• Women skiers, this is the place for you -- an online community without the male-orientation you'll find in conventional ski magazines and internet ski forums. At TheSkiDiva.com, you can connect with other women to talk about skiing in a way that you can relate to, about things that you find of interest. Be sure to join our community to participate (women only, please!). Registration is fast and simple. Just be sure to add webmaster@theskidiva.com to your address book so your registration activation emails won't be routed as spam. And please give careful consideration to your user name -- it will not be changed once your registration is confirmed.

How should boots fit for alpine touring?

MissySki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#1
So this past weekend I participated in a women's intro to backcountry clinic put on by the New Hampshire chapter of the AMC and SheJumps. I had a fantastic time, despite the horrible rental equipment I was in. My boots were 2 sizes too big, and this made for some terrifying lack of control on skis that were also lackluster rentals. Now I want to do more, but I do NOT want to rent equipment again, especially boots! I have a pair of Rossi S3 skis that used to be my east coast powder skis, but I recently replaced them with the Black Crows Camox Birdie so I think they would make a nice light ski to mount for some backcountry exploration. I also have a pair of brand new, but a few years old, Marker F10 bindings. I figure this will be a great low cost way to start out since I already have these pieces and I don't intend to do anything crazy where I think weight needs to be of utmost importance. This is simply to allow me to get into things more, see how much I like it, do an avalanche safety class with gear I feel comfortable on, etc.

Keeping in line with this thinking, I feel that a hybrid boot would be best for me versus a touring specific boot as I'd like to keep downhill performance high on my priority list. I tried the Lange XT 110 LV Freetour boot yesterday, and it fit really well. Perhaps too well? It is super similar to my current Lange boot, which is an aggressive fit. This might fit even snugger than my current boot because it is specifically low volume. IT all felt great except my toes felt a little more crunched, but this is likely because I didn't have my footbed support. Obviously we could blow out the toes a little regardless. It meets all of my criteria, and had no pain points outside of the little bit of toe squish, let me articulate my ankle a lot in the hike mode, and has the same BSL as my current boot which would be great in case I ever wanted to ski it in any other ski I own for some reason. It has alpine soles, so would be compatible with all of my current bindings, but can also use in a more AT specific binding if I went that way in the future as well. One of the shop guys said he has my alpine boot and also the Freetour as his AT boot and loves the combo, he says they ski downhill almost exactly the same so you keep the performance.

BUT do I want my AT boot to fit so snugly??? I tried a size up and it felt comfy like a slipper, but way too big above my low low instep and let me heel lift as well.
I'm just concerned if having such a performance fit is what I want and/or need in the backcountry, or if it will be a battle with making sure everything is dialed in REALLY well to avoid pain that's much more of an issue out of resort in the middle of the woods. How do you all fit your boots for hiking? I also tried on a Fischer touring boot that was a total no go, had hot spots all over .
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#2
Following, as I want to pick up some AT gear (boots specifically) for possibly this spring and definitely next season.
 

TeleChica

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
I can't comment specifically on AT boots, but I do ski BC on tele, and I would be very wary of toe squish, as it's all too easy to get toe bang BC skiing. I've lost toenails before due to bad-fitting BC boots.
 

WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
@MissySki based on your other post about fixing your current boots, are the Lange XT Freetour possibly a fix all for your current alpine set up as well? i.e. stiffer flex and taller cuff? The Atomic Hawk ULTRA XTD as well as Solomon, Tecnica, K2 and Dalbello have boots that are compatable Alpine DIN and Dynafit tech binding as well.

Curious what you demo'd last weekend and what you could demo to compare.

I would talk to your boot fitter about "blowing out the toes" etc on any boot you are considering. The plastic used in touring boots is not the same, and you may not have the options to make the changes you want, although it seems like some boots do allow for some shell molding.

There is a give and take between the up and down, but you don't have to give up down hill performance to get decent up hill mobility. You may be told that "feet swell" so go bigger -- I wouldn't buy into that, I don't have that issue, I think my feet actually shrink after a long up hill.
My AT boots fit as well but are just a tad more roomy than my Alpine set up. I will say I do have an "extra special" footbed from my boot fitter that makes the boot fit exceptional. I did not heat mold the intuition liner and I'm sure it will pack down to a point where I will feel the need to replace it, as I have LV feet. Touring boots do fit different, don't be deterred by the "last" number - I would try on every boot possible. I was surprised by the "narrowness" of some boots despite being a 102 last.
 

Analisa

Certified Ski Diva
#5
Depends how snug is “snug.” Do they kind of hurt if you’re not flexed into the front of the boot? Size up or blow the toes. Are they snug enough that they’re comfortable, but get a little cold? It depends a lot on what you’re skiing. Might be fine for half days and slack laps, might not if you’re doing a multi day traverse in them. Neither? They’re perfect.

Then put them in walk mode and do some mini walking lunges or if your local shop has stairs, do a few laps and even see if you can skip stairs. It’ll give you a feel for the amount of ankle mobility you’ll have in the boots, which will impact your stride length and whether you’re able to take those awkward high steps as the skintrack gets more technical. Unlike weight, you can increase the cuff rotation on a boot to make the uphill way easier without making any sacrifices on the downhill performance. It shouldn’t have that “running in a pencil skirt” kind of awkward feeling where your range of motion feels cut off.
 

MissySki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
@MissySki based on your other post about fixing your current boots, are the Lange XT Freetour possibly a fix all for your current alpine set up as well? i.e. stiffer flex and taller cuff? The Atomic Hawk ULTRA XTD as well as Solomon, Tecnica, K2 and Dalbello have boots that are compatable Alpine DIN and Dynafit tech binding as well.

Curious what you demo'd last weekend and what you could demo to compare.

I would talk to your boot fitter about "blowing out the toes" etc on any boot you are considering. The plastic used in touring boots is not the same, and you may not have the options to make the changes you want, although it seems like some boots do allow for some shell molding.

There is a give and take between the up and down, but you don't have to give up down hill performance to get decent up hill mobility. You may be told that "feet swell" so go bigger -- I wouldn't buy into that, I don't have that issue, I think my feet actually shrink after a long up hill.
My AT boots fit as well but are just a tad more roomy than my Alpine set up. I will say I do have an "extra special" footbed from my boot fitter that makes the boot fit exceptional. I did not heat mold the intuition liner and I'm sure it will pack down to a point where I will feel the need to replace it, as I have LV feet. Touring boots do fit different, don't be deterred by the "last" number - I would try on every boot possible. I was surprised by the "narrowness" of some boots despite being a 102 last.
I was not intending to have the Freetour become my main general boot no, but I guess if they were fabulous it could happen if I started enjoying them more than the others.. I only tried that one and the Fischer because those are the two that were in stock in my size. I had been interested in the Lange in general because it came up in my research as a potential for me due to it’s low instep, this is a big trouble spot for me in boots usually since mine is sooooooo low, so I was curious to see how it felt. It was in fact really great in that spot, better than my current boots even without a proper footbed.

My bootfitter did say that the Langes could have the toes blown out. I should have popped in my footbed to see if that would have made the toes better, but was a bit strapped for time and hadn’t planned on getting into AT boots at the time. I was there for tweaking my alpine boot and then couldn’t resist trying the other when I saw it was available. Though the toes were a little tight, it wasn’t horribke, more like annoying and would need to be addressed. I don’t think much would need to be done to relieve it overall, but it is certainly a consideration.

The rental I had this past weekend was a Black Diamond, super lightweight nothing to it boot. I couldn’t fit into the 23 because it was way too short and the 24 wasn’t available, so I was in a 25. This was a rental from the MIT outdoors club, so no other real options available. I know I want a boot that feels more like a downhill than this one did, which is why I thought hybrids in general could be a good way to go. I could certainly try demoing from an actual shop with more options next time, it just wasn’t feasible logistics wise where I am this time. I also imagine I might have to try boots that are too big in some capacity to make any rental work only because it seems my feet always need a little something due to their weird proportions, so I guess I’m not positive how much it would tell me overall.

I would love to try on more boots to compare how they feel with the Lange though. I know trying only two isn’t very much overall.
 

MissySki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Depends how snug is “snug.” Do they kind of hurt if you’re not flexed into the front of the boot? Size up or blow the toes. Are they snug enough that they’re comfortable, but get a little cold? It depends a lot on what you’re skiing. Might be fine for half days and slack laps, might not if you’re doing a multi day traverse in them. Neither? They’re perfect.

Then put them in walk mode and do some mini walking lunges or if your local shop has stairs, do a few laps and even see if you can skip stairs. It’ll give you a feel for the amount of ankle mobility you’ll have in the boots, which will impact your stride length and whether you’re able to take those awkward high steps as the skintrack gets more technical. Unlike weight, you can increase the cuff rotation on a boot to make the uphill way easier without making any sacrifices on the downhill performance. It shouldn’t have that “running in a pencil skirt” kind of awkward feeling where your range of motion feels cut off.
Snug for me was firm contact everywhere, but not painful. Quite comfortable, I guess I just hadn’t been expecting to feel the same as in my downhill boot for some reason, which may have been really misguided. Then the big toe and two toes beside it were a little squished. So I definitely think blowing out the toes would be reasonable. I just wasn’t sure if I should be looking for such a close fit everywhere else. Thanks for the tip on walking around the store, and there are stairs as well.. I’ll have to do that next time to see how the movement feels as I didn’t do much of that yesterday! I also do not see myself doing multi day things, I’d say I want comfort for half to full day activities locally.
 

Analisa

Certified Ski Diva
#8
Ah - I can totally see how BD didn’t fit the bill. They’ve been out of the boot business for a while and they’ve missed the latest wave of R&D when Dynafit started using Grilamid (stiff, light, but can be pricey). Both the skimo brands and the downhill brands have almost gotten in on the construction for a really broad selection of boots that ski up and down really well. (Lange is one of those last stalwarts still using downhill materials, which I can’t understand for the life of me. If they figured out grilamid and put more than 40 degrees of cuff rotation in a boot, it would probably be the best selling boot on the market - I digress).

If you want a little more rotation in the cuff, I’d look at the Atomic Hawx, La Spo Sparkle 2.0, and the Salomon Mtn Explore. I have a lot of friends who ski the Freetours for inbound hiking & slack access who ski those other 3 on tour days.
 

MissySki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
Ah - I can totally see how BD didn’t fit the bill. They’ve been out of the boot business for a while and they’ve missed the latest wave of R&D when Dynafit started using Grilamid (stiff, light, but can be pricey). Both the skimo brands and the downhill brands have almost gotten in on the construction for a really broad selection of boots that ski up and down really well. (Lange is one of those last stalwarts still using downhill materials, which I can’t understand for the life of me. If they figured out grilamid and put more than 40 degrees of cuff rotation in a boot, it would probably be the best selling boot on the market - I digress).

If you want a little more rotation in the cuff, I’d look at the Atomic Hawx, La Spo Sparkle 2.0, and the Salomon Mtn Explore. I have a lot of friends who ski the Freetours for inbound hiking & slack access who ski those other 3 on tour days.
Thank you very much for this input, it’s very interesting and reinforces how much I don’t know about this side of skiing. I didn’t realize Lange was the only one still using downhill materials, I guess this is why the boots didn’t feel all that light to me? I’m definitely going to try and get into some more boots to compare all of this stuff. I don’t want to rush into any decisions without doing my due diligence.
 

elemmac

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
Touring boots do fit different, don't be deterred by the "last" number - I would try on every boot possible. I was surprised by the "narrowness" of some boots despite being a 102 last.
100% agree with this. I'm in a 99 last, and a bit surprised on how narrow it is, especially in the heel area.
 

Analisa

Certified Ski Diva
#11
It’s definitely complicated. All the old rules of bootfitting still apply, which is hard enough, but now we’re also asking them to be transformers to boot.

The Langes aren’t obsolete by any means - they’re pretty comparable to the Cochise, Dalbello Lupo, Salomon QST, Full Tilt Ascensionist, Nordica Strider - but most of those have a “sister” boot or they’ve really widened the cuff angle to compensate for the extra weight. Even if Lange adds a lighter option, I’d expect the Freetour to stick around. I helped my brother buy a pair of Striders as someone who’ll buy one pair of boots and wear them with a standard inbound binding 90% of days, but wants a tech compatible boot so when he visits, he can rent the rest of the setup, have comfy feet, and ski with me. Most people getting a dedicated setup appreciate a little less weight & more stride, but there are definitely camps that appreciate the fit and find that the cuff rotation works with their geometry & movement. It’s definitely something I’d use as a benchmark in your consideration set.
 

slyfox4

Certified Ski Diva
#12
I have AT compatible boots that I wear mostly for resort skiing. They're the Salomon QST Pro 90 flex. I was in a junior 80 flex boot about two sizes too big because I was terrified of having crunched toes. The moment I put the Salomon on in my *correct* size, I was like um holy crap is this how boots are supposed to fit? They are snug on every part of my foot, but not painful. I had some shin issues early season, but I was still getting used to them as I got them late April last year. The toe piece is interchangeable for the tech toe, or you can use them with an AT binding. I believe there is a higher flex boot, possibly a 100 or 110? My favorite part about them is the three buckle vs the four buckle. They are also head moldable, if you do end up having weird spots.

It's my understanding that they should be snug, because the more you tour, the more they pack out. I am weird about foot pain and so many people have told me my ski boots should hurt and I whole-heartedly disagree. My boots are incredibly comfortable! For reference, my shoe size is a 5-6, so my boot size is a 22. I was in a 23 or 23.5 before!

I just finished my set up: Black Crows Atris Birdie (108) with Salomon Guardian 13s. I am pleasantly surprised with how well the ski skis with the frame binding.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#13
FYI, the plastic on many AT boots is thinner/different than the plastic on dedicated alpine boots. My bootfitter refused to punch out a pair of AT boots I had originally purchased for this reason. I actually think that dedicated AT boots are easier to fit than alpine ones because there’s less emphasis on flex, so you really are just looking for something that works with your foot.
 

MissySki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
Last week while at Sugarbush, I went to Alpine Options to try on some more boots for AT options. They have a Bootdoc system that scans your feet and helps ascertain sizing etc. I'm embarrassed to say once again that I have a hard time remembering how I got to my current downhill boots exactly for sizing, but now I have a better idea and figured I'd add the tid bits here so I can reference it in the future! :smile: I was told that I most certainly measure as a 24, so my current 23.5 IS sized down, that's what I couldn't really remember because I've had multiple size 23 boots, but also a 24 where it was a short length and the 23 wouldn't have worked. Anyway, my instep measures at a 22, so since there is obviously no way my 24 foot is jamming into a size 22 shell, we went to a 23 to try and fit the instep more closely than a 24 can. The other issue is my wide forefoot and skinny ankle/heel. He found it hard to believe that I'm happy in the boot I am in at the size I'm in with a 97 last when I measure more at a 100-101. Which is obviously why I always need work in the forefoot. He says I must have a high tolerance for pressure across my foot compared to a lot of people he sees. Suggestion to be best served in a future boot would be going to my appropriate size 24 on a shell that can be heated to relax and account for the forefoot width I need as well and then using a foam liner and tongue like the Bootdoc system to fill everything in. I just might do that when the time comes, it sure does sound nice to potentially not have to deal with the inevitable forefoot pain I've always had, and still do to some extent. We'll see.

As far as the AT boots go, he recommended trying on the size 24s because he thought going with the very aggressive downhill fit I have would be a bad idea for skinning. I agree! The Lange in the size 24 felt so much better in the forefoot and length than the previous 23 I'd tried, but the ankle area left a lot of lift happening. He then had me try on the Atomic Hawx 110 ultraXTD and I absolutely LOVED it. It has a huge range of motion allowed in the ankle, a low instep, and my heel didn't budge much at all. It also accommodated my forefoot really nicely. I stayed in this boot for awhile and liked it more and more as I had it on. It's also super light. I would have probably grabbed it up on sale, but he also though that the same boot in the next flex down of 90 might be a better option for me, however he didn't have it left in my size to try on. He said the fit is exactly the same, but the liner is more of a true downhill liner versus the AT liner in the 110, and therefore may give me even better heel hold and downhill performance since I won't be doing a ton of super long backcountry excursions at this point and so the small additional weight might be worth it as well as longevity of the liner overall. There will also be a K2 boot next season that he thought would be a good option for me to try on, but I don't remember what it's called. Boot doc does make an AT liner/tongue as well, but the price to get there with a new AT boot is ridiculously high (probably around $1100-$1200 overall), especially when I don't know how much I'll be doing actual backcountry skiing. For downhill I'd gladly pay it if it made everything that much better fit and comfortable, but I think AT will be a very small segment of my skiing for the time being and therefore I can't justify spending that on those boots. Unless I eventually decide to use just one boot for both purposes I guess. I figure getting into a good shell at this point will be enough, and then if I wanted to replace the liner down the road that is certainly a possibility that will be available to me.

So, long story short, I didn't pick up a boot yet, but I'll be heading back to Alpine Options in the fall when they have next season's inventory to determine which of the Atomics, or the K2 will be my first AT boot. So excited!! I believe the bootfitter's name was Steve, and I was super impressed. He took the time to sit and answer a ton of questions from me, @lisamamot, and @Jenny knowing full well we weren't likely going to be purchasing anything since he didn't have everything he wanted us to try on in stock. Very knowledgeable, and I look forward to working with him on getting my uphill setup finished up next season.
 

lisamamot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#15
So, long story short, I didn't pick up a boot yet, but I'll be heading back to Alpine Options in the fall when they have next season's inventory to determine which of the Atomics, or the K2 will be my first AT boot. So excited!! I believe the bootfitter's name was Steve, and I was super impressed. He took the time to sit and answer a ton of questions from me, @lisamamot, and @Jenny knowing full well we weren't likely going to be purchasing anything since he didn't have everything he wanted us to try on in stock. Very knowledgeable, and I look forward to working with him on getting my uphill setup finished up next season.
He was wonderful. Looking forward to our fall road trip back there!
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
#16
It was fun being in a place where I could get my feet scanned. Don't know of any shops with that machine here in Michigan. Super jealous of people who live so close to good bootfitters!
 

WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
Sounds like a great store and time well spent for next season's anticipated purchases !
BTW some running stores now have the same scan machine - very interesting to see how each individual foot measures and how you stack up to an "average" foot.
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
#18
Sounds like a great store and time well spent for next season's anticipated purchases !
BTW some running stores now have the same scan machine - very interesting to see how each individual foot measures and how you stack up to an "average" foot.
Hmm, we do have a couple of running stores here I could check with, too.
 

SnowSeeker

Certified Ski Diva
#19
In case you want to check out gear at another location, here is a quick plug for another VT shop that specializes in backcountry gear: https://basecampvt.com

I’ve been contemplating AT gear this year (I’m an AT newbie and not sure where to go with gear yet). I was skiing at Killington a few weeks ago and remembered that a friend suggested this shop, so I stopped in. It’s located at the intersection of route 4 and the access road. They couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. I made it clear that I wasn’t buying that day and they spent a ton of time with me, explained all of the gear and offerings and gave great advice on how to get started. A staff member even offered to take me up for a maiden run sometime. They rent AT and tele gear as well and suggested various places to try it out. It’s worth a look if you are near the area.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
I finally upgraded my touring boots this year and continued with a narrow fit, with added butterfly wraps for stability while skiing down. I did go a little longer last as the toes hitting with every step was not a good option, which in an alpine boot is never an issue as I stay in a more forward flexed position. I do like a four buckle boot still where I can adjust each one depending on snow and terrain. Ideally just leaving them unbuckled should allow them to be loose enough to be comfortable on a very long skin.
 

Staff online

Members Online