Gear Review

5 5

These are awesome for BC snowboarding!!!

All the discussion of which soft boot is better and how to mod hard boots for BC snowboarding seemed a bit ridiculous to me. I was hoping that there is a mountaineering boot that is ideal for snowboarding. Main reason is because the main reason I like to go into the backcountry is to get in the high alpine areas, where a boot that can perform like an alpine boot is critical for safety reasons. To find one that does not compromise the snowboard riding is ideal.

Well, for anyone interested in this, I believe these guys, and now I, have found it.I have taken this boot out twice. Since I bought this on sale for $600 at the end of the season from Backcountry.com (as of today, it is still on sale), my choices for snow conditions were limited here in the Seattle area. My first trip was to the Hyack backcountry area. More specifically, I toured the line underneath the west facing wooden power lines. Conditions were essentially slush, with some hiking through the woods. My findings were identical to all that has been mentioned thus far. Clearly, these are superior hiking/mountaineering boots, that much is obvious. More important to me was how they toured and how they rode. On both accounts, they were awesome. There is absolutely no compromise in the riding. The only modification I needed was to adjust the forward lean forward, given the volume of the boot around the lower leg is less than a standard snowboard boot (I used to ride the Salomon Malamute). The boots were super responsive on turns. For touring, there are no complaints either. The added stiffness of the boot actually made it easier to get on the edges when traversing. I imaging that they will also perform quite nicely when I am able to fix the heel with the new Karakoram heel lifts and start skating down logging roads. Hiking up steeps with these allowed me to kick steps that probably would have turned my toes black and blue with the Malamutes. Extremely effective for climbing the steeps.

The second tour I did with these was today, the McLellan Butte, North Couloir. did about 3000 ft vertical in again slushy spring snow. Experience was identical, if not even better because I had to hike across multiple boulder fields, which probably would have shredded the Malamutes. Having these boots when I got up high where the angle was close to 50 degrees gave me a lot more piece of mind. Being able to kick deep solid steps was absolutely key. As far as the ride down, all I can say is that these boots felt so good that I am considering wearing them for resort riding.

If you have a wide foot, make sure you try these before purchasing, or make sure you can exchange them if necessary. These are European made boots, which tend to be more narrow than US made boots. I wear 9.5s in the Salomon Malamutes. I started by trying the 43s, but the toe box was just too small. After moving up to 43.5s, this was better, although there was still tightness around my forefoot. This sensation was completely relieved after I took out the insole. I am happy to report that the 6.5 hour hike on McLellan Butte caused absolutely no pain or blisters. In fact, they are one of the most comfortable boots I have ever worn, period! The only other negative is the cost. Even at $600 (they were originally $800), I will probably not wear them for routine resort snowboarding, although I think they would be just fine. However, they are extremely well built boots. If used just for backcountry riding, I suspect they will last a while. Given the comfort and peace of mind they have given me, they are worth every penny!!

In summary, I believe these are a great alternative to soft snowboard boots for backcountry/alpine snowboarding. It is a shame that this is not better known. I have suffered through many tours with the wrong boots, and have probably compromised my safety a few times as well due to soft boots. If you have the same concerns, these are definitely worth trying.