A boot company goes for it with innovation. They deserve respect. We had the honor of being the first journalists (bloggers sometimes call themselves that, though we get scolded by the “real” scribes) to cover Scarpa F1 Evo ski touring boot. That was during our epic European gear journey last January — when in truth I was surprised we even got that blog post done in between the flowing prosecco and scurrying waiters delivering four course meals that made any other victuals of the world seem inedible.
While the Evo was indeed radical, in truth the Scarpa Alien 2.0 was the jaw dropper that used up our blogger energy. So perhaps we’ve not been giving Evo the blogination it deserved, the poor little thing. In an attempt to redeem our carbon composite transgressions, check out a few details regarding Evo. Oh, and I’ve skied them enough times for a take — yes Virginia, in the end that’s what is important. Read on, oh esteemed WildSnowers.
Important note about the “No Hands Tronic” auto cuff lock on the Evo: Know that when your boot comes out of your binding, your boot cuff is simply not locked; you will be in touring mode. While that’s perhaps a desirable convenience, one of the most common pre-release modes with tech bindings is an upward release at the heel resulting in “insta-tele.” Often when this happens you can feel it and just step back down into your binding heel without falling, but in doing so you need your boot cuff to stay supportive. With Evo, you’d end up with no rearward cuff support in this scenario, and it would be much more difficult to recover.
Beyond the autolocker, I’d say that the stiff carbon yoke that connects the cuff pivot to the lower shell (scaffo) is the most effective part of the Evo design. This is not a new concept in how to stiffen ski touring boots while trimming mass, but Scarpa invokes this nicely by molding the carbon into the regular boot plastic while leaving the black beefy stuff exposed, no doubt as a design statement. This is not cosmetic, however you can squeeze the boot with your hands and feel the added beef.
Considering the carbon yoke, Boa and all that…how do they ski?
In touring mode Evo felt “modern light” in weight. Ditto for cuff articulation; no problem there. This is definitely a desirable boot if you’re talking touring comfort. Indeed, if you have chronic fit problems, Scarpa’s Evo last might be enough of a departure from the norm to be worth looking at for something that finally works for you. The Boa system looks unusual but I’m here to tell you it is effective. A boot with thin plastic such as Evo suffers from weird distortions when closed with the ancient technology of cam buckles. Using the Boa cable winch, you get a nice even snugging around your foot. Bonus, you can reach down and change overall pressure in seconds. Downside? No individual adjustments for lower shell pressures as you’d perhaps receive with a couple of buckles; solution, do your homework with liner molding and fitting (as you must with a three-buckle boot).
Downhill performance was predictable for this sort of shoe. You are not not massaged with much in the way of progressive flex, but once the hatches are battened down you do have a reasonably responsive connection between your leg bones and ski edges. A trend I noticed this year is more and more skiers have realized that with modern ski technique they don’t need a lot of cuff flex in downhill mode. “Strap me in, hold me tight, and don’t let go!” is more the mantra. My theory is that skimo racing is finally making inroads into ski touring gear choices. As in “I can ski this boot and it’s a pound lighter, so what, it feels different?” In that sense, Evo will work. Only don’t expect it to ski like an overlap alpine boot.
Nonetheless, one is led to ponder what F1 Evo would feel like with an ultra rigid fiber composite cuff paired with the ankle yoke. I’d guess that could be in the works.
A few more things. Shell does have a boot board — surprising (and appreciated) for this type of low-volume shoe. Tongue is two-piece and provides no significant additional stiffness in downhill mode. This is nothing less than a faustian dilemma. Keep the shell tongue stiff and one-piece, the boot tours worse. Make it two piece, and it doesn’t add anything on the down.
You thus wonder if Scarpa could ever figure out a stiffer tongue with some kind of latching system that would release it for walking and stiffen it for skiing down (attempts at this have been made over the last century, but never to total satisfaction).
Sole is a Vibram brand low-density creation, yet with a bit of higher density material under the toe fittings. Nonetheless, amount of material under the branded and certified “Quick Step In” toe fittings is minimal — as in about 3 mm thick! I wish they’d just go back to using older style tech fittings in boots of this sort so we’d have more sole material to wear out on dirt and rocks. Any competent skier doesn’t need anything more than the old fitting shape. (Do I sound like a broken recording when it comes to touting stuff that tech binding inventor Fritz Barthel figured out about 30 years ago, perhaps before some of you were even born? Sorry, reality strikes.)
Conclusion: An incredibly innovative boot that shows why the scions of Asolo still rule the skier’s world of nylon plastic and carbon composite.
Boot evaluated is a Scarpa Evo F1, BSL 304, size 28, scaffo 28.
Total weight per boot is 44.0 ounces, 1246 grams.
Weight of one inner is 8.8 ounces, 248 grams.
Weight of one shell is 35.2 ounces, 998 grams.
Materials: Nylon plastic similar to Grilamid laminated with carbon composite ankle yoke: “Davide’s Secret Sauce.”
Available fall of 2014.