Arcteryx Procline Ski Touring & Climbing Boot – Review

Post by blogger | December 11, 2015      
Arcteryx Procline ski touring boot is intended to cross over between climbing up and heading down.

Arcteryx Procline ski touring boot is intended to cross over between climbing up and heading down.

I still have to pinch myself when I keyboard phrases such as “Arcteryx ski boot.” I guess it was inevitable, seeming as ski touring has become so big — and even when less popular was still one of the core mountain sports. But still. It feels strange. One wonders at the next brand to enter the mad fray.

I’ve just spent two days skiing and fiddling with the Arcteryx Procline boots and Voltair airbag rucksack. Nice opportunity for more than simply looking at new products. How about a review of the Procline?

As mentioned in my first look, a Procline design philosophy sprouts from the needs of alpinists who both climb and ski. Root of this is the old “why can’t they make a climbing boot with some tech fittings?”

Turns out sticking tech fittings in a climbing boot is tough. Mostly, doing so requires a toe that is simply too wide. More, the boot has to have a modicum of resistance to twisting. While most climbing boots are quite stiff in the sole they’re nothing like a ski touring boot.

Thus, the Arcteryx boot designers applied the time honored principle of reverse thinking: If you can’t make a climbing boot that’s a ski boot, how about a ski boot that is a climbing boot?

To accomplish this alchemist mix of oil and water, Procline begins with an articulated cuff with max fore-aft movement. Add a super short lower shell length (BSL), minimal boot delta and a thick rubber sole. All that has been done before — but appears to be done quite nicely here. Next level is achieved by adding a vertical split to the rear of the cuff. When the cuff is unlocked in “walk” mode, the two sides of the cuff flex left/right independent of each other. This “universal” flex makes the boot much easier to balance in while wearing crampons or simply hiking.

Genius with the split cuff is it still provides plenty of left-right support, and the stiffness can be regulated by how tight you buckle or power-strap while in walk mode. I’ve seen prototypes of ski boots with loosey-goosey cuffs in walk mode, and they’re too loose. You need some support, while you can feel the slight side-to-side movement of the Procline cuff, it is there for you as well.

I spent quite a bit of time in Procline walk mode, both tromping around and skin climbing. The short rockered sole adds pleasant ergonomics. More, the split cuff provides a subtle but real ankle roll that enhances uphill travel with skis and climbing skins, and most certainly would make stumbling around on crampons less of a “tottering on stilts” experience. Of course, the ultimate idea here is you can do alpine climbing with Procline to a higher level than with normal ski touring boots. What level that actually is will probably depend on your needs and basic skill level, but this is most certainly real. This is a ski boot that actually is a climbing boot.

The lean lock switch is fairly easy to grab without gloves, but with cold gloved hands I found it difficult to flip.

The lean lock switch is fairly easy to grab without gloves, but with cold gloved hands I found it difficult to flip into uphill mode. I found this particularly difficult while standing with much forward or backward pressure on the cuff. Likewise, you have to move your leg around a bit while flipping into ski mode, as the split cuff has several bumps and corresponding holes that have to engage.

As for skiing, while my demo boots were not tuned to my needs, and fit slightly too big, I was surprised at how much support they offered when buckled down. On top of that, the designers built in a small amount of progressive flex by making the rear spoiler from somewhat flexible plastic rather than rigid carbon composite. As a result, Procline does have a sort of faux progressive flex as compared to lightweight ski boots that feel somewhat like your ankle is in a steel collar someone dragged out of a dungeon in medieval Europe.

Switching modes with Procline is probably where I’d give them average to mediocre marks. Due to the split cuff and its locking system, working the lock lever is quite sensitive to how much forward or rear pressure you’re applying with your leg. Additionally, the lock lever is difficult to manipulate with gloved hands.

Since we’re on the subject of cons: While in theory I like the “ribbon” webbing liner lace system, I found it difficult to work with in real life as the built-in gaiter blocks access to your final wrap and Velcro attachment of the lace.

It is difficult to photograph the built-in gaiter, hopefully you can see it here. Click to enlarge.

It is difficult to photograph the built-in gaiter, hopefully you can see it here. Click to enlarge.

Adding to their climbing chops, Procline has a slick looking built-in gaiter with the usual Arcteryx water tight zipper. The gaiter completely surrounds your leg and foot, and is bonded to the lower shell. Idea here is a totally snow and water-tight seal existing under the boot cuff. You can release the boot cuff as far as you want, get snow in there, and you end up with little to no moisture inside the actual boot shell. I like the gaiter, but it would work better in my opinion if it was constructed from a waterproof-breathable textile rather than an impermeable. It’s bad enough having impermeable boot shell lowers and breathing some moist air up around your leg helps ventilate. Shut that venting off with the Procline gaiter, compensate with waterproof-breathable.

Procline Carbon sports a plastic bushing at the cuff pivot,  genius in the details.

Procline Carbon sports a plastic bushing at the cuff pivot, genius in the details.

As is often the case with technical gear, much of the Procline genius is in hidden details. Examples of that are the footboard (removable insole under the liner), but more importantly the plastic bushing molded into the pivot hinge on the carbon cuff of the Carbon model. As some of you well know, a problem with carbon ski boot cuffs is they grind away at the lower boot’s pivot plastic, often resulting in excessive slop in the cuff pivots. You spend $1,000 on a ski boot, and after a season, it’s behaving like an eight year old (clean up your room!). Well, with Procline Carbon, no more mess. A nice little plastic ring is co-molded into the cuff, riding as a bushing on a small plastic boss on the lower shell (all held together with the cuff rivet, so invisible).

About the cuffs of both models. Both include carbon. Carbon model cuff is 5 layers of carbon fiber that’s over-molded with Grilamid. The “Men’s and Women’s” version cuffs are made with “carbon infused” Grilamid. The difference doesn’t save any weight, instead, the carbon fiber version is ostensibly stiffer. Real world, unless you’re an aggressive skier on big skis, either version cuff is probably fine. Naturally, I’ll be using the more expensive one if for no other reason than to look down and twitch a reserved but obvious smile from my frost enhanced lips — while stroking the Arcteryx logo on my chest and thinking prehistoric thoughts.

I did give the Procline gaiter system a torture test. When returning from one of our forays into the wolverine and bear filled wilderness near Whistler BC, we found our way back to the beer kegs blocked by a fairly large river. With no available snow bridge we did some wading. In particular, I tried to stand in the water and chop a tunnel in an overhanging 8 foot high wall of creekside snow. The boots did amazingly well until the water reached the top of the gaiter.

With a Grilamid lower shell “scaffo,” fairly large volume, interior boot board and thermo liner, Procline should be easy to fit. With my low volume feet, I found the size 28 ended up heat molding without enough liner thickness to completely form to my feet (a common syndrome). The 27.5 felt better but was too short. My personal testers will thus be the 27.5 with a length punch and perhaps some added liner thickeners.

The ski-walk latch is more complicated than normal, due to the split cuff. Quite ingenious, really.

The ski-walk latch is more complicated than normal, due to the split cuff. Quite ingenious, really.

Note that Procline will have two available liners. The Lite is a classic superlight 100% thermo moldable liner that is probably the best “uphill agility” rig for crossover between skiing and climbing, as well as providing the lightest weight configuration of the boot. A slightly beefier stroble constructed “Support” liner is said to add a bit of stiffness and ski better, at a weight penalty of 70 grams. Both liners have a clever (optional) lacing system using webbing tape and small metal anchors. I used the lacing and liked how it performed, but found it fiddly to get it tightened up and anchored to a small velcro area under the built-in gaiter. It appears the Support liner has some kind of provision for breath-ability in the upper cuff, of unknown efficacy. Considering the non breath-able gaiter, any breathing in the liner is somewhat of a non issue.

Since we’re on the subject of weight, it should be mentioned that most certainly Procline is not the lightest ski touring boot out there, but at 1,190 grams (with Lite liner) it’s easily on the lighter side of the equation. In my view, if you balance Procline’s mass with features such as the gaiter, rubber toe rand and full-on climbing sole, the weight/performance equation adds up perfectly. Bear in mind that Procline is already stripped down, it has no removable tongue and only two buckles. You could drop a few grams by trimming some rubber off the sole and ditching the power strap, but that’s about it for mods.

Another small but important detail. Note the use of older style tech fittings. Ones without the “Quick Step In” feature patented by Dynafit. The fittings are still certified by Dynafit (they come with the red plastic clip/seal which indicates such), but by being old school they’re thinner vertically thus allowing for thicker sole rubber at the toe. This is a huge issue for people who really climb, sans skis, in their ski boots. I’ve seen guys wear out boot soles in one trip when they get to cleating their way on boulders and scree. Procline will last longer, though you’re still not sporting a full-on thick alpine climbing boot sole.

In summary I was surprised at how skiable the Procline is, considering how natural and comfy the walk-climb mode is. They were warm, transitions were average, and the weight of 1190 grams (27.5 with “Lite” liner) is acceptable for a boot with this many features. Provided I could create a tuned fit, I could see these becoming a ski touring go-to for myself, or perhaps the boot I’d use for days when working around our cabin (or ice climbing?) were equal in priority to skiing up and down the mountain above us.

MSRP prices
Procline Carbon Lite & Carbon Support: 730 euro, 1,000 usd
Procline Men’s and Women’s (non carbon): 530 euro, 750 usd

Weights (from catalog)
Procline Carbon Lite 1190 gr, size 27.5
Procline Carbon Support 1260 gr, size 27.5 (Exact same shell, liner with more ski performance.)
Procline Men’s Lite 1190 gr, size 27.5 (Carbon infused cuff plastic, no fiber.)
Procline Men’s Support 1260 gr, size 27.5 (Infused cuff, liner with more ski performance.)

Procline Women Lite 1060 gr, size 25.5 (Carbon infused cuff plastic, no fiber, sizes from 23 to 27.5, exact same shell as “men’s” with a liner shaped for differences in women’s leg shapes.)

Procline Women Support, 1120 gr size 25.5 (Same as above with ski support liner.)

Power strap is quite nice. It tightens up and locks without velcro, is easy to loosen for the uphill, and easy to completly unlatch using the  hook and bar shown here.

Power strap is quite nice. It tightens up and locks without Velcro, is easy to loosen for the uphill, and easy to completely unlatch using the hook and bar shown here.


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45 Responses to “Arcteryx Procline Ski Touring & Climbing Boot – Review”

  1. Scott Nelson December 11th, 2015 11:20 am

    Dare I ask how much these things will retail for? Cool concept.

  2. Fede December 11th, 2015 2:09 pm

    Thanks Lou, nice review! I would disagree that the ski walk mechanism is hard to operate it. I actually find it one of the easiest in the market of this kind of boots. But obviously this is very subjective. Thanks again for the nice review and glad you liked the boots 🙂

  3. Charlie Hagedorn December 11th, 2015 3:14 pm

    How is skinning downhill/over obstacles, as one encounters on approaches/adventures? Do you miss the lateral support?

    Super neat boot!

  4. Wayne December 11th, 2015 4:04 pm

    Many of the lightweight boots have removable tongues to add a little beef for bigger skis. These don’t appear to have a tongue. Very cool boot–I really want to try them. Nice work Fede!

  5. Lou 2 December 11th, 2015 4:59 pm

    Charlie, the side flex is minimal though you do notice a bit more lack of suppot when going downhill on skins. It didn’t seem to be a problem. Lou

  6. Lou 2 December 11th, 2015 5:07 pm

    Fede and I never totally agree, but he has never been wrong about what to have for dinner in Italia (grin). Lou

  7. GeorgeT December 11th, 2015 6:42 pm

    My favorite line, “…we found our way back to the beer kegs blocked by a fairly large river.” Seems boot innovation is the most exciting area right now.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 December 12th, 2015 9:26 am

    All, I made a bunch of additions to this review. I’ll keep working on it. Have had trouble with productivity due to doing a bunch of air travel hops. Lou

  9. Ryan December 12th, 2015 9:48 am

    Any word on pricing? I imagine these don’t come cheap but they may fit a need for me. Lou, in your limited time on them, what was your impression of them support/power wise compared to something like a TLT5/6 with or without tongue?

  10. Sam F December 12th, 2015 10:09 am

    In theory this should facilitate long crampon approaches(French stepping)which is the only time I find my tlt5 to be inferior to a climbing boot. But to be honest I’m a little skeptical as to whether it would be that noticeable. The older style tech fittings allowing thicker soles now that is huge! Will we be able to demo these in NA this year?

  11. Lou Dawson 2 December 12th, 2015 3:48 pm

    Hi Ryan, I added prices to review above. TLT6-P with tongue is quite a bit stiffer feeling forward, about the same rearward. Lateral, I’d say they’re similar, main thing is that Procline is more roomy so that could benefit some folks but cause fit issues for those who like tighter boots. To be more clear (as mud?) I’d also say the Procline skied better than I expected, but once my legs were tired my pair with their loose fit could have been better in the type of conditions we were in (coastal BC multi layers, with lots of early season terrain bumps and dips). I think once I get my own pair and tune the fit they’ll be quite nice, but not a TLT6-P with tongue — and that’s not what they’re intended to be. They’re the first “cross over” modern climbing-AT boot. Lou

  12. Mykhaylo December 12th, 2015 5:05 pm

    (the site ate my comment; retrying)
    Is their power strap elastic like in Scarpa upper models (a-la “booster lite”), or is it not (stays the same length and causes shin blisters)?

    I guess quite some years will pass till they’ll add WPB gaiter AND they will be around on sales.. Can’t really buy any of their PRECIOUS gear that is not on major sale, but – given they’ll fix issues – I can see myself buying those in future.

  13. Kristian December 13th, 2015 9:26 am

    On really big vertical days, I am touring, climbing, skiing, and 4×4 rig driving in La Sportiva Carbon Stratos Evos.

    Heavenly comfortable like bedroom slippers.

  14. See December 13th, 2015 10:22 am

    $3K! Can carbon shell ski boots be punched— are they thermoplastic like carbon cycling shoes or skates?

  15. Lou Dawson 2 December 13th, 2015 10:42 am

    See, no, can’t really “punch” the carbon shell. Just imagine, you’d have to somehow stretch a carbon fiber weave and strands. Only way to fit a broad range of users, carbon shell boots have to be built with a fairly large volume last, which is filled with a fairly thick moldable liner. IMHO there is a huge amount of room for improvement on how liners perform and mold. Ideally, it shouldn’t really matter how wide the “last” of a given boot is. The liner should fill up any extra volume firmly enough to make the boot feel as responsive as you want, while perfectly molding to your foot as well. That would especially be the ideal for carbon boots. Lou

  16. See December 13th, 2015 11:05 am

    (I wonder if skimo boots tend to be low volume because skimo racers tend to be low volume.) I’m still not sure why a thermoplastic resin wouldn’t work well for carbon ski boots. In my experience, carbon cycling shoes and skate boots are easier to punch than pebax ski boots and stand up to a fair amount of abuse. Maybe more difficult/costly to produce heat moldable carbon?

  17. swissiphic December 13th, 2015 11:26 am

    you said it Lou! I really think we’re still in the bronze age with ski boot liners….I mean, we’re doing good compared to the old liners back in the dynafit tlt 4 days but still, a ways to go. 150 gram warm tourable zipfit like liner?

    “IMHO there is a huge amount of room for improvement on how liners perform and mold. Ideally, it shouldn’t really matter how wide the “last” of a given boot is. The liner should fill up any extra volume firmly enough to make the boot feel as responsive as you want, while perfectly molding to your foot as well

  18. See December 13th, 2015 7:57 pm

    I’m all for better liners, but the thing that puzzles me most is, why aren’t boots offered in different widths? Most manufacturers have a ridiculous number of different models, but no narrow and wide versions of a single model. A close shell fit is the way to go (imo), and one size doesn’t fit all.

  19. XXX_er December 14th, 2015 9:28 am

    The figure I heard is 50K for every boot mold so different widths/volumes/ lengths could be done but that would make for a very expensive boot?

  20. Jason December 14th, 2015 11:08 am

    I’d be really happy if Dynafit had half as many different designs but available in wide and regular widths for the same total number of SKUs and tooling costs.

  21. Dave Dodge December 14th, 2015 11:58 am

    Dodge apline ski boots are thermoplastic carbon fiber and can be punched with a special punch. They are also available in a 98mm and 102mm last. No tech fittings or walk mode yet, but soon to come.

  22. Lou Dawson 2 December 14th, 2015 12:04 pm

    Thanks Dave, I was trying to be clear that actual carbon fibers won’t stretch, so if the ski boot really uses long carbon fibers, no punching, right? But if the plastic is carbon infused with shorter fibers or particles, then sure, could be molded if sensitive to heat softening without damage? Please help us clear this up. Thanks, Lou

  23. Dave Dodge December 14th, 2015 12:34 pm

    Hi Lou – Our boots have all continuous carbon fiber in a TPU resin. The fibers do stretch a little but most of the shape change comes from stealing a little from somewhere else. The TPU resin makes this practical. We can stretch a 98 last to about 102 and a 102 last to about 106. Other areas like the navicular and ankles are very easy to punch since a lot shape change can be made without the need to stretch the fibers. Toe length punches are almost impossible as you might expect.

  24. Lou Dawson 2 December 14th, 2015 3:11 pm

    Ok Dave, thanks for clarifying! Lou

  25. See December 14th, 2015 5:55 pm

    Dave Dodge actually knows what he’s talking about. But here’s how I think about the “carbon boot punch” issue: A flat sheet of carbon cloth can be laid in a mold to form various shapes. Shapes with tight bends require cuts, multiple pieces, etc., but a flat sheet of carbon cloth can be made to conform to a not-flat surface. I think this is because the fibers shift around in relation to each other and within the matrix. When a moldable composite is heated, the resin softens and the fibers can shift. Maybe not enough to blow out a pair of narrow skate boots to fit my fat feet, but enough to take the pressure off bunions/6th toes/ankle bones.

  26. See December 14th, 2015 6:21 pm

    And I believe thermoplastic resin is tougher.

  27. See December 14th, 2015 7:03 pm

    Note: I’ve never seen a Dodge ski boot.

  28. Andrew Wagner December 14th, 2015 8:21 pm


    obviously your boots rock for racing, and a lot of the folks that i work with (coacing) swear by them as well. when i first saw the dodge boot i thought this could finally be the ideal platform for a light AT boot that skis like a racer. I Any chance you’ve got touring boot in the works? tech fittings and a walk mode?

  29. Dave Dodge December 15th, 2015 7:34 am

    We’ll have prototypes late winter. BTW 90% of our boots go to recreational skiers now.

  30. RDE December 15th, 2015 9:17 am

    To elaborate on See’s point— carbon fiber fabrics (and glass as well) are typically available in three configurations. Unidirectional, where all fibers are oriented in a single direction, multi-axial, where unidirectional fibers are laid over each other at a bias, and woven, where the fibers are woven together resulting in “crimp” between fibers oriented in one direction and others typically at 90 degrees. Although carbon only has about 1% “stretch” until it fails, if woven cloth were used in a very resin rich laminate it is possible that the boot could be stretched a bit by flattening out the crimp within the heated resin part of the composite. More to the point, shape modification can only be achieved by moving material from one place to another as Dave Doge suggests. Anything more and you were really dealing with some form of black plastic with “carbon” added primarily for marketing buzz.

  31. See December 15th, 2015 9:42 am

    I actually punched my new (pebax) alpine boots for width last weekend, and noticed that the part of the the shell directly above my foot had dropped down a few mm, creating a small gap between the lower and the tongue. There’s a vinyl bellows under the tongue and the gap mostly goes away when my foot is buckled in so I’m not too concerned about wet feet, but my point is that (at least when punching for width) moving material from one place to another happens regardless of material. Given the fact that most super light shells are open over the foot, it seems like punching for width would just widen that gap a bit. In other words, material could easily be moved.

  32. See December 15th, 2015 9:51 am

    (Also, the cycling shoes I referred to are Bonts. They sure look like real long fiber carbon to me.)

  33. Lou Dawson 2 December 15th, 2015 10:07 am

    See, yeah, boot punching most often robs material from one place. For example, a big toe punch ends up lowering the shell over the toes. It’s possible to make the boot stretch without the parasitic action on other areas, but doing so is quite difficult, involving getting one area of the boot quite hot while keeping other parts cool and shaped. Much easier with Grilamid or PU, difficult with Pebax.

  34. swissiphic December 15th, 2015 11:05 am

    interesting youtube vid on stretching a (speculating p/u shell for length at toebox with vertical height reduction mitigation technique/tools.

  35. See December 15th, 2015 12:15 pm

    Maybe I’m using the term “punch” incorrectly. I mostly use an adjustable form inside the boot to make it wider, not a clamp type device that stretches the plastic in a very localized area. Sorry if this has caused confusion. All I’m really trying to say is I think thermoplastic carbon might make for some nice, tough, heat moldable (to some degree) but still very light boots. (Although the chances of me getting some are pretty slim, considering I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $600 on a pair of boots and don’t plan to any time soon.)

  36. scott December 15th, 2015 6:40 pm

    What are the last sizes?

  37. Tyler Eardley September 24th, 2016 1:00 pm

    I’m 99% sure this is the boot of choice for splitboarders. I’m taking the punt and using them this winter for splitboarding. If anyone else has experience snowboarding in them I’d love to hear from you
    Tylereardley using gmail

  38. Patrick Moore October 6th, 2016 11:54 am

    Tyler Eardley: Yes, with minimal modification, this may, indeed, be the boot us splitboarders have been looking for. I ordered the Procline Boot (with the lite liner), and am really looking forward to getting out with them!

  39. Czaja January 10th, 2017 5:29 am

    Can you please advise how does Arcteryx achieve half a size difference within the same shell size? I was under the impression that the liner should be thicker but was told (not verified) that the only difference is the insole thickness and the liner is exactly the same in both sizes.

    Many thanks.

  40. Lou Dawson 2 January 10th, 2017 6:01 am

    Czaja it is common in the ski boot industry to have one shell size cover the half sizes. For example, a 27 might also be a 27.5. Sometimes the liner is actually of the half size dimensions, sometimes it is simply molded to the half size with a “ghost” last, and yes, volume is adjusted with insole. In the case of the Procline you would purchase the best shell size for your foot, and then mold the liner, and you would end up with a thicker or thinner liner depending on what your foot needed. In other words, the liner might be the “same” on the store shelf, but once you mold you end up with a thicker or thinner liner. I’t a good system, although sometimes it’s difficult to know which shell size when you are between sizes. Lou

  41. Czaja January 10th, 2017 6:28 am

    Thank you Lou. Yes, I have been aware that most manufacturers offer one shell that covers half sizes. I was specifically interested to find out how Arcteryx achieves it. The reason for me asking the question is that the stores I have visited so far don’t stock full sizes, just half. I know I need 28/28.5 shell which is good. However 28.5 seems a bit roomy in the toe box for me (which could probably be sorted after molding). So I was wondering if I could benefit from going half a size down to get a better fit? Which probably only makes sense if the liners are different. Cheers.

  42. Lou Dawson 2 January 10th, 2017 7:09 am

    Pretty sure the liners will be the same if you’re in the same shell, only the liner will be “ghost molded” to the specified size, and of course assumed to be fitted to the customer with various insoles and molding techniques.

    Re your specific case, I’d first check the shell fit of the 28 and make sure it’s not simply too large. Next, examine the liner outside of the shell. Put your foot in it and determine if it’s simply too long and puffing it up with molding might not do the trick.

    In my opinion, the shop should just mold a liner for you if you’re a real customer. It’s like, what are they dinking around for? Perhaps we should send them an invoice for our work being their sales person (smile)?


  43. Czaja January 10th, 2017 12:59 pm

    Oh yes, they can mold the liner. That’s not an issue. (smile) I was just wondering if it would be more beneficial to mold a 28 liner instead of 28.5. I could always get a 28 size boots directly form Arcteryx and have them molded later. True it would be more hassle and also more expensive but if it made any difference I would have gone that route to get a better fit. But I understand it won’t make any difference at all so I won’t bother.

    I will just check the liner outside the boot though to make sure it can be molded properly. How long would you say is too long?

    Many thanks for your help.

  44. Czaja January 12th, 2017 6:58 am

    I am not sure if anyone is interested in the topic (smile) but as I have received an answer from a store (they contacted Arcteryx) I thought I’d post it here:
    The difference [in size] comes in the liners and these are unique to the size. A 28 liner will therefore be smaller than a 28.5 liner.

  45. Ernstig January 21st, 2017 2:04 pm

    I really like the design of the power strap on the proclines. Would like to mount them on my salomon mtn labs to get a more glove friendly solution, but have not been able to find the procline straps sold separately. Any suggestions?

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