Model: S/Lab X-Alp
Plenty of boots promise do-it-all performance, but this one really delivers: The new X-Alp has more flexibility than a plastic mountaineering boot (72 degrees of ankle articulation and 35 degrees of lateral motion), but can still drive 95mm-waisted skis. It’s Salomon’s first ultralight touring boot, and it builds off the successful Procline—a dual-use climbing and ski boot—from sister brand Arc’teryx. The X-Alp uses the same two-piece carbon-fiber cuff system as the Procline, with a reinforced shell at the pivot point and no rubber rand or beefy sole. The result is a boot that climbs nearly as well as the Procline (an Editors’ Choice winner last year), but skis better.
There are two buckles and a latching power strap, which you can dial in for the downhill at home. Pop them open for touring, then, at the top, just close the glove-friendly buckles and flip into ski mode, and you’re primed for the descent.
“The carbon cuff and stiff shell around the ankle and heel make it rigid enough that I could lay into turns and power through crud on the 20- to 25-degree Andrews Glacier,” our tester said after a tour in Rocky Mountain National Park. “It’s surprisingly stiff for a tongue boot (no overlap construction).” Caveat: The flex pattern of tongue boots takes getting used to if you’re accustomed to resort boots.