It’s Only A Test — G3 FINDr and SCARPA F1

Post by blogger | January 22, 2016      

Michael Kennedy

Utah's beautiful Uinta range.

Utah’s beautiful Uinta range.

I have to admit it: I love to backcountry ski but I don’t care all that much about ski gear. I generally buy what I need only when the old stuff either wears out or becomes embarrassingly outdated.

I might try on a few different boots in an attempt at finding the elusive “perfect” ski touring model — I’m blessed with a boringly normal foot and a lack of sensitivity to all but the most egregious variations of fit and flex.

When it comes to skis I rely mainly on vaguely informed “research” into weight, width, and performance, the recommendations of friends, some hefting and flexing of a couple that sound good, and guesswork.

Perhaps I’ve just been lucky. I’ve worn the same boots (first generation Scarpa Maestrale) for five years and didn’t test drive any of the half-dozen skis I’ve been on in the last decade. Just bought ‘em, mounted ‘em up, and hoped for the best.

So what, you might ask, was I doing at the top of 1200 feet of mostly great powder, with a few tracks, some chunks from an old avalanche, and the odd bit of windcrust to spice things up, outfitted in a ridiculously comfy pair of lightweight boots (next year’s updated Scarpa F1), a binding I’d never skied on (the G3 Ion), and what appeared to be a wider version of the classic all-around mountaineering ski (next year’s G3 FINDr 102)?

It all sounded good a few weeks ago when Mrs. WildSnow invited my better half to join a Scarpa/G3 demo day in the Uinta Mountains, Utah, with the folks at Park City Powder Cats & Heli-ski showing them the goods. I was reluctant to sign up at first. Who would care what an over-60 skier of middling ability would have to say about the “latest and greatest” ski gear? But I eventually succumbed to the wiles of the ladies.

Testing grounds.

Testing grounds.

I’d just watched said better half and several other really good skiers rip the slope in fine style. Now it was my turn, and the decision to become a WildSnow gear tester suddenly seemed ill-considered. The F1s looked puny compared to my trusty Maestrales. Surely these lightweights wouldn’t perform adequately. And the FINDrs just felt unfamiliar. At least the bindings held everything together with a reassuring solidity.

Survival became the goal. I figured a series of slow, wide turns through the chunder would allow me to preserve a shred of dignity while I sorted out the new gear.

But the snow was too good for such restraint.

Good times.

Good times.

I dropped in, traversed a bit to gain speed, rolled my ankles and aimed for an untracked patch, arced a few quick turns, plowed through another track, opened it up a bit to see what happened, spied more untracked and punched it. I just skied, varying the radius and speed of my turns to take advantage of the terrain and snow. I hardly thought about the boots, and the skis felt nimble and lively, even playful. The longing for my familiar setup was soon forgotten.

I had enough fun on the next couple of runs that I was ready to plunk down cash, but alas the F1 and FINDr won’t be available until fall 2016.

I didn’t have the chance to test on the uphill, on hardpack, or in the more varied snow we typically find in western Colorado. Time will tell on all that, but by the end of the day I was scheming about how I could sneak off with the new setup.


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14 Responses to “It’s Only A Test — G3 FINDr and SCARPA F1”

  1. Travis January 22nd, 2016 10:37 am

    I tried on those F1s before the were recalled, and I for one was smitten. I am looking forward to checking them out next year. Any idea how the would handle heavier/firmer snow?

  2. Scott in Canada January 22nd, 2016 11:00 am

    I also had the F1’s. Super comfy but my only issue was they did not handle variable snow well, I found I was thrown forward a lot. I am also a big guy (280lbs) so they where not really a good boot for me.

  3. UNIS January 22nd, 2016 11:20 am

    Your do not have to wait until autumn for those manual F1’s. They have available in some stores for maybe a month by now. There is also a version called F1 TR with a new version of the auto lock.

  4. Lisa Dawson January 22nd, 2016 12:27 pm

    Hi Unis,
    You must be on the other side of the pond.

    You’re correct, the F! and the F1 TR, which has a revised version of the automatic Tronic mechanism, will both be available this winter season in Europe, but they are not available in North America.

    Only the F1 will be available this fall in North America.

  5. Lou Dawson 2 January 22nd, 2016 1:35 pm

    I simply can not get a straight answer from anyone on why they don’t distribute the same products in North America as in Europe. It seems ridiculous, hard on consumers, and hard on journalists. In any case, Sport Conrad or Telemark Pyrenees make it somewhat moot. Lou

  6. Phil Harvey January 22nd, 2016 1:55 pm

    Is’nt it just great, USA get all the nice things first but when it comes to ski gear, they’re second:) Love it!

  7. VT skier January 22nd, 2016 2:58 pm

    Yes, T-P have both models of the F-1 in stock. I have bought a Tele boot, Scarpa TX Comp from T-P and service to USA was very quick.

    The Skialpers buyers guide issue say the new F-1 is easier to get your foot, in and out of the boot. I had a pair of the F-1s last season, and they were hard (almost painful) for me to get it on and off .

  8. Michael Kennedy January 23rd, 2016 7:12 am

    Travis & Scott,
    With only three or four runs in mostly good, soft snow I’m not sure how the F1 will handle harder snow & variable conditions. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they drove the ski through old tracks and avi debris but time will tell. BTW I’m about 190 lbs. and 5’11″—definitely not a lightweight!

  9. Paddy January 23rd, 2016 4:59 pm

    Lou, my read on the euro/american product availability issue comes down to one word – liability. If american’s weren’t quite so sue-happy, things like tronic walk mech would look better to the companies. Instead we get the ‘lawyer friendly’ stuff.

  10. See January 23rd, 2016 6:39 pm

    Given the hazards of being an early adopter (tech fittings pulling out of boot toes, binding pins falling out, skis breaking, etc.), I’m not sure we have it that bad here in North America.

  11. See January 23rd, 2016 6:44 pm

    We get the good stuff eventually, just sometimes not the first batch, as far as I know. (Please correct me if I don’t know what we’re missing over here gear-wise.)

  12. Wookie1974 January 24th, 2016 1:24 pm

    Tried out a pair of the TRs over here in Euro-Land. They worked. I couldn’t get the lock to disengage, even trying to, and i was able to with the old ones.
    They were still too roomy for me. Not a bad thing, they have a typical scarpa fit, which works for many, but not for me.
    Felt nice though.

  13. StefanRequat January 24th, 2016 8:02 pm

    I use the F1 Evo with the new Locking system now for the 12th Tour.
    Getting in and out is a Little bit easier, the fitting is adjustable with the thermo linners, in my Case i made it nice tight by a loose thermo fitting session.
    For me it is the perfekt Boot – much better than my ex Spectre and good on the weight side – 1430g in Size 29,5!

    Walking easy with much free movement and Skiing perfekt in any kind of Snow, Even on iced Piestes with Max Speed of about 100km per hour – with Touringg Skis and Standart Dynafit Speed bindings.

    The new Manual Locking System is a little bit sensitive to icing wehn it is really cold (-15 C) – with a firm pressing the ICE is forced to geht out – it works passabel!

    I had the First Model Last year – with the katastrophal tronic System -forced by the backcall changed to the Spectre – and now back to the new model – it is a very positive Evolution – and now the best Boot i ever had!

  14. Andrew February 5th, 2016 3:41 am

    @StefanRequat or others, can you comment on the relative stiffness of the F1s with the Spectre, TLT6 Performance or Backland Carbons, Salomon MTN Explore? Unfortunately my favourite shops don’t stock a good selection so I am struggling to interpret reviews, some of which say boot x is the greatest since sliced bread versus others which say that boot x is a noodle. FYI I weigh 75kg and will spend most of my time in the Swiss alps, i.e. plenty of steep stuff and limited powder.

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