Posted on April 25 2016
In the last couple years there has been a significant change in the hard charging ski boot category. There used to be some boots that really skied but barley toured, but now there are touring boots that really ski. Nearly every manufacturer has come out with a boot that may not be much lighter than a normal alpine boot, but has an impressive range of motion that makes all day hiking comfortable and more efficient. That being said, traditional touring companies still make the best hard charging boots that offer the best possible performance on the up, but still rip on the down.
Every year Dynafit swears they are doing away the Vulcan and the North American market begs for one more run. This boots full carbon cuff guarantees it will drive a big ski in bounds and still bound around the mountains when touring. It is so stiff that many skiers never put the tongue in unless they are skiing resort all day. The biggest warning is these boots are Dynafit tight, especially around the ankle bone. If you have a wide foot don't give up, but find a good boot fitter and get ready to become friends with them.
The Salomon MTN Lab is another hard charging boot with only 2 buckles and a good walk mode. The biggest difference between this and the Vulcan is that is uses an alpine overlap instead of the normal touring friendly tongue opening. It measures 120 on the always arbitrary flex index and has a good forward range of motion, though it lacks some on the backwards stride. With a 98mm last it measures narrow but with a more anatomical shape it will accommodate a wider foot too.
The Scarpa Freedom series set the bar for an alpine overlap construction that still has an impressive range of motion walking forward. If you are choosing this boot we recommend starting with the Freedom SL (120 flex) and only going up the Freedom RS (130 flex) in you are a larger rider. These boots are stiff and the plastic is temperature sensitive, so even if they feel soft in your house wait until you get them on snow. As always, the intuition liner is the biggest advantage of a Scarpa and these boots fit great out of the box and even better once you mold them.