Scarpa Alien RS Ski Touring Boot Review and Modifications

Post by blogger | April 26, 2018      

Gary Smith

Big days with modern gear, but anything can be improved.

Yours truly in the Frankenalien driving 106 waisted skis. Lap 1 of a multi lap day up high in the Colorado alpine. Big days with modern gear, but anything can be improved.

There’s a growing segment of ski touring that is incredible to watch develop. From the many senders in Europe, to the Dorais bros in Utah, athletes are combining high levels of fitness, skiing ability, and featherweight gear to aggressively ski big remote lines from long distances, routes that often required overnighters in the not so distant past. The industry is watching and Scarpa has created the perfect boot for such rippers: Alien RS.

I’ve wanted to write a review for this boot since testing a pre-release version of it last spring, but felt the need to put it through the wringer first. Well now I have, and along the way have made some fairly aggressive modifications.

The RS is built in a two piece plus gaiter construction that is common among race boots. The plastic is Carbon Grilamid LFT, which is a new plastic Scarpa is using that reinforces ultralight and stiff Grilamid plastic with lighter and stiffer carbon fiber. The plastic is thickened in key areas in what Scarpa calls the 3D Lamda Torsion Frame. Further rigidity is added by a 3mm diameter steel bar that rests inside the bottom of the upper cuff and connects to both inner and outer cuff pivots. These pivots are small simple aluminum 3 piece units (bolt, nut, washer) that are removable with a hex wrench.

Scarpa Alien RS disassembled

Scarpa Alien RS disassembled

Scarpa Alien RS cuff inside.

Scarpa Alien RS cuff inside, note the black wire shaped steel reinforcement yoke.

The reinforcement bar in place. Removable/serviceable pivots are nice too.

Rear view of stock RS.

The upper and lower are latched together by a single simple throw that has multiple positions of attachment on the upper to give a forward lean adjustment of 7-13 degrees. Range of motion between these 2 pieces is a superhuman 73 degrees. Your ankle and foot are waterproofed by a gaiter that is welded to the lower shell, stays put with an elastic top with, and has a Boa dial smack in the middle of the top of the foot. Transitions stay true to the race heritage with a Dyneema cord closure tied in to the walk/ski lever. I have seen the knot in the cord behind its anchor point come free, but never an inline break in the cord. One downward throw of the rear lever tightens the cord across the cuff and said tightness is easily adjusted while in walk mode by a single toothed cam mechanism on the outside of the cuff.

Previous Aliens had a similar mode-change system but with only one length of cord crossing the shin, and an optional power strap. The RS uses two grabs on one side of the cuff to catch two loops coming from the other. This results in the cord crossing the shin 4 times over a 20 cm span that greatly increases snugness and eliminates (er, reduces) the need for a power strap.

Scarpa has always had good thing going in the co-developing of liners with the Canadians at Intuition. The Alien RS is no exception, with a stout and dense race weight Intuition liner. The liner is equipped with flex zones in the front and rear of the ankle and large pull straps on the rear and tongue. Very solid zones of unidentified material exist on the the top of the liner’s rear cuff and shin to diffuse the fore and aft pressure of the edges of the boot cuff. Another great race inspired feature is the velcro strap from liner cuff to tongue to opposite side. This keeps the tongue upright and centered for long periods in a very open walk mode. The boot board is a single piece of plastic which is easily removable for modification.

Scarpa Alien RS liner and bootboard.

Scarpa Alien RS liner and bootboard.

How about the fit?
Scarpa has traditionally shrunken the last in their ultra light boots, and the RS is no exception. Listed as a 99mm last, compared to the standard 101mm in all but the F1 (102mm), it is every bit that small feeling. Not only is the boot smaller laterally, but it has a slightly shorter feel as well. Simply put, it’s tight all the way around and Scarpa has done the downsizing for you on this one. Heel hold is quite good for a boot in this category, as you would expect from Scarpa, and the Boa snugs up the lower really well. I am a 27 on the dot on a mondo scale and ski 27 in Scarpa or 26.5 in other brands whose shell sizes break more traditionally.

I crammed my foot in the 27 test model for a few days but was wary of a full season of what would result in some sadistic version of Italian foot binding. When this season’s stock rolled in, I threw on a pair of 28’s and was seriously considering going that route. The foot was still tight laterally but in a “good” tight way only understood by skiers. The length though felt long and just looking at that “28.0” sticker was concerning.

The most noticeable difference however was the cuff height. The 28 cuff felt amazing. Similar to other taller alpine and AT boots I had been in, the added height really changed the feel of the flex in a positive way, giving more leverage to the ankle instead of pressure on the shin. After further investigation, the 28 and 29 share the same cuff as do the 26 and 27. This put me in an interesting spot being 6′ tall and feeling just between 27 and 28. Modding was the solution, see below. But first let’s conclude this review of the stock RS.

So how does it ski tour?

In my opinion the Alien RS blows away anything in its class on the downhill and in its ability to drive larger skis. Full carbon boots are quite stiff but give little to nothing in touch and feel throughout various turn shapes snow consistencies. Lightweight/race touring boots of the non-carbon variety generally will bottom out or have some lateral slop and struggle with any ski much larger than skimo race size boards. The RS has exceptional stiffness with a pretty good amount of feel through out that flex. The RS is also unbelievably stiff laterally.

This by no means makes the Alien RS ski like an alpine boot, or even like a heavier do-it-all touring boot. The flex is an acquired taste and demands a very intentional way of skiing. You have to be glued to the front of the boot with weight forward or you quickly get knocked in to the back seat. This is due to the more upright position and lack of alpine style progressive flex not only forward but in rebound as well. Or put another way, as soon as you let up a smidge, the boot snaps back to its non flexed position. The lower does open/deform under heavy loads (ie heavy snow, big skis, or high G turns) like most touring and some alpine boots do. Once you get a hang of light boot idiosyncrasies, the Alien RS absolutely rips and is a true engineering marvel. Transitions are as easy as it gets. One lever in a stock boot, and minor fiddling with an added strap and you’re off: up or down. As for walking, it doesn’t get much better. A sub kilo boot with more range of motion than the human ankle and a thin Intuition liner is as good as it gets.

Modifications: Commence Frankenbooting

Certain luxuries are afforded when you manage a backcountry ski shop. In addition to my six figure salary and unlimited access to the Cripple Creek Backcountry private helicopter (which I assure you is never used to gain otherwise human powered vert), I was able to construct the dream version of what was already my dream boot.

First the sizing dilemma. I ordered up a pair of both 27s and 28s with the intention of punching the heck out of the 27 lower to accommodate my foot, and then swapping the 27 upper for the taller 28 cuff. The only problem with this concoction is the traditional means of heating and stretching ski boots is inadvisable and will void the warranty of the Carbon Grillamid LFT boots.

Nonetheless, with care I was able to do four punches on my right and three on the left without damaging the boots. The plastic changed sheen with heat, and the big toe extension punch left a folded crease on top of the toe on booth boots. No holes, no cracks, no problems! My experience with punching this plastic was that I actually had to get it hotter and apply more pressure than standard Grillamid, Pebax or PU. Nerve wracking as this was, I was able to make ample room in the 27 shell where I needed it, and keep it snug where the 28 was not.

All this said, be mindful of the fact that getting a boot fitter (or ski shop manager) to punch boots such as this might be a losing proposition. For most skiers, if you know you’ll need punches it’s better to start with a standard Grillamid lower, which is quite easily heat molded. Ideally, we’d like to see reinforced Grillamid that’s as easily molded as the normal type. Judging from how rapidly ski boot technology is progressing, seeing that happen won’t be a surprise.

Warnings should be heeded?

Warnings should be heeded?

Scarpa Alien RS punch.

Happy feet were worth the risk- successfully stretching the Alien RS

With a successful punch job, it was time to swap cuffs.

Prepare to go deep down the reasoning rabbit hole with me… the height of the size 26/27 cuff from center of pivot to low point of cuff is 17.1 cm, and 18.2 cm in the size 28/29. The height from below the heel to the center of the pivot in the size 27 lower is 8.1 cm versus 8.4 in the size 28. This gives the size 28 boot a 1.4 cm higher cuff than a size 27. This may (does) sound like an insanely obsessive thing to be concerned about, but it is actually quite noticeable. The Frankenalien would end up with a 1.1 cm taller cuff than a stock 27. If possible, move your power strap up a full centimeter on your boot and feel the difference. This swap maneuver did reduce the possible forward lean available by an amount that an MIT grad student would have to calculate. Mine is adjusted as forward as possible.

(Editor’s note from Lou: While I like the simplicity and elegance of this mod, A cuff height mod could also be accomplished by adding plastic here and there, if you don’t have another set of cuffs available.)

Scarpa Alien RS shell height

Scarpa Alien RS shell height



The actual swap is simple yet physically challenging due to the incredibly potent thread locking compound the cuff pivots are installed with. You’ll be happy to know that these babies aren’t coming undone on their own. After applying direct heat to the pivots with a lighter for 20 seconds each, I was able muscle the cuffs apart using the hex sockets provided on the inside nut and outside machine screw. I applied a little refresher of probably not as potent threadlocker, and slapped on the tall cuff. Done!

Further mods were less involved (and less expensive). As great as the liner is, I wanted a touch more give and play in the boot so I put a 27 Scarpa F1 liner in. This reduced the rigidity and stiffness feel just a fraction while making for a more snug ankle fit. The beefier F1 liner does inhibit the range of motion a touch. Next up, power strap. Ever since skiing with an original Booster Strap, I’ve been unable to like a boot without some sort of cam locking power strap squeezing the cuff around my lower leg. This is especially true of cord based closure systems where snugness is not generally a quality emphasized by manufacturers. I opted to drill two holes in the rear spoiler and bolt on a Salomon Quest/MTN Lab strap that is wide yet still reasonably light. Lastly, I have a green Superfeet insole and 3/4 length shim under the front of the liner. If I were to recommend any of these mods to try first, it would be the strap. And only for a non-race setting. I would honestly bet that a good solid strap would be just as noticeable as the cuff swap, if done in a scientific one-at-a-time manner.

Stock RS at 932 grams.

Stock RS at 932 grams.

Fully modded, 1102 grams keeps you at the one kilo sweet spot.

Fully modded, 1102 grams keeps you at the one kilo sweet spot.

I can hear you gram counters out there clinking away on your mental abaci. My modifications upped the boot weight to 1102 grams (gasp!) as compared to a stock 27 RS at 932 grams. I ski this boot hard with up to 106mm wide powder skis and in committed terrain and can 100% justify the added weight for the added performance. The key here is the combination of skiability and massive, minimally hindered range of motion. This nexus is not possible in an 800 gram boot any more than it is in a 1500 gram offering. For this combo to come in anywhere under 1300 grams is a steal. (Note: For those who prefer narrower skis, more conservative turn shape, or are just better skiers than I, a stock “sub one kilo” boot such as Alien RS will do the job, don’t obsess on modding, but…).

Putting the whole package together, the Alien RS (modded or stock) represents the leading edge of what is happening in ski touring. These boots paired with lightweight and high performance skis and bindings are allowing for a new version of freeride speed touring. Early morning rises or overnight missions to slay one big line are becoming more casual starts to tours that tag that dream line and rip two more on the way back home. “I mean, we’re already out here aren’t we?” Or, “Whoa, let’s go ski that too!” The Alien RS would allow you to be competitive with all but the most elite rando racers out there, while doubling as a powerful boot to tackle the biggest of missions.

(WildSnow guest blogger Gary Smith is the Vail Cripple Creek Backcountry shop manager. He’s also an obsessive tinkerer of anything that supports his skiing addiction.)


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39 Responses to “Scarpa Alien RS Ski Touring Boot Review and Modifications”

  1. See April 26th, 2018 9:08 am

    So LFT can be punched, (perhaps LFT stands for Long Fiber Thermoplastic)? The fact that punching will void the warranty is ridiculous. Everybody knows that fit is the first priority in boots.

    Slightly softer flex (ditch the wire reinforcement to improve the “lack of alpine style progressive flex?”), adjustable cant and forward lean, and these look like my next boots.

  2. kevin woolley April 26th, 2018 9:31 am

    I ski the regular Alien as my touring boot without the power strap, because the strap is so annoying to fiddle with and slows transition and rides up on my shin on the way down. I’m not skiing high consequence terrain and am more of a long distance and multiple laps mellow skiing type.

    One problem I have had is that the cord frays pretty consistently after 20 days. I’m guessing you have had less problem with this because the strap keeps pressure off the cord? Am I correct in assuming that this cord will also fray after 20 days without a strap to supplement?

    This was a fantastic review and I’m very interested in making this my next boot if it will fit my feet. Do you feel that the fit is similar to the regular Alien?

  3. kevin woolley April 26th, 2018 10:40 am

    Couple of other questions.

    Your modification results in a boot that seems to be pretty close to the F1, probably a little better ankle articulation, but not as easy to punch. Why not just ski the F1?

    And on an unrelated note, are there people who have skied the pre retail version of the new Alien 1.0 yet who can comment on that boot? In the spirit of course about always talking about things that you can’t buy yet 🙂

  4. JCoates April 26th, 2018 6:08 pm

    Thanks for the write up Gary.

    I love the boot as a potentially perfect ski mountaineering boot (not racing SkiMo type) platform too. I did have my Boa cable break, however, and was wondering if you’ve seen that happen much with this boot? Anyone with cool mods for fixing that problem? I’d also like to see the rear throw-arm nubbin get removed (shortened) as it interferes with step-in crampons when you have the boot locked in (locking arm in down position) for ice-climbing. Maybe next years iteration. This boot is going to be sooooo good once the kinks get worked out.

  5. Matt Kinney April 26th, 2018 6:42 pm

    “athletes are combining high levels of fitness, skiing ability, and featherweight gear to aggressively ski big remote lines from long distances, routes that often required overnighters in the not so distant past. ”

    Not so much here. Sleds over grams needed for access distances over a measly mile, which local ATers consider too far. Overnighters? Almost laughable these days to get big lines. Sled to the base, carry your super, light-weight skis on your back, carbon your boots and start booting. Keeps the skins in your pack since you won’t be needing them anyway, Ethically challenged with current “fusion” trends, but I appreciate your above observation from your geographical range.

  6. Yellow Snow April 26th, 2018 8:39 pm

    Seems like one could easily achieve everything you’ve done (and save a little weight) by just getting a Fischer Travers Carbon…

    You wouldn’t need to punch it.
    You wouldn’t need to buy 2 sets of boots to get the cuff height.
    Velcro buckle strap hugs the calf better than string and more like a booster.
    Weighs under 1100g.
    Skis as well or better than the Alien RS.
    You’d still have a warranty.

  7. Dan April 26th, 2018 8:42 pm

    Thanks for such a detailed discussion of the boot and potential mods. I don’t see me modding these too much, but I’m hoping a pair of these and something like the ZeroG Tour Pro will cover all my needs.

    In terms of ‘ripping’ with boots like these, I’d like to see vids of people skiing this sort of gear aggressively. That’s not intended as a slight, but more so I’d love to see what people are capable of on lighter gear…particularly in terms of skiing reasonably fast and aggressively.

  8. abp April 26th, 2018 10:30 pm

    Good review! I agree that the rs is pretty much as good as it gets for light boots. Everything on the shell has held up very well for me this season, probably 80 full days on them. However, my liners are completely thrashed, several spots with worn holes all the way through and probably 10 areas per side that have worn through the face fabric into the foam. I suppose this is just the circle of life for boots with the articulation that the rs has, but i doubt they will make it through the remainder of the season and i’ll be needing new liners next season.

    Other than that, I have found that they can hold it down amazingly well, i’m 200lbs and am super impressed at how little they hold me back, provided I keep up on technique.

    An interesting side benefit is that that they are the warmest ski boot i’ve ever worn.. which is counterintuitive given how thin the shell and liner are. I’ve struggled with cold feet ever since frostbiting a couple toes a couple years ago, and the rs has consistently been the only boot in my quiver that keeps my feet feeling toasty in sub-zero temps. Maybe its the articulation and lack of pressure points?

  9. SCOTTMELLIN April 27th, 2018 6:28 pm

    My absolute favorite boot yet. Light, huge range of motion and skis amazingly well. One note that Gary didn’t hit: this is the only Scarpa I have that hasn’t shredded my heels. I’m not sure if its the liner, the shell, the combination or what. But I love these boots as much for their performance, as for the fact that they don’t hurt me.

  10. VT skier April 27th, 2018 7:50 pm

    Lets see, take a liner from an F-1 for better heel fit, (and warmth?) . Why not just ski, tour on the F-1? My pair, size 28.5 weigh 1400 gms with footbed.
    I have been very happy with my less expensive, stock F-1s, even on a recent 7 day hut trip. I haven’t even baked the liners, just put in Superfit Carbon footbeds. Long days, no blisters or hotspots..
    A great boot, that drives my 105 waist Carbon Converts just fine.

  11. Gary Smith April 27th, 2018 8:05 pm

    Hey all thanks for reading! Answers to a few questions:

    Kevin: the range of motion is definitely the main reason The Alien RS has replaced the F1 despite creeping near it in weight with mods. It is also a stiffer boot than the F1 although not as quite as good in the touch department. Transition time is also a big difference. The Velcro upper “buckle” on the F1 has a rather terrible throw distance and for a range of motion greater than a heavier boot, it has to be loosened beyond a proper skiing tension every time.

    It fits similarly to the original but sighted more snug and to Scott’s point, easier on the heel.

    I have not seen the cord fray and break yet on any boots through the shop or on friends boots, but multiple “unties” behind anchor points. I think your thought is valid that my strap reduces tension on it. Time will tell as these are new this year!

    J Coates: one of my main ski partners did have the same boa connection break on both boots. It is a replaceable part that should have been beefed up. Sound like yours?. No mods yet although Scarpa has been good about taking care of it.

    Matt I’m certainly into sled access when it’s available, and have been using the Hoji boot and heavier ski for those missions. I think I could have specified more the type of terrain and the type 1&2 fun process of drainage hopping and skiing multiple lines linked via human power. My home range is The Gore Range which is nearly 100% wilderness and extremely tight craggy drainages. I’m assuming you live somewhere with awesome sled access?

    Dan: watch John or Pete Gaston at a randonee race or check out Teague Holmes via Instagram or his website sometime. Teague snapped the ski photo above. After that pitch I pulled over to a steep pillowed roll over and he flew by in the Alien 1.0 and 2 stagged a 5 then 15 footer with style and ease. These types of boots are not 70 mph on Alaskan spine capable, but can be skied fas, angulated hard, and land moderate airs.

  12. Kyler Allison April 27th, 2018 9:04 pm

    Great review Gary. I’d love to see more posts for you.

  13. Tom April 27th, 2018 11:45 pm

    @JCoates: The Boa on my right boot failed on tour after about 10 sorties, just wrapping a velcro strap around the foot saved the day, no big deal. It was replaced on warranty by Scarpa, no questions asked (just like the fraying Boa cable on my F1). I suspect it was due to my frequent enthusiastic removal of the liner for drying (something that used to be such a pain with my old boots). The cables, whilst not visible under the gaiter, are pretty exposed to this sort of action. I never had any trouble with crampons: it goes very nicely with the light Petzl Irvis Hybrid, the crampon’s heel lever is just short enough. I love this boot and prefer it over the F1, which is still a very good boot.

  14. kevin woolley April 28th, 2018 9:13 pm

    Thanks Gary, and I second Kyler’s sentiment, would love to see more reviews from you.

  15. Jason K April 29th, 2018 7:17 am

    Love the cuff mod, but the power strap is sacreligous 🙂

    There is a new thicker steel boa assembly that should be more durable than the old plastic coated one. I didnt experience any downside to it. If the boa does break, I found that a voile ski strap provides an adjustable, zero-compromise field repair.

    I have had the upper cord break, although I run mine rather tight given my avoidance of power straps. I now leave an extra tail at the plastic connector so that additional cord can be moved through the cam on the fly by loosening 1 knot in the event of breaking or fraying.

    I’ve skied the RS with stock, F1 and Freedom SL liners. Can def change the fit and ski feel, but in all cases the tourability still surpasses an F1 or any other boot of RS skiability.

  16. Jerky Jackson May 1st, 2018 10:28 am

    I’ve been on a set this winter and have 50+ days on them. I’ll second the notion that you don’t want to get in the back seat, like, ever, as it ‘ll be game over before you know it.

    I have had a problem with fit and I’ve developed this devil’s bump on the outside of the middle section of my right foot. Pure pain and I find it is exacerbated by lousy side-hill skin tracks where skiers can’t seem to figure out how to continuously shave the uphill side of the track as they utilize it. It got better after I yelled at a few people who were raping the skin track one day and then my foot got better after I took a dremel to the inside of the boot and a hair dryer to the outside but it’s still not an ideal fit situation. Any thoughts?

  17. brian harder May 1st, 2018 9:45 pm

    I’m down with the power strap mod, in spite of what Jason says. Like some other friends have proposed, the strap can off load the cord and might just keep it intact far longer than it would be if it was bearing the brunt of a tight closure. I drilled a single hole and used a Dynafit TLT7 strap which worked great. That mod can be seen in my review on my site, if interested.

  18. brian harder May 2nd, 2018 8:37 am

    The other comment I’ll add is that my BOA failed after only 3 hours of total use. I was leaving the parking lot skinning when, “pop”, and that was it. I took everything apart. Not too difficult but trying to figure out routing of the cable was/is mystifying.

    I called BOA and they were perplexed by the failure. The downside of those guys, while genuinely concerned and helpful, is that they make closures for all kinds of footwear and finding someone who knew anything about skimo boots was impossible. Still, he sent me too kits for free. Nice service there. But that’s where the fun stopped. A little cartoon schematic he sent was useless for getting my small brain up to speed to perform the install myself. Consequently, Scarpa stepped up and I sent them back to them for the fix. Then I blew my knee so I have no other observations to make. Sad.

    I will also add that the BOA failure was enough of a buzz kill to have me thinking about buckle mods for the instep. I was going to give the BOA another chance as breakages are not that common. But if it blows again then I’ll likely add either a PDG or Sportiva instep buckle. Like others have said, a Voile strap is a good field fix but I’d not want to spend a couple of weeks on, say Denali, like this. My sense is that for that kind of needed dependability, a buckle might be the go to. Thoughts?

  19. brian burke May 2nd, 2018 8:58 am

    great review gary. i’ve skied 20 or so days this year on this boot and also really like them for pretty much everything. they’ve held up thru serous abuse bushwacking and scrambling in the southern sierra on a low snow year.

    i mysteriously had the master pin for the heel throw fall out on the final descent of the power of four this year. a hardware store trip fixed this, but it’d be worth throwing some loctite on this if it seems loose at all.

  20. Jason K May 2nd, 2018 9:58 am

    Brian, I suppose if I had access to your AK terrain, I could get behind a powerstrap, but for 300 – 500 m CO lines, the fiddle factor seems like too much of a buzz kill. I do agree that it should help a lot with taking some of the heavy lifting duty off the cord.

    I’m optimistic the beefed up BOA will be more reliable, but we will see. Did you get the beefed up (exposed steel), or old-style (black plastic coated)? Maybe a backup boa assembly in the AK repair kit is a good idea…

  21. Jason K May 2nd, 2018 9:59 am

    And to Brian B, the old master pin was a hair short for the job. They have a longer pin now.

  22. brian harder May 2nd, 2018 11:18 am

    Hey Jason. It’s funny, I moved to AK with the full Teton/Wasatch skimo mentality and I would have agreed with you then about the fiddle factor of a strap. But once here I realized that absolutely no one at the time cared or even knew about such things up here. I added a strap to my TLT 6s years ago because transitions are just slower in AK. I like the slight added performance of them, anyway. If it can help with the cord shredding issue then all the better.

    As for the extra BOA in the repair kit, as I previously stated, it’s simply not obvious how it works. I suppose having some smart engineer (like you) show me once would make me more competent but I really haven’t a clue right now.

  23. wtofd May 2nd, 2018 11:57 am

    Brian H and others, how much more reliable would a buckle be? In other words, couldn’t it break too?

  24. brian harder May 2nd, 2018 12:27 pm

    Everything breaks. But I’ve never come across a boot fitting that looks more precarious than the BOA. I really don’t understand your question. My BOA broke after 3 hours of use. I’ve never had a buckle fail in 30 years. That’s all I know.

  25. kevin woolley May 2nd, 2018 2:29 pm

    I take it that the Boa on the RS is different from the F1 or older Alien? I’ve got significant miles on both those other boots without any Boa trouble, although I am only an N of one obviously.

  26. Scott May 2nd, 2018 2:55 pm

    I enjoyed the initial “lighten up” post on CCBC and I dig this review even more, Gary. Thanks for the shop insight (and thanks to Wildsnow for the editorial work…grin). I’m surprised you wanted a higher cuff — when I first got it, I was assuming the RS would feel like a low-top race boot, but by my measurements the size 30 RS has a cuff height equal to size 31 Sportiva Spitfire 2.0’s, and a little higher even than size 30 TLT7 cuff. Granted, the RS doesn’t give you quite as much boot for the down than those would. I think that there’s only so much you can do without an actual piece of plastic in the tongue. As others have said, the RS works well if you can stay in the front seat. Once you lose that cuff pressure, especially if you are on excitable carbon skis, you’re fully in the backseat.

    In regards to the buckle/BOA discussion, I would rather substitute the durability and simplicity of the ingenious hole/rivet buckle that Sportiva puts on the Spitfire/Spectre for the form fitting of the BOA. I haven’t broken the BOA yet but I’d rather not have that liability.

  27. See May 2nd, 2018 8:19 pm

    Considering I generally don’t like to spend more than a couple hundred bucks on boots I probably won’t be getting these anyway (also, the shrunken last and lack of alpine style progressive flex). But Scott’s comment about there being “only so much you can do without an actual piece of plastic in the tongue” got me thinking about why the performance apparently goes out the window if you get in the back seat. Maybe the lack of shell material around the front of the ankle and top of the foot doesn’t provide much leverage over the ski when your weight shifts back and your foot and lower leg are pressed against those parts of the boot.

  28. rudi December 17th, 2018 12:02 pm

    Anyone aware of a shop in CO (Frnt Rangeish area preferably) willing to punch these? I have heard anecdotally that they punch fine but am having trouble getting a shop to do it. I’m fully aware it voids the warranty and all that. THANKS!

  29. Gary S December 21st, 2018 4:38 pm

    rudi come on by cripple creek vail and I’ll punch them 🙂 please call or email ahead of time for an appointment and expect a little higher cost than a normal punch

    Quick update on the boots:

    As Jason K said, the power strap was sacrilege and overkill. I ran with the strap loose for my first 5 or so days this season iwth little difference and then removed it the other day. Growing up I guess.

    I have managed to crack the upper slightly in the thicker part above the pivot. as a result it actually skis a bit better haha. Also, add to your backcountry repair kit an extra bolt for the rear lever. These will fall out as they are too short. Myself and ski partners are now using a 5-7 mm longer bolt with lock nut and lock tight.

    All in all these remain a dream. Been testing the limits more this year sending pillow lines in all of this powder we’ve had.

  30. Serge January 3rd, 2019 12:01 am

    Not sure if anyone is still reading this, but after trying these on in store and cruising through the comments, I’m left wondering if a lot of the nifty design features are more liabilities than benefits. In the store I couldn’t switch from walk to ski mode without the cord slipping through the cam lock a couple of inches each time. The cord looked slightly frayed I’m assuming from people just trying on the boot, and maybe this is why it slipped through the cam. I don’t have an issue with the cord design itself, but I wish there was a more reliable way to tension the cord than that dinky little cam.
    I’m probably in the minority of skiiers in that I enjoy big (hutless) human powered traverses far away from roads. Last year my buddy and I skiied the wind river high route. This year I wanna go for the Sierra high route, and I’d like a boot that tours as well, but skis better than my again pdg’s. I tried the tlt7 and the weird cabled bucked system snapped when I was right testing them out of the box. My buddies cable system iced up on the four pass loop and there we were with a lighter out and boots off on a windy frigid air pass trying to thaw out his nifty design feature/failure. Anyway, excited about the progression but also pretty skeptical about these overly complicated buckle/lock systems, when they do nothing to make the boot ski or skin better. I’d love to just have a boot I know I can count on in the middle of nowhere instead having to count on the ol’ reliable voile ski straps again and again. Thanks for the vent.

  31. Brian Harder January 3rd, 2019 12:36 am

    I still get notifications on this thread so I’ll jump in for what it’s worth. I don’t have huge days on these boots yet as I blew my knee last spring not long after getting them. However, I’ve doing a lot of low angle touring on them this winter getting my ski legs back. One thing I noticed is that I don’t adjust the cord from outing to outing or even to put the boots on and off. That leads me to believe that I could tie a loop there and semi-permanently fix the length. Also, as you can read on my website, I fashioned a Dynafit cam buckle power strap to the cuff to take the tension off the cord all together. I don’t have proof yet but suspect that it will increase cord life. Some readers have suggested they don’t like the extra fiddle but it seems like a small price to pay for added reliability and improves ski-ability at the same time.

  32. Jason K January 3rd, 2019 5:10 am

    If you put a little pressure on the cam the first couple times you close the walk/ ski mode, it will bite into the cord and hold quite well. I then add a stopper knot about 1 cm past the cam to prevent unexpected slip. The cords tend to last quite well for me. Probably good for well over 100k vert per cord. I keep a pre- tied backup cord in my repair kit. If the end of the cord is burned sharp, a field swap only takes a few minutes.

  33. kevin woolley January 4th, 2019 8:47 am

    I’ve got about 20K of vert and 30 miles on my Alien RS, so not sufficient for long term analysis, but the cord has been much better than my experience with the original Alien (see my above comments). I haven’t had the cord slip or break once. I think this is due to the multiple redundant curves of the cord across the front of the boot as opposed to the single strand of the original Alien. I do carry an extra precut cord based on my experience with the original Alien, but haven’t had to use it, and I haven’t seen the cord fray at all. When the cord is locked down tight there is very little play. And unlike the tlt7, the closure mechanism is completely replaceable and open to evaluation at any time.

    As others have noted, the boot is much stiffer and is far better on the downhill than the original Alien. It is the best touring and skiing boot for high mileage tours that I have ever experienced. My style is more exploratory and less about the steeps.

    I have had some problems with fit, the upper outer aspect of the boot impinges on my fifth metatarsal in a way that the original Alien last did not, there is a little ledge on the inside of the boot from that reinforced segment that extends along the superior lateral part of the boot which is pinching my foot. I think I am headed for a punch at least on my left foot. It also feels just a bit narrower than the original Alien.

    I’ll reply back to the thread after the end of the season but so far I’m a huge fan, just need a little bit of work on the fit.

  34. Serge January 5th, 2019 1:26 am

    Thanks for the replies ya’ll. Brian, tying a knot sounds like a good way to secure the cam lock, and lessen the fiddle of finding just the right length each time. I’ve got your blog on my rss feed and appreciate your thoughtful takes. Hope the knee heals well. I do like the overall basic design for potential to repair/replace in the field. And the walk to ski ration is exactly what I’m looking for. I think a slightly thicker cord and burlier cam would improve this boots reliability without adding much weight. Weight/skiability, the TLT 7 is quite good, but touring range was definitely not on the race level. And the fit scalped my heels every tour. I’ve got the hoji now for resort and lower mileage days and there is not much difference in tourability, but a huge difference in skiability. Now I just need that race + boot.

  35. Brian H. January 19th, 2019 5:56 pm

    Here’s another relevant update. I reported here early on that I had a BOA failure with very little mileage on my new RS. I sent it back to Scarpa and it came back good as new. Sadly, I blew my knee just as the speed touring season was dawning. This year, I likely have 20 days of low angle touring in them and have been happy…until today. About an hour into some very flat approach skiing, the BOA popped and that was it. So that’s two failures in less than 30 days, none of which involved any real skiing to speak of. Disappointing. Luckily, the Voile strap fix is quick and effective.

    I may be motivated to do the “real” buckle mod now. Anyone out there have any shop time with this?

  36. Jody Adamonis January 21st, 2019 8:19 am

    Where do you get your replacement cord? I see it available at Skimo and Scarpa for $10-20 for 20-30″, but that is crazy money.

  37. Mar' Himmerich January 21st, 2019 10:05 pm

    Jody— try West Marine (there’s one in Sausalito) for an equivalent diameter in their T-100 series Dyneema cord. Perhaps the 2.3mm or 3mm will suffice.

    I haven’t tried the cord out yet for replacing the worn RS cord, but it may work at less cost to you.

    PN 3474665 for the 2.3mm
    PN 3474715 for the 3mm

  38. brian harder January 23rd, 2019 3:25 pm

    As promised, I pulled the trigger on the BOA replacement. I decided that buckles are not the end all and can be hard to find parts for as models change. Others have also noted that they can fail, too. Well, what typically doesn’t fail is the Voile strap. Turns out, by removing the BOA and grinding off the rivet that holds the internal router near the instep, there is a pre-made slot just aching for a Voile strap to pass through. A touch with the soldering iron through the gaiter material reveals the slot to be made for such a beautiful thing. Photos can be found on my IG and long form details will be on my blog. Last thing to do is patch the hole from the BOA.

  39. Viktor February 18th, 2019 3:14 pm

    Hi, before skiing F1, the blue ones- refixed with manual lock syst, size 295, now into alienRS, but the maximum size mondo 30,0 feel so tight, i have friend in shop, i am walking in boots infront of tv and dont know if choose them. I had similar problem with F1, now they are superfitting. Just wanted something lighter. Will liner go bit more freely? Space around toes?, shell seems to have enought room liner to move. What do you mean? I am normally size 46 (euro), uk 11. And mondo before with F1 was for me 29,5, according to tab is it 45, 10,5 uk. Total alchemy;). Thanks

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