Scarpa Skookum — State of Art Tongue Boot

Post by blogger | November 18, 2009      

Scarpa Skookum or nearly any other Scarpa ski boots are a terrific option if you’re considering new boots. You can check the street price here.

Despite all the hype about overlap cuff ski boots, you can’t beat “tongue” style shells for a variety of reasons. While I don’t run a lot of boots each season, I usually play around with a few pair. So another WildSnow foot toy for this winter is a brand new pair of Scarpa Skookum.

First, what’s the advantage of tongue boots?

1. In and out SO much easier. Critical when you’re putting boots on while prone in a tent, at 30 below zero, and you’re not feeling well because of the altitude.
2. For a fairly light weight, you get a stiff feel on the down. That’s of course also the detriment of tongue shells, in that they resist movement while in touring mode unless carefully optimized.
3. Easy flex tuning by swapping tongues.

Scarpa Skookum, showing the cant rivet and buckle anchors with user removable fasteners.

Scarpa Skookum, showing the cant rivet and buckle anchors with user removable fasteners.

Next, what makes Scarpa Skookum so great in particular?

I’m here to say these are indeed state-of-art backcountry skiing shoes — with a feature set you’ll find in no other such zapato. Let’s list ’em.
1. All buckles are ultimately attached with end-user serviceable threaded fasteners. Mank a buckle on a boulder? Just call Scarpa, get the part sent, swap it in yourself in minutes (caveat, the lower two buckle cams are riveted to a plastic yoke. Avoiding the rivet gun would require swapping the yoke, though removing and pop riveting these buckles is easy as you don’t have to work inside the boot to do so.)
2. Cuff alignment pivot is included. Most people probably don’t need this, but when you do, and it is missing, you will be frustrated.
3. Removable boot board. Don’t like the shape of the last under your foot? Want to change your delta? Customize the boot board and don’t look back. If you mess up, just order another set.
4. Dynafit toe fittings located 4 millimeters back from standard. Trust me, this makes your stride more ergonomic.
5. Beefy thick sole rubber in toe area. For real world mountaineering use, incredibly important.
6. Weight totally reasonable for a boot this beefy.
7. Included power strap is real.
8. A bit more volume in toe box than most other brands, allows for more fitting options and warmth.
9. Liner is a high quality head molder by Intuition, dual density foam, stiff foam around upper cuff area for that powerful feeling we all crave.

Pieces and parts, from right to left: stiff tongues, bootboard, assembled boot, liner, boot displaying stock tongue.

Pieces and parts, from right to left: stiff tongues, bootboard, assembled boot, liner, boot displaying stock toungue.

Of course this is a review, so I’ve got to find a gripe. As always I don’t prefer having two different cuff lean positions in the lean-lock. This is probably easy to mod out, but not everyone want to take a $700 boot apart and give it to a welder. Nothing else leaps out at me, other than reminding that the shell still has the usual Scarpa “bump” under the instep (some people notice this, some don’t), though this is much easier to tune out by modding the boot board.

There you go. Scarpa Skookum or nearly any other Scarpa ski boots are a terrific option if you’re considering new boots. You can check the street price here.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


49 Responses to “Scarpa Skookum — State of Art Tongue Boot”

  1. phil November 18th, 2009 4:47 pm

    Huge fan of your website!
    I recently bought a pair of spirit 4’s. I haven’t had the need to swap tongues yet, but I was wondering how you do it. I figure you just pry up on the tab at the base of the tongue where the notch is. This seems pretty obvious but I don’t want to break anything.

  2. Lou November 18th, 2009 5:02 pm

    With the boots at warm room temperature, flip the tongue almost all the way forward, then push it back towards the boot, you can sometime just lift the tab with a finger and the tongue will pop out, otherwise gently pry the tab up with a screwdriver or something. It’s pretty intuitive, just play around with it and you’ll figure out the angles and forces required. Enjoy tongue swapping, it’s one of the undersold pleasures of life.

  3. Brent November 18th, 2009 5:12 pm

    I love my Skookums. They have better walking ergonomics than my F3s, just heavier of course. The way the rocker is set up, it just works for me. I skied all last season in them and can’t wait to get out this year. I even hiked up Mt. San Gorgonio (7 miles up, 5000+ft) just to ski rotten snow one day, totally comfy with no blisters and they are fitted aggressively. Why didn’t I wear sneakers and carry the boots? I’m an idiot… oh I mean, the boots are that comfy for me. Actually there was like 2 feet of rotten snow on the trail. Anyway, killer boots. The only very small gripe I have is the shells seems to be eating the liners in the cuff faster than normal. Liners are replaceable as they used the standard Intuition Speed liners. I like to pop the Speed liners in my F3s for less shin bang while touring… that’s right, they tour better (imho) than the stock F3 liners.

  4. Dave B. November 18th, 2009 6:47 pm

    So which way should I go this season to get a boot a little beefier than my Megarides: Skookum or Radium? Inquiring minds want to know.

  5. Mason November 18th, 2009 6:52 pm

    Lou, has anyone compared the lateral stiffness of the Skookum to the Garmont Radium? I loved my Garmont Radiums because of the overall and lateral stiffness, but I had to sell them because the interior length and toe box are way too small in a 27.5, but the 28 exterior sole length is way too long for comfortable walking. The Spirit 4 lateral stiffness is not much better than my old Lasers, has anyone else noticed the lateral softness of the Spirit 4 (or most AT Scarpas)? I cant get my hands on a pair of Skookum’s, so I want a quality report on the overall and lateral stiffness. I am concerned that the low cuff will reduce lateral stiffness. I also have not seen your “true weight” of the Skookum…

  6. Frank Konsella November 18th, 2009 7:30 pm

    The only problem with tongue boots is that sometimes you actually have to ski them, which is as disappointing as skiing in a pair of Sorels wrapped in cardboard, IMO.

  7. Lou November 18th, 2009 7:37 pm

    Oh Frank, really… :angel:

  8. Lou November 18th, 2009 7:39 pm

    Mason, thanks for the reminder about the weight. I thought it was in my weight chart but it’s not! Working on it right now!

  9. Tim M. November 18th, 2009 7:46 pm

    Funny assessment Frank…. haha. what boots are you using these days?

  10. Kirk R November 18th, 2009 8:46 pm

    I skied two days on the Radium and two days on the Skookum before buying the Radium. I didn’t think the Skookums were particularly stiff compared to the hype. YMMV.

  11. Lou November 18th, 2009 7:51 pm

    OK, trying to do my job here (grin), I just weighed the Skookum size 28 and added to our “endless project” weight chart.

    The Skookum size 28 we have here weighs 66.3 oz 1878 gr per boot with liner. A bit more detail is in the chart. Just slightly less than a Radium. Some of the weight is from the huge steel buckle on the power strap, and these really are beefy boots.

  12. Josh November 18th, 2009 9:10 pm

    Who is Frank, and why cant he ski?
    Show me the tongues

  13. Frank Konsella November 18th, 2009 10:28 pm

    Sorry, day 3 of sitting on a couch enjoying all the symptoms of the swine flu has me a bit grumpy I guess.

    Put a pair of tongue boots on, click in a binding on the floor and flex it. Watch how it goes outward at the ankles, and imagine how sloppy that would be to ski. That will always be the problem with tongue boots.

    I’m using the zzeus and I like them a lot but there are a number of overlaps these days that are worth skiing if they fit well.

  14. Tim November 18th, 2009 11:30 pm

    Lou speaks the truth when he says that tongue boots are easier to get into, and out of, than overlap boots.

    Let’s hear from some owners of the Factor that actually took them into the BC for an overnighter and had to put them on when the plastic was cold….

  15. Jordan November 18th, 2009 11:39 pm

    Yep that would be me. Harder than my old Tornados for sure, but manageable.

  16. Ptor November 19th, 2009 3:37 am

    Surprisingly easier than I thought to put on Factors in the cold. The plastic the Factors is made of doesn’t go rock hard even at very low temps and therefore you can still get in. It’s even easier if you take the liner off and put it in first. Not saying it’s ideal, but it’s worth it for the nicer skiing performance and feel. But I also use intuition liners instead of the stock liners.
    The other big difference is that with the Factors, my shins are not destroyed from touring with the stiff Scarpa tounges. The Factors have a WAY nicer movement in tour mode and thus seem to save me energy despite the difference in grams.
    I don’t see the need to change stiffnesses in a boot personally, except where the same model of boot can be adapted to diffrerent skiers.
    Therefore, unless one is in high altitude expedition mode and the in and out thing is absolutely crucial, I see no advantage to tounge boots. Even thought the skookums are skookum;-)

  17. Lou November 19th, 2009 7:35 am

    It’s not so much just the cold plastic, but the situation where you’re on your back in a tent trying to get the boot on your foot. Really easy with tongue boots, harder with overlap. Much of this depends on how small your feet are, how the boot is fitted, how strong your upper body is, how much room in the tent, how you’re feeling, etc. But until you try and put a 20 below zero boot on while lying on your back in a crowded tent, you might want to reserve judgment.

    With something like our Denali trip, the important thing is that we go out and test this stuff in December, on some frigid overnights. What works, works. What doesn’t, doesn’t.

    I still feel strongly that the main disadvantage of tongue boots is the resistance in touring mode to forward movement of the lower leg (shin). This is not so much a factor during steep skinning, but works against you on lower angled stuff when you lengthen out your stride. Solution is how the boot is buckled and fitted, and even using a hinged tongue such as that of the Spirit 3.

    For you youngsters out there, it’s good to know both overlap and tongue boot shells have been around for decades (if not a lifetime or two). In fact, there has been almost no earth shaking innovation in the touring boot market for years, in my opinion. For example, we still don’t have a performance boot that closes with one overall latching system, and most boots could be lighter weight.

  18. Lou November 19th, 2009 7:39 am

    Frank is right about the bulging action in tongue boots. But if they’re fitted correctly and your style of skiing blends with the boots, they work. Hundreds of thousands of great skiers use them all over the world. But don’t get me wrong, I like overlap as well — in fact, when I was a more hardcore resort skier bump basher I used overlap boots exclusively, mainly the Garmont Gara with the metal bands that added beef. But those were the days when you had to bend your ankles to turn a ski, instead of just tilting and riding.

  19. Ptor November 19th, 2009 8:36 am

    For putting on boots in the tent, I am never on my back putting on my boots no matter what kind because I always dig a hole under the vestibule so I’m actually sitting with my feet below the floor level of the tent on the way out with the inner zip open and the vestibule zip closed. Hence room and leverage for putting on boots and also an ante chamber for de-snowing oneself upon entry . In a crowded tent, it’s just one at a time. It also makes getting in the tent alot easier. I leave an upper level shelf on the side for a cooking platform. No vestibule?? Suffer I guess.
    Cold plastic does make a huge difference for overlaps,(also for uniformity of flex over wide temperature ranges) when you have Langes and perhaps the Dynafits etc but like I mentioned this is less of a factor with the Factors and this, to me is very significant for both putting them on/off and uniform skiing performance both mid winter and late spring.

    After 12 years and tons of buckle variations and fitting efforts, the only real solution to touring tounge discomfort I found was to remove them on the way up if it’s not very powdery and re-insert on the way down. I just dealt with the pain and discomfort because there wasn’t any options till now. The hinged tounge just wasn’t worth skiing with.

  20. David Butler November 19th, 2009 8:49 am

    All I can say is that you guys are making my lame day trips and occasional hut trips sound really, really good. Putting boots on at minus 20. Sheesh! I’ll admit I’m might impressed.

  21. Lou November 19th, 2009 9:15 am

    Que Macho!

  22. Smokey November 19th, 2009 10:19 am

    I think this might be one of the first boot reviews where the reviewer hasn’t even had the boots out skiing yet. Really? Can you review a boot without skiing in it? Come on Lou, tell me you’ve skied 20+ days on these or else you’ve lost a bit of credibility in my book. No offense…

  23. Lou November 19th, 2009 10:43 am

    Jeez Smokey, it’s a first look type of review, we do that frequently!

    As for skiing the boots, I skied a pair last winter and found them beefy, with the feel of a typical tongue boot. But I want to ski them more before I do the on-snow review, yes, to keep my cred!

    That being said, Jordan is reviewing the boots as well. And yes, he’ll be doing a first-look when he does the fitting, then he’ll do a review after he’s skied them a number of day.

    For our part, I try to make it obvious when I’m doing a first-look rather than a hands-on user review. Since you asked, I’ll try to make that more clear from now on.

    And if you want reviews that don’t involve real testing, look in any ski magazine gear issue. You’ll see tons of stuff that was simply evaluated from pre-production samples that reviewer might have been out on once, or even just fondled in their office 5 months before the issue went to press. The worst offense in this area, that makes me laugh and then cry, is when magazines give “editor’s choice” awards to product that any insider knows they saw nothing of but a pre-production sample and thus for sure never had a chance to really test to the point where they should be giving “awards.”

  24. Nathan B November 19th, 2009 10:46 am

    Lou, you considering these for Denali or are you sticking with the ZZeros?

  25. Lou November 19th, 2009 10:53 am

    We’re mixing up our brands a bit for Denali. For now I’m sticking with ZZero, of which I’ve already got some larger shells that Dynafit sent me. But Scarpa is supporting our trip and quite a few of the guys will be in either Skookum or one of the Spirit models. For example, Louie told me he’s probably going to use Spirit 3, as he wants to be efficient for all the slogging.

    That said, if after testing this winter I can’t get enough volume/warmth in the ZZero, I’ll play around more with fitting a Scarpa for warmth, as they have a larger toe box than boots such as Dynafit and Garmont.

  26. Smokey November 19th, 2009 1:20 pm

    Thanks Lou! Wasn’t trying to call you out, just keep ya honest! Cheers…

  27. Lou November 19th, 2009 1:43 pm

    Smokey, around here all feedback is regarded as a gift, I should have thanked you for it up front! Result of your feedback, I’ll be more clear about what are pretty much first-looks and what are use reviews. Thanks, Lou

  28. Colin in CA November 19th, 2009 1:45 pm

    The touring mode on Dalbello’s new AT boot is going to blow your mind. I’m not passing judgment on they’re going to ski, because I have no idea, but the degree of cuff movement in touring mode is better than any boot I’ve seen. I tried on the model with tech fittings.

  29. Lou November 19th, 2009 2:06 pm

    We’re on the list for those, looking forward to getting them reviewed! And yes, the grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side of the model year. :angel:

  30. Dan November 19th, 2009 7:31 pm

    What is the dalbello AT boot called? I can’t find AT boots on the Dalbello website.


  31. Lou November 19th, 2009 8:54 pm


    Nice name, huh? One has to wonder about these marketing guys…

  32. Mark B November 20th, 2009 7:07 am

    I don’t mean to highjack this comment section but I couldn’t find a more appropriate space to ask this questions. I have been on Dynafits now for a year. I have about 14 days on a pair of Megarides. I have developed a pair of divets directly behind the toe fittings. Is this normal? Everything still appears solid. If this is abnormal is it a problem with the boot or the adjustment of the bindings?

    Mark B

  33. Lou November 20th, 2009 7:20 am

    Mark, I don’t understand exactly what you mean. Send a photo to the contact email using my menu above. Thanks, Lou

  34. Mason November 20th, 2009 7:51 pm

    Has anyone ever noticed the “bendy ankle” in the Spirit 4 or Laser while skinning on hard, steep, sidehill/traverses? My Radiums were way laterally stiffer in this regard than the Spirit 4. There is enough flex in the Scarpas to make it feel like you have more skin than edge on the snow. Does the low cuff on the Skookum make it feel laterally soft like all other Scarpas?

  35. DT November 22nd, 2009 6:06 pm

    Colin in CA- is the touring mode better than the BD Methods?

  36. Lee Lau November 26th, 2009 5:32 pm


    I toured and skied the Skookum about a year back. Previous review published on Wildsnow.

    Frank. Man that flu must be hitting hard. I actually don’t mind the Skookum for skiing. It’s a really stiff boot – so stiff that I liked it better with the touring tongue over the stiff black tongue.

    The only gripe I had with Skookum was that the bottom two buckles needed quite some effort to engage. Could have used a bit of camming action.

  37. Mason December 1st, 2009 5:30 pm

    I bought the Skookum’s. Since none of the reviews of the last couple years mention anything about lateral stiffness, I will! They are ok, but not not as stiff as Radium, Endorphin, or Axon. Stiffer than Adrenalin, Spirit 4, Laser. They ski great in variable crud, almost as good as my medium flex alpine boots. One thing that would make this boot better would be a taller liner, although the shell cuff is just as high as other boots. Lou, have you ever modified an intuition tongue liner with laces? Can you punch holes in it and lace up? Also, it seems like all Scarpas flex a bit at the cuff pivot, in other words the whole upper moves fore and aft before “engaging”. What about installing a beefier rivet? Maybe I just need to crank down the buckles more…

  38. Lee Lau December 1st, 2009 5:40 pm


    Thanks for that comparative. Always nice to get another datapoint.

    The Intuition Powerwrap liner is taller and stiffer then the Skookum liner. Intuition also has a liner with laces. More on that when I get a pair to try out. I’ll put up pictures and sizing information.

  39. Mason December 2nd, 2009 8:03 pm

    Lee Lau, I wonder if it possible to punch holes in intuitions without the foam coming out? Or if it would be possible to tighten laces without eyelets.

  40. Lee Lau December 2nd, 2009 10:00 pm

    hmm – I’ve seen intuition foam liners with holes cut into them. They made up some prototypes for people with really sweaty feet. I just don’t know if you could use the holes to put laces through them without cutting the foam.

  41. Mason December 8th, 2009 10:18 pm

    I figured out where the play comes from when flexing fore and aft while fully buckled- it is the ski/walk mode pin moving in the hole in the bar. The hole is a larger diameter than the pin. Anyone ever welded this hole shut and drilled a smaller one?

  42. Tomas Vujic January 10th, 2010 10:37 am

    Hi Lou!

    I have a pair of skookum that I love! But during my last ski trip to Norway, a minor problem appeared. I use the Skookum together with Dynafit TLT speed and my left boot has started to release while I’m skiing. It doesn’t matter if I switch skis, so I’m quite sure that the boot is the problem. It is the toe part that gets released. When I look at the Dynafit attachment on the boot, I can’t see anything wrong.

    I can still ski with my Skookums if I “Lock” the toe part of the binding to walk mode, but it is really disturbing.

    Any tips what can be wrong?

  43. Lou January 10th, 2010 3:40 pm

    Tomas, I get this right back to a dealer or call Scarpa customer service.

  44. Doug Goodwin November 23rd, 2010 8:56 pm

    Hey Lou, another question for ya:

    Just bought a new pair of skookums. in ski mode lock, the right boot makes a kind of loose, metally sound coming from the heel lock mechanism. I don’t like the sound/extra mm of slop. It’s a new $720 boot-IMO, there should be no issues w/quality.

    Is this a warranty issue? Should I take them back to Bent Gate and demand a new pair?-I haven’t skied on them even.


  45. Doug Goodwin January 5th, 2011 1:26 pm

    Hey Lou, after switching from Megarides to Skookums this season, I’m having trouble with the forward lean on the Skookum ski mode. Despite the claimed 19 degrees both boots share, I feel like the Skooks are throwing me way forward. I’ve taken out the boot board and rear spoiler.

    I’m at a point where I’m considering bagging the Skooks and going back to the Megas.

    Have you ever drilled a 3rd hole in the metal which engages the ski mode on a boot in order to lessen the forward lean on an a.t. boot?

    Ideas?? Thanks

  46. mark April 20th, 2012 1:22 pm

    Hey Lou
    I’m just getting into backcountry skiing, and I have a super wide foot. I take a 27.5 boot and my width is 118mm across the ball. duck feet.

    I always have to get boots blown out to be confortable. I’ve seen lots of comments about the Skookum having more volume in the forefoot, so would this boot be a good boot to alter to fit my foot or are there better boots in your opinion? Is it easier to blow a tongue boot or an overlap? I definitely want a heavier boot that is stiffer on the descent. I’m not likely to be trying to put them on in -20 conditions in a tent for some time.


  47. Gary October 18th, 2012 9:50 am

    I have skied the Skookum for the last two years. I do like the boot in the backcountry or soft snow at the resort. They are a bit soft for the resort when it has not snowed for a while. (like most of last winter)Do you think adding a Intuition power wrap liner would make a significent is stiffness or how it skis at the resort?

  48. buddhistcowboy January 3rd, 2013 1:13 am

    Well, good stuff out there in AT land. Just picked up some Skookum’s and will be getting on them here shortly once I get my BD Verdicts mounted with some bindings. I have predominantly been bending the knee for the past 15 years in Scarpa T2’s and must say that I laugh a bit when folks are concerned about stiffness and driving a ski with a four buckled boot! Gear is great and it’s only that in the end – still gotta know how to turn the boards. I went with the Skookum based on reports that its a beefy boot for the most part. A bit worried about being locked in and loosing the feel of the ski under me but excited to have more control and give my 43 yo legs a fighting chance. Predominantly will be using them for Resort and near country skiing at Mt. Baker, WA. I have not scuffed the boots yet as I am unsure if this really is the boot for me – suppose I will find out. thanks for all the beta guys

  49. Lou Dawson January 3rd, 2013 9:06 am

    Bud, you won’t lose any feel, it’ll just be different. Keep that in mind so you don’t psych yourself out. I’m sure you are an individual who is open to change, so, enjoy the change and just keep telling yourself you are living up to your ideals (grin)!

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