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Editors’ Choice Snow Award 2012: Scarpa Alien Boot

The most comfortable alpine touring boot we have ever encountered.
FGG12SKI_SCARPA_ALIEN_445x260Scarpa Alien

[alpine touring boot]
 One of our main ski-boot testers didn’t believe the single-buckle Alien could cut it on a five-day, yurt-based backcountry tour. Understandable, seeing as they’re more like high-top trail shoes (with tech-binding compatibility) than any AT boot we’ve ever tested. But her fears were unfounded. The innovative design weighs in at just 3 pounds, 2 ounces per pair—half of what standard AT models weigh—without gutting critical support and control. The ounce-saving recipe? Carbon and nylon in the shell, and the omission of a traditional shell tongue. Instead, a semi-stiff fabric tongue nests over the boot’s thermomoldable Intuition liner and a Boa lacing system pulls the shell tight over your foot.

The support? An ingenious buckle system uses a Dyneema cord and an aluminum latch on the back cuff to cinch overlapping front cuffs tight around your calf. “I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to power fat skis with the Aliens because of their minimal weight and soft materials,” says our tester, a former ski racer from New England. “But the buckle system cranked down tight and stabilized my ankle and lower leg, allowing me to rip turns in five inches of fresh. Plus, the crazy-light weight let me tour all day, take a dinner break, and continue touring into the night.” Limitations: While all levels of skiers will appreciate the Aliens for touring, their minimalist design works best for strong, advanced skiers on the downhills, especially if they’re carrying multiday packs. And although the Alien comes with a Lycra gaiter, wet snow can seep in through the fabric tongue. $800; 3 lbs. 2 oz. (27); unisex 24-30; scarpa.com

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