High Gear: Scarpa F1 touring boot field review (video) | SummitDaily.com

High Gear: Scarpa F1 touring boot field review (video)

Fritz Sperry
Special to the Daily

Editor's note: This article is part of a weeklong series about alpine touring and splitboard travel in Colorado. For more, including gear reviews, route suggestions and backcountry videos, see the sports section at summitdaily.com.

I am a creature of habit. I'm old and set in my ways. I like things to be what I expect them to be. Change can be scary, and when I was approached about reviewing the Scarpa F1 alpine touring ski boot, I was beyond skeptical — perhaps even a little scared.

I have been skiing with stiff boots for as long as I can remember. From Atomic race boots and Salomon SX91s way back in the day to Flexon Comps, Technica TNTs, Dynafit Titans and my current set up, the Scarpa Maestrale RS, I like to know exactly what my boots are going to do, and I'm all about the downhill. I am perfectly willing to put in the extra effort on the ascent to have complete confidence in my boots when facing the myriad conditions one finds in the backcountry.

First impression

I usually put my gear through the torture chamber of my life, and then report back on how well it performed. I have only been skiing the Scarpa F1 for a month now, so this review will focus mainly on how the boots ski and tour. I will do a follow-up review on my website after the spring ski-mountaineering season to cover how they handle in the steeps, while climbing and the usual rigors of mountain life.

Boot fitting can be a painful process. I took the new boots to Larry's in Boulder and got some fitting done. I usually use an orthotic footbed, but decided to go stock and see how well the boot preformed out of the box. The pain was nowhere near what I'm used to — I didn't even need to take ibuprofen afterwards — and the boots were ready to go after I got the bindings dialed.

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Field test: Loveland Pass

Day one on the hill I went to Loveland Pass and skied some road laps. The snow wasn't very good that day, but the rides were plenty and I ended up getting in 10 laps and one short hike.

I had the strangest feeling that first day, like a dream when you are naked in public. I had to keep checking my feet to see if my boots were even there. The uphill was amazing — I even jogged a section, skis bouncing on my back. I was skiing them with the Rocky Mountain Underground Apostle 185 cm (105 cm waist) and was very surprised with how well they handled a ski this big. On the firmer conditions I had that day, it felt like the boots did what I expected them to do. Occasionally I would get some over-flex when my ski tips dug into chop, but I think that was more user error, meaning I was used to pressing my stiffer boots harder. I was so surprised with how well they performed that perhaps my skepticism was unwarranted.

Field test: Pow and crud

The next few weeks brought a mix of conditions. I got powder and crud and lots of touring in, and with stable conditions up high I reached alpine peaks too. I even took the boots to a ski area for a couple days and railed laps with my kids. They handled the firm bumps and corduroy with ease, and even though it came with a learning curve, the boots handle like a dream. My feet were happy having to work less with a lighter boot, and this led to easier ascents and more energy for descents. (Wait, so you mean my feet don't have to hurt at the end of the day?)

Pros and cons

Fit is key to a boot's success: having your heel firmly locked in place helps the boot ski well. The double power strap locks your leg in place when combined with the intriguing Boa lower "buckle," and the boot's torsional rigidity leads to precise force transmission from edge to edge. The boot's spoiler is very stiff and also helps with force. If the spoiler were too soft, the skis would be really hard to control when you inevitably get in the back seat.

The only issues I had with the Scarpa F1 were slight — the benefits strongly outweighed them:

1. One of the Boa mount points came loose. It easily popped back into place and hasn't been an issue since.

2. The Boa locker can be a little finicky with ski gloves on, meaning it's easy to turn the knob into place, only to later unlock and unravel. It never did this while skiing — only when I was tightening the boot before skiing.

3. The walk/tour mode latch can get clogged with ice, so be sure you have a tool to clear any blockages before locking your heels down. With so much range of motion at the ankle, blockage could cause a fall when skiing.

I'm looking forward to skiing these boots for the rest of the winter and into spring. I have a lot of long days planned on Colorado 14ers, and I see this boot as a great tool for getting it done. Now that I have some skimo racing boots, I guess this means I have to get a heart-rate monitor, shave in unusual places and buy some spandex…

But I jest. These boots are so much more than a skimo racer's dream. Get some and get it done.

Fritz Sperry is a skier, author, photographer and artist who has skied extensively in the Colorado backcountry. He's the author of: "Makingturns in the Tenmile-Mosquito Range," and "Makingturns in Colorado's Front Range, Vol. 1," both available from his company, Giterdun Publishing. Disclaimer: Sperry is also a sponsored Scarpa athlete.

F1 AT ski boot | $899

Sizes: Men’s 6.5 to 13 USA (24.5 to 31

Weight: 2.7 pounds

Color: Petrol blue-orange

Forward lean: 20-22 degrees

Range of motion: 62 degrees

Binding: TLT touring pivot, 6 mm

Shell/cuff: Polyamide

Sole: Vibram UFO Evo rubber with traction from heel to toe

Inner boot: Pro Flex Evo Intuition liner with external power strap

Buckles: Two with walk/tour mode adjustments and Boa closure

For more info on the F1 boot, or to find a local Scarpa dealer, see Scarpa.net.

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Earn Your Turns week

It’s finally March, and that means the meat of backcountry touring season is nearly here. To get prepared, local AT skiers and splitboarders are taking over the Summit Daily sports section in print and online this week with reviews, guides, videos and more.

Wednesday, March 1

Take 5 — Q&A with Zach Husted, a Japan splitboard guide-in-training

Thursday, March 2

High Gear — Weston Big Chief splitboard review, plus video

High Gear — Scarpa F1 AT ski boot review, plus video

Friday, March 3

High Gear — Unity Whale and Dominion splitboard comparison

Retrofitted — History of splitboarding

Saturday, March 4

Splitboard 101 — All you need to know about splitboarding in Summit

Sunday, March 5

Retrofitted — History of alpine touring, Part One

Monday, March 6

Retrofitted — History of alpine touring, Part Two

Thursday, March 9 or 16

High Gear — Voile kit DIY splitboard construction, plus video