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

Post by telerat » Thu Feb 17, 2022 4:49 pm

satanas wrote:
Thu Feb 17, 2022 7:19 am
@ telerat: Are you talking about width/volume or length?
Both. Skaget/Kikut in 41 and Alaska XP 42 felt about the same length to me, Alaska size 41 was too small. Alfa Guard felt very roomy in size 42. I think my feet are normal/narrow as I have never tried a boot that was too narrow, except for ladies versions.

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

Post by Johnny » Sat Feb 19, 2022 12:50 pm

KDog wrote:
Thu Feb 17, 2022 12:06 pm
Hi Johnny. How would you describe the width of your feet? Narrow, mid, wide like EE or EEE? It sounds like you prefer a performance fit because a 10.5 should be Mondo 28/28.5 or 44 Euro in most boots according to charts other than ALFA's.
I know it doesn't make any sense. I wear 10.5, and according to Alpina's chart, their size 42 boots are 8.5 US!
Alpina 42 is perfect, and Alfa 42 is a bit large. All my Scarpa plastic boots are 28.

My feet are low-volume and not very wide, although I do have a sixth toe. (read: I need extra space around the toes to play around and get more control and stability... Most people don't get it, but the play of the pinky toe is THE most important factor for mastering the tele dance...)

Ordering both is always the best option! Totally worth the little extra to return one pair. Have you tried any Alfa boot before? About 75% of the time, I use a combination of two different pairs of socks to get the fit I want for the day/tour/terrain...
/...\ 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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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by KDog » Sat Feb 19, 2022 7:41 pm

Johnny wrote:
Sat Feb 19, 2022 12:50 pm
Have you tried any Alfa boot before? About 75% of the time, I use a combination of two different pairs of socks to get the fit I want for the day/tour/terrain...
Thanks for the info Johnny and no, I have not tried an ALFA boot before. I haven't tried any leather boots in years because fit was such an issue. The wide fit of the Alfa's has me hopeful! After reading your post, I'm wondering if I should order the 43 and 44 instead of 44/45. Just so confusing because I can't imagine fitting boots that size.

I want to order this week! My new skis and Xplore bindings are taunting me from across the room!



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

Post by satanas » Sat Feb 19, 2022 8:24 pm

Thanks Johnny - I think. Now I'm more confused... For me, 28.0 Scarpa plastic boots were just a tad too short and invariably gave problems with the left big toe; I'm now on 28.5, which is the next shell size up (in Scarpa, but not in most others). In Salomon nordic boots I need 46 or 46 2/3 to avoid toe damage, and cannot imagine fitting into anything much shorter, certainly not 43 or less - they never fitted me even 40+ years ago.

It's possible one of the local shops may have Alfa samples for our winter this year, so it seems I definitely ought to wait until I can try something on.



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

Post by havuja » Sun Feb 20, 2022 1:11 pm

Just to add to the confusion of Scarpa to Alfa sizing:

My feet: 273mm, wide, not in the most extreme sense but weird shape. Flat. Low volume.

Scarpa:
275/280 is an acceptable fit, will need to find a bootfitter to punch out the toe box. Still unsure if I can make T4 instep work, T2 is better.

Alfa Guard:
44 is the only (compromise) option. Would want the toe room of 45 and instep of 43. 44 does not have any extra length nor width with thin + medium socks. Need to be very careful not to freeze my toes as they are compressed. It has gotten better with time (maybe 200 hours), but suppose they will never be very comfortable. Perhaps optimal for dh control, but would prefer comfort fit with these. Instep - heel works, but I need to tie them super tight. Great boot, but would not buy again.

I am hoping that Skaget laces better at the instep compared to Guard (looks like it might in photos), and expecting a miracle with FREE. Will find out in a couple of weeks if nearby Norwegian towns have them in stock.



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

Post by satanas » Sun Feb 20, 2022 1:31 pm

Slightly OT, but good luck with punching Scarpa toe boxes - you'll need it. It's said to be easy enough to do with PU, but Scarpa tele and AT boots are Pebax. Pebax shells have three problems IME:

1. They're thin, and there's not enough thickness for any significant grinding; Pebax is used to save weight over PU
2. Pebax has memory, so tends to return to its original shape, especially if heated. I've had boots left on formers for days to expand them, then rapidly spring back when dried, over summer, etc
3. The shells tend to split at the bellows or toes when expanded. I've had this happen to boots myself, and have heard horror stories from bootfitters too; most here in Oz refuse to touch Pebax as a result

Some of the newer (so not tele) plastic boots are made from Grillamid, which is apparently a form of polyamide (generic name for nylon). I've read that this is easier to expand than Pebax, but the temperature range for modifying shells is narrow or damage can result.

If anyone made PU tele boots they'd be heavier (and cheaper) than Pebax and much more amenable to modification, but AFAIK nobody does. In AT or alpine boots they exist, but in tele not so much. :-(

My experience suggests Pebax boot shells cannot be expanded, but that liners can be made to fit more tightly if you can find someone capable of doing this...



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

Post by Johnny » Sun Feb 20, 2022 2:48 pm

satanas wrote:
Sat Feb 19, 2022 8:24 pm
Thanks Johnny - I think. Now I'm more confused... It's possible one of the local shops may have Alfa samples for our winter this year, so it seems I definitely ought to wait until I can try something on.
Ahahaha! Sorry for confusing you and making matters worse... It was not my intention... :D
Once you have figured out the boot you want, ordering two sizes and returning one is the best option.

KDog wrote:
Sat Feb 19, 2022 7:41 pm
After reading your post, I'm wondering if I should order the 43 and 44 instead of 44/45. Just so confusing because I can't imagine fitting boots that size.

I'd love to help, but you know your feet better than me... 8-)

There is always the option of molding your favorite leathers to consider...
But here, sizing (both the liner and the oversized boot) is even harder... 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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satanas
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by satanas » Sun Feb 20, 2022 3:34 pm

Eh, IMHO DIY double boots are a big risk. It's not easy to know which Intuition liners will work - there are several models and thicknesses - and if you get it wrong the result can be unwearable. I'm sure of this as I needed new liners for some Dynafit TLT5 AT boots, and asked Intuition what model and size of liners they thought would fit. The original Palau-made liners were low volume, and could only compress when moulded, not expand, and I needed to take up a little more volume around the rear of the foot. The Intuition liners expanded so much when moulded that I could only barely get the boots on and do the buckles up, and cut off my circulation entirely; I wore them for a few days then gave up, so they were a dead loss. :evil:

It would probably be much safer to buy the boots *and* liners somewhere you could try the combo on and get some feedback from bootfitters about what they thought too. Once the liners are moulded or worn they're not going to be returnable, so caveat emptor.



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

Post by Johnny » Tue Feb 22, 2022 1:35 pm

A little update after 2 weeks in a row on the Alfa FREE boots... First of all, I have to admit that I have grown accustomed to the BOA fit system. Or should I say, TOTALLY addicted! I knew it would be cool and fun, but it's a lot more than this. I'm totally sold to the BOA thing. And I can honestly say that I really miss it when I go back to laces. It's just so great to make minor adjustments on location without freezing your hands, this is something that just wasn't possible before. And it's truly AWESOME! I'm afraid I will now NEED Boas on my other boots too. N-E-E-D! I sure will jump on any upcoming boot model available with the red dials. Please Alpina, please!

Second, for all the folks out there judging a boot just by its stiffness, here is a little something for you. Stiffer and More Supportive does NOT necessarily always mean better downhill performance. And this is a good example. As surprising as it may sound, the Alaska XP seems to be a better downhill tool than the Alfa Free. While it's true that the Free is without a doubt MUCH stiffer, that it offers a lot more leverage and A LOT more ankle support, the reality is that I find the skis much easier to turn with the Alaska XP!

It's interesting to note that the Free is giving a lot more control for skating. It's a lot more fun and more powerful than the Alaska XP for skating. But yes, despite the Free being much more stiff and much more supportive, turning the same pair of skis is much easier with the Alaska XP. This definitely has to do with the flex point, and the flex itself, which is ridiculously stiff. The Free flexes near the toes, while the Alaska XP flexes significantly before that point.

Of course my Alaskas have 3 months of skiing on them, so they are more "broken in" and easier to flex than they were. The Free might need a longer break in period. More of this later... The Free will make you feel very safe in any situation, whether it's steep traverses, very technical touring terrain or ravine territory. Almost as safe as in a 2-buckle plastic boot. In complete control of your movements. But for downhill, turning and controlling the skis, I find it is much easier with the softer Alaska XP. (And more fun too!)

My point here is that both boots are awesome, but a ski boot is A LOT more than just stiffness and support. There are other factors to consider as well. Going blindly for the one with more ankle support or for the stiffest of the stiffest (like I know a lot of people here are doing) won't necessarily automatically translate into more downhill control in every case. This is something I already mentioned when I reviewed the Alfa GUARD over three years ago... (I've been trying to do some education here in the last decade, with very little success...) 8-)

Just don't systematically fix your choice of boot by the support factor only. Just food for thought... and the results of real experiments on the snow with the same skis and bindings.
/...\ 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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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by jyw5 » Tue Feb 22, 2022 8:26 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.

I am thinking about a setup for maybe next season or in 2 yrs... Nosi 76 + Alfa Xplore for backcountry skiing in northern NM, Montana, and Colorado...to replace plastic boots + AT setup. Would be nice to compare the difference on a single day tour. Like to see more people ski with these for a season or two before jumping in....especially since I committed to 4 pairs of NNN BC skis + Alfa Guard.

I need to find some time and try out the Alfa Xplore and put them on and see how they feel.



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