Scott Cosmos 3 Ski Touring Boot — Review

Post by blogger | May 15, 2017      

Pete Anzalone

Cosmos 3, I like the black-white design with red accents.

Cosmos 3 (for extensive photos of the boot, and specifications, see our previous reviews.)

I’m not sure if the Cosmos 3 is a beef-boot, a touring boot — or what. In any case, I am sure about their performance. More, the C3 is in possession of a single critical improvement vis-a-vis its Cosmos predecessors that makes it truly noteworthy.

As a dedicated Scott guy (and Garmont before that) I’ve had three pairs of the Cosmos boot. All toured well and skied well. All also broke in predictable and consistent ways. For me, these malfunctions were tolerable due to the fit and downhill ski performance and knowing that the needed repairs could be made — often with the generous help of Scott Sports USA.

When I learned that WildSnow had a pair of C3s to loan out for testing, I quickly volunteered! That was a few weeks ago and I’ve skied them about a dozen times in all kinds of conditions, terrain and snow. The C3 performed as expected, meaning they’re wonderful.

The Scott liner is cozy and functional. Its plastic reinforced tongue no doubt adds to the excellent downhill performance. I’ve never had a blister uphilling in these boots and I’ve never “cooked” the liner in pursuit of a more custom fit. Happily, my plain vanilla foot is just fine with the out-of-the-box fit. (FYI, to simplify things I run the liner without laces).

Tongues, plural
The Cosmos has a toe-to-shin shell tongue that provides ample stiffness for excellent downhill performance. More, the tongue also provides a water-tight seal which is critical for early morning creek crossings and afternoon puddle jumping. Seriously, being able to run through a creek in the dark and keep your feet dry is a little-known, yet very important feature of this boot.

Liner tongue placement, when locking down for ski mode, can be irksome. Sometimes one has to fiddle with the liner tongue to be sure it’s seated properly in the liner and beneath the exterior, plastic tongue. A little maneuvering usually gets everything properly aligned but perhaps this is an area for improvement.

The exterior shell tongue, again when switching to downhill mode, can end up on the wrong side of the overlap cuff. The upside here is that when this happens, it is conspicuous and difficult to properly buckle the upper two buckles. Not that big a deal unless you’re trying to keep up with a rando race transition expert. (Indeed, I’m not understanding the expensive and sometimes failure prone systems boot makers are attempting to enable “one motion” transitions. This is ski touring, not racing. I can deal with an extra four hand motions three times a day. If necessary, I’ll save time by eating larger bites of my sandwich.)

I went on somewhat long about tongues, plural. The above are minor issues. This is a review so I included my thoughts.

The C3 buckles are virtually the same as the C1 and C2 buckles (main difference, the buckle straps don’t break as they did with C1). The lower two are spring-loaded so when adjusting them they stay close to their clasps. This is a nice feature. The upper two buckles have a guard (wire bail that folds over the buckle ladder) that is not such a nice feature; its purpose is still unknown me. But, like many things in life, one becomes accustomed to these sorts of things and they no longer seem bothersome. Incidentally, as with most other ski touring boots the upper two buckles are easy to move to provide the proper fit around your skinny, normal or fat calf – all you need is a hex wrench.

Buckle cages seem vestigial but I'm told they have a purpose.

Buckle cages seem vestigial but I’m told they have a purpose. (To be fair, yep, they’re there to help hold the buckle bail in the ladder while you’ve got the buckles opened for touring).

Power Straps
Lou took them off for me. At first I was a bit concerned but being without I had to do without and found that the power straps – for skiing – are not necessary. Quite a nice revelation! In fact I did notice that even though I do use the power straps on my other Cosmos boots, I close them for tidiness only, not to further tighten the fit on my lower leg. The power straps do come in handy when in dirt-walk mode, either in or out, when you’d like to sling your boots over your pack instead of fixing them to your bindings.

Check out the beefy mount for the lower lean lock anchor.

Check out the beefy mount for the lower lean lock anchor.

Lean Lock
The external lean lock is here! I repeat: The external lean lock is here! Hooray! The C3 lean lock is external — and visible — and super easy to use. It’s spring-loaded so push it down, lean forward, flexing your ankle, then slowly relax and pop!, the lean lock engages with out any ambiguity (with the added security of a tiny hook that engages the lower anchor bar). To disengage, pull on the two inch chord that, even with mittens on, can be easily grasped. In my view, an external lean (walk-ski) lock provides confidence in its reliability. This is especially comforting to us Cosmos vets who have endured lean lock breakage. I hope for Scott, and we Cosmos skiers, that this problem has been forever solved.

Uphilling in the C3 is efficient and comfortable. They provide a great degree of articulation allowing for a naturally long stride on flats. On steeper grades, I found that the tongue was not a hindrance to efficient skinning (while the tongues on these boots have been slightly modified for flex (see Lou’s review), in my experience none of the Cosmos I’ve used have problems with stride articulation). To allow ankle movement I keep the two top buckles (and power strap, if present) completely undone and the bottom two buckles on their loosest settings.

Like the C1 and C2, the C3 skis strong (at least for me). It’s great on ski area groomers (hard and soft), it is epic on steep corn and powder. Even in breakable mank, I found the boot free from blame. That said, it’s a ski touring backcountry boot. Skiing it as your everyday ski area boot might overtax it but that of course will be a function of your weight, speeds, ski and terrain options. As a backcountry, ski mountaineering boot, it provides the power and performance to maximize enjoyment.

Customer Service
High marks must go to Scott Sports USA in Ogden UT (888-607-8365). My first lean lock break down was solved by a call to Scott, new parts were sent at no charge and a local ski shop performed the repair (they did tell me that some blue language was needed as an aid to the repair process). The second breakdown was corrected by the Aspen Expeditions team. AE had the parts, know-how and vocabulary to get the job done. With break down number three, I called Scott, they said “send the boots in and we’ll replace the mechanism in both boots and get them back you in a couple of days – free of charge.” I’m fairly confident the new hardware is improved so as to reduce the risk of this kind of failure again. We will see. That Scott is so helpful and willing to own this problem is a terrific thing.

Check our our previous Cosmos coverage, extensive.

Shop for Scott Cosmos ski touring boots. The 3 version will be available fall of 2017, ver 2 ostensibly has the bugs worked out. I’d recommend them as well, though waiting for the 3 with external lean lock would be best in my opinion. Like I wrote above, Scott has good customer service. On the other hand, when you’re in the middle of the backcountry it’s hard to find a UPS delivery truck.

(WildSnow guest blogger Pete Anzalone owns PubWorks, a software company specializing in helping municipalities manage public works. He thinks in C++ while making turns, though an occasional snip of Javascript sneaks in now and then.)


11 Responses to “Scott Cosmos 3 Ski Touring Boot — Review”

  1. Bob May 15th, 2017 9:31 am

    Can you adjust the forward lean on the Cosmos 3 or is it fixed?

  2. Greg Louie May 15th, 2017 9:16 pm

    Pete, can you comment on the fit of the boot? How is compares to your previous Cosmos, how it compares to boots of similar weight, what type of foot it may or may not work for, forefoot width/instep height/heel hold?

  3. Pete Anzalone May 16th, 2017 6:39 am

    @Bob – the forward lean angle, as best I can figure is fixed. That said, the stance one gets in this boot feels just right to me. Not too forward, no too erect. For me (at 165#), keeping the top buckle and power strap loose make it easy to achieve a proper, forward ski stance. A larger skier might want the added support the top buckle and power strap affords.

    @Greg – as I mentioned I have an easy foot to fit and my feet are average as average gets (I think) so I really can’t comment on some of the boot fitting challenges some deal with.

    The fit of this boot is essentially identical to what I’ve experienced across all Cosmos boots I’ve sampled. Even going back to its Garmont predecessors, the fit has been consistent (and the liner design evolutionary). The liner took some getting used to but once there – with out cooking – no problem. Also, the liners have held up very well and have not packed out causing fit problems. They also dry very quickly.

    My feet have never gotten cold in this boot (up or down) and I do use them in the dead of winter for early AM skins up our local ski areas.

    Heel hold is excellent. The two middle buckles provide all the snugness needed and I like the lowest buckle on the snug side too. The top, highest buckle (and power strap, if present) I keep very loose.

    I’ve not skied too many other AT boots recently except for a Dalbello which I abandoned quickly because I just couldn’t pressure the tip. The Dalbello did tour extremely well.

    My ski area boot is a Full Tilt Classic (and I was a Raichle guy for many years prior to that), so the C3 might work well for skiers with average instep & arch dimensions and perhaps a slightly on-the-narrow-side forefoot width.

    Another mention of the state-side and excellent Scott USA customer service is important.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Lou Dawson 2 May 16th, 2017 7:27 am

    It’s clear when comparing C3 to previous that the molds are the same, liner could be a bit different but nothing that molding would not take care of. C3 really does appear to be terrific, super sad that Herve is not around to enjoy the culmination of what was a long process beginning with acquiring the Garmont molds then working with his team to create a modern ski touring boot with the “Garmont fit.” Incidentally, the Garmont fit is my best out-of-box as well, with modern Scarpa in there as well. High instep of early Scarpas was tough for me to deal with so I’d end up in Garmont. Presently I still like my Dynafit TLT6 best, but they’re getting a little beat after a few hundred days, not sure what I’ll change to for my daily driver. I do enjoy a slightly beefier boot on occasion, but mostly just like something that goes uphill super good. Lou

  5. Lou Dawson 2 May 16th, 2017 2:28 pm

    Technical note: Nothing comes without a price, including external lean lock. For example, cuff canting and user adjustable forward lean can both influence how well the lean lock bar engages with the anchor bar. Boot engineers have told me it’s best to get it right, and not mess with it. I of course mess with it anyway, but what they say holds true for the general consumer public if we want any sort of warranty system.

    Cuff lean is of course easy to mod for small amounts of change that will not cause problems with the lean lock. Adding more is easier than making less. In the latter case, about all you can do is remove any spoilers and when heat molding be sure to press your leg to the rear to squeeze the liner cuff slightly thinner.


  6. Bruno Schull May 17th, 2017 12:25 am

    Hi. I have a question about these boots. How does the new lean lock interfere (or not) with crampons that have a metal/plastic flip lever in the back? I think the new lean lock is great, but I often use this kind of crampons on my ski boots. Thanks.

  7. Pete Anzalone May 17th, 2017 9:46 am

    @Bruno – I used the C3 described above and a crampon like the one you mention just last Saturday and there was no issue. The lean lock mechanism “stores” high on the spine of the boot and doesn’t interfere at all with the crampon’s heel lever.

    Hope this helps.

  8. Mark W May 17th, 2017 9:55 am

    If external lean locks are the coming wave, some of the current crop are very encouraging. If this is as good as Scarpa F1’s mechanism, that is a great sign.

  9. swissiphic May 17th, 2017 11:10 am

    I have some input regarding the fit of the Cosmos for less than ‘normal’ feet. I purchased the original C1 a few years back and had to return them after the ski/walk mode mechanisms broke in both boots. All for the better as I really couldn’t get them to fit properly. I have feet that are 105mm wide at the forefoot, thin vertically, low instep, flat arch, severely pronated, thin ankles and somewhat skinny calves. With a 12mm shell fit, I found the instep height of boots too high, the ankle area too volumous and heel hold to be insufficient for my feet with the stock liner. Even with buckles cranked it was obvious the boot shape was not appropriate for my feet. Switched to the Dynafit Mercury, added Intuition thick luxury liners, punched the forefeet for width, added a full length bontex 2mm boot board shim, added another 1mm heel lift and voila, found happiness.

    You mention that you found the boot skied well for you with powerstrap and top buckles loosened a bit to find correct balance on the ski. I’ve had that issue before and found that experimenting with a bit of heel lift under the liner provided positive results for my anatomical alignment in some boots. I discovered better fore aft balance in the boot, snugger heel hold and ankle fit tension allowing for snug powerstrap/top buckle adjustment and better tip control of skis. Found more foreward support of boot for variable snow and allows for better ski tip sensitivity/precision and a bit more progressive feeling flex of boot. Worked well for scarpa maestrale, dynafit mercury, garmont megarides, salomon mtn labs and no affect with garmont deliriums.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 May 17th, 2017 11:27 am

    Thanks for the comments guys, I’ve been busy with website backend work, the usual summer time sink, but it’s worth it. Been up at WildSnow Field HQ as well, running around with a chainsaw, that’s always exciting. Upper body workout, compensates for the winter of skiing, or something like that. Lou

  11. Pete Anzalone May 17th, 2017 2:57 pm

    An additional observation about the C3 external lean lock mechanism … it’s sort of an “atomic” mechanism secured with two hex nuts meaning that any failure in any of its integrated/riveted components can be fixed by a simple and complete replacement. I’d estimate the replacement might be five minutes or less per boot (assuming you have the proper vocabulary).

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