|Garmont Mega Ride backcountry ski boots
with Scarpa buckle swapped on, (lower "fourth" buckle has been
removed). Cord at toe is for Dynafit binding safety leash.
Our Garmont Mega Ride mods are complete. If you haven’t been following that, we started with a fresh pair of Garmont backcountry ski boots and gave them the full treatment at the boot fitter.
The Garmonts skied well, but the lower buckles caught on the rocks during ski mountaineering rock scrambling and scree hiking.
We subsequently removed the lower factory buckles and replaced with those from an old pair of Scarpa Lasers, so the more vulnerable and bulky part of the buckle is now located on top of the boot instead of on the side.
Swapping buckles around is relatively easy. The key is having a variety of small fasteners called “screw rivets.” You can usually get a few sizes of screw rivets at the hardware store, but boot fitters source a greater variety than you can find via retail. So if you’re planning on DIY boot mods, contact a boot fitter and get a variety of fasteners before you start.
Note the 05/06 Garmonts now have the lower buckles located in a similar fashion as this mod.
An interesting aside: Ski mountaineers may frequently use their boots for rock climbing, boulder hopping and scree hiking. Doing so will eventually trash the “DIN” shape of the toe, not to mention embedding dirt and gunk in the plastic. Most randonnee AT backcountry ski bindings depend on the boot toe being a consistent standardized shape, and more, such bindings need a relatively low friction interface between the boot toe and binding “toe jaws.” Once your boot toes are trashed and covered with dirt, consistent and safe release of such bindings is nearly impossible.
A few backcountry bindings do NOT depend on the shape or condition of the boot toe for consistent and safe release. Among those are the Dynafit models and any Silvretta with a toe wire. It’s wise to keep this in mind when choosing bindings for backcountry skiing — especially if you spend time with your skis on your pack instead of your feet.