, but realistically, you’d want your first PDG to be the “short” course.

  10. Wick August 8th, 2011 12:31 pm

    JC – hit me with questions comments on rando gear/race specifics at wick@teamcrestedbutte.com. IMHO…get the race specific kit, especially if you mention PDG in the same breathe! I can certainly get you in touch with US folks that have done the PDG for your future benefit.

    Halsted – These boots are going to be warm as long as you keep moving, and have a gator or similar cuff (with stirrup) covering some of the “exposed” liner. As always the carbon version in any of these manufacturers will ski DH waaaaaaay better than the plastic cuff version….get the carbon upgrade!!

    That being said I do stop occasionally and prior light weight boots have kept my feet toasty even in cold ass, Gunnison County missions that typically start in negative double digits (makes for great cold smoke!)
    Wick

  11. JCoates August 8th, 2011 6:56 pm

    Guys,
    Thanks to both for the good advice.

    Wick, I’ll be in touch as we all gear up for the snow to start falling again.

    I’d love to just finish the PDG–either short or regular course–but this will depend on how good I’m feeling in the spring. With a race that big I imagine you need to sign up for these things early though.

    Thanks again.

  12. stephen August 17th, 2011 12:34 am

    The Aliens were looking interesting, but the CF boot is stupidly expensive (for me anyway) and the plastic one isn’t much lighter than a TLT5P, which *is* weatherproof and ought to ski better too.

    A friend recently got a pair of TLKT5Ps and it’s likely they might be my next boots due to the light weight, decent fit (a bit longer than Scarpas, but no wider plus decent heel hold), and the excellent ankle flexion, plus easy mode change. I can see what all the fuss is about and I haven’t even skied in them, just tried them on and walked a few metres. I think Dynafit really need to add their “Aura Activators” though… :-) (Presumably the matching Dynafit skis and bindings also provide or channel “aura friendly” vibrations.)

  13. Toby November 7th, 2011 1:06 pm

    Can somebody tell me if the plastic version of Alien is delivered special gaiters ?

    Please review this boot on snow! No doubts that they are superior on the way up, but how good they actually ski? Boa system can give a good fit, but that racing style cuff ‘buckle’ ?? I never tried any race boots, like F1s.

    I would add Gaiters and some sort of Velcro power strap for every day skiing…eh. I mean for some weekend ski mountaineering.

    What does it mean that they only have full sizes. Normally I have 27,5 Scarpas. Should I now consider to have 27 or 28??

    Questions, questions..?

  14. Lou November 7th, 2011 2:05 pm

    The boots are coming… we’ll review ‘em when we’ve got ‘em…

  15. Alastair Olby November 12th, 2011 11:57 pm

    JC, getting into the Patrouille des Gaciers is easier if you have a qualified guide in the team. There’s an earlier application deadline for teams with guides (mid-October) to ensure places. For sure go for race specific kit, particularly as there are lots of traverses – oh, and a heck of a lot of uphill! I live just across the valley from the course so if you need any local info just shout.

    Had a look at a pair of Alien 1.0′s ‘in the flesh’ yesterday and boy are they light, particularly for the cuff height. I think the plastic version had a power strap (at least on the Euro version). Dynafit cuffs always seem a bit too low for my calf on the downhill so I’d love to give these a try. Hard to justify after getting TLT5Ps a year ago though….

    Lou, thanks for the great site :-)

  16. Toby November 20th, 2011 6:53 am

    I got my Scarpa Aliens yesterday. (Plastic, non CF version). I now can confirm that they (at least Euro version) are coming with Velcro power straps and special gaiters (31g / gaiter). One boot (size 27) weights 872g INCLUDING power strap and gaiter. So, the Scarpa specs.: weight 1700g / pair is pretty correct. Making them 300-400g lighter than TLT 5s (depending witch liner they are having and is the weight announced with or without tongue?).

    Cuff rotation has simple no limits. I think it isn’t really necessary to talk about certain angles anymore. Cuff hinges are made of real set of bolts and bushings. So, the rotation is almost frictionless. The main part of this smooth rotation has been gained by avoiding any plastic to plastic contact/chafing that normally occurs with any other boots.

    I find the buckling up is absolutely hassle free. It is amazing how fast you can change the mode. It is not even necessary to lose the Boa or the Velro to get a full range of cuff rotation. (But in real, I definitely will loose them for better blood circulation and comfort)

    Cuff buckle holds very well and you can get it really tight. The Cuff has also teethed mating surfaces to make the connection rigid once the buckle is closed. I haven’t seen this feature before.

    Rear lever has two hinge positions for forward lean adjustment. Boots were delivered with most forward setting. Once you push the rear lever down, it will automatically engage to the skiing mode.

    BOA system feels adequate. You can get it tight enough, no problems. The fore foot can be pressed down like there was a real buckle. But like with so many other boots, I unfortunately still feel some lack of heel retention.
    Intuition liner is very thin and it comes without food bed. As a substitute the inner bottom of the boot has an intergraded rubberized foam bed.

    FLEX: Relatively soft, but better than I expected; ). Not that the cuff was too soft. The cuff and its buckle are rigid. Forward flex is coming from the lower boot elasticity. Lower shell will simply widen / open up a bit when forward pressure is applied. I compared them with TLT 5 (without tongue) and the flex feels similar or better to me.

    They have only full sizes. 28 felt too roomy and 27 felt too short. Liner is not filling much space. So I decided to go with 27.

    Note. Super short BSL: 27 has only 287mm

  17. Lou November 20th, 2011 9:06 am

    Thanks Toby, the take from you guys out there who’ve made the commitment to a product, gold. Super important to have bushings on the cuff hinges of all these types of boots, as the huge amount of use and vertical they’re designed for causes quite a bit of wear in that area, and at the price they’re charging for all this stuff…. Lou

  18. Simon November 22nd, 2011 2:55 am

    Quick peek at the new merelli race boot, crazy light at 495gr (27.5) all in,incl built in liner. From my rough translation it appears it will be made to measure. No mention of cost but this could turn out to be the most expensive boot of all.

    http://www.sportdimontagna.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3647%3Anovita-presentazione-nuovo-scarpone-merelli-m3d-scialpinismo-carbonio&catid=68%3Anovita-dalle-aziende&Itemid=87

  19. gillesleskieur November 22nd, 2011 5:12 am

    PDG signing up is over

  20. gillesleskieur November 22nd, 2011 5:30 am

    in the lightweight category you have this as well…. 1800 Euro boot binding and liner… binding is 60gr (front AND back)

    he sells gaiters as well (40gr)

    http://www.pierregignoux.fr/France/PackUltimate.php

  21. Jonathan Shefftz November 22nd, 2011 10:03 am

    Yes, I think we can rest assured that this:
    http://www.merelliski.it/en/m3d
    … will be the most expensive ski boot ever.
    And at a little over two pounds per pair, might be lighter than whatever casual winter footwear is being worn to the race!

  22. gillesleskieur November 22nd, 2011 1:38 pm

    for sure it will be the most expensive, even more so if you count the trip to a Merelli casa to have your feeds studied… ;-)

    “This boot will be only made on measure studying the anatomy of the foot to guarantee great performances and have a comfy and precise wearing with a perfect feeling for the customer.

    This product will be only available inside every Casa Merelli.”

  23. Al Olby December 29th, 2011 2:12 pm

    I’ve been using a pair of Alien 1.0 since Christmas (thank you Santa). Amazing boots, I hardly feel they’re there when going uphill, but the support when going down is excellent.

    I have had one rather important problem with them: on the pair I have the inner isn’t as high as the front shell, meaning the shell is starting to bite into my shin when I flex forward – ouch. I think this may be because of how they were fitted when doing the thermo fit because one boot’s worse than the other. I’m sure it can be sorted out, either with a re-mold or a replacement inner, but check this out when trying them on. All pictures I’ve seen of the boot on the web show the liner being quite a bit higher than the front shell, but not so on mine. Back to the shop tomorrow…

    The other thing I haven’t quite got used to yet is the forward lean. I’m used to 15 degrees, but the Alien 1.0′s have 13 or 18 only. The 18 feels too far forward, and takes it out of the thighs a bit more on a big day of vertical, while the 13 feels too upright. I’ll get used one of them in time, but it’s worth checking both settings out before committing to buy.

    First race day on them tomorrow, looking forward to the lack of weight on the up!

  24. wick December 29th, 2011 3:22 pm

    Al – I and my teammates have all been using these for about 3 weeks (one race) and love the boot (especially when compared to the F1 Carbon we came from). Its about 275 g lighter in my size 13, skis DH waaay better due to the fact that there are no bellows, and the lower volume makes for a tighter fit (at least on my foot).

    I looked at my liners and both boots have about 3/4″ of liner showing above the top of the upper carbon cuff…so I wonder what your boot fitter did?!?!

    They may become my daily driver!

  25. Al Olby December 30th, 2011 2:00 pm

    Wick – thanks. We redid the thermo fitting today, pulling the liner up as high as possible before closing the shell and it seems to have worked. There’s only about 5mm of liner above the shell but it’s enough to stop the shin bite.

    I’m growing to love these Aliens more and more every time out. Walk mode is astonishing, like going uphill in a pair of lightweight slippers with seemingly limitless cuff rotation. The support and flex in DH mode is incredible for such a light boot, and switching between the two modes is a breeze. 18 degree forward lean’s still taking a bit of getting used to, but some slight changes in technique seem to be doing the trick.

  26. Al Olby January 10th, 2012 2:16 pm

    I’ve now put in 10,000m vert on these and LOVE them. The DH performance is outstanding, and I’m now committing to higher and higher speeds with confidence. It’s taken some tweaking to get them just right though, and there’s one important thing to keep an eye out for: I didn’t realize at first but when closing the cuff to move into DH mode, the inner part of the carbon cuff was getting stuck on the inside flange of the front cuff rivet. This pushed up the flange making for a very sharp jagged edge which ate into the inner carbon cuff a bit, plus the liner when in walk mode.

    Thankfully I caught this before it did too much damage and I’ve been able to flatten the flange back down again, but it’s worthwhile keeping an eye out for this. If the front rivet pulled out you’d be in instant walk mode…! And you don’t want to eat up all that lovely carbon :wink:

    I got the forward lean just as I like it by putting the boot in its 13 degree setting and adding a couple of thin risers under the heel of the inners. This has made a huge difference to the DH ski-ability for me. It’s also reduced the small amount of heel lift I was getting (if I really tried), something I’ve seen others commenting on.

  27. Simon05 March 14th, 2012 1:21 pm

    Hi, bit the bullet this week and purchased the Alien 1.0. Fits great, but had to go one size up from my F1 carbon, 27 in the F1, 28 in the Alien.

    A question to all the guys who have been using the carbon version for a while:
    Is it worth thermoforming the liners, they seem so thin, do they actually retain there moulded shape after. When I molded the F1 carbon liners they stayed pretty much the same after.

    It may be of interest to your readers in N.America, I bought the boots from http://www.revedecime.com in Annecy France for 899€ which works out at about 1100 US and they post worldwide by UPS.

    Simon

  28. Al Olby March 14th, 2012 4:07 pm

    Simon, re thermoforming, for my foot I couldn’t ski them without having done this. My big toe pushes hard against the front of the liner before they’re formed, but once thermoformed there’s (just) enough room. They’ve stayed good and fit extremely well.

    I did have problems with the height of one of my liners which my boot fitter tried to solve by re-thermoformig. One liner barely came higher than the top of the shell, so they redid the thermoforming, pulling the liner as high as possible. It worked for about 2 weeks, after which it returned to its original height, and I was back to getting shin bite from the top of the shell. Scarpa kindly sent replacement liners, which are about 10mm taller than the originals and now all’s good. I’ve now got 50,000m positive on these babies and they feel like a pair of slippers. Enjoy!

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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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