2017-2018 Salomon MTN Lab


I have spent a lot of time skiing boots that require the use of replaceable tongues to optimize uphill and downhill performance. While I’m quite comfortable using the tongues and have had no issues with them, I certainly don’t miss them while skiing the MTN Lab. Transitions are the easiest I’ve ever had on any boot: flip two buckles and the walk mode, cinch down the power strap, click into the heels of the bindings, rip skins and Go!

Transitioning back to climbing is similarly easy. I don’t even have to mess with re-adjusting the velcro since all it takes is a simple touch of the cam buckle on the power strap to loosen it. Very nice.

Downhill Performance

Simply put, the MTN Lab skis like an alpine boot.

My first run on the Salomon MTN Lab took place after a three-hour hike on Kodiak Island one damp day in June while out looking for a few summer turns on my old 187cm Dynafit Manaslus (light, stiff, relatively long sidecut radius) down 1500 vertical feet of sun-cupped summer snow. By my third turn, I was railing high speed turns more confidently on those skis than I ever have, and I honestly felt like I was in an alpine boot—an alpine boot that weighed 1600 grams and had rockered soles and a walk mode that didn’t feel out of place skinning up a mountain eight miles from my car.

In over three years of testing for Blister, this was probably the most impressed I’ve been with a new piece of equipment.

Since then, I have skied another 10+ days on the MTN Lab, and I haven’t wavered from my opinion that these ski like an alpine boot. The forward flex is not the most progressive of any alpine boot I’ve ever used, (see below for alpine boot comparisons) but I’m 195 lbs. in street clothes, and I’ve never wished for the MTN Lab to be stiffer.

Paul Forward reviews the Salomon MTN Lab for Blister Gear Review
Paul Forward in the Salomon MTN Lab, Mount Cheesman Backountry.

Flex, Flex Rating, and a Few Comparisons

Manufacturers flex ratings often seem arbitrary, so I don’t usually pay much attention to them. But I’ll be surprised if I ever feel like I need a stiffer AT boot than this. I also suspect that once I’m able to do more back-to-back comparisons with other alpine boots that it will be very close to some of the 130-rated boots I’ve skied.

Paul Forward reviews the Salomon MTN Lab for Blister Gear Review
Paul Forward in the Salomon MTN Lab, Porters Ski Area backcountry.

For now, I can say that prior to that first day in the MTN Lab back in June on Kodiak, I had recently guided a summer heli skiing trip in my 14/15 (unchanged shell for this year) Cochise Pro 130. A week or so later when I finally skied the MTN Lab, I was blown away by how close it skied to the Cochise I’d been on for much of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have as stiff of a forward flex as the Cochise Pro 130, and I’ll do some back-to-back testing this winter and provide updates.

I spent a day on this trip riding lifts at Porters Ski Area alternating back and forth between the MTN Lab and the 15/16 Lange XT 130 with Zip Fit Grand Prix liner. I even skied a few runs on a pair of 185cm Blizzard Cochise while wearing one of each boot.

The mildly increased forward lean of the Lange was the first thing I noticed, but the progression of the forward flex was the most marked difference. While the forward flex of the MTN Lab is very similar in stiffness, the Lange is significantly more progressive—it felt a bit like the Lange was a mountain bike that has a couple of inches of extra suspension.

That said, the MTN Lab still has a progressive flex that ramps up nicely as I sink into the boot, it’s just not as smooth and progressive as the Lange, and lacks some of the Lange’s rebound. (Having said that, I also think that the flex of the 15/16 Lange + Zip Fit is also more progressive than the X-Max 130, and I wonder how much difference I will find between the X-Max 130 and MTN Lab.)

One final note on flex and skiing performance concerns the liner: as I noted above, I’ve been using Intuition Powerwrap liners in all of the other boots mentioned in this review (except for the Lange XT). It’s well accepted and consistent with my experience that the Powerwrap adds some stiffness to almost any boot when swapped for the stock liner. So for a fair comparison, I’ll try the MTN Lab with a Powerwrap as soon as I’m able.

On the skis I’ve ridden and the conditions I’ve skied in so far, the MTN Lab feels laterally as stiff as an alpine boot. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do on my big powder skis back home, but I’m confident that they’ll work quite well.

A lot of skiers will be curious about direct comparisons between the MTN Lab, the Dynafit Vulcan, and some of the other stiffer touring boots out there. We are going to put together a Deep Dive on this topic very soon, and will also update with comparisons to the Dynafit Khion as soon as we get time in that boot.

Bottom Line

The Salomon MTN Lab is a ~1600 gram AT boot that skis very much like a high-performance alpine boot. It has an excellent walk mode and convenient features. The MTN Lab is easily one of the most impressive products I have reviewed, and I can’t wait to spend more time on them this year.


(Note: Check out Jonathan Ellsworth’s 2nd Look review of the Salomon MTN Lab)

43 comments on “2017-2018 Salomon MTN Lab”

    • Hi Stephan, Thanks for reading and for your questions. I haven’t skied any of the Freedom line yet but we’re hoping to get our hands on a pair of the new RS this season. To me, these boots aren’t really in the same category as the MTN Lab being that they are much heavier (SL claimed weight is 200grams heavier per boot and the RS is almost 400grams heavier) and have replaceable soles to be used in standard alpine bindings.

  1. So if forced to choose, should we assume you’d take these instead of Vulcans? (noting the comparative review is yet to come). I’m coming from Mercurys which get the job done but I’ve never been overwhelmed by, and it seems to be either these or Vulcans next. I do like the convenience of a single buckle for cuff and walk mode engagement though.

    • Hi Ryno,

      It’s not a simple question and both boots have a lot of great features. We’ll try to give a nice breakdown in the comparison. Ideally that will take place after I can get them on snow again side by side, hopefully soon!

    • I’ve actually just had a set of Beasts mounted and bought MTN Labs to pair with them. I’m being told by the tech that they boots will require a little modification to the channel to accept the oval/ tear drop shaped pins.

      Salomon (AUS) tell me they’re unaware of any incompatibility and that they shouldn’t require any modification.

      Still haven’t got to the bottom of it yet.

      I’ll keep you posted.

  2. Hey Guys, Thanks for the interest in the review. I have not used the MTN Lab yet with my Beast bindings but plan to do so this winter. I can’t think of any reason that they wouldn’t work.

  3. Have you skied the Sol Quest Max 130? I have them currently but they are too upright and frankly I hate them. Not convinced on their tech capabilities with my beasts either. Can you compare these to them? Worth a look or should I go with Dynafit / Scarpa. I had Scarpa Hurricane Pros before that and they were great in performance just not the best fit. Down hill is more important to me the uphil as I’m a fat bastard so won’t notice a few extra grams.

    • Hi Tim, I have skied the Quest Max BC 120 but never the 130. If you’re looking for a dedicated touring boot, the MTN Lab is going to be hard to beat. It’s much lighter, tours better and skis at least as well, and I think better than the Quest Max BC 120. Your first stop should be at a good bootfitter to get your feet examined to see what your options are. Start with fit and then go from there. If forward lean is the main issue for you a good shop may be able to address that either with your current boots or with a new pair. Good luck and happy skiing!

  4. So having skiied and toured on both the Mtn Lab and the new Atomic Backland Carbon – what in your mind is the main difference? Seems to be that if you want more “free ride” performance on tours and / or a boot that you can use inbounds as happily as in the backcountry, and with both tech and frame bindings – the Mtn Lab fits the bill. The Backland Carbon is more of a ‘pure touring’ boot and a bit lighter right?

    • The MTN Lab and Backland Carbon are very different boots with different purposes. I think your general descriptions are pretty accurate. We should have the Backland Carbon review up pretty soon. The first step is figuring out what kind of boot you’re looking for and then narrow it down based on primarily on fit and secondarily on features and such. The MTN Lab is much more comparable in performance and weight to boots like the Khion, Vulcan, or Maestrale RS while the Backland is more akin to the Dynafit TLT6 series.

  5. Paul, great writeup on the Mtn Labs. I am sitting here with some on right now in my living room, contemplating the sizes… you tested the 27.5… could you tell me how long your foot is? Did you feel the Mtn Lab boot size is approximately the same sizing as others, or did you feel it ran big? I know, all boots are different but this info would help?

    • Hi Jeff and David, Thanks for reading. I wear a 27.5 in almost every boot I review and stuck with that in the MTN Lab. I definitely would not have gone up or down a size. My feet are a touch over 280mm but length is only a small part of the equation. As always, we highly recommend you buy your boots from a good shop with an experienced boot fitter to help with sizing and any work that might need to be done.

  6. Hi!
    I’ve only skied in the mtn lab boots one day now but I got this nasty pressure point on my shins. Second day I opted for another boot cuz of the pain. Have you encountered this? and do you have some advice?

  7. @Gustav: Over a dozen days on the mtn labs and had some shin bang/pressure points upper liner tongue. So far it seems for my foot/lower leg shape, adding 10mm (yeah maybe a bit much but it’s what i had on hand for testing) heel wedges created a better fit and internal ramp angle and has for some reason totally eliminated that pressure point.

    Also, tried a few days using very thick foam HV intuition luxury liner molded for dynafit mercuries which have inherently more ramp due to the thick foam of liner bottom being very compressed at ball of foot…seemed to work just fine as well, better pressure distribution along tongue…for my specific anatomy anyways. (way too thick at forefoot/toebox though without remolding; but stock liner with heel wedges seem to be working out for now)

    At first I thought the boot was inherently too upright in forward lean, felt ‘behind’ the boot and was nudged backseat and felt like my feet were swimming in the liners around the ankle due to the un nature feeling foot position in boot. So initially I placed varying thickness of rear spoiler material between rear cuff and liner to tweak perceived angle…this helped a bit but didn’t fundamentally address the lack of centered feel in the boot…for my particular foot/lower leg/body mass distribution anyways. The heel wedges seem to have done the trick; it also helped my heels seat better into the heel pocket, cradle the ankles more effectively and allow me to feel properly positioned in the boot rather than ‘behind’ the boot. This improved fit brought out all the superlative ski qualities of the boots aforementioned in the review: solid support (in all directions), a relatively damp progressive forward flex and the capability of really driving a ski. Previous to the heel wedges I thought the boots were a bit brick like in forward flex and a bit twitchy…obviously taking the time to properly fit the boots can change perception of performance and character quite noticeably. I was a bit surprised.

  8. Well I finally splurged and bought the MTN Labs. Was in Canada and couldn’t help myself with the Canadian discount.

    These boots are what I’ve been waiting for. Light, easy transitions and ski close to a race boot. I’m coming off the Dynafit Mercury. Gone is the blocky flex and tedious transitions.

  9. Thanks so much for this great review. I was wondering if you could do a bit more of an A/B on the XT 130 LV vs. the MTN Lab, especially in terms of (1) fit, (2) downhill performance, and (3) uphill walking performance.

    I currently have the 130 Cochise Pro, which I purchased several years ago because at the time I think it had the best downhill performance of the AT boots on the market. But, because I have a very low volume foot, I’ve had constant issues trying to get the fit of these boots right. I likely will be buying a new boot, and downhill performance is very important to me. I use these AT boots as my 1 boot quiver, for both resort and backcountry. With my low volume foot, it seems like the MTN Lab and the XT 130 LV are the two best bets on the market. I would love to get your thoughts on these two side by side.

    Thanks so much.

    • Hi Mike, Check out our articles comparing these different classes of boots elswhere. The current Lange XT 130 is essentially a full alpine boot with a walk mode. The MTN Lab is an AT boot that skis remarkably well but it does not match the fit and progressive flex of the Lange but comes in a lot lighter. Thanks for reading, Paul

      • Hi Guys, I’d love to write up a comparison but we still haven’t had access to a pair of Khion’s. Will update as soon as we get some time on a pair. On the other hand, it looks like there might be a few other interesting boots on the market soon depending on how soon you’re looking to buy. Best, Paul

  10. Hello,

    >So for a fair comparison, I’ll try the MTN Lab with a Powerwrap as soon as I’m able.

    Were you able to do it ?

    Thank you for your feedback,


  11. I’m curious about the fit if the Mtn Lab vs the Tecnica Cochise Pro 130. I’ve got the 14-15 version of the Tecnica and love them. I had to take out an insole / boot board that was attached to the fixed boot board (sorry I don’t know proper terminology for boot parts) to get a fit with my high insteps. Now they are the best fitting boots I’ve ever had. But to me they are an alpine boot that tours. I’m looking for a real touring boot and wonder how the Mtn Lab fits compared to the Cochise?

    I’m touring in a 1st gen La Sportiva Spectre now and I’m giving up on them. I just can’t get the fit right. Too low on the instep (even after work), too loose in the heel, and I end up over tightening so that they are excruciating to ski in. Looking for something hat fits like the Cochise Pro. Thoughts?

    • Hi Greg, Apologies for the late reply. I hate to speculate on fit and strongly recommend that you check out your local shop. most places should have all of these boots in stock by now. Let us know how it goes for you.

  12. Am I right in understanding that these would not work with all alpine bindings? For a day on the groomers with normal alpine skis and bindings?

    If not, do you have any suggestions or idea if they are bringing out a new version of the MTN Lab with inserts or something to be usable with alpine bindings.

    I’ve been skiing and touring in my race boots and have decided enough is enough, but I have a narrow foot and the 98mm last on the MTB Labs was very appealing. I tour up to enjoy skiing down, not the other way around.


    • Hi Ben, These will only work in AT bindings or other bindings that are designated MNC (multi norm compatible). To my knowledge that limits you to Marker Lord, Marker Duke, Salomon Warden MNC and Salomon Guardian MNC for “alpine bindings”. there may be something out there that I’m missing.

  13. Great reviews as always boys,
    My question is about most(if not all) touring boots are moving away from adjustable cuffs. Is their a fix for some like my self how would need a bit of canti?

    Thanks, Vince

    • Hi Vince, This is a great question for your best local bootfitter. I have tried getting some semblance of lateral cuff adjustment by gluing foam on the medial side of my liner but it’s not a great fix. Let us know if you come up with something but I don’t think there are a lot of options for these boots.

  14. Hey! Thanks for the great review. Quick question – and sorry if I missed it in the specs or comments – is the liner thermo-moldable?

    • Hi Adrian, Yep, I cooked mine just as I would have a pair of intuitions. I got a little more room around the toes and a little better fit overall.

  15. Well…I must say, I just picked these up to replace a pair of beater Dynafit Titans that I bought used for $50 and had skied on for four seasons. The difference is mind boggling. The Salomon Mtn Lab is a great skiing boot, and it tours well too. I will say, if you take big uphill strides, you may notice the lack of forward range of motion, but not a big deal. The way is skis is really really impressive.

  16. Do you guys have any feedback on whether the newer versions of the MTN Lab are comparable? Has anything significant changed? Looking to get a pair of the 17/18’s, but want to make sure they’re still just as great.

  17. I am thinking, reluctantly, to go AT. I hear tell that Tele is dead. Even so, I and many others are still doing it with glee. Nonetheless, manufactures seem less and less to participate in the development arena of tele gear, especially boots. My state of the art gear is not getting any lighter or stronger, and I am getting older and weaker. My backcountry touring buddy, whom has long since made the transition from tele, keeps coaxing me to move into the light of AT. I suspect it is so he can lure me to the dark side of his dodgy descents and ice capades. And I admit that stability on tele with ice and crust busting, both in the backcountry and the snowboard shaved or refrozen groomers and bumps, do not mix well. And as unnatural as it seems to me, I’ve decided to lock down my heels for the first time in my life this next season. …I am thinking the downhill flex issues of AT boots is not so much an issue for me. And I do not even lock my tele boot’s ski mode in on most hard pack runs. Still, it is parallel skiing, and I am not looking to go the ultralight AT boot route, just yet. I have weighed the reviews of this boot and the Fischer Transalp Vacuum TS, and am leaning towards the S/Lab MTN. I am concerned about the fit, however. So in a tele boot I wear a Scarpa T1, which is narrower than say the Garmont (now Scott) boots I also ski. I wear a size 9 street shoe, the Garmont’s are sized 25/26.5 mondo, and the Scarpa a size 7/8 US Men’s. These are equivalent mondo to US Men’s sizes comparisons. The Scarpa have given me some blisters and numbness due to tightness of width at the forward foot, and on the top of my foot. That goes away when I work my liners a bit, pre season and pre tour. Any similar manufacturer or sizing comparison you can provide for the MTN is appreciated. I may not get the opportunity to try boots on before I order them online. Also, do you have any update on the durability and performance for the MTN?

  18. Any thoughts about how far you could widen this boot through boot punching? I unfortunately got excited about the boot without fully considering the challenge of getting a 98mm boot to fit my 100mm wide fore foot (that really doesn’t like to be squeezed). The shop I’m working with is saying I’ve probably maxed it out, thinking I might go to another shop to see what they say. Any stories out there of really widening the toe box on these with success? I’m trying to decide if I should sell them used and take a loss and start over with a new boot, or try to keep going on it.

    • Hey Joel, when you say you have a 100mm forefoot i’m guessing that you’re referring to past experience with 100mm lasted boots(?). Of the many “98mm” lasted boots i’ve used over the years, some were so tight across the forefoot that they would require massive punches and stretching to even tolerate for short periods of time and others were so roomy that I wished they were narrower. Check out our articles on the site about bootfitting for some good info on the topic of last width.

      I’m sure there are bootfitters out there who would recommend a 100mm lasted boot for me but the experienced ones I’ve worked with have focused on other aspects of the fit and just planned to punch the toe box. Most of the boots I’ve owned have required at least a small “6th toe” punch and I’ve been told I have a moderate to slightly wide forefoot overall. The MTN Lab required a pretty dramatic punch for me and, as I recall, they had to be punched a few times before it held wide enough to be comfortable for long days in the boots. Because I’ve had good luck punching the toes out on even super narrow boots, I pretty much always base my boot fit on ankle, heel and instep as those are tougher to manipulate. I like your idea of trying another bootfitter especially if rest of the boot is a good fit for your foot and the toe width is the only issue. best of luck!

  19. Hey Paul, thanks for the advice! I traced my foot and measured 100mm in the widest section in the “last area” (a tip I found elsewhere online). I did check out your boot fitting articles, very helpful. Despite the 100mm measurement, Even on my 101 lasted TLT7’s I had to get some punching done in the 6th toe area to get the right fit for touring and for my in bounds boot (Salomon xpro 120) I had to get a second shell mold with a pad in my 6th toe area to get more room… so it seemed I just had too far to go on the 98 MTN’s… I went back to that shop this weekend; they got me an appointment with their best boot fitter, they’re going to take care of me which is awesome, a huge relief. After working with them, I think going to start over on a new boot and am thinking Hoji based initial fit and how firmly I feel a heel lock when buckling down. I do have a pronating arch with a navicular bone that sticks out, hits most boot shells in the arch, so am starting with a punch there and a custom foot bed. I’m a little concerned how tight it feels with the liner, but based on shell fit, thinking heat mold of liner will address that, and had room to punch if needed. I’m not a fan of the limited compatibility the Hoji brings with bindings and don’t want to wait a year for an updated version. Next closest thing I’ve considered the Maestrale, but it would need more punching and work a bunch of extra foam and stuff to get a good heel lock (may main complaint with my TLT7’s, planning to try an intuition liner in those based on your guy’s review of the boot). When I’m honest with myself, what I really get most excited about is doing things like climbing Baker and Helens *and* get to have an awesome ski experience (lacking in my TLT7’s), so maybe a Hoji + traditional pin bindings is actually better suited for that compared to a MTN + Tecton (my original plan). I can ski a lot of stuff, but I’m not hucking cliffs or taking big drops. Interested in your thoughts, thanks for the advice!

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