Salomon Quest BC 120 2013/14 — Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Update: Well, the 2012/13 season is closing up and we’re sending our testers back to Salomon. Consensus is that Quest is indeed a fully functional alpine skiing boot that tours. In terms of flex, Salomon rates Quest as a 120. While no industry standard exists for flex ratings, somewhat of a consensus has developed and folks who ski enough different boots can compare and rate subjectively. In view of that, one tester called these a “110.” In other words, if you like a boot with some give but also alpine-like support, Quest delivers. The fit is average in the last measurement area at a claimed 98mm, but subjectively roomy. That can make for a warmer and easier to fit boot, but for some skiers the shell might not be confining enough. No problems with the tech inserts or swap soles. The liners are beautiful; light and easy to thermo mold, with a fully reinforced tongue. Only gripe about the liners is we’d prefer the stock lacing to extend to the instep so our heel is anchored for touring strides when the shell buckles are loose. Conversely, if you don’t like liner laces they’re easily removed. If you’re shopping, be sure to do a carpet test as Quest is “different” in many ways, and thus might just be the boot you’ve been looking for.

Is the tech fitting strong enough? That's going to be your first question.

Is the tech fitting strong enough? That's going to be your first question. We set up this goof shot to illustrate that yes, per our ANSI approved crow bar test, it is strong enough. In reality, I did test with my smaller ANSI bar and the Quest fitting easily passed. Very solid. Click all images to enlarge

First, the sole blocks for this backcountry skiing boot.

First, the sole blocks for this backcountry skiing boot. Both DIN alpine and DIN touring with tech fittings are available. The sole block keys on beefy tabs of plastic protruding from the shell. That part is solid, but the screws are small and thread into plastic rather than T-nuts. With that in mind, we don't recommend frequent swapping. Both soles are compatible with Salomon WTR (Walk to Ride) internal standard, so they'll work well with the Salomon Gurardian binding, but also appear to be totally ready for any tech binding as well as frame type touring bindings.

Quest sole toe without pad block installed, note the plastic protruding from front.

Quest sole toe without pad block installed, note the plastic protruding from front. Screw shown inserted to demonstrate fastening method. While we'd like to see T-nuts instead of threads into plastic, we're not worried about catastrophic failure as the heavily shaped plastic at the toe essentially melds the sole pad-block to the boot shell in a way that will prevent it from ever coming off while in a binding.

Another view of toe, ready to receive swap-on sole pad block.

Another view of toe, ready to receive swap-on sole pad block.

Toe pad from underneath, screws go through the tech fitting plate and into the boot shell sole.

Toe pad from underneath, screws go through the tech fitting plate and into the boot shell sole.

The sole blocks come with rear tech fitting uninstalled.

The sole blocks come with rear tech fitting uninstalled. Main reason for this is the attachment screw goes through the sole pad into the lower shell of the boot. Another reason they're separated is since the tech fitting system can not be indemnified due to no DIN/ISO standard for tech fittings, it may protect Salomon to have the user essentially modify his own boots by his choice.

Rear sole pad block with tech fitting not installed. The block is first installed to the boot.

Rear sole pad block with tech fitting not installed. The block is first installed to the boot, then the tech fitting is installed with a long screw that threads through the sole pad and into the lower boot shell.

Front sole block installed in backcountry skiing boot.

Front sole block installed, full nesting with the boot shell is blocked by the indicated small pattern lugs in the shell sole. This is easily remedied by skiving the lugs down, but is an obvious oversight. We know you'll ask: how much play between swap sole and boot shell when the boot is worked side-to-side in rolling deflection? A tiny amount is the answer. We don't feel a small amount of play here has any performance detriment (it's way less than most bindings), but movement between sole pad and boot could eventually fatigue the attachment screws. Long term consumer testing will be the only way to evaluate that conjecture. We'd have like to see T-nuts backing the fasteners, as well as better nesting of the sole block to the shell sole.

Heel of Quest shell before installing sole pad block.

Heel of Quest shell before installing sole pad block. Note the excellent system of grooves and shapes that mate with the sole block.

Power strap is massive and secured by  two nicely washered rivets.

Power strap is massive and secured by two nicely washered rivets. We'd rather these were threaded fasteners, but nicely configured rivets get a hall pass.

Lean lock is beefy and positive; we could detect no play.

Lean lock is beefy and positive; could detect no play. Mode change is the usual flip of a tab you grab with your fingers. One lean setting at what felt like a moderate and modern angle. Lean could be added with a spoiler shim, but is not adjustable in the lock machinery.

Cuff articulation is average for a beef boot, and fairly stiff during rearward movement due to the cuff rubbing and  needing to spread a bit as it glides down over the lower shell at the heel.

Cuff articulation is average for a beef boot, with friction during rearward movement due to the cuff rubbing and needing to spread a bit as it glides down over the lower shell at the heel. Most beef boots have trouble matching the free articulation of true alpine touring boots. We figure that's part of the deal when you rock a stiffer and more downhill oriented shoe such as the Quest.

Rear spoiler mates with lower shell cuff using a molded block of plastic. Simple and effective.

Rear spoiler mates with lower shell cuff using a molded block of plastic. Simple and effective way of preventing side play of the upper cuff and instead melding upper and lower boot into one unit. This system could be modified to introduce slightly more easy and progressive flex by removing plastic from the slot in the lower boot shell. As it is, this boot is rates as a '120' flex according to Salomon, but we'd call it a rather moderate 120. We liked the flex and would not call it ultra stiff, yet would still ski this boot as a resort shoe.

Looking down into the Salomon Quest shell, toe to left.

Looking down into the Salomon Quest shell, toe to left. Neither the lower shoe nor tongue extend high as with some other boot designs. Nonetheless, due to a solid upper cuff and strong latching system, the boot feels thick and tough when buckled up. Due to the overlap and un-hinged tongue at the instep along with the left-right offset of the opening, I found the Quest difficult to get into. For easier entry I would cut away some shell plastic in the instep if I made them my go-to boot. While these might appear to be an overlap boot, the lower shell is a tongue type configuration, with the black plastic as seen in the photo being the tongue, which is anchored to the side by the buckle ladders.

Salamon Quest BC cuff pivots are large for more surface area to prevent wear while touring.

Salomon Quest BC cuff pivots are large for more surface area to prevent wear while touring. We're not sure they're any stronger than normal cuff rivets, as viewed from inside they appear to be normal diameter. A cuff alignment system is not included.

Backcountry skiing removable boat board.

Removable boot board is made from low density insulating plastic, and is easily customized.

Quest sidecountry skiing boot has one oversized upper buckle.

Quest sidecountry skiing boot has one oversized upper buckle. The idea here appears to be less weight and less fiddling. A touring position (shown being used in photo) is available if you need a looser cuff. Ladder distance is adjustable. All buckles are micro adjustable.

Quest liner is beautiful. Thermo moldable, reinforced tongue, laces with functional tightening system.

Quest liner is beautiful. Thermo moldable, reinforced tongue, laces with functional tightening system. We'd rather the laces continued down so they'd tighten the liner at instep.

Backcountry skiing boot last size.
Salomon Quest adjustable buckle position.

Second buckle has a delightful three-position adjustment capability. I've been repositioning my buckles for years so they grinch down better on my instep. I moved the Quest buckle to the inside position, worked well.

Second buckle moved to angle closer to instep. Very nice.

Second buckle moved to angle closer to instep. Very nice.

Summary:

I’d call this a higher volume boot with average forward cuff lean and a few innovative features. The tech fittings appear up to “standard.”

Following from a person at Atomic where they developed the tech inserts for Atomic and Salomon boots: “I’d also like to clarify a bit about our tech inserts… Currently, Dynafit has created 2 types of tech inserts — the original one, and the newer quick-step. The original design is available for anyone to use now since the patent has expired, so Atomic (shared with Salomon) has opted to create a tech insert that is 100% inline with the specifications of the original Dynafit tech insert, and therefore the same interface specifications to the TLT binding. The toe and heel inserts are made in Italy using the Lost-Wax (or Investment) casting process, which insures that the proper material hardness is the same throughout the entire piece. It is very costly but it ensures we deliver the proper safety equipment to the market…”

How stiff? I’d call the Salomon Quest backcountry skiing boot average when compared to the new crop of beef boots. I liked the flex as I don’t prefer boots that feel like I’m standing in buckets of cast concrete. The adjustable second buckle position is innovative. Lack of cuff “cant” alignment is surprising for a boot that can so obviously cross from backcountry, through sidecountry, to alpine. Worth a look if you’re shopping and don’t forget that they do have the Salomon “WTR” sole configuration that’s guaranteed to work correctly with Salomon’s Guardian frame binding.

Weights:
One boot with liner, size 27.5 BSL 315: 68.3 ounces, 1938 grams
One shell, no liner, same size: 57.4 ounces, 1628 grams

Comments

24 Responses to “Salomon Quest BC 120 2013/14 — Review”

  1. Tom Gos March 1st, 2013 11:57 am

    Great review Lou! Thanks. What do you think abou the possibility of using a helicoil or another type of threaded insert to make the sole block connection more durable? Could you even mod a T nut in there?

  2. Lou Dawson March 1st, 2013 12:00 pm

    They’d be easy to T-nut. As mentioned in review, it’s something to just be aware of and watch for, or if you do a lot of sole swapping the threads in the plastic will for sure eventually wear out. Lou

  3. Colin March 1st, 2013 1:11 pm

    Thanks for the review, Lou. Glad they figured out how to design a toe fitting that doesn’t collapse.

    Salomon’s had that movable second buckle on a number of their boots for years. I agree that it’s pretty cool. If I owned a pair, I’d immediately switch it to align more toward my heel.

  4. Lorne March 1st, 2013 2:39 pm

    Are you sure the frontmost holes could be t-nutted Lou? On your third photo it looks like the holes are very far forward and a t-nut couldn’t be placed from the inside.

    I was very interested to try on this boot as an alternative to my Bodacious (assuming it fits similarly to a Falcon/X3/X-Max which fits me very well), to use as my only boot. But since most of my alpine bindings don’t fit a semi-rockered sole I would need to swap the soles about 30 times per winter. A real shame.

  5. Lou Dawson March 1st, 2013 4:34 pm

    Colin, thanks, forgive my ignorance, I don’t track alpine boots much if at all. The movable buckle is excellent, I wonder if other boot makers could do the same thing?

  6. Lou Dawson March 1st, 2013 4:41 pm

    Lorne, yeah, I’m examining a shell and it does appear that the frontmost holes might not be t-nut-able. No way you could swap 30 times with screw threads cutting plastic. I think these are designed more for swapping once or twice a season, or perhaps no swap at all, just pick your sole, install, then that’s your boot.

    Regarding the rockered sole issue, look for all sorts of bindings coming out over the next few seasons that will accommodate a rockered sole. It’s going to be a non-issue eventually.

    Lou

  7. Colin March 1st, 2013 7:36 pm

    No worries, Lou. They used to call it their “3-D Buckle System.” On some of the boots there was actually a metal switch at the buckle attachment and you could switch between two positions without unscrewing. Pretty cool–and still durable, to my knowledge. Had it since at least the X-Wave series circa 2004-2005. Wish more manufacturers did it.

  8. reukk March 2nd, 2013 4:01 pm

    I know the current Quest uses a softer PU plastic that they market as moldable/customizable. What’s the shell material like on the new version?

    And Lou, what’s your take on boots that are marketed as having moldable / customizable shells?

  9. XXX_er March 4th, 2013 9:16 am

    “No way you could swap 30 times with screw threads cutting plastic. I think these are designed more for swapping once or twice a season, or perhaps no swap at all, just pick your sole, install, then that’s your boot.”

    thats about how often I swapped the convertible garmont soles when I had em, If you are careful and get the screws back in the same threads every time instead of letting the screw cut new threads IME you will have no problem

    Convertible soles were a good option when I wasn’t sure if I would tour much but IME once you know and have the coin … go for dedicated AT/Alpine setups

  10. Lou Dawson March 4th, 2013 9:20 am

    Xer, yeah, this is going to be a non issue since by next season there will be a bunch of full-on alpine bindings that accept properly designed rocker soles. That’s the whole thrust of Salomon WTR.

    My crystal ball tells me that convertable soles will end up fading away, and be remembered as a momentary diversion. They’re too expensive to produce as 100% bomber, for one thing. And how many people are really going to use them more than once or twice a season?

    They remind me of adjustable ski poles, which are one of the weirder things out there in terms of what people will spend vs actually adjusting them more than once.

  11. XXX_er March 4th, 2013 10:03 am

    I used to zap all the screws out with a screw gun but IME what you want to do is put the screws in by hand turning them gently BACKWARDS til you feel the screw drop into the original thread NOW turn the screw forward … took about 15min to do 18 screws

    My 5 yr old Garmont AT boot weighs 1750grams and no tech fittings so I bought the same size mercs which only weigh 1389grams some of that is due to new technology but you also compromise on weight

    I use adjustable poles way more often than I swapped soles, I do not NEED BD flicklocks but I do use them and I find them nice to have

    BUT If I was cheap or short of cash or unsure of my direction in skiing I really would need a swapable sole

    BUT the swapable sole is the big compromise in a ski boot … not the be all end all in a ski boot

  12. Lou Dawson May 5th, 2013 4:08 pm

    Wrapping up the season and wrapping up the Quest samples. I added an update to the start of the review.

  13. Joe Cocklin October 29th, 2013 1:42 pm

    I am not happy with my setup. I broke one of the bindings on my 4th trip out. The boots have been impossilbe to fit. I get severe blisters on the inside of both my heals 1 hour into a climb. The do ski down hill just fine. I would not recomment the solomon set up.

  14. J-Bag November 11th, 2013 9:34 am

    Hey Lou,

    Thanks for this review. I’am curious as to where you acquired/bought these tech soles?

    I just got a pair of quest max 130′s and really want to get a pair of tech soles to try out on them.

    Thanks!

  15. Lou Dawson November 11th, 2013 9:43 am

    J, the boots and tech compatible soles came from Salomon. I’d call their customer service to find out about getting the soles. Lou

  16. B B King November 12th, 2013 6:29 am

    Nice review. Would these tech soles be compatible with the older Quest Pro? The tech soles in that one did cause quite the debate so I haven’t used them w tech bindings, but would love to cause the shoe fits me so well. Could i put the new tech soles in or would that not fit?

  17. Lou Dawson November 12th, 2013 7:07 am

    BB, again, you’ll need to take that up with customer service at Salomon. Sorry I don’t have a more concrete answer. Lou

  18. Matt Rass November 16th, 2013 3:11 pm

    Wicked review! Would you happen to know if that minor oversight with the front block had been fixed in the production models?

  19. Shannon January 19th, 2014 8:02 am

    I have the salomon Quest 10 boots (2012 I think) and I am wondering if I can purchase the sole block with the tech fitting just on it own and it would fit on there?

  20. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2014 11:26 am

    You’ll need to take that up with customer service at Salomon. Sorry I don’t have a more concrete answer. Lou

  21. Johngfc February 4th, 2014 12:16 pm

    2 comments and a question. Short version: (1) I think these are a _great_ fit for skinny guys with long, low-volume, narrow feet. (2) Agree not as stiff as other 120 boots, (3) I have an issue with snow getting up the cuff and melting. Suggestions? Apologies for the long post – too much coffee!

    First the issue: There’s a space – maybe 1/8 in – at the base of the cuff, where it overlaps and wraps over the white plastic. On big powder days (like last weekend – yahoo!) snow gets forced up the cuff where it eventually melts and wets the top of my foot. Not a huge amount of wetness, but very irritating and potentially a real issue on cold days. Especially not what I expect after putting out more than 7 bills for new boots. I stopped by Larry’s yesterday (where I got the boots) and he heated the cuff and reshaped it a bit, but I can see a space. To his credit. Larry said he’d do more if I had time to leave the boots, but we were passing through and I wouldn’t leave them. I’m headed out Thurs and am concerned that since I can still this will still be an issue. I’m wondering if others have experienced this and found a solution. I’ll try gluing/taping foam in the space but I don’t expect that will be a durable solution. I’ve got chicken-thin legs and always use a one of the tightest top buckle positions — this may not be an issue for those with stocky calves/ankles.

    Suggestions/advice?

    On fit: I have very narrow, low volume feet, with ~1/2 size difference between feet – typically very difficult to fit. I was surprised at the comment above that these may be “roomy” 98mm lasts. Not in my experience with this year’s crop of boots. Maybe the 98 is roomy, but other boots I tried on where the width was close were too short. I tried on maybe 10 “narrow” boots at various shops before ending up at Larry’s where they put me in these. Great job fitting them. The fitter didn’t want to mold the liners, but I insisted to get a bit more toe space and in the end there was what I’d call very minimal liner molding and no modification to the shells. The boots hurt a bit on exiting the shop (mostly top of instep, but a also a bit on the ankle bones) and I was sure I’d be back to adjust the fit. So I wore them 15-20 hrs around the house in 1-4 hr sessions before skiing and they’ve been excellent from day one. Been on them 10 very full days now and I can comfortably wear them all day. I tried the instep buckle in the back position (as noted above) but this seemed to create a pressure point on my instep so I moved it back to the middle (as from the factory). I wear these in a 26.5 for resort skiing, and wear TLT5′s in a (loose) 28.5 for backcountry. Both are working great but I don’t expect the TLTs to perform like the Quests on hardpack, or anything else for that matter. I wear heavier socks in the TLT’s and as long as I’m moving, I’ve been warm on days where the high temps were near zero. I use thin liners in the Quests but the liners have packed a bit and I’ll soon move to thin ski socks. I think the liners in the Quests are a very firm foam, and they’ll be a bit more comfortable when the liner pack just a bit more and I can go to a lightweight ski sock rather than very thin liner. But as I said, they’re already comfortable enough to wear all day. Agree it would be nice for the liner laces to go down farther. With my skinny legs I find the laces a slight hassle – there’s a lot of cord hanging out the top and I need to carefully tuck it in. For me, the laces are critical and tightening them up makes a very big difference. Removing the laces isn’t an issue – I get a bit of shin bang already if the laces are just a bit loose.

    The Quests are notably softer than my old SpeedMachine 100′s. With both boots I have the top cuffs buckled as tight (SpeedMachines) or about as tight (Quests) as they go so _lots_ of cuff overlap, which I think stiffens the SpeedMachines more than the Quests. In my limited experience I think these are noticeably softer than other 120 rated boots and I’d put them more at 100 or 110. This hasn’t been an issue for me. I doubt I’ll use these outside the resort, but for those that want I think they’d d be an awesome boot for demanding backcountry use. The walking mode works pretty well – this only allows the boot to flex back, not forward, but nonetheless this is way better than nothing, especially for short hikes (read: Highland Bowl, hike to Hanging Valley, etc.). The rubber material on the soles makes them a lot more comfortable to walk in and it’s much safer (less slippery) than hard plastic soles.

    Bottom line: I’d get these again if I can solve or reduce the leakage issue.

  22. Lou Dawson February 4th, 2014 3:33 pm

    John, that leak issue sounds tricky. As a stop-gap, can you just stick a chunk of duct tap in there to cover the hole under the cuff? Only real solution is some plastic forming as your boot fitter did, and possibly adding some plastic that the boot fitter would rivet in. Perhaps other folks have other ideas but those are the only two things I can think of.

    As for the stiffness and overall take on the boots, thanks for the review, excellent!

  23. johngfc February 5th, 2014 10:02 pm

    Thanks. I’ve duct taped a bit of foam insulation that will hopefully seal the crack. Not that elegant but it’ll probably work.

    As noted, I suspect this is an issue primarily or entirely for folks with skinny ankles, where the cuffs are buckled very tightly.

  24. Alex C March 2nd, 2014 3:47 pm

    I won a pair of Salmon Quest’s at the start of the season and I’ve been using them exclusively for touring this winter, meaning I’ve had the tech soles on pretty much all the time, except for a few days at the hill at the start of the season – meaning I haven’t been changing sole blocks at all since early December.

    The last few times out, I’ve had problems with the screws for one of the toe blocks not staying in. After a bit of climbing, they just come loose and the toe block wobbles and eventually one or two screws will fall out. It wasn’t too bad until this past weekend, when I was on a three-day hut trip and the two rear screws on the toe block kept falling out. I could climb for 5-10 minutes before they would come loose. I tried lock-tite, but that didn’t work. I wrapped the screws in duct tape, but that didn’t hep either.

    As far as I can tell, the holes have been stripped. Has anyone else had this problem? Can you think of any solutions, other than seeing if I can get them warrantied? I’m wondering if it’s just a problem with my boot, or a design issues.

    Thanks!

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