Model: Alpine SL GTX
Comfort 3.9: Sheet EVA (less dense than molded EVA or PU) in the midsole increases ground feel, but isn’t so thin that we bruised. “The midsole flexed enough for me to stay comfy during a 6-mile approach,” said one tester after a climb in Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains. Tradeoff: We wanted more support with loads over 40 pounds. The Alpine SL is warm down to about 20°F thanks to its Gore-Tex Performance Comfort lining, which is used in six out of the seven boots we tested (see sidebar, page 56).
Durability: 4.8 Designers replaced a traditional rand with PU triangles that reach high up the boot, protecting the synthetic upper from abrasion and cutting weight. “I’ve used this boot on 10 expeditions and it doesn’t show any wear at all,” said one Alaska tester.
Stability/support: 4.0 LOWA uses Vibram Litebase, which reduces the sole’s thickness without compromising durability or grip. “I climbed a 5.7 route with plenty of smearing and the sole gripped well,” one tester says. The Alpine SL’s full-length, carbon-fiber shank offers ample stiffness for cramponing up steep snow.