Scarpa Maestrale GT/Gea GT

Few boots in this price range do a better job of balancing weight savings with downhill performance.

Brand: Scarpa

Model: Maestrale GT/Gea GT

Walk mode Redesigned for 2014, the new ski/walk mechanism stiffens the boot with a wire lever and beefed-up bar in the cuff. Yet the flexy, asymmetric tongue feels natural while hiking, as do the 39 degrees of cuff articulation in walk mode. “Other boots offer greater range of motion, but the Maestrale delivered all the walkability I needed to comfortably log 4,000 feet of vertical on Colorado’s Berthoud Pass,” says our tester. A Pebax shell makes it lighter than polyurethane models, and the ankle buckle locks heels into place.

Downhill performance The Maestrale’s stiffness impressed even the most aggressive chargers. “In backcountry conditions, no ski proved too wide or stiff for this boot,” says our tester. Credit the shell’s unique tongue, which opens to the side (rather than hinging toward the toe). The design combines the touring comfort of a tongue design (used in most hiking boots) with the responsiveness and power of overlap construction (long favored in alpine ski boots). It powered through refrozen slush and wind-effected chalk, he reports. “Dropping into the steep, variable snow on the intimidating Stanley Headwall on Berthoud Pass, I was glad the boot would respond when I counted on it.”

Fit The Maestrale’s 101 mm last accommodates narrow- to medium-width feet.

$599; 6 lbs. 4 oz. (27);

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