Fischer TransAlp Vacuum TS
Size Tested: 26.5
Sizes Available: 23.5-30.5
Stated BSL (26.5): 303 mm
Stated Last: 97-107 mm (Heat Moldable)
Stated Range of Motion: 53°
Stated Weight (26.5) : 1620 g per boot
Blister’s Measured Weight per Boot:
• Shells, no liners: 1324 & 1331 grams
• Liners, no footbeds: 260 & 275 grams
• Shells + Liners: 1584 & 1660 grams
Test Locations: Canterbury Club Fields, NZ; Fairy Lake, MT; Teton Pass, Togwotee Pass & Grand Targhee, WY; Jumbo Pass, BC
Bindings Used: G3 Ion, Marker Kingpin 13, Dynafit Speed Turn
Days Tested: ~40
Blister’s Jonathan Ellsworth, Will Brown, and Charley Bradley have all raved about Fischer’s Vacuum Fit system, going so far as to call it “game changing.” So when Fischer debuted the TransAlp Vacuum TS, a touring boot that utilizes this same technology, we were very interested. The TransAlp is also available in a slightly lighter “Vacuum TS Lite” version
Jonathan Ellsworth and I have both toured in the TransAlp, so we’ll do our best to locate this boot on the AT spectrum, looking at fit; hiking / touring performance (including range of motion); downhill performance; weight; and durability. Jonathan will be weighing in with some comparisons to other options available right now, while I’ll be touching on longer-term durability and performance across a range of conditions.
But first, we’ll look at some of the specific features of the boot.
Construction / Design
While it’s not quite as simple as the Fischer Travers I reviewed earlier, the TransAlp is still a relatively simple boot.
The TransAlps’ top two buckles close to the outside, while the toe buckle is reversed, so that it stays out of harm’s way.
Initially, I was a little worried since the TransAlps’ buckles are pretty thin and light, and I expected their durability to suffer. But I haven’t had any issues after about 40 days in these, and I’m generally pretty hard on buckles. The toothed track on one top buckle did come loose and started to wiggle, but I torqued it back down and it’s been fine since.
The TransAlps’ walk mode is easy to switch, though if I’m wearing heavy gloves, I have to take them off to manipulate it. On days where snow is really sticking to the boot, it can clog with snow pretty easily, but it’s never been a huge issue—I’ve always been able to clean it quickly with a ski pole.
I’ve also never had a problem with the walk mode only partially locking, or coming unlocked while skiing.
While the TransAlp doesn’t have the running-shoe-like walk mode and range of motion of something like the Fischer Travers or Atomic Backland Carbon, I’ve found it more than adequate for most touring situations. I do sometimes feel some resistance on longer, flat approaches, and it doesn’t pivot as easily as either of those boots mentioned above. But on the skin track I haven’t found myself desperately longing for more range of motion.
The TransAlps’ soles are heavily treaded, and while mine have definitely seen some wear, and are a little chewed up, I haven’t had any issues with them delaminating or losing any big chunks of rubber—something that some other AT boots are prone to. That’s a good thing, since like many AT boots in this category, the TransAlp’s soles are non-replaceable.
Unlike the Fischer Travers Carbon, the TransAlps are compatible with the stock toe bails on my Black Diamond Sabertooth crampons. However, with the larger aftermarket bail that I had to order for the Travers Carbon, the Sabertooths fit much more snugly and securely on the TransAlp as well.
I’ve split my time in the TransAlp between the stock liner and an Intuition Powerwrap. Initially, I used the Powerwrap since the stock liner did not play nicely with my foot. And while it doesn’t walk as well as the stock liner, I found that it did help stiffen the boot up for descents. (The stock liner of the TransAlp is very soft and unstructured — softer than the Salomon MTN Explore’s stock liner, and even softer than the Salomon MTN Lab’s stock liner. However it is much stiffer than something like the Fischer Travers’ liner.)
After getting some custom Superfeet insoles made, I was able to switch back to the stock liner, and I found that the better range of motion, and the ability to tighten the liner down around my foot, even while walking outweighed the performance benefits I was getting from the Powerwrap, so I’m back to using the stock liner for the foreseeable future. Replacing the stock power strap with a Booster Strap helped make up for the loss of downhill performance with the stock liner.
Binding Compatibility & Insert Certification
The TransAlp works with traditional tech bindings (e.g., Dynafit, G3 ION), the Marker Kingpin, and the Dynafit Beast (with an adaptor). It does not feature any quickstep inserts, although its inserts are certified by Dynafit which lends some peace of mind.
NEXT: Fit, Hiking and Touring Performance, Etc.