Backcountry ski boots are about compromise. Weight vs performance, warmth vs performance fit. And so on. Sometimes the compromises sort of cancel each other out, resulting in a boot that does a lot of stuff fairly well. Other times it all seems to work together in one direction that causes smiles when used appropriately. Scarpa Alien is an example of the latter category. This is a full-on “ski running” shoe that makes no bones about total ankle freedom, a super fast mode change system, and stunning lack of mass. To accomplish that, the non-carbon version we have here for this first-look does sacrifice beef in downhill mode. But that’s not the point. This is a boot you literally fly up the hill in, then fly down in whatever style works — all in good fun. Check ’em out.
What else? Dynafit patented Quick Step toe fittings will cut 1/100 second from your race time. User serviceable fasteners on nearly all hardware will make modding a joy. Minimalist power strap is cool. Liner is nicely crafted, with attention to ankle articulation, as well as some friction dots on lower heel to keep it feeling solid in the shell instead of slipping up and down as you stride. Enclosed sticker pack will leave no doubt about your footwear. Optional overlap liner available for those wanting a bit more downhill performance.
Note this boot is definitely marketed as a “race” shoe. Nonetheless, it’s quite popular in Europe to use race gear for backcountry touring, and you see that happening here in North America as well. We’ll of course review with that point of view, but yes, this is a full-on skimo race boot. All critique and expectations should be focused through that lens.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.