Randonee racers are their own breed of skiers. Tights-wearing, gram-counting, lung-busting animals with an unnatural capacity to RUN… not walk, not skin… RUN uphill. SCARPA-shod rando racers have long dominated ski mountaineering races in Europe with our F1 series boot. So much so that the starting line in European racing is commonly referred to as the Linea Verde, the Green Line, due to so many F1’s lined up and down the start!)
While North America is still a relative newcomer to the ski mountaineering race scene, the number of North American-based races and racers continues to increase, as does the availability of rando racing products designed specifically to meet the unique performance demands of the sport.
Witness the new benchmark in rando racing boot technology, SCARPA’s new Alien and Alien 1.0 boots, to be available in North America in Fall 2011.
A little background: As is always the case, if you want the best feedback on any kind of product, the best source is the folks who put that product to the pinnacle test. So it was a given that SCARPA would put the Alien 1.0 to the test on its top rando racers as part of the development process, for the 2009/10 and 2010/11 World Cup race seasons.
The results? The Alien 1.0 has consistently been on the podium in the EU racing scene. In the last two seasons, racers using the Alien 1.0 have rounded up 12 first-place finishes and 10 seconds. The Ski Mountaineering World Championships happened last month in Claut, Italy, and the top-finishing men’s and women’s racing teams were on this boot.
And so, after SCARPA debuted the Alien/Alien 1.0 at ISPO last month, SCARPA North America can now present the Alien boots though only to a limited number of specialty retailers for Fall 2011.
With that, here’s the dirt on the Alien 1.0 and the Alien:
- The Alien 1.0 and Alien are the first ski boots to have a closure mechanism on the external shell that uses the Boa lacing system. Beyond being extremely light, this offers super easy and super quick adjustment. The Boa system also gives racers a glove-like fit, wrapping the lower boot around the foot in a form-fitting, extremely precise way. As well, SCARPA worked with Boa and has patented (SCARPA’s patent) the unique, tool-less replaceable eyelets.
- The Alien 1.0 is the lighter of the two boots, employing carbon-fiber construction. The Alien 1.0 weighs 680 grams per boot, or 1 pound, 7.98 ounces. Beyond being one of the lightest boots on the market, SCARPA feels it is the highest performing one.
- One of the reasons the Alien 1.0 is so high performing is that it uses carbon-fiber technology, but isn’t completely made of carbon fiber. That’s a key design consideration, because this kind of hybrid construction has some distinct performance advantages over full carbon boots. The Alien 1.0 has a carbon fiber cuff, but the lower part of the boot is made with a carbon core insert on the inside, surrounded by select polyamides construction (a light and strong material but can be made significantly stiffer than an equivalent Pebax boot). This keeps the boot light, but allows it to retain the progressive flex needed for dynamic skiing (feels like a ski boot, not totally rigid like a full carbon boot). SCARPA feels this is important, because while going uphill fast is important in ski mountaineering racing (and racing is what this boot is built for), the races are often won on the downhill segments, so it’s key to have a boot that skis like a ski boot with a progressive flex.
- The “A-Light” quick-release walk/ski mode lever in this boot is by far the best ever developed by SCARPA. It’s very precise and easy to use, super light, and ultra quick to transition between modes, since one lever controls both loosening the cuff and changing ski/walk modes.
- The Alien 1.0 will retail in North America for $1,799.
- The Alien is the same boot without the carbon cuff and carbon insert. It weighs 890 grams per boot, or 1 pound, 15.39 ounces. That’s 109 grams lighter than SCARPA’s current F1 Carbon, but instead of being a $1,600 boot, the Alien will retail for $799.
- As these boots are minimalist construction and built for racing, they are intended for use with a one-piece race suits which cover the entire boots through the mid-step keeping snow out. The Alien actually comes with a gaitor that mimics this feature so can be used in less-than-race settings.
There’s an interesting discussion (as usual) going on over at WildSnow. Check it out here.