Ski touring is taking off in popularity as people (like me) learn to appreciate the uphill exercise as much as the downhill fun. Maybe it is more of an East Coast thing where we don’t exactly get feet of powder and so need to find joy in small victories?
The Arc’teryx headquarters can be found out West so they obviously like to push the envelope to appreciate the feet of powder (and perhaps not the previously mentioned uphill struggle). Regardless, they have seen a deficiency in the touring boot market and so took it upon themselves to make improvements.
You may have seen my previous article about the trip that I had to ‘suffer’ through to be introduced to the Procline boot and Voltair avalanche backpack.
I thought I would take the time to describe in more detail the Arc’teryx boot, as it will be at the top of many people’s gift list this year. Why?
The Procline ski boot, which comes with a carbon fiber cuff ($1200 – $1250) or not ($900 – $950), is unique in its construction. The upper cuff which wraps around your lower leg is built in two independent parts. This split design is where the liberty of motion is created.
By undoing the buckle found behind the calf, the two-piece design splits apart allowing for lateral movement. When you look down at your toe as you skin up you can move your knee left or right, without pulling the base of the ski off the mountain. This translates to more ski coverage on off camber traverses. It also means more comfortable hiking on rocky terrain (wrenching knees at Tuckerman’s in my stiff touring boots going over heaps of rocks is my third favorite thing to do in winter).
The split design also allows for extra forward and backward motion to be gained compared to other ski touring boots. These boots were just as comfortable, if not more, than my worn in leather hiking boots.
You can choose your liner as well so make sure you order the pair that fits your skiing style. Your options are a lite liner, for you ski mountaineers, and the support liner, for the rest of us skiers who stay near boundaries.
So how do they ski? I was lucky enough to try the carbon lite model. They weigh in at 1.2kgs (the Scapra Maestrale RS average 1.56kgs) and are stiff considering the weight and that they are made to maximize the uphill. I cannot comment on the non-carbon model. When you lock down the buckle you cannot tell any difference between this boot and a competitor in terms of lateral stiffness.
The rest of the boot is straight forward and well thought out. The power buckle is simple to use and does not come undone. The water-resistant gaiter, which zips up almost the entire front of the boot is easy to use with mittens. It took me a few minutes for my brain to wrap around the fact there is no hardshell in the front of the boot. Lightness maximized.
A single buckle is placed over top of the foot, yet it does the job of strapping your foot down within the boot. Getting in and out of this boot could not be any easier.
The boot is offered with Dynafit certified pins. The Vibram sole is grippy and nicely lugged.
This boot is aimed at those who will put quality, comfort and performance above all else. If that sounds like you then this is a boot for the 2016/2017 touring season.