When I reported on my first impressions of the new Scarpa F1 in January,I lamented the fact that this promising ski touring boot wouldn’t be available in North America until autumn of 2016. Scarpa North America promised a test pair later in the winter, but patience has never been my strength and I ordered a pair from a European etailer a few days after returning from the Scarpa demo we did out of Park City last winter. I was convinced back then, and subsequent “dancing” around the mountains of Colorado proved the case.
With plentiful snow and some free time at my disposal, I figured I’d truly be able to put the F1 through its paces. And I could always fall back on my trusty Maestrales, the go-to boot that had served me well for several winters.
My F1s have seen more than thirty days days on-snow so far. I’ve already gotten my money’s worth. The Scarpa last fits my foot very well, and I found shoe is comfortable out of the box — so comfortable that I didn’t bother to heat mold the Intuition liners until I’d put nearly a dozen days on them. They’ve maintained a good, consistent fit since molding. A minor annoyance: with its fixed tongue, the F1 is harder to put on and take off than the Maestrale. And make sure you don’t catch the edge of the external tongue under the main shell when you crank the boots closed. Doing so is frustrating and could damage the boot.
The range of motion for touring is superb (62 degrees for the F1 versus 39 degrees for the Maestrale) and encourages an efficient stride no matter what the skin track angle. I love the convenience of the Boa cable closure system for the lower foot and the Fast Buckle (hybrid Velcro and cam) around the ankle; once you get used to them you can switch from uphill to downhill in seconds.
The external ski/walk mechanism is simple, reliable and quickly engaged. Forward lean is adjusted by flipping the “receiving” piece on the boot, a two-minute process; I opted for the more aggressive 22-degree position. Note that snow and ice occasionally gets packed into the notch in the latch, or around the bar it engages, preventing the system from locking into place (this only happened to me three or four times). A gentle tap to the outside of the latch usually displaced the offending material.
As you’d expect with a slim profile like that of the F1, this boot’s liners are relatively thin. During one particularly frigid period in early February my feet felt colder in the F1s than they would have in the Maestrales, but in more seasonable temperatures (above 0 degrees F) I haven’t noticed a difference.
With the F1’s combination of comfort, touring ability, and light weight (1230 grams versus 1520 for the Maestrale, according to Scarpa) I’d be happy to have a pair kicking around for easy tours, hut trips, and fitness runs up the local ski areas. But how would these svelte boots handle steeper terrain and more challenging conditions? Surprisingly well, I found, to the dismay of my poor Maestrales, which have been getting a little lonely in the closet.
I wouldn’t recommend the F1 for hard-charging lift skiing or extreme descents. A freeride boot this is not. The F1 feels at home on groomers and easy bumps (think Snowmass, Colorado). And for the kind of skiing I usually do (3000-to-5000-foot days in the Colorado backcountry, mostly on moderate terrain) they are ideal. Light, supple, and comfy for the up. Stiff and supportive for the down. Bottomless fluff in the trees? No problem. Breakable crust with a side of ankle-deep wind pressed powder over avalanche debris? A bigger backcountry ski boot would power through it, but with a lighter touch the F1 worked just fine. Midwinter meadow skipping through surface hoar? Dancing. A steep, sunny bowl covered with mid-calf cream cheese over a firm base? Heaven no matter what’s on your feet.
Weight, size 28 BSL 305 mm, 1312 grams per boot.
F1 (manual ski/walk) – is currently available in Europe and from international etailers.
Is not available in North America yet, but will be for next autumn/winter 16/17.
F1 TR (automatic ski/walk, had problems in original release, now apparently fixed) –
Is currently available in Europe and from international etailers.
No plan to release F1 TR in North America.
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