I was very excited about the PI Tech, even though I knew nothing about it. I mean, "tech" stuff is very serious, it is simply the best. Anything "tech" will get you the highest quality you can get out of something, right? Tech stuff is always the lightest and best-performing gear you can possibly dream of. So I asked for more information, or prototype pictures or anything, but it was a national secret. I was not able to fetch any info except for the name. And I can say that I really, really like that name!
Last week, a picture of the Techs finally appeared in the 2024 Alpina catalog! Woooah! And it looks like this. Just from looking at the picture, I can feel that it's high-tech, and I can feel it's super light too...! What do you think?
Pioneer Tech. Injected Carbon. Twenty twenty-four. The future.
Hold on a second... It reminds me... When I got home yesterday, there was that big box for me on the porch. I took a look at the label, and it's coming from Slovenia! Woooahhh... Could it be true? Could it be the new upcoming Pioneer Tech boots inside that big box?!?
UPDATE - MARCH 6, 2023:
Yep, it's a technical backcountry boot. A high-tech nordic boot for the advanced skier. Yet another sensation from Alpina. It's amazing because while the Tech shares a few things with other XP boots, it feels totally different from the Alaska, the Pro and the Free. The feeling is very, very different.
No, it's definitely NOT a XP cross-country boot. Absolutely not. It's a lot more than that. The first thing to mention about the Tech is that just like the Pioneer Pro, the boot seems to disappear by the time you hit the snow. It's freaking light at only 700g. Quite amazing for such a high boot! It's even lighter than the Alaska XP! But really, again, it's the closest thing to being bare foot. By the time you put them on, you just forget about them. Only for this feeling, the Tech is worth its price.
The other important thing that you are dying to know about is the sole. Yep, it is quite softer than both the Pioneer and the Alaska XP. (Because seriously, any sole stiffer than that would make telemark and nordic skiing impossible!) To give you an idea, the flex of the sole at the toes is similar to the Alaska 75, but more complex. While I say it's "softer", I have to make it clear that it's still stiffer than the Alfa Guard. What I REALLY like about the Tech, is the way that it flexes. There seems to be 2 different spots where the sole flexes progressively. A medium flex for the ball of foot, and a stiff one for the toes. See the creases on picture below.
The upper section feels super-supportive. So supportive that it might actually hurt your legs a little bit straight out of the box. I needed a few days to get used to it. It doesn't seem very supportive when you handle it, but once tightly laced, it's very effective. To be honest, the Tech does feel a bit like an alpine boot! It really reminds me of the feeling of the upper section of the Alfa Free. In fact, it even makes a nice alpine downhill boot! Seriously! Just for fun, I did a few runs alpine-style, without dropping the knees, something I haven't done in YEARS. And WOW! The feeling is amazing! The boots reacts very quickly to the smallest movement of the knees and legs. I would take the Tech in a mogul field alpine-style anytime! The top of the boot really secures your legs in there. Every movement of your lower body is instantly transmitted to the boots. And while other boots with such a stiff cuff might feel like being stuck in cast, this is absolutely NOT the case with the Tech. Yep, it reminds me of the feeling of an alpine boot, and also of the Alfa Free feeling. But without the bad sides, and with the ability to flatten the ball of foot on the ski very easily.
The ankle support is great, but the support around the heel is even more amazing. The whole section around the heel is super stiff. And inside the boot, it wraps your feet so tightly and so perfectly that I just cannot imagine how heel lift could be possible. (Something that is often problematic for me.... But not in this case!) Here again, every movement of the heel is felt through the entire boot. You move your feet, you move the skis. It's so tight that when you put the boots on and take them off, they will really remind you of your racing plastic boot... Yep, the pull loop in the back is quite useful here. Actually, it's the only boot I have for which I use that pull loop thing. I need to loosen the red eyelet completely in order to be able to put my foot inside. Something I do not need to do on any of my other size 43 boots. But once in there, it just won't budge. Just perfect, precise transmission of movement from every single part of the feet. No, it does not fit smaller at all, don't get me wrong here. Actually, there is still PLENTY of space for my toes to play. It just fits better and mostly, more precisely than ever!
It's super easy to telemark with the Tech. Driving the cuff will make your bellows flex in a second. Laterally, the sole flexes more easily than other XP boots, but surprisingly, without significantly sacrificing the downhill performance. The power transfer of the upper boot kind of compensates for this. And so is the super-powerful and wide 2-pin connection, which drives the ski like never before. Thanks to all this, I can take the Techs downhill anywhere with complete control, even with fat skis. Even with the larger Objectives, I find it much easier to make telemark turns on the Pioneer Tech than on the Alfa Free or the Pioneer Pro.
It's funny because it's really hard to say which one is better for downhill. This is probably the hardest part to evaluate in my chart. They all make great telemark downhill boots, but they do in totally different ways, each of them giving you a completely different telemark feeling. Amazing boot, really amazing.
That classic smooth, timeless, nordic feeling, wrapped in a modern technical boot that you can take anywhere, any way you want. A technical and futuristic XC boot, with enough downhill power to ski anywhere. The smoothest, most natural flexing XP backcountry boot I have tried so far. Sadly, and I really hate to say that, but you will need of pair of them too.
Stiff and high uppers
Stiff and high uppers
Soft and low uppers