2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

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lilcliffy

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby lilcliffy » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:12 pm

The construction is supreme.
The tag in the box says that this boot has "kevlar" stitching.
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.

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bgregoire

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby bgregoire » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:39 pm

Cannatonic wrote:Look at the stitching & leather gusset around the tongue - really nice work! some of the nicest ski boot workmanship anywhere is coming out of Alfa & Lundhags in Scandanavia these days. Would love to see Alfa start making a Norwegian welt boot for 3-pin instead of the glue-on model they have now (Greenland). It seems like Italy is the only place doing this type of boot.


Yes great looking boot! Canna, unfortunately, neither of these brands are producing their boots in Scandinavia if I recall correctly. Many Lundhags boots were being produced in Portugal i think. And alfa boots are produced in:

"Rekord – Romania
Haksan – Vietnam
Obuv – Slovakia
Samelin – Estonia"

https://alfaoutdoor.com/about-alfa/sustainability

LC, you are right about the softness of Alfa boots (and the skarvet). This is the main complaint I have read over and over on scandi forums (the other being the addition of the heel cup that does not work for everyone). Sole stiffness wise, I certainly feel the same way about my Alfa Quest Advance 75mm...

Its perfectly fine for most basic hut to hut touring destinations in Scandinavia. But when you need that extra support...

Then again, I was surprised by how well I could control E99 skis with my soft Alfa 75mm...

Hope you have found what you are looking for in the Guards!

Now lets see if you start flying about like our friend Johnny has!
"The telem-ark is just a turn, use it wisely." -Gamle Norrman fra Telemark

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Leo Tasker

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Leo Tasker » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:04 am

LC, you are right about the softness of Alfa boots (and the skarvet). This is the main complaint I have read over and over on scandi forums (the other being the addition of the heel cup that does not work for everyone). Sole stiffness wise, I certainly feel the same way about my Alfa Quest Advance 75mm...


I tried the Guard at the same time as I bought my Skarvet, the Guard felt much more roomy around the middle of the foot which I didn't like so much. I couldn't tell any difference in sole flex in the shop, the higher upper on the Guard felt stiffer round the ankle though. The newer Alfa boots have more padding either side of the achilles tendon (I tried the Skarvet and older BC boot side by side) which works great for me, but people with wider heels may need a longer breaking in period.

Its perfectly fine for most basic hut to hut touring destinations in Scandinavia. But when you need that extra support...


Ultimately Alfa are probably designing boots that will sell the best to their main market - Scandinavians doing hut to hut or camping tours on flatter routes and plateaus, without a need for full on downhill performance. They also work well for Nordic skating, which is very popular (and definitely something I want to try!). Not sure stiffer leather downhill boots would sell well enough to justify the costs of development and production.

As in other places, people who want downhill performance seem to be switching from Telemark to Randonee setups, due to an easier learning curve (shuffle uphill, alpine downhill technique) and boot / binding choice. My occupation is selling Alpine ski boots to Norwegians, I probably see at least 10-15 people a season telling me they are giving up Telemark, which I think is a real shame, but understandable.

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lilcliffy

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Favorite Skis: Asnes Gamme 54 BC/Asnes Combat Nato; Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Storetind
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska; Scarpa T4
Occupation: Forestry Professional
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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby lilcliffy » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:42 am

I am sure you are correct about the market driving the design and development of the boots.
The upper of the Guard boot is perfect for what it is intended for- heavy-duty backcountry Nordic striding.

The soft sole issue is a trend that I am seeing across the board in supposedly "heavy-duty" Nordic touring, hiking and backpacking boots. The trend is for everyone to expect a heavy-duty hiking/backpacking/Nordic touring boot to feel like a sneaker or birkenstock under your foot- right of the box! Boots in this class need stiff supportive mid-soles, both to provide stability and power transfer- BUT also to ensure the longevity of the sole.

As an example- Scarpa's current flagship heavy-duty backpacking boot- the Kinesis- has an upper that is imported directly from the heavens, but the sole is ridiculous- it is so soft that I broke down the mid-sole in less than a season- the outsole cracked in half during the second season!!! Meanwhile the uppers still have a decade worth of life in them!!!!

Of course this trend of soft soles- on boots that are supposed to be "heavy-duty" hiking boots- could also be a way to reduce manufacturing costs...It could also be a way to ensure people have to replace their boots more often than every decade...

Regardless, I am very impressed- at least initially- with the Guard Advance, but its longevity and stability would benefit from a stiffer midsole.
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.

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bgregoire

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Favorite boots: Crispi Sydpolen, Alico Teletour, Arkos Greenland & Alfa Polar
Website: http://living-laponia.tumblr.com

Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby bgregoire » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:53 am

lilcliffy wrote:The soft sole issue is a trend that I am seeing across the board in supposedly "heavy-duty" Nordic touring, hiking and backpacking boots. The trend is for everyone to expect a heavy-duty hiking/backpacking/Nordic touring boot to feel like a sneaker or birkenstock under your foot- right of the box! Boots in this class need stiff supportive mid-soles, both to provide stability and power transfer- BUT also to ensure the longevity of the sole.


Yeah, nothing better than a perfect fit in store for an easy sell! Also, as Alfa has let me know indirectly via e-mail, the space freed up by avoiding the use of a stiffer midsole material can be used for an insulating midsole, which is a great benefit when on long winter walks!

I've been thinking of this duality lately. Perhaps we are still lacking the perfect material to be used as a midsole that is 1) sufficiently stiff, 2)light, 3)insulative 4)durable? We can go super uber stiff and super light: kevlar fiber (no flex for tele though). We can go super light and insulative: EVA foam or similar (flop). The Med-stiff midsoles that are just right in terms of stiffness (usually some form of plastic (Nylon, etc.) are relatively heavy and not at all insulating. I'm thinking some R&D may be required here... Thoughts?
"The telem-ark is just a turn, use it wisely." -Gamle Norrman fra Telemark

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Leo Tasker

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Leo Tasker » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:18 am

I've been thinking of this duality lately. Perhaps we are still lacking the perfect material to be used as a midsole that is 1) sufficiently stiff, 2)light, 3)insulative 4)durable? We can go super uber stiff and super light: kevlar fiber. We can go super light and insulative: EVA foam or similar. The Med-stiff midsoles that are just right in terms of stiffness (usually some form of plastic (Nylon, etc.) are relatively heavy and not at all insulating. I'm thinking some R&D may be required here... Thoughts?


How about wood?

I used to have a pair of Montrail mountaineering boots with a beechwood midsole - they gave the boots just the right amount of flex, insulated pretty well and were durable too. Obviously there are issues with wood getting wet and being exposed to sub zero temperatures but these problems should be easy enough to guard against during construction. The boots were pretty stiff for use with rigid crampons, but it's surely possible to tailor the midsole flex to suit BC ski boots...

I wonder if, like down vs synthetic for insulation, Mother Nature has already provided the best material? She's had millions of years headstart, after all :lol:

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lilcliffy

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Favorite Skis: Asnes Gamme 54 BC/Asnes Combat Nato; Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Storetind
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska; Scarpa T4
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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby lilcliffy » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:58 pm

bgregoire wrote:Yeah, nothing better than a perfect fit in store for an easy sell! Also, as Alfa has let me know indirectly via e-mail, the space freed up by avoiding the use of by a stiffer midsole material can be used for an insulating midsole, which is a great benefit when on long winter walks!

Cool. Hadn't thought about this actually.

Hmmm...So this suggests that Alfa is determined to keep the boot very light- and is trading a stiffening midsole for an insulating one...Well that is pretty cool actually...

Weight comparisons:
1) Alpina Alaska BC (43EU): 1.92kg (from MEC site- per boot or per pair?)
2) Alfa Guard Advance (42EU): 725g- per "shoe"

Will try and get clarification on weight comparisons- or weigh mine!
I know that the Guard has an insulating mid-sole- no mention of this with the Alaska....


I've been thinking of this duality lately. Perhaps we are still lacking the perfect material to be used as a midsole that is 1) sufficiently stiff, 2)light, 3)insulative 4)durable? We can go super uber stiff and super light: kevlar fiber. We can go super light and insulative: EVA foam or similar. The Med-stiff midsoles that are just right in terms of stiffness (usually some form of plastic (Nylon, etc.) are relatively heavy and not at all insulating. I'm thinking some R&D may be required here... Thoughts?

Yes. Good stuff Ben.
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.

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lilcliffy

Rank: XCD KNIGHT
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Posts: 2076
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada
Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring
Favorite Skis: Asnes Gamme 54 BC/Asnes Combat Nato; Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Storetind
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska; Scarpa T4
Occupation: Forestry Professional
Instructor at Maritime College of Forest Technology
Husband, father, farmer and logger

Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby lilcliffy » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:59 pm

Wood.
Magic substance that grows on trees!!!
I love wood.
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.

Cannatonic

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Cannatonic » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:08 pm

Backcountry magazine has big article on the "history of telemark" this month. As usual it completely ignores the current popularity of light telemark a.k.a. "XCD". It's funny, most articles like this track the progression of distance-oriented, XC-rooted telemark in the 70's, 80's and 90's to "heavy telemark" in the 90's and then inevitably conclude with death of telemark in the 2010's. Backcountry laments the passing of Telemarktips.com but does not mention this website.

They ignore the fact that the original light tele, which evolved directly from XC gear, is having a big rebirth in popularity. The "new" telemark includes NNNBC and beefy XC skis which are generally the same size & shapes as old tele skis. Mainstream companies like Fischer and Voile are doing a brisk business in 3-pin bindings & boots.

It's not a coincidence, the XCD gear is all priced about 1/2 or less than comparable AT gear. Advertisers & their magazines don't want people migrating from expensive gear to cheap. I'm not surprised many skiers are changing from heavy tele to AT gear, it's a natural progression for lift-based skiers. They also want people with tele gear to go out & buy more stuff. Ski industry is in a long-term decline, not a surprise to see it cannabilizing itself.

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bgregoire

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Location: Rimouski, Québec
Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring with lots of turns
Favorite Skis: Fisher E99, Åsnes Ingstad & Cecilie, K2 Wayback 88
Favorite boots: Crispi Sydpolen, Alico Teletour, Arkos Greenland & Alfa Polar
Website: http://living-laponia.tumblr.com

Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby bgregoire » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:28 pm

If any of ya want to continue that conversation abour midsoles....I have moved it over here:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2359&p=26081#p26081
"The telem-ark is just a turn, use it wisely." -Gamle Norrman fra Telemark


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