Review of Pierre Gignoux Black Ski Mountaineering Boots: Light, Comfortable and Performance Driven

pierre-gignoux-black-review

Quick overview:

  • Usual Retail Price:  €1330 Euro ($1600 USD) + VAT if buying within Europe
  • Weight: 600 grams with liner (size 26)
  • Sizes available: 23-30 with 26.5 and 27.5
  • Pros: Comfortable, Light even with full liner, Snow guard, Price compared to competition
  • Cons: Can’t buy in a store, Long shell length
  • Suitability: skimo racing, light & fast ski touring and mountaineering

Bottom Line:

While you have to wait a couple of weeks to get your pair of PG boots manufactured it’s worth it. The Black boots are only a little bit heavier than Pierre Gignoux’ full-on racing machines yet the fit and comfort make up for a couple of extra grams. Plus, they are the most affordable and one of the most comfortable full carbon boots on the market.

Product description and How we tested it:

After a couple of emails to determine the right size with Pierre Gignoux, I have ordered my pair in late October 2016. Since I made a decision to try to get to my best for one more World Champs I knew I had to get a better fitting boot than my old Scarpa Alien 1.0. I had Gignoux boots before and really liked them so I made a leap in that direction.

During the teams race at 2017 Skimo Worlds.

During the teams race at 2017 Skimo Worlds. Most descents were very technical due to little snow and a long ridge walk with crampons tested everyone’s crampon-boot compatibility – mine worked great.

My pair arrived early January and my fourth time using the boots (along with new Hagan Race skis) was for a 2h race in Colorado. Race is never the best time to test new equipment, nevertheless, I had good feelings about the boots and skis while my body struggled in the high altitude. After a few tough weeks I regained my training schedule and started to ski the Black boots on regular basis.

In my experience, downhill performance of any ski mountaineering (racing) boot will hugely depend on how well the boot fits you. I suspected that the proper full liner and low profile shell of the Blacks should be way better for my low volume feet (but regular width) than the roomy Aliens with a thin sock liner. This turned out to be true but it did take a couple of training sessions to adjust the fit. I also added the green Superfeet insoles that improved the snug fit even more – for this, I got help from Skimo.co guys when I stopped in their store in Salt Lake City.

The snug fit allows me to have good control on the descents. The lower shell is stiff but the fully padded liner cushions my feet so it’s not painful. I find the forward lean very neutral and the back of the cuff provides great support if you end up in the back seat. Leaning forward, you are doing so against a plastic “plate” and not carbon so there is some give or feel of softness but it feels just right.

This is how the inside tightening system looks like. Works well.

This is how the inside tightening system looks like. Works well.

On my third day in Blacks, I had the pleasure to demo a pair of ASKI Verglas skis (176cm, 111-78-92) in Wasatch with the Skimo.co crew. I was equally blown away how the skis performed and how my Pierre Gignoux boots were able to keep up.

Boot sizes are in the left column and shell lengths in the right.

Boot sizes are in the left column and shell lengths in the right.

In terms of overall durability of these boots, in my opinion, are as good as any other full carbon boots on the market right now. As long as you are not hitting too many rocks when boot-packing you will be fine for long time. One thing I would recommend though is to use blue Loctite on the ankle joints and pretty much all other screws as well. Some screws on my boots were getting loose every 10 sessions or so.

Finally, here are my thoughts on the uphill performance of the Pierre Gignoux Black skimo boots. I have a size 29 and they weigh only 740g including the insoles which is quite light for a “race” boot with integrated gaiters (snow guards). Pair this with great ankle articulation and they feel very light when going up. The only “down side” is that due to its design PG boots have a fairly long last (bottom shell length), mine are 297mm long for size 29. This means that the front pin holes are positioned quite in front of your fingers which makes for a different feel when skinning during the first couple of sessions.

Boot weights in grams for different sizes.

Boot weights in grams for different sizes.

Overall, the combo of Pierre Gignoux Black boots and Hagan Race skis, paired with ATK bindings, was turned out to be a well oiled downhill machine while I kept working on improving my own engine to hit the Worlds in a good shape.

Pros:

  • Still light weight despite full liner and integrated gaiter
  • Comfortable
  • Ability to fit many types of feet (thanks to wide front-foot)
  • Gaiters protect very well from snow getting into the boots

What can be improved:

Just like with all new full carbon racing boots, crampon compatibility is somewhat of an issue but CAMP Race 290 and Tour 350 fit the PG Blacks quite well.

While I haven’t had any major issues the durability could be improved and will likely happen over time.

My way of protecting my boots is using black Gorilla tape on the bottom parts of the shell and other high wear places. The scratch you see in the photo was substantial but thanks to the tape the carbon was totally protected.

My way of protecting my boots is using black Gorilla tape on the bottom parts of the shell and other high wear places. The scratch you see in the photo was substantial but thanks to the tape the carbon was totally protected.

Buying Pierre Gignoux Black ski boots

  • €1330 Euro ($1600 USD) directly from Pierre Gignoux (+ VAT if buying within Europe)
Training Plans for Skimo Racing

Skimo Racing Manual

Comments

  1. I have the very similar Race 400 model (Dynafit-rebranded RC1 generation, black & red color scheme): over 650,000′ vertical so far, with lots of off-snow abuse. Still holding up very well, although on my second set of liners (quite inexpensive fortunately!), and I use mastic tape as a rubber rand for spring & summer ski mountaineering.
    I prefer my Alien 1.0 boots for their downhill performance (closing in a million earned vertical feet, with the shells still in perfect condition), although the RC1 is still fine on the down too, and it’s significantly lighter than the Alien 1.0 on the up.
    I’ve checked out a buddy’s PG Black boots, and the niceties over the Race 400 definitely make sense if plans include using race boots for all-around touring too.
    A few random comments:
    “I find the forward lean very neutral” – This can vary by size & generation b/c of the attachment point of the mechanism, although PG has a slightly offset attachment block available if you want to make the angle more upright. (This saved my pair for me!)
    “Boot sizes are in the left column and shell lengths in the right.” – This chart has PG’s custom measurement based on the toe socket position. Although very helpful for mounting purposes, no other brand provides this information, so just beware that it’s not comparable with any other published figures.
    “The only “down side” is that due to its design PG boots have a fairly long last (bottom shell length), mine are 297mm long for size 29.” – My size 26 pair is only ~2-3mm longer than my Alien 1.0 or my previous Dynafit EVO boots in the same size. For a 29, the 297mm PG would be shorter than the Skimo Co stats for all the race boots listed there (by anywhere from ~7 to 13 mm). I think though that the low toe box height means that some racers might have to size up for the PG boots.

  2. The current generation of the Black PG boots had a significant jump in performance and fit with the new lacing/strap system. I have a pair of the original Black PG boots and the current model of the Race 400 PG boots with the new system and the fit and secure feeling is real. I find myself choosing the Race 400 even in powder, or other conditions that better suit the Black because of the new lacing/strap system. Overall, I have been beyond impressed with the PG boots and the wide forefoot is a game changer. It is surprising so many other brands still choose to go so narrow.

  3. Hi Kurt, my left is 285mm and right 280. That difference always creates problems for me when buying with ski boots or just shoes. With the proper full liner I was betting the Black boots would fit me and it worked.

  4. Kurt Perham says:

    can you tell me what your foot measured (the longer one) in mm? Im looking at PG boots. I have a FLAT and low volume foot. longest foot is ~270mm. trying to decide on the 26.5 or 27.0

    thanks for the review.

Speak Your Mind

*