Trend towards lighter gear in any mountain and outdoor sport is obvious. It was, is, and will be going on at every stage of gear development.
Light gear in many sports starts its development inside racing environment where every second counts. This is how it is happening in ski mountaineering world too.
Skimo (rando) racing is the ultimate force behind the evolution of the lightest equipment where skis, bindings and boots are dropping not grams but pounds almost every two years or so…and there are string$ attached.
Light gear has clear advantages for going uphill but what about going down?
While there is a compromise in quality of skiing it is not as much as you would think. This is mostly due to materials such as carbon that is very light yet very stiff, and due to clever designs and engineering solutions.
Today, we are going to take a look at ski mountaineering boots that are used almost exclusively for skimo racing, however, they are slowly finding their way into everyday use for vertical junkies and speed obsessed crazies.
Also, we will briefly introduce/compare another four models that are very light yet they are more affordable and durable for everyday touring.
Lightest ski mountaineering boots
For the 2010 season there are four manufacturers that can offer sub-kilo (sub 1kg) models:
- Scarpa and Dynafit are well established brands on the market.
- LaSportiva is also a well-known brand but not for ski mountaineering boots, they are famous for their mountaineering and climbing shoes.
- Then there is the ultimate craftsman Pierre Gignoux from France.
It seems that big brands have their hands somewhat tide with their already established images of quality that prevents them to go for more aggressive approach. And since they are designing for a wider range of users their products are not as impressive light-wise as from the smaller companies.
|Pierre Gignoux XP 444||La Sportiva Stratos|
|Scarpa F1 Carbon||Dynafit Dy.N.A. TF|
The differences between the boot models in terms of weight are quite astounding considering all of them are very light already. The price tags are impressive as well 😉
The XP 444 is a newer version of XP 500 which was Pierre’s first widely sold model. The XP 500 was used by the fastest skimo racers on the world cup circuit past 2-3 seasons and XP 444 is likely to follow suit.
Weight differences make also difference in durability as it was reported numerous times that the rivets and some other parts needed replacement after few races on the XP 500. This didn’t seem to be the case with Scarpa’s and Dynafit’s older racing models. But weight is king and light is everything, so XP 444 will do well.
To read about personal experiences with the above boots and opinions about their advantages/disadvantages go to the comments section of an article about Vertical climbing speed where conversation was hijacked towards this light weight boots topic.
More affordable light skimo boots
The second tier of the lightest boots are more affordable. Yes they are heavier than the above, never the less, they make for very fast skinning too.
The most popular model between a wide range of skimo racers and weight conscious backcountry skiers is Scarpa F1 Race model. This boot was preceeded by Scarpa F1 and the two mainly differ in two ways: F1 Race doesn’t have a tongue and is “missing” the middle part of the vibram sole. These adjustments make it much lighter.
Dynafit’s Zzero 3 and Scarpa’s F3 models are very close with their weight and their price tags match the ones of more regular touring boots.
|Scarpa F1 Race||Scarpa F1||Scarpa F3||Dynafit Zzero 3|
Choosing a light ski mountaineering boot
The good thing about this light weight boot revolution is that it provides us with more variety to choose from. The “bad” thing are the price tags that come with it but don’t worry – more competition should bring the prices down a bit.
For pure racing
If you are shooting to place at podiums at skimo racing events then you should be considering investing in the very lightest boots possible. However in North America it is much easier to get your hands on Scarpa F1 Carbon and Dynafit DyNA boots than on XP444 or LaSportiva Stratos. Ask Scarpa and Dynafit reps for ordering these models if you won’t find a store that sells them.
For everyday use
To get the best weight-to-price ratio you should consider the more affordable models.
Scarpa F1 is a proven everyday rando boot, and it’s lighter F1 Race version is very solid too. It doesn’t like fat skis though as the bending bellows somewhat “give in” under certain conditions.
The Dynafit DyNA seems to be suited for more than just racing, however, the price is a bit too high for everyday use for many. So the lightest Dynafit alternative would be the Zzero 3 model that is a very solid downhill performer.
Share your reasons and opinion in the comments section below. Here are some questions:
- Do you currently own a pair of light boots?
- Which model?
- Do you like them?
- Which boot would like to have and why?
Any questions on this topic? Again, you can ask in the comments window below.
It’s some time since you posted the comment but here is my opinion relevant to the latest:
If you truly want the lightest order Pierre Gignoux boots – they are pretty durable too if you are mostly skiing and taking care of them (not throwing them around in your garage).
Then there are plenty of great choice when you go 100-300g heavier – LaSportiva Stratos, Dynafit Dyna or TLT 5 boots, or the new Scarpa Alien series.
paul doummar says
Dear sirs ,
i need to buy a pair of ski boots , the lightest possible available on the market . can u advise please ?
i am based in lebanon – middle east .txs , paul
If anyone is looking for a pair of F1 Carbon Boots in size 27 I have a brand new pair for sale on ebay;
Michael Silitch says
Merrel’is are very popular in Italy where they are made. I have heard they ski Ok (compared to the Trab which skis exceptionally) and they do break more easily than most others. I have seen several broken pairs. They are cool and very light though and their new tech binding (a friend has it) looks sensational and is also the lightest out there.
Michael Silitch says
My vote is the Pierre Gignoux Boot. My wife and I both have a pair and the full carbon boot skis so well down hill, precisely transferring power edge to edge. Scarpa is still trying to come out with their own all carbon boot and the flex under the ball of the foot is an energy suck in my opionion–I had the F1 race’s for a year before the Gignoux’s. I visited Pierre Gignoux’s work shop and am posting photos the http://www.ussma.org. He has a top secret new advances already that can be adapted to the 444. If you want a pair for next season, order now! or atleast before june so you wont be dissapointed. These boots rock! The weight savings in substantial, even against the F1 carbon!
Scotty, so far I was unsuccessful to find anyone who has either personal experience with the Merelli skis or at least have some feedback – “friend told me” type of thing.
Merrelli? Get Trabs!
I will try to look for someone that has experience with the ski or with Merrelli skis in general. Check back in few days.
I only saw the ones they use for skimo competitions on photos and there is very few of them in use in the world cup circuit. Another good carbon ski to go light with is Dynastar Pierra Menta Pro Carbon. I have the non-carbon version from last year (Dynastar Pierra Menta Pro) and I love how stiff it is for it’s weight. Mine ski amazing thus I imagine the carbon is even better.
Sorry to change the subject but does anyone have any info on the Merreli Raid ski. What does it ski like compared to the Trab Race Aero? Durability.
Thanks and great website!
I started racing a few years ago and it was all on tele. I kept waiting for the Canadian organizers to have a tele category like they do in the States but nadda. Anyway, last year I raced half the year on tele and switched to AT to become eligible for the National team this year but the races I did on tele still counted for Ski Mountaineering Competition Canada points. I keep promising Stano that I will write a piece on converting from tele to AT for race purposes but haven’t gotten it to him yet. I wish I would have switched at the beginning of the season last year because it does make a huge difference. Tele is so much more demanding on the downs, you just get that chance to recover for the next climb. Plus even with free-pivot tele bindings, AT is still more efficient and lighter
As for your boots, Stano is correct about the ISMF rules but I would highly doubt they will be enforced here in Canada (the new equipment mod rules that is). The last thing we want to do here in Canada is scare people off by implementing a bunch of highly technical rules and being sticklers. It is important that we follow the big ones but lets worry about the details after we’ve grown the race community and race equipment is readily available here in Canada. If you’re looking at a set of used F1s or something that are modded out, I would just get them…… I don’t think you will be prevented from racing.
stefan widauer says
ALL actual gear 2009/10 – Boots, Bindings, Skis – on my website.
(Description is in German)
Rob, according to new ISMF rules (which will be somewhat followed in Canada too) there are no modifications allowed on your gear unless a manufacturer specifies them in the manual that comes with the product. I will do an article on this very soon.
If I was you I would get the F1 Race. I have F1 and did enough mods that it is essentially F1 Race now.
Canada will be following the rules but not so strictly, at least not yet, I believe. But rather get F1 Race and you are all set.
Rob H says
I have raced a couple times on my tele gear and loved it. I hope to do all of the Canadian races this year. I would also like to race for ISMF points, but will need to get myself into some AT gear. I would be pumped to get my hands on a pair of F1 Race boots, but may end up settling for the F1’s. Does anyone know where you can find out what modifications are allowed?
Alex W says
If anyone is thinking about getting the Gignoux, but needs a liner, you can always buy a DyNA liner aftermarket. The Dynafit liner is 150g and the Scarpa liner which you can also get but don’t know the weight, probably the same as the F1 Race. Dynafit is crazy light though.
I added 146 grams to the weight of the XP 444 boot for the linner. I couldn’t find out this in the French texts on Pierre’s website before. Thanks James for pointing it out. Now should be all good.
I raced in the regular Scarpa F1 last year. Coming off a light telemark boot I didn’t really notice a difference in weight but I was really surprised at how solid it felt for a boot with only two buckles, a bellow, and 1250g of mass. Even after pulling the tongues out (90g/boot) and grinding the midsole out (125g+/boot) it still performed well.
This year I will run the Carbon version and I am looking forward to that. What made me go with Scarpa again over the other models: Sportiva – impossible to obtain over here at the moment Dynafit: heavier than Scarpa, untested so far, more general purpose boot (I wanted a face specific boot) Don’t get me wrong, I think this will be an amazing product as with all of the others but the F1 has proven itself over the years. Gignoux: reports of lacking durability which in Europe probably isn’t a big deal with the market share Pierre has and the support he can offer on spec but over here if these boots started breaking on you it would be a difficult season even for the most handy skier. Also, it should be mentioned with the weights given above that the XP444 is 444g WITHOUT a liner. Gignoux’s liner is about 150gr and an Intuition liner is about 200-225 so this brings the boot closer to the Sportiva (though still ridiculously light…..my god). As Stan mentioned, all of these boots are very difficult to obtain. I would say the Scarpa is easiest followed by the DyNA but good luck getting XPs and your dreaming if you think your gonna be running Sprotiva’s this season or next even. Limited production and a insatiable Euro market will eat these up. For Scarpa it is easy to get sized because you can try on regular F1s in some shops and then order your Carbon’s from Europe or on special order through a dealer. With the other models you are kind of ordering with your fingers crossed.
The thing to remember is that all light ski mountaineering gear is being fueled by the race/ski running scene. So next time you’re out touring with you buddies and they are loving their new, very light all-mountain skis and boots just remind them what is driving that tech and maybe they will not be so quick to make jabs about your race habit and Spandex and carbon fibre fetishes!
Josep Castellet says
Hi Stano, great article! I post it in http://www.facebook.com/skimo.org ! Congratulations for the website!