Salomon MTN Explore Boot
Available Sizes: 24.5 – 29.5
Size Tested: 26.5
Stated BSL (26.5): 301mm
Stated Flex: 100
Stated Last: 98mm
Stated Range of Motion: 63°
Blister’s Measured Weight:
- shells, no liners: 1126 & 1135 grams
- stock liners + laces, no footbeds: 281 & 281
- shells + stock liners: 1407 & 1416
Test Locations: Santa Fe, NM backcountry
Ski / Bindings Used: 186cm Volkl BMT 109 / Marker Kingpin 10
Days Tested: 3
Reviewer’s Feet: Left foot: 27.0cm long, right foot: 27.5cm. C-width, narrow heel. High arch / high instep (on a scale of 1-10, it’s an 8 or 9). Fairly stable, solid platform. A bit of pronation. A good amount of ankle range of motion (i.e., “dorsiflexion”).
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 MTN Explore, which returned unchanged for the 16/17, 17/18, 18/19, 19/20, and 20/21 seasons, apart from graphics.]
By now, you may know that we have been very, very impressed by the Salomon MTN Lab. In fact, we’ve named the MTN Lab our 15/16 product of the year.
And as I noted in my review of the Lab, I had this sneaking suspicion that the MTN Lab’s sibling, the MTN Explore, might be a very interesting product in its own right—and not merely a dumbed down / price point version of the MTN Lab.
In short, my suspicion was correct. The MTN Explore is also a high-performance boot.
I’ve now got about 25 days in the MTN Lab, and I was out this past Saturday and Sunday touring in the MTN Explore. And since we’re getting approximately 2.3 thousand emails a day asking about the Explore, I wanted to offer some initial impressions.
Caveat: I’ve only toured three times in the MTN Explore, so I reserve the right to modify these impressions as I get more time in them—and especially once I do some back-to-back-to-back laps with the MTN Lab and the MTN Explore. Having said all that, I’m comfortable with these initial conclusions, so if I do revise any of these opinions here, I expect those revisions to be subtle and not full reversals.
Take a look. And then I’ll just wait while your brain processes the differences:
Blister’s Measured Weight – MTN Explore vs. MTN Lab
Shells, no liners: 1126 & 1135 grams // MTN Lab: 1257 & 1246 grams
Stock liners + laces, no footbeds: 281 & 281 // MTN Lab: 288 & 303 grams
Shells + stock liners: 1407 & 1416 // MTN Lab: 1545 & 1549 grams
I suspect that some folks will be psyched by the weight savings of the MTN Explore, while others will shrug at the ~140 grams-per-boot weight savings.
For me personally—given the kind of touring I generally do: sub-six hour tours with few long, flat approaches, and often to some fairly steep lines—280 grams per pair isn’t a huge deal to me. You might feel differently.
Range of Motion
Understandably, the ROM of the MTN Explore vs. the MTN Lab has received a lot of attention. Salomon claims that the MTN Explore has 63 degrees of ROM, while the MTN lab is listed at 47.
Paul Forward and I both are fine with the ROM of the MTN Lab. I’ve been touring in the Lab multiple times since I wrote my review of it, and my practice is to open up all the buckles completely.
Can I feel the end of the MTN Lab’s ROM when taking longer strides? Yes. But on steep boot packs, or relatively steep skin tracks (though I haven’t walked up any Mt. Superior-style skin tracks yet in these), the ROM feels totally fine—to me.
So not surprisingly, the MTN Explore also feels fine. I.e., very good. So far, where I notice the increased ROM most is on flat sections where I’m inclined to stride out and glide. I personally have not felt any obvious difference / improvement when booting up steep chutes or on steeper sections of skin track.
NEXT: Flex, Skiability, Etc.