Scarpa Aliens

| January 11, 2012

I’m wearing a Scarpa Alien boot on my right foot and a Montrail running shoe on my left, and without looking, it’s hard to tell the difference.  The Alien is the latest full-on race boot from Scarpa and one of the things I love about it is that it is so completely, apologetically specialized that it is hard to compare to anything else out there, including running shoes. For many years, the Scarpa F1 boot dominated the world of Ski Mountaineering racing to the point that the starting lineup at a race was referred to as “The Green Line” due to F1’s being green and everywhere you looked.  At the time, the F1 was also a state of the art race boot, but as racers started to tweak the living hell out of their boots by slicing, drilling, milling and grinding them, new rules were put in place to ensure that boots were hitting a minimal level of safety by having a certain amount of tread on the bottom and would work with crampons.  New boot makers started to get into the market and although the F1 was still popular, it took extensive home modifications to make it competitive.

The Scarpa Aliens have all the features and more that you might expect in a racing boot, including a quick release heel throw, BOA style forefront tensioning, a minimal powerstrap and some sexy lycra gaitors to help keep the liners dry.

In sailboat racing, certain classes of boats are designed to hit a set group of requirements, and the Scarpa Alien does the same thing with ski mountaineering race boots.  An alternative name for them might be “Barely Legal” (legalesse miminalissimo in Italian) and they are intended to be competitive right out of the box, although for $1,000 more, you can get a carbonfiber infested upgrade called the Alien 1.0 which shaves a few grams.

Although the Aliens are intended for racing, they also work well for ultralight ski touring, especially when coupled with short little skis and basic Dynafit bindings.  In Europe, this type of skiing is known as “Ski Running” which is an apt description of the activity.  It’s about as far from Freeriding as you can get, but considering you can double your vertical and halve the weight, it has its advantages.

I first got into skiing on racing gear after an aborted traverse of Baffin Island left us with no other options but to ski steep chutes on spindly gear.  I was initially paranoid about skiing committing lines on F1’s and 160cm skis, but after a few runs I got use to it.  The key is to be very centered, which is much easier if the snow is consistent.  Skiing punchy, crusty, gloppy snow on race gear is no fun, but powder, foam or corn are no problem.

Booting up the 40-50 degree "Terror Firma" in northern Baffin Island.

"Look Ma! No brains!" Hahaha. getting set up to ski Terror Firma on some F1's.

One very unusual thing about the Aliens, or F1’s for that matter, is that in steep terrain, they have the potential to actually be dangerous if the rear heel latch comes undone as the boot instantly, and dramatically goes into tour mode.  With many boots this isn’t such a big deal, but because racing boots have such incredible ankle flexation, this means you can end up flat on your back with no warning.

Details to follow once I get them molded to my foot and hopefully, when we get more snow.
Help support and crank up your vertical harvest with a pair of Scarpa Alien Alpine Touring Boots from Click on the photo below…


Category: Gear Reviews

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (5)

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  1. Maria says:

    I’ve never thought of changing my Scarpa F1 until I gave the Scarpa Alien a try. It definitely exceeded my expectations and I’m loving it.
    By the way, good review!

  2. Barry Wood, Drill Sergeant says:

    Yup, that’s exactly what the world needs . . . a faster Andrew. Keep’er steeper!

  3. maria paz says:

    very light, good but I have a big problem with the
    thermo-mouldable inner boot becomes totally
    soaking It worries me a lot.

  4. Miles says:

    Hey Andrew, any new observations, updates, or concerns about durability after skiing them regularly this season?

  5. Andrew says:

    Hi Miles – I’ve done a few races and a bunch of light tours with the Aliens and love them. Most recently, we skied 12,000′ on 12/12/12 in chunky, tricky snow, and while a beefier boot would have been nice, the Aliens worked fine, especially on the uphill. That said, they are a full-on race boot and while they might work well for general touring, it would really depend on how gentle a skier you were.

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