"Gram Counter." "Race Weenie." "Hey, wait for me!" "Beefcake. BEEFCAKE!!!" These are all common phrases heard by those of the AT set who still use boots with a tongue design.
Despite the trend in boots with overlap shell construction, the standard in AT boots is still a tongue-construction design. From ultra-light race set ups to super-stiff boots rivaling any other boots, this boot design will give you the largest, most diverse selection to choose from. In this years Gear Guide, we are going to focus on the beefier end of the spectrum to give comparison to the Overlap Construction guide. As I’ve stated before, the biggest factor in what to buy (overlap or tongue construction) comes down to the individual buyers preference. There is no "right" answer.
All boots covered are available now at your local ski shop or online.As many new — but not yet available — boots are slated for review here, and for purchase next winter, look for a lot of these boots to be marked down in the coming months. We all love to get great new gear, but great new gear for cheap is always better!
That being said, lets take a peek at this years offerings.
|Weight (pair)*||Best In-Class||Dynafit / Tech Inserts||Price||Previous Review|
|Virus Lite||7 lb 10 oz||$799.00|
|Virus Tour||8 lb 5 oz||$749.00|
|Virus Free||8 lb 0 oz||$649.00|
|Zzero 4 C-TF||7 lb 0 oz||$749.95||Read|
|Zzero 4 PX-TF||7 lb 0 oz||$649.95|
|Zzero 4 U-TF||7 lb 8 oz||$569.95|
|Zzero 4 PX-TF Womens||6 lb 3 oz||$749.95||Read|
|Zzero 4 U-TF Womens||6 lb 14 oz||$749.95||Read|
|Axon||9 lb 0 oz||$749.95||Read|
|Endorphin||9 lb 0 oz||$689.95||Read|
|Skookum||8 lb 4 oz||$768.95||Read|
|Spirit 4||7 lb 14 oz||$678.95||Read|
|Diva Womens||7 lb 0 oz||$678.95||Read|
*All weights provided by the manufacturer for a size 27.5 (Mens). Where possible real-world weights are available from WildSnow.com, but not all are verified.
Dalbello enters the "Alpine Touring" market with their V.I.R.U.S. line. Another alpine-turned-touring boot is nothing remarkable in itself. However, the cult of Dalbello will swear this is the next Hannah Montana. The best thing since sliced bread. Based on the Krypton boot, The Virus will likely become the boot of choice in the "tongue" category for fans of alpine boot construction.
For those skiers whole want the most versatility, stiffest boot and have legs the size of redwoods, this is your choice. The stiffest Virus boot complete with TLT Binding Inserts (Dynafit) and 2 interchangeable tongues (soft and stiff). The Tour will allow you to customize your set up from Freerides to Dynafits, but you’ll pay a weight penalty to do it.
Still not following the Gospel of Lou? Fear not, you don’t have to pay for it, in fact you get a price discount in the Virus Free. Same as the Tour with no Dynafit compatibility and only the stiffer tongue, because you don’t need no stinking soft tongue.
Dynafit’s top offering in strength-to-weigh ratio. A stiff carbon frame for downhill performance and 3.5 lbs. per foot. Two forward lean settings, Pebax shell, and a shade of green that never looks slow! And of course this boot has Lou’s seal of approval as his go-to footwear for all manner of adventures.
This non-carbon version of C-TF has a slightly more forgiving ride and weighs in a hair lighter (5 grams) than its big brother. The PX-TF is the Carbondale to the C-TF’s Aspen – not as glitzy, more affordable, and still pretty dang good.
The ZZero 4U is the polyurethane model in Dynafit’s 4-buckle lineup. The most “downhill-oriented tongue boot in the collection thanks to the PU reactivity (they become stiffer when cold).” A great option if you are looking for a bit more stiffness, don’t mind extra heft, and are considering moving to Down Valley just to afford new boots. A Zzero 4 U-MF is also available without a thermoformable liner.
Zzero4 PX-TF Womens
A sleek, slim body with hidden power. What women wouldn’t want that? Now it’s available with no dieting or exercise. For 1 easy payment at your local ski shop, you too can have the Zzero PX-TF. Lighter than the U-TF on the Up, but powerful enough to power your sticks on the Down. Still built with a fem-specific cuff spoiler and liner, the women’s PX-FT allows you to be sexy and strong.
Zzero4 U-TF Womens
For the girls that rock big skis too, Dynafit offers their woman’s beef boot. With a fem-specific liner and new cuff spoiler that is lower and wider to better fit a lady’s calf muscles. Is it just me, or is this by far the sexiest boot in the line up?
Garmonts stiffest backcountry Freeride tongue boot with Dynafit compatibilty. Axon strives to be climb-worthy while providing an compromise-free decent – providing the same downhill performance as the Endorphin. The heaviest boot in the lineup, but worth every pound coming down.
The Endorphin boot offers the same skiing abilities as the Axon, but with an interchangable sole — the only boot in this lineup to offer that. Swap from AT to Alpine and save a few bucks while you’re at it. If you want a tongue-construction boot and an Apline sole, this is your boot.
Unchanged from last season, like the rest of the Scarpa boots covered, the Skookum is "alpine touring meets King Kong" claims the Scarpa website about the Skookum. You pay a weight penalty for those extra bananas, but ripping downhill like a 50 ft. gorilla will not disappoint you.
Don’t quite ski like the 50 ft. beast above, but still need to drive a bigger stick? Swap out the regular tongue for the included, super stiff ski tongue. Out-climb your beefcake buddies and hang during the descent.
Diva – Womens
The woman’s version of the Spirit 4. Same 4-buckle closure, Intuition thermo liner and comes with the swapable, super stiff ski tongue. Ski like the boys do, only do it with style.
(Guest blogger profile: Dave Downing and his wife Jessica live in Whitefish, MT, where he is a freelance designer and owner of Ovid Nine Graphics Lab. Dave has been told that there is nothing to see in Montana, so please move along.)