Women’s Ski Touring Boots — Outdoor Retailer 2017


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 24, 2017      

2017 was my first year at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. I was super stoked to attend the show and learn about upcoming technologies. I felt like a kid in a candy store…only the candy wasn’t edible, instead it was shiny, new and exciting! Trade shows can be overwhelming in many ways so I kept my focus narrow: backcountry ski touring boots for women. My quest: stick my foot into as many as I could find.

I wanted to figure out two things: new innovations and fit. Keep in mind that since I didn’t get to ski in any of these boots, this post is an overview of my initial take.

Two notes before I start:

My foot, with usual pressure points circled in red.

My foot, with usual pressure points circled in red.

  • I have complicated feet. They are the worst. No out-of-the-box ski boot has ever felt good. My ski touring boot size is 25 — 25.5; my street shoe size is US women’s 8.5 — 9. My feet have a wide forefoot (4 inches or 10.2 cm across), a small bunion on the side, a sixth toe bump on the other and a semi-high arch. THE worst.
  • Things usually addressed when designing a “women’s specific” ski boot: (1) On average, women are lighter than men, (2) have smaller, thinner feet with more taper from forefoot to heel (3) calves are more pronounced and lower (due to a shorter tibia). If you find that a women’s specific boot is not a fit for you – try “unisex” (same boot designed in a broader range of sizes).
  • La Sportiva

    La Sportiva has three new women’s boots coming out next season: Sytron W, Starlet 2.1 W, and Shadow W.

    The Sytron W is a skimo race boot featuring a neat new ski/walk mode mechanism controlled by the top buckle — just don’t let your fingers get in there when you are mode switching.

    The Starlet 2.1 W is a ski mountaineering boot with the “Fast Lock” system: La Sportiva’s cam closure system for fast transitions from ski to walk mode. A removable PU “Warmsole” insole increases the warmth of this 2 buckle boot.

    The Shadow W is a freeride boot, La Sportiva’s stiffest women’s specific backcountry boot, 125 flex. A new tongue system interlocks, allowing both more flex during touring and aggressive performance during skiing. The fit of the boot is tight but not too snug. Unfortunately for me, after a few minutes in the Shadow, I did start to feel my usual pressure points, this means the boot is a bit too narrow for me. Overall, a good shell punch and a heat mold would most likely resolve the issues.

    Sytron (on the left), back of Sytron (in the middle) and Shadow (on the right) maintaining a lovely blue canvas.

    Sytron W (on the left), back of Sytron W (in the middle) and Shadow W (on the right) sporting a lovely blue green canvas.

    La Sportiva Sytron W
    Shell: Grilamid
    Tongue: Grilamid
    Cuff: Fiberglass reinforced Polymer (Grilamid/fiberglass)
    Forward lean: 4 positions, 14°, 16°, 18°, 20°
    Cuff rotation: 75° (35° back, 40° front)
    Weight: 660g (one boot, size 25.5)
    Sizes women’s: 23.5 – 26.5 (including half sizes)
    Liner: thermo moldable, tongue style
    Number of buckles: 2
    MSRP: $749
    Available: fall 2017

    La Sportiva Starlet 2.1 W
    Shell: Grilamid
    Cuff: Polyamide/nylon
    Forward lean: 3 positions, 12°, 14°, 16°)
    Cuff rotation: 68°
    Weight: 1150g (one boot, size 27.5)
    Sizes women’s: 23.5 – 26.5 (including half sizes)
    Liner: thermo moldable, tongue style
    Number of buckles: 2
    MSRP: $699
    Available: fall 2017

    La Sportiva Shadow W
    Shell: Grilamid
    Tongue: Grilamid
    Cuff: Pebax
    Forward lean: 3 positions, 12°, 14°, 16°)
    Cuff rotation: 50°
    Weight: 1550g (one boot, size 27.5)
    Sizes women’s: 23 – 26.5 (including half sizes)
    Liner: thermo moldable, overlap liner with no tongue
    Number of buckles: 4
    MSRP: $759
    Available: fall 2017

    Scott

    Scott comes out with a brand new boot technology that Lou blogged about — no women specific version there yet, although the new S1 Carbon and S1 Carbon Longfiber will be available in sizes as low as 25.

    Scott’s women-specific Celeste has an exciting update: Celeste III has a new rear hook ski/walk mode mechanism which prevents inadvertently switching between modes. The boot fit was amazing as this is probably the widest boot on the market right now. It almost felt like it had too much room (!) — which honestly I have never experienced before. Getting the boots molded is a must with a fit like this, since no one wants their foot swimming in a boot. Ladies with wide feet — this boot is your best friend.

    Celeste 3, Scott’s women’s boot with the upgraded ski/walk mechanism.

    Celeste III, Scott’s women’s boot with the upgraded ski/walk mechanism.

    Scott Celeste III
    Shell: Grilamid
    Tongue: Bi-material
    Flex index: 120
    Last width: 103.5mm
    Forward lean: 11.5° + free for walking
    Cuff rotation: 60°
    Weight: 1205g (one boot, size 24.5)
    Sizes women’s: 23 – 27.5 (including half sizes)
    Liner: thermo moldable, tongue style
    Number of buckles: 4
    MSRP: $749.99
    Available: fall 2017

    SCARPA

    SCARPA comes in big this year with a redesigned Gea and Gea RS line. The lighter and stiffer boots features new construction, new ski/walk mechanism, new buckle system (YAY, only 3 buckles!) and new tongue attachments (no more broken hinges!). The construction has the new and improved carbon shell. Also new colors! — and no, the boot is not pink or purple. Good job SCARPA — way to take an already awesome boot and make it better!

    As far as fit goes, Gea is a boot built for my feet. Also, can anyone ever say no to Intuition liners? I would probably need a small punch around my forefoot — but as far as comfort and performance together, Gea you win for me!

    SCARPA Gea (left), SCARPA Gea RS (right).

    SCARPA Gea (left), SCARPA Gea RS (right).

    SCARPA Gea
    Shell: Grilamid
    Cuff: Grilamid
    Tongue: Pebax
    Flex index: 100
    Last width: 101mm
    Forward lean: 14° +/- 2°
    Cuff rotation: 60°
    Weight: 1250g (one boot, size 25)
    Sizes women’s: 22.5 – 27 (half sizes)
    Liner: Intuition, thermo moldable, tongue style
    Number of buckles: 3
    MSRP: $695
    Available: fall 2017

    SCARPA Gea RS
    Shell: Carbon Grilamid LFT
    Cuff: Grilamid
    Tongue: Pebax
    Flex index: 120
    Last width: 101mm
    Forward lean: 16° +/- 2°
    Cuff rotation: 60°
    Weight: 1260g (one boot, size 25)
    Sizes women’s: 22.5 – 27 (half sizes)
    Liner: Intuition, thermo moldable, tongue style
    Number of buckles: 3
    MSRP: $795
    Available: fall 2017

    Salomon

    Salomon MNT Explore with its pretty purple and blue.

    Salomon MNT Explore W with its pretty purple and blue.

    Salomon has one women’s touring boot on their line — the MTN Explore W, with 2 buckles, touring carbon spine, full rubber sole and a special women’s fit liner. I love the colors! The Explore isn’t a new boot, but worth highlighting for the fit. It has a comfortable liner, but for me felt too tight in the forefoot. It would require a big punch to achieve maximum comfort. It did fit well in the heel and arch areas.

    “Sensifit” ergonomic shell technology allows Salomon to cut material from the shell without sacrificing integrity and flex of the shell. The carbon spine adds rigidity and stiffness to the boot without major weight gain.

    For women that like a little stiffer boot, they can bump up to men’s
    MTN Explore or the MTN Lab. These boots are stiffer and a bit heavier. Sizes go down to 24.5 and 25.5 sizes respectively.

    Salomon MTN Explore Women’s
    Shell: Grilamid
    Cuff: Polypropylene
    Cuff rotation: 63°
    Weight: 1275g — per boot, size 24.5
    Sizes range: 23.5 to 27.5
    Liner: thermo moldable
    MSRP: $725
    Available: now

    Dynafit

    There are no new women’s specific boots coming out from Dynafit for 2017/2018.

    Dynafit’s new TLT Speedfit boot is categorized as a unisex fit. As Lou mentioned, the TLT Speedfit is designed for uphilling at resorts mixed with the occasional moderate ski tour. Lower pricing and a simpler design is targeted for new users.

    Speedfit boot is based on the TLT-6.

    Dynafit Speedfit.

    Dynafit TLT Speedfit
    Shell, cuff and spoiler: Grilamid
    Forward lean: 15°-18° + release for walking
    Cuff rotation: 60°
    Weight: 1190g (size 27.5)
    Liner: thermo moldable (Dynafit oven recommended), tongue style
    Sizing: 22.5-30.5
    MSRP: $599
    Available: fall 2017

    I want to take a moment to highlight the Beast — Dynafit’s most alpine like touring boot. Currently available, the women’s boot is magenta colored with Pomoca soles for extra grip on icy surfaces. For ladies who don’t enjoy hot pink, consider the men’s version in black. The men’s and women’s boots are identical.

    Unfortunately, Dynafit Beast is just not the the boot for my feet. I have trouble even getting my wide foot into the boot. For ladies with lower profile (narrow) feet who are looking for a high performance touring boot, the Beast is worth a try.

    Dynafit Beast: men’s in the black and women’s in Magenta -- with a view of the ski/walk mechanism on the right.

    Dynafit Beast: men’s in the black and women’s in magenta — with a view of the ski/walk mechanism on the right.

    Dynafit Beast
    Shell: Grilamid Pebax
    Cuff/spoiler: Pebax/Magnesium
    Forward lean: 16° + release for walking
    Cuff rotation: 45°
    Weight men’s: 1460g size 27.5
    Sizes men’s: 23 – 31.5
    Weight women’s: 1300g size 25.5
    Sizes women’s: 23 – 27.5
    Liner: thermo moldable (Dynafit oven recommended), tongue style
    MSRP: $799
    Available: now

    Dynafit Beast Carbon
    Shell: Carbon fiber, Pebax
    Cuff/spoiler: Carbon fiber, Pebax / Magnesium
    Forward lean: 16° + release for walking
    Cuff rotation: 45°
    Weight: 1530g size 27.5
    Sizes men’s: 23 – 31.5
    Weight women’s: 1300g size 25.5
    Sizes women’s: 23 – 27.5
    Liner: thermo moldable (Dynafit oven recommended), tongue style
    MSRP: $899
    Available: now

    Arc’teryx

    Arc’teryx is coming out with a women’s version of Procline Carbon Support Mountaineering boot this year – easily the lightest ski boot I’ve ever tried on. Procline Carbon is a cross over between a touring and climbing boot.

    Changes to the boot from the unisec version available last year: the Procline Carbon Women’s Support is made from a women’s last; the ankle zone has been adjusted to fit a women’s calf better and the boot is white.

    The fit of the Arc’teryx boot is even tighter than the Dynafit. To fit into the boot, I had to go a size up – my toes didn’t end up having too much room when I did that. One handy feature that I really like about the boots is a built in gaiter — keeps the foot protected and snug.

    Arc’teryx women's Procline Carbon Support Mountaineering boot, showing the gaiter and the ski/walk mechanism.

    Arc’teryx women’s Procline Carbon Support Mountaineering boot, showing the gaiter and the ski/walk mechanism.

    Arc’teryx Procline Carbon Women’s Support
    Shell: Grilamid
    Cuff: Carbon fiber with over-injected Grilamid. 30% carbon fiber
    Spoiler: Grilamid with 60% fiberglass
    Gaiter: High density Cordura with TPU reinforcements
    Tongue: Pebax
    Flex index: 125
    Last width: 101mm
    Forward lean: 14°
    Vertical rotation: forward +50°, backward -25°
    Lateral rotation: 23° internal, 12° external
    Weight: 1120g (one boot, size 25.5)
    Sizes women’s: 23 – 27.5
    Number of buckles: 2
    MSRP: $1000
    Available: fall 2017

    To wrap up, let me introduce the most well fitting boot of them all, a WildSnow.com “special”...so much toe room and even a bit of a breeze to avoid smelly feet! The only thing missing is waterproof-ness. Coming soon to a bootfitter near you!

    To wrap up, let me introduce the best fitting boot of them all, a WildSnow “special”…so much toe room and even a bit of a breeze to avoid smelly feet! The only thing missing is waterproofing. Modification how-to coming soon.

    It is thrilling to see the ever-growing variety of boot options for us ladies!



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    Comments

    18 Responses to “Women’s Ski Touring Boots — Outdoor Retailer 2017”

    1. Mary Donovan January 24th, 2017 12:34 pm

      If you have hard to fit feet, you should look into Strolz Ski Boots. They make a custom handcrafted, leather liner that they will fit into a Scarpa Gia touring boot. Strolz has been making custom ski boots since 1921 but only recently began fitting their leather liners into a touring boot. The 2 shops in New Hampshire will do this by appointment only. They recommend that you buy the outer boot from them because they may have to size you differently in your outer boot with their liner. They also offer a men’s Scarpa boot with their liner as well. I got my Gia’s with a Strolz liner last year and it is so comfortable – a major improvement for me with my bunions and hard to fit feet. Check out their website: strolzboots.com.

    2. Lisa Dawson January 24th, 2017 3:02 pm

      Hi Mary,
      Nice to know about options for problem feet. Thanks for telling us about Strolz. Cool that their liners work with SCARPA Gea.

      Comfortable boots sure make skiing more enjoyable, and safer too, especially in the backcountry. Ski boots are your most important piece of gear IMHO — it’s worth the time and trouble to get them right.

    3. Dave Field January 24th, 2017 4:25 pm

      I don’t know how many times I’ve run across people with fit problems in the backcountry. Typically blisters from sizing shells too large or pressure points from poorly matching shell shape to feet. Its encouraging to have so many decent performing options out there for women and men. At the end of the day, its worth it to seek out a good fit with an experienced bootfitter and take the effort to get a good fit and happy feet!

    4. Tom Gos January 24th, 2017 4:48 pm

      The model to model comparison of fit here is great. Would be nice to ask the manufacturers if the last differences between u isex and women’s models are simply differences in the liner last or actually go so far as a different shell last (i.e. a different “plug” or mold altogether).

    5. Bar Barrique January 24th, 2017 9:40 pm

      Re; Scott boots: it appears that at size 25 and up the Scott boots share the same shell in both mens and womens models, however, in the smaller sizes the shells of the base are not as high volume (at least in width), although the “barrel” of the leg is still high volume. As always it pays to try on as many boots as you can before making a choice.

    6. XXX_er January 25th, 2017 10:44 am

      For a man I got small size 24 feet, wide forefoot/narrow heel/ skinny ankle/ high instep so its really hard to find a mens boot that goes small enough so usually the only thing that will fit is a womens boot which is not very stiff for my 160lbs

      But the Mercury and Vulcan had the small sizes and did fit right out of the box with an intuition liner

    7. Apingaut January 26th, 2017 5:41 am

      Thanks for the article. I really like the open discussion of the typical problems you have. I think your feet look totally normal but in a ski boot you have 3 problem areas. That speaks volumes…

      I sure would like to see the next round of innovation to be boots that fit. I do not need some new doodad on the boot, what I need of a boot that I don’t spend days tinkering with fitting and painful days finding I missed something.

    8. Lou Dawson 2 January 26th, 2017 7:25 am

      Apingaut, there is a lot of movement in the fit area of boot technology. Mainly, both Fischer and Atomic have boot plastics shell plastics that can easily be molded to your foot, when configured correctly by an expert operator. More, all Grilamid boot shells are incredibly easy to heat mold. That is actionable progress, as the earlier Pebax plastic used in many touring boots was difficult and sometimes nearly impossible to heat mold.

      But yes, it’s easy to come up with things that are lacking. For example, boots with an instep buckle should have options to easily relocate the buckle for different foot shapes, and the spoiler area of the liner and shell should be configurable, especially in “unisex” boots. Further, this obsession with last width needs to end. Instead, the last should be similar to the Scarpa or Scott, (slightly more volume) and configured by heat molding a liner that has dual density foam so it won’t feel “squishy” for people with lower volume feet. In my ideal world, I’d then combine that with occasional shell mods for really wide or oddly shaped feet. That’s my theory, anyway (smile).

      Lou

    9. See January 27th, 2017 10:35 pm

      That looks like some serious Morton’s toe you’ve got going on there.There is a great deal of variation among human beings. If your boots hurt, they don’t fit.

    10. See January 28th, 2017 12:52 pm

      To elaborate a bit: I’m not a podiatrist, but I do have Morton’s toes (not the same as Morton’s neuroma)— my big toe is shorter than my second toe. I didn’t think much of it when I was young, but I think it contributed to arthritis in the first metatarsophalangeal joints, and some skiing related issues (big reason I stopped telemarking). I wasn’t just making a snarky comment about Julia’s feet, I think it’s something people with this trait might want to look into to possibly avoid or at least postpone future problems.

    11. Apingaut January 28th, 2017 3:59 pm

      Hey Lou,
      Yes you are right they have gotten easier to work with.

      To keep beat the horse a bit more… I have never seen a human foot that actually looks like a modern boot mold, a foot that gets narrower from the mid foot forward and ending pointy and round. Many of them are shaped the similarly (atomic, sportiva, dynafit). When I was wearing the green dynafit shells looking down always made me think I was turning in to a lizard between the odd shape and the color (even with all the work to get my foot in the boots).

    12. Lou Dawson 2 January 28th, 2017 5:01 pm

      Apin, part of the reason plastic ski boots are shaped the way they are is that they have to be a suitable shape for injection molding. Even how the boot comes of the mold dictates the shape. Of course, the boot and shoe styles of Venice in the time of the Medici also still have an influence. If your foot is shaped for that last, you have an advantage (smile). Lou

    13. Lou Dawson 2 January 28th, 2017 5:03 pm

      For example, today I was skiing my Dynafit TLT-6, they feel terrific but only after I punched out the right one nearly 10 mm wider at that metatarsal, and the left one about 5 mm wider. They would not fly with the Medici. In fact, I don’t really like looking at them myself. But they ski. Lou

    14. Lou Dawson 2 January 28th, 2017 5:05 pm

      Thanks See, indeed, a lot of boot punching is done for “big toe.” When the foot is Morton’s as you describe, a “big toe punch” to lengthen the boot isn’t going to be much help!

    15. Lou Dawson 2 January 28th, 2017 5:10 pm

      Spam filter mistake! Sorry, a few comments were in our holding tank way longer than normal. We’ll keep a better eye on that, no idea why we got the false positives. Lou

    16. See January 28th, 2017 6:54 pm

      Also, a boot that has been stretched, punched, molded and otherwise modified to fit your own personal feet is going to yield superior performance as well as greater warmth and comfort. I wish someone had told me that back when I thought the pain meant high performance.

    17. See January 29th, 2017 7:14 pm

      Hi Lou, what do you think about grinding touring boot shells to eliminate very localized pressure points? I used to do it a lot before I discovered the wonders of heat, but only on fairly heavy alpine or tele boots. One of my boots could use a little fine tuning of the fit in the 6th toe, and I was thinking it would be a lot easier to just dremel off a little plastic than to heat up the shell and risk messing up a generally good fit, but the material seems pretty thin.

    18. Lou2 January 30th, 2017 5:08 am

      See, most ski touring boots are indeed too thin for meaningful grinding in most spots, and are easy to mold if they’re Grilamid or plastic such as that used for Atomic Backland.





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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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