Chris Davenport Teams Up With Scarpa

Post by blogger | September 10, 2012      

Is it a trend? Scarpa will become another backcountry ski boot company to make a product development and PR agreement with a well known freeskier, in this case Chris Davenport. As long-term observers of trends in ski mountaineering, we’re finding this to be a fascinating development.

A trend to stiffer “beefier” boots has been alive for some time now — we now have models from the major boot makers that do fit the needs of many aggressive skiers. For example, Scarpa themselves have three boots in their “Freeride” category that offer substantial downhill performance (see Mobe, Hurricane & Typhoon). Also see our Mobe review here at

That said, as a gear modder myself I’ll admit that _anything_ used for backcountry skiing can stand improvement. In the freeride skiing category, the usual European boot designers may not be totally up to the task of making those improvements. Reason being that the huge European market is incredibly sensitive to weight and uphill performance. The weight-comfort mantra is part of those Euro designers DNA, and changing your genes is hard.

As Davenport is quoted below: “a product for a specific set of needs.. doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace.”

Indeed, perhaps the holy grail is a boot that skis EXACTLY the same as an alpine boot, is as comfortable going uphill as a classic ski touring boot, and weighs on the floaty side of things. What do you WildSnowers think? Are “freeride” ski touring boots reaching a mature state of design, or is the field still open for major innovation?

Press release follows, lightly edited for brevity and clarity:

SCARPA collaborates with Chris Davenport to launch new freeride boot program. Premier big-mountain skier to be intimately involved in product development process for new SCARPA freeride line.

BOULDER, Colo. (Sept. 10, 2012) – SCARPA began a long-term partnership with renowned big mountain skier Chris Davenport in August 2012. Along with serving as a SCARPA ambassador and testing new SCARPA products, Davenport will be a key member of the product development team for a new line of SCARPA freeride boots that will be available in Fall 2013.

Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished big-mountain skiers in the world, Davenport said he was attracted to work with the SCARPA brand not only because of its world-class reputation, but also because of the opportunity to be intimately involved in the development and testing of a new, innovative line of ski boots specifically for the freeride market.

“I’m a product guy, a gear geek if you will. I love equipment, I love tweaking it, and I believe that you can always make a better product,” Davenport said. “SCARPA is super well respected in the world of skiing, so for me, this a chance to work with an already great line of products, but also a chance to help create something innovative and new.”

“There’s very definitely an opportunity in the freeride category – a product for a specific set of needs that doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace,” he said. “I’m not just joining SCARPA, I’m joining SCARPA to be involved in the development of the strongest boot line yet specifically built for the needs of freeride and sidecountry skiers.”

Davenport began working closely with the SCARPA product development team in August with the goal of launching SCARPA’s innovative new ski boot collection to the world market at the 2013 Outdoor Retailer, SIA and ISPO shows in January and February.

Another factor that attracted Davenport to working with SCARPA was meeting the Parisotto family that owns the company, along with the SCARPA North America team, and seeing their passion for developing game-changing products for skiing and mountain sports.

“We’re all product people, we love having the right product, the best thing out there, the most high performance thing we can have,” Davenport said. “So I think that also makes this a great match.”


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17 Responses to “Chris Davenport Teams Up With Scarpa”

  1. Maciej September 10th, 2012 9:01 am

    I ski the backcountry 90% of the time, yet I’ve chosen heavier equipment for a few years now (4FRNT EHP’s and BD Factor boots) because I found the performance of lightweight AT gear lacking. However, I’m also on Dynafits because they’re light, tour well AND work great skied hard and fast.

    While I know that a lot of backcountry skiers spend more time savoring the descent and keep their speeds moderate and their turns shorter, there are plenty of us who like to go fast and get off the ground once in a while.

    Recent boot designs from Dynafit and others show that there’s plenty of room to make AT boots tour AND ski better. The only downside I see is cost. I’d be getting a set of Wailer 112RP’s and a set of Vulcans if it weren’t for the escalating cost of the toys. Maybe next year….

  2. Dostie September 10th, 2012 9:13 am

    No question about it, to grow the market you have to appeal to what newbies want. Converts from the resort always want resort performance with uphill comfort – weight and walking comfort.

    It will remain an elusive goal due to the conflicting requirements of downhill performance which mandates extra weight, and touring which demands less weight. For a price you can have both – but how many can afford THAT???

  3. Zeb September 10th, 2012 9:17 am

    Frankly, I get confused by all the sub-categories: “freeride,” “touring,” “freeride touring,” “speed touring.” It’s all designed, I think, so that the boot makers never have to discuss the trade offs each boot makes. Their boots are the “perfect, never compromise freeride boot” or the “no compromise touring boot.” I don’t think we–that is, reviewers and the public–need to buy into this. Can’t we just call them “AT Boots” and then review them? I think Wildsnow does this really well, but many publications just cave in and act as if these categories represent different sports. For my own feet, I have Garmont Mega-Rides and have no idea if they’re “freeride,” “touring,” etc.

  4. cam September 10th, 2012 9:46 am

    someday a ski touring boot company will talk to David Dodge and Bill Doble, and find out how to make the holy grail boot. Take their technology, apply it to a lightweight touging boot design…and you’ld have the boot Lou describes.

  5. Lou Dawson September 10th, 2012 9:54 am

    Zeb, good point, I’m definitely more comfortable reviewing a boot and just describing what it does, rather than trying to use some PR buzz word to describe it.

  6. Adam Olson September 10th, 2012 4:32 pm

    It seems like there are so many different boots on the market compared to the number of bindings you can choose from that pursuing another backcountry boot is just a waste of time. Lets see a good sub 4lb step-in, fully releasable touring binding.

    Is it coincidence that the Anti-Spam Quiz answer points this conversation in the right direction?

  7. See September 10th, 2012 5:02 pm

    What seems odd to me is the great number of different models of boots, each requiring expensive tooling, yet all within about a 5mm range in terms of last width.

    Am I missing something? Is there a light (Maestrale/TLT5) type boot that would fit a wide foot without having to punch the shells? Closest I’m aware of would be BD Primes (judging by the specs) and they’re approaching 8 lbs, and I’d probably still have to blow out the shells.

    Considering the importance of fit for performance, a boot manufacturer that produced a line with half as many models, but with each model available in two widths, would probably sell a lot of boots.

  8. Lou Dawson September 10th, 2012 5:14 pm

    Boot design in my opinion is actually pretty stagnant, mainly because they work ok. Adam, I agree, the bindings can stand some major improvement.

  9. See September 10th, 2012 6:13 pm

    The number of bootfitters in your average ski town, not to mention the modifications described on this very site, would suggest that stock boots aren’t working that great for a significant number of people.

  10. Zeb September 10th, 2012 6:20 pm

    Lou–now I’m even more confused about whether to replace my Mega-Rides with something new. Do you think the technology and design is progressed importantly? Also, I think that AT boots are so comfortable, that I can’t imagine wearing anything else, even when I’m at the resort. The AT companies (e.g., BD) should try to expand their market to caver all kinds of skiers. No one should have to wear uncomfortable, heavy boots again.

  11. See September 10th, 2012 6:22 pm

    The number of bootfitters in your average ski town, not to mention the modifications described on this very site would suggest that stock boots aren’t working that great for a significant number of people.

  12. Lou Dawson September 10th, 2012 6:58 pm

    See, could be…

  13. Eric Steig September 10th, 2012 10:04 pm

    I continue to be impressed by Glen Plake’s boot designs. I like my Dalbello Virus and the word is that their replacement has a more Dynafit-like tourability.

  14. John Gloor September 10th, 2012 10:06 pm

    Cam, those Dodge boots, with a walk mode, rockered vibram sole, and Dynafit inserts, would be the best AT boots ever. How much are they, like $4000?

  15. John Gloor September 10th, 2012 10:09 pm

    I went back to the Dodge site. Those boots are about $1500. I spent half that on heavy Garmont Axons, which were heavy and had flex issues.

  16. cam September 11th, 2012 2:28 pm

    @ John – looking at Dodge’s site seems they go for $1500/pair, but that’s likely partially due to very low production volumes. Lou, have you ever tried these? you should chat with David Dodge about them, pretty interesting technology…

  17. See September 11th, 2012 6:54 pm

    Just guessing based on a quick google image search, but it looks like the Dodge lowers extend fairly high up the leg, with a channel for your heel so you can slide your foot in. In other words, I’m betting these are STIFF with very little articulation at the ankle. I’m thinking alpine race boots.

    Sportiva or Gignoux probably point the way to what is possible in carbon AT boots, but I still think durability in scree fields (for example) would be less than ideal. And of course price.

    I think there’s a lot of room for improvement in the area of customizeability (shell width, cuff/liner height, forward lean, stiffness, buckle placement, etc.).

    (Also, sorry for the double post.)

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