The Aliens Have Landed — Scarpa First Look


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Backcountry ski boots are about compromise. Weight vs performance, warmth vs performance fit. And so on. Sometimes the compromises sort of cancel each other out, resulting in a boot that does a lot of stuff fairly well. Other times it all seems to work together in one direction that causes smiles when used appropriately. Scarpa Alien is an example of the latter category. This is a full-on “ski running” shoe that makes no bones about total ankle freedom, a super fast mode change system, and stunning lack of mass. To accomplish that, the non-carbon version we have here for this first-look does sacrifice beef in downhill mode. But that’s not the point. This is a boot you literally fly up the hill in, then fly down in whatever style works — all in good fun. Check ‘em out.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot, non-carbon version. Stunning lack of weight at 30.8 ounces (872 grams) per boot, size 28. In carpet testing it's obvious the carbon version (Alien 1.0) will offer quite a bit more side-to-side (lateral) stability in downhill mode, but we we're surprised how supportive this non-carbon version is considering the lack of plastic. You're not going to be driving gigantic skis with these, but that's not the point. The idea is freedom to fly.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

The Boa lacing system seems to work quite well. Minimal weight for the snug fit it creates. No shell tongue but rather a semi-stiff fabric tongue that nests over the liner and is somewhat sealed by some foam strips on the underside of the shell. A gaiter system is provided to cover some of this (see below) but for longer backcountry days we feel this area might need better coverage to prevent moisture entry into the boot shell.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

I noticed Scarpa molds an extra-deep slot for the tech binding rear pins. Could this be for a Tech 2.0 binding system using longer pins to prevent accidental release? We shall see.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

Cuff mode latch is similar to ye olde F1, yet streamlined. Latch shown as if in the process of latching or unlatching, it stows nicely vertical and out of the way (as shown in first photo above).

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

Front buckle is set up so you get it adjusted, then leave it alone for the day as you do mode changes with the rear latch.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

The sole is truly minimalist, but still has a nice thick blocky area under the toe so you won't wear it out walking to and from your skis.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

Judging from our carpet test of the non-carbon version, we feel that the carbon version (shown here in manual) may provide much better lateral stability for bigger skis in non-race types of use. But don't discount the boot we show here, it is quite stiff considering how light it is, and with the correct type of ski should yield plenty of grins.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

In carpet testing, cuff articulation in touring mode exceeds what's possible for the human ankle. So much for that issue.

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

Without the liner, cuff articulation allows the proverbial folding boot! Perhaps the ticket for airline travel?

Scarpa Alien backcountry skiing boot.

The provided gaiter is definitely Euro. It doesn't extend down over the lower forefoot, where the faux tongue is exposed and allows possible moisture ingress.

What else? Dynafit patented Quick Step toe fittings will cut 1/100 second from your race time. User serviceable fasteners on nearly all hardware will make modding a joy. Minimalist power strap is cool. Liner is nicely crafted, with attention to ankle articulation, as well as some friction dots on lower heel to keep it feeling solid in the shell instead of slipping up and down as you stride. Enclosed sticker pack will leave no doubt about your footwear. Optional overlap liner available for those wanting a bit more downhill performance.

Note this boot is definitely marketed as a “race” shoe. Nonetheless, it’s quite popular in Europe to use race gear for backcountry touring, and you see that happening here in North America as well. We’ll of course review with that point of view, but yes, this is a full-on skimo race boot. All critique and expectations should be focused through that lens.

Shop for Alien backcountry skiing boots.

Comments

30 Responses to “The Aliens Have Landed — Scarpa First Look”

  1. Phil M January 3rd, 2012 10:23 am

    I got to fondle – but not even carpet test – a pair of the 1.0 carbon-fiber boots, side-by side with the Dy.N.A. Evo.

    The lack of mass on both is stunning. My TLT-5 Mountains were a revelation, and these new carbon race boots are nearly half the weight! To further put these boots into perspective, they are lighter than my La Sportiva Trango EVO S summer alpine boots, which feel pretty much like high-top sneakers.

    Another weight-weenie note: Dynafit dropped a stunning 250 grams per boot when they went from the Dy.N.A to the new Evo variant. With the TLT-5 rumored to drop the toe flex next year, could it compete more closely with the Aliens in terms of weight next year?

    While it’s going to take significant on-snow testing to see how these babies perform on the down, could you provide some fit information? Do they offer hope for gram-counters whose feet don’t fit the Dynafit mold?

  2. Lou January 3rd, 2012 10:45 am

    Phil, yes, they have a different last than Dynafit. I’d say a bit more overall volume, a slightly less anatomical fit that might be easier for some folks to make work when they don’t want to spend time with boot fitter and experimenting with different sizes and liners.

  3. wick January 3rd, 2012 11:57 am

    Definitely a lower volume fit Vs any of the old F1′s. The carbon version is also a completely different animal Vs. the old F1 Carbon in terms of DH performance. Without the bellows in the Alien, it increases the stiffness of the boot, which IMO provides much more confidence for DH skiing. The boots ability to drive a larger ski and plain old ski faster/steeper lines at speed is a happy result, and I don’t miss the bellows on the uphills… Less than 200g between a Alien 1.0 and a (similar sized 30.0) Pierre G. 444 boot.

  4. Phil M January 3rd, 2012 1:27 pm

    Wick-

    Not even close to 200g. Gignoux boot weights are quoted shell-only, so the 444 weighs about 600g with liner.

  5. wick January 3rd, 2012 2:48 pm

    Phil – you are correct. The difference is actually closer to 150gr (~5oz.) difference (no foot beds & with liners in boot, size 30).

  6. Charles Miske January 3rd, 2012 3:14 pm

    Oh, I’m so in love right now…

    if only it were a bit less $$$$ :(

  7. aviator January 3rd, 2012 4:41 pm

    the PG 444 is 584g w “normal” liner
    564g with “bikini” liner

  8. John S January 3rd, 2012 5:45 pm

    I’d be interested in this boot, but being a ski mountaineer in the Canadian Rockies, warmth is a major concern for me, and these ultra light boots seem to save weight through thin, cold, liners.

  9. Lou January 3rd, 2012 6:23 pm

    John, you can upsize and use an aftermarket liner, but yeah, the liners a bit thinner, though they still do provide some foam…

  10. Silas Wild January 3rd, 2012 7:56 pm

    “Less than 200g between a Alien 1.0 and a (similar sized 30.0) Pierre G. 444 boot.”

    But PG is a “bargain” for its weight? Are these numbers correct?
    TLT5P $1000 2260g,
    Alien $1700 1360g,
    PG $1500 1128g.

  11. Silas Wild January 3rd, 2012 8:06 pm

    TP sells Alien for 1000E ~ $1350. Weights listed above are for 27.0 size.

  12. Lou January 3rd, 2012 8:20 pm

    The weight I listed in review is for 28, let’s all be clear about Alien, and Alien 1.0 carbon.

  13. AJ January 4th, 2012 1:54 am

    those extra deep slots at the rear of the boot, maybe for the Trab binding that will be released?

  14. Toby January 4th, 2012 4:53 am

    I been skiing these since one month now. The uphill performance is really amazing. Yesterday I did change the provided tongue liners for 5mm PALAU ULTRA LIGHTs – overlaps + some added boot fitting patches. Be aware that the provided INTUITION liners are very thin: 5mm or so. Intuitions look fancier for sure, but they were super soft right out of the box. With Palaus I managed to get better and tighter the ‘heel pocket’. They also have more material under that BOA knob; witch hopefully will provide more compression to gain a better heel retention that I’m lacking off. Palaus are also 100g lighter ;).

    For me the lack of the good heel retention is the only minus I can mention here. I’m very excited to see if those custom fitted Palaus will perform better.

    I’m usually having boots 27-27,5 and I bought these in 27. I have 105 last and the fore foot area feels roomy enough. But TLT5 in 27 fits me too. Otherwise I used to have 27,5 Scarpa telemark boots.

    One option for colder temperatures and more comfortable fit is to buy one size bigger and get a thicker 8-10mm liner into them.

    Scaled:
    Gaiter: 31 g
    Original Intuition Liner: 170 g
    Boot 27: 676 g

    Size 27 BSL: 287

    I added some protective Teflon tapes to the boot tips and inner sides: My boot total weight with PWR strap and Gaitor, Palau liners: 830 g each.

  15. Simon05 January 4th, 2012 5:19 am

    Does anyone have the sole length for the alien inMP28? Usually I am a 27 in all scarpa boots, but I tried the alien 1.0 in a 27 and found it super small, not only the shoe last but he actual length, way too small for me to use.

    Thanks in advance :-)

  16. Lou January 4th, 2012 5:47 am

    Size 28, BSL 296

  17. Jonathan Shefftz January 4th, 2012 7:13 am

    @AJ (re longer heel slots), the Trab TR1 prototype had standard Tech compatibility, and the TR2 prototype had a proprietary heel interface. Even if some imagined TR3 prototype required longer heel slots, that binding is definitely not intended for this kind of boot.

  18. Lou January 4th, 2012 7:21 am

    Jonathan, the heel slots are “deeper” in that they extend farther in the for/aft direction. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?

    Also, I should clarify. In comparison to Dynafit brand boots, the “pin slots” in the Scarpa are about the same depth in the their upper part (they’re about a millimeter deeper in that location), the main difference is that the same depth extends all the way down through the rubber sole, while the way Dynafit mills the slot creates less depth in the lower part. To me, how Scarpa mills their slot would possibly allow the use of a slightly longer pin, but truly, it would be better to have everything a few millimeters deeper than that if a longer pin was used.

  19. Jonathan Shefftz January 4th, 2012 7:23 am

    Lou, yes, that’s what I meant. (In other words, no matter what the intended purpose of that design, it has nothing to do with any possible upcoming Freeride-oriented Tech binding from Trab along the lines of the TR1 and TR2 prototypes.)

  20. aviator January 4th, 2012 9:04 am

    the PG 444 weights are @ size 27.5
    584g w “normal” liner
    564g with “bikini” liner

  21. aviator January 4th, 2012 9:05 am

    It is crucial to up size race boots for warmth and comfort
    the small sizes and thin liners are not meant to be comfortable at all, you are supposed to get them as small as possible and SUFFER through races.

    I use up sized PG 500s with any full size liner I want.
    100% carbon makes them 100% rigid, and I really did not expect them to be this incredibly comfortable for touring even though Michael Silitch and others been saying so. There’s something about the design and the amazing lightness that makes you forget you are wearing them. They really feel wearing trainers.

  22. Lou January 4th, 2012 9:12 am

    Aviator, good point about sizing. Even the semi race boots such as TLT 5 series seem to run small. Lisa, for example, wears a 24.5 Scarpa. We got a 24.5 for her in TLT, and she couldn’t really even get her foot in it. So im 90% certain we’re going to next shell size up (if not, we’ll be doing a lot of shell molding and liner changes). Any good shop or bootfitter can sort this out for a shopper, so everyone, don’t panic, but good to be aware.

  23. Jonathan Shefftz January 4th, 2012 9:18 am

    I think it all depends on your particular foot shape. Okay, obvious point, but still, for my DyNA, besides custom footbeds and molding the liners I have not made any modifications, yet they are the comfiest ski boots I have ever worn (well, okay, tied with my TLT5), even though the 287mm bsl exceeds my 265mm foot by only a precious 22mm in total (toe and heel combined). And yesterday, while skinning with a summit temp of 0F (and -16F windchill), my feet were still sufficiently warm even though the rest of me got so cold in between my 2nd & 3rd runs that I wimped out and warmed up inside briefly as part of my transition.

  24. aviator January 4th, 2012 10:05 am

    Good points jonathan
    I meant the PG/evo/alien more extreme type race boots.
    and warmth wise I meant standing and sitting around
    When you are moving you need A LOT LESS to stay warm than most people think.

  25. JonM January 5th, 2012 4:05 pm

    Size up? You guys with little feet are funny. This boot is only avail up to a 30. Come on Scarpa, show us big footed guys some love… give us a 31 at least, I don’t want to start cutting toes off.

  26. DirtyVerty January 6th, 2012 9:38 am

    Toby/Simon05/Lou,

    Seems that this boot is running small. Is there an accurate location to check BSL lengths for all sizes? Trying to order two pairs and would rather not ship back/forth to get the size dialed in.

    My GF’s Scarpa F1race says 285mm 5.5/6 along the side of the sole, she’s a ~25.5 euro length, yet the Alien mentioned above is 287mm in a size 27 and would appear to provide more or less same shell size…Lou’s 296 in 28 seems to correspond that these things are indeed running small and one should order a size or so up from norm?

  27. Simon05 January 6th, 2012 10:43 am

    @ dirtyverty, I have no experience of the normal alien only the alien 1.0 carbon.
    You really need to try these in a couple of sizes, they are very small and there is no scope of adjusting the fit with the stock liner as it extremely minimalist in construction. I have noticed a few pairs for re-sale here in France and the reason is always that they are too small.

  28. viktor762 January 11th, 2012 11:04 am

    Jonathan, when you said heel and toe combined, I wonder how else one would measure his/her foot. Do you mean you were accounting for the extended curve of the heel (as in putting a straight-edge from floor to back of heel)?

  29. Jonathan Shefftz January 11th, 2012 2:53 pm

    By “even though the 287mm bsl exceeds my 265mm foot by only a precious 22mm in total (toe and heel combined)” I meant as opposed to exceeding my foot by 11mm at the toe plus 11mm at the heel.

  30. Barry D January 22nd, 2012 2:35 am

    silly question here: i’m a decent skier, but i definitely make up for a lack of skill with leg strength. i currently ski the Maestrale’s and can tell when i ‘flex’ the boot in heavier snow, fast changes, etc. by overpowering it. that being the case, is it possible to break a lightweight boot like the alien by overpowering it?

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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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