Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Real reviews by real skiers. What a concept! Add your own today. Reviews only please, questions can be posted as replies but new threads looking for opinions should be posted to the main Telemark Talk Forum.
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Johnny
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Location: Quebec / Vermont
Ski style: Dancing with God with leathers / Racing against the machine with plastics
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by Johnny » Sun Feb 27, 2022 1:55 pm

jyw5 wrote:
Tue Feb 22, 2022 7:26 pm
as a word of caution, the BOA system is great, but they can ice up. I have had climbing boots do that. make sure you use gaiters on a long tour and check that they are snow free.
You are right, they can freeze, like any other piece of gear under certain conditions. (Hey, this is the humid continental climate here... ;) )

I always have a whole arsenal of various lubes, sprays and anti-freeze fluids right by the door. A few drops/shots of your favorite one should be more than enough to prevent icing. 8-)
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."

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Stephen
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6’3” / 191cm — 172# / 78kg, size 47 / 30 mondo

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Fri Mar 04, 2022 5:18 pm

Link to my first thoughts on ALFA Free:
http://www.telemarktalk.com/viewtopic.p ... aafb781e7d



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telemarius
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by telemarius » Sat Mar 05, 2022 8:28 am

Hi all,
Friflyt.no posted yesterday an article about an issue with the Alfa Free boot. Short summary: the pin in the sole can jam up. According to the article over 40 customers have reported this to Alfa, rendering their shoes useless. I do not have access to the whole article, so I cannot say if there is a fix, or if the warranty covers replacement. Just a reminder to us all that the system is new and that early adopters risk running into hiccups.

Has anyone on the forum run into this problem?

link: https://www.friflyt.no/telemarkski/prob ... lla-xplore

Happy skiing!
--Marius



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telerat
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by telerat » Sat Mar 05, 2022 2:09 pm

Telemarius, there seems indeed to be a problem, but it is being handled by contacting Rottefella on their webpage. All can contact them and will have the option of sending the shoes free of charge to them. They have new upgraded parts that enables them to change the pins quickly and return them afterwards. There is currently no plans for a recall as there are very few complaints so far. Edit:
Open article in Norvegian: https://www.utemagasinet.no/fjellski/fj ... jellskisko
Link to telemarius' thread Thoughts on Xplore from a XC racing enthusiast
Last edited by telerat on Mon Mar 07, 2022 4:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Johnny
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Location: Quebec / Vermont
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by Johnny » Mon Mar 07, 2022 9:59 am

Interesting!

So far so good here on the ice coast. 100+ days on the Alaska XP without any problems.
Walking, running, hiking, skiing, skating and driving...

42 problematic boots out of 12,000... That's a return rate of 0.3 %... Not even one percent!!!
Quite a very good rate for such an innovative new product... Remember NTN, it was around 15% for the first year.
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."



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BigRed
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by BigRed » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:23 pm

One of the spring pins in my one-week old Alfa Frees jammed after I took off my skis to peel skins at the top of a run last Sunday. Fortunately I was only going to ski some trees along side one of the steeper xc trails in Bymarka, the city forest near my home. After I tracked down the problem I took the boot off and rested my foot on my ski so I could poke at it, but lo nuch suck, it was thoroughly jammed. Skiing down the groomed trail with a loose ski was impossible, and I was only carrying a fanny pack so had no way to carry the ski to one-ski it. I had to walk down the big hill and was able to shuffle, double pole, and glide on easy terrain, 9 km to home. I guess I should be happy this didn't happen in the deep snow on Kufjellet the weekend before.
The article in Ute says that Rottefella claims that the defect occurs in only a small number of boots, but I have to wonder about that. If they have an improved pin design doesn't that sort of imply that any boots with old pins might be vulnerable? Only 42 - no, make that at least 43 - cases out of 12,000 so far... As Åsmund Galde comments at the end of the article, this could be life-threatening if it happens, say, between huts in deep snow and bad weather.
I have sent them into Rottefella. We'll see how fast they turn them around. It may be a while before I trust them again.
Other than that, I quite like the new system and the boots, have had some good runs in powder and mashed potatoes both in the backyard forest and weekend before last in Trollheimen.



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BigRed
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by BigRed » Sat Mar 12, 2022 3:06 am

Well Rottefella turned the boots around fast -- I sent them in Monday afternoon and got them back on Friday. To butter me up a bit, they sent me goodies -- a very nice merino wool hat, a steel water bottle, and a pair of ski straps, the latter two with the the rather inane Rottefella Explore motto: "Discover more, and more often". In the meantime, after holding it off for two, years, I finally came down with Covid, but so bad that I can't do a little backyard skiing.
I wonder what the case count is now? Rottefella must be in overdrive...



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randoskier
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by randoskier » Sat Mar 12, 2022 9:22 am

BigRed wrote:
Sat Mar 12, 2022 3:06 am
Well Rottefella turned the boots around fast -- I sent them in Monday afternoon and got them back on Friday. To butter me up a bit, they sent me goodies -- a very nice merino wool hat, a steel water bottle, and a pair of ski straps, the latter two with the the rather inane Rottefella Explore motto: "Discover more, and more often". In the meantime, after holding it off for two, years, I finally came down with Covid, but so bad that I can't do a little backyard skiing.
I wonder what the case count is now? Rottefella must be in overdrive...
I think you are right about the % of pin defects being higher. They should probably recall.

You can use the Rotty ski straps for emergency bindings! My wife's boots go back to them on Monday- turnaround will be longer, we live in Italy.

This jam happened in the middle of nowhere, about 10km after leaving the Seisjoen Skogstua (Statskog) in Nord Trondelag. Thankfully 5 solid minutes of poking the pin in the recess with a knife tip released the pin and we exhaled. I always carry a tent on multiday trips in Norway (winter and summer), it is good insurance.



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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by satanas » Sat Mar 12, 2022 7:15 pm

IMHO, there should be a survey here at the end of the (Northern) ski season to find out:

1. What proportion failed, and
2. Whether the repaired or replaced parts were reliable afterwards

Since I'm in Australia I'm hoping Rottefella and the boot manufacturers might sort this out before anything reaches us, but suspect the safe thing to do is give up until 2023; that should allow enough time for a proper fix, rather than a band aid.



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Johnny
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Location: Quebec / Vermont
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Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Johnny » Sun Mar 13, 2022 10:26 am

Stephen wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 3:22 pm
Maybe I missed it, but how does the Alf Free come out 2 points lower than the Pioneer Pro for “Downhill,” when the “Support” “Stiffness” and “Control” numbers are “10” for each boot? That makes the Free equal to the Guard (both 7), which seems very surprising.
Just a few more words here to clarify the situation, and why the Alfa FREE got a 7/10 note for downhill. This place is called "Telemark Talk", a forum dedicated to the telemark turn, also called free-heel skiing, the technique of dropping knees in order to turn. If you take a closer look at the Free description, you will notice that there is not a single mention of the word "telemark" on the page. No mentions of turns or dropped knees. According to Alfa, the Free is a backcountry boot that improves the stability and control in demanding terrains. It's made for Hilly backcountry skiing. From that perspective, where telemark turns are not involved, I sure would give the Free 10/10 for "downhill", a perfect note. It's the most stable leather boot I know of.

If you are a backcountry skier and you are skiing downhill alpine-style, the Alfa Free is the best and safest option... If you are only doing half-tele turns, or fake-marks, or that snowplowing-with-one-raised-heel dance (aka here as "arcing"), it's clear that the Free will give you much more control for downhill than any other boots. The free is very stiff, and you can get a lot of control out of it from driving the cuff instead of the ball of foot, something you won't get from any other leather boot, not even the Skaget, Guard, Alaska XP or the Pioneer.

The Free is a totally amazing boot. And as much as I'm in love with it, from the TELEMARK perspective, I find that with the basic soft flexor, the Alaska XP and the Pioneer are smoother, more fun and more natural for pure traditional telemark turns. The "downhill" rating of each boot on the chart refers to the telemark, XCD skiing perspective, NOT the Alpine-Touring or Cross-Country point of view. Very different. Just saying... 8-)

Now the way the Free works is not unlike NTN boots. The sole being quite hard to flatten at the ball of foot, it requires additional help to fully unleash its full power for downhill telemark turns. As I first mentioned last year when I first tried the XP, this additional help can come from:

1- a different technique
2- using hard flexors
3- driving the cuff of the boot, which is especially true and useful in the case of the Alfa Free boot

Just like plastic boots, the stiffer the upper cuff is, the easier it is to use it to flex the sole and drive the ski. Some people (Yes, including me 8-) ) might argue here that this is not the pure, original 3-pin telemark technique, as it was the case with NTN 15 years ago. But who cares really? Again, there is nothing new here, this is exactly like the stiff plastic NNN-BC boots of the 90's and their white flexors. Only with better boots and a better system this time. The world is moving forward.

And yes, with different flexors, each of the 7 boots reviewed in the chart have totally different characteristics and ratings. The difference is even greater than a boot with and without cables. But the idea here is to keep the comparisons simple and fair.
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."



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