2018-2019 Salomon MTN Lab
Available Sizes: 24.5-29.5
Size Tested: 26.5
Stated BSL (26.5): 301mm
Stated Flex: 120
Stated Last: 98mm
Stated Range of Motion: 47°
Blister’s Measured Weight:
• shells, no liners: 1257 & 1246 grams
• stock liners + laces, no footbeds: 288 & 303 grams
• shells + stock liners: 1545 & 1549 grams
Shell & Cuff:
• Grilamid+ lower shell
• Alpine Pebax cuff
• Carbon Fiber BC Spine
Test Locations: Taos & Santa Fe, NM backcountry; Arapahoe Basin, CO; Canterbury, NZ backcountry
Bindings Used: Marker Kingpin 13 and 10; G3 ION 12
Skis Used: G3 Zenoxide 105; Moment Tallac; G3 Synapse 109; Volkl BMT 109; Blizzard Zero G 108
Days Tested: ~20 (so far)
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 Lab, which was renamed the “S-Lab MTN” for 17/18, but was not changed for 16/17, 17/18, or 18/19, apart from graphics.]
Intro & Backstory
We’ve recently published Paul Forward’s review of the Salomon MTN Lab, and you need to read Paul’s review before or after mine, since Paul and I come to this boot from two different places:
Paul has been on a never-ending search for the best AT boot out there, while I gave up on AT boots a number of years ago because I hated how they skied, as well as how they fit.
The result was that I wasn’t really doing long tours, but would do shorter tours (3-6 hours round trip) usually in unbuckled alpine boots. I’d usually come home with pretty bad to very bad blisters, which again, says something about how much I disliked AT boots.
(For the record, this also has a bit to do with how Blister ended up getting its name.)
So despite the fact that Salomon’s product manager was excited to show off this new boot at SIA last February, I honestly wasn’t interested. The boot seemed too light to actually ski well, the fabric on the toe box looked gimmicky, and it just didn’t seem at all to be the boot that was going to get me to stop touring in my alpine boots.
But I knew that we ought to at least get a review up on these, and I had already agreed to take a look at an AT boot that I was actually more curious about, the Fischer Transalp Vacuum TS.
So I began to tour in the MTN Lab last April / May.
After 1 tour, I didn’t hate this boot.
After 2 tours, I realized that I wasn’t merely tolerating these boots.
After 3 tours, I began to freak out a bit, because I found myself thinking that these actually ski quite well.
After 4 tours, I had come to really like these boots, because:
(1) They climbed very well — as well or nearly as well as the Fischer Transalp TS, far better than the old Black Diamond Factors that are still rotting somewhere in my garage; and 1.2 million times better than my unbuckled Lange RX 130s.
(2) On the descent, it wasn’t obvious that my alpine boots would be skiing world’s better in the same terrain and conditions.
In other words, my strongly-held opinions about AT boots were under serious attack.
A few more tours, and I was trying to suppress my astonishment. These boots were fantastic.
But I didn’t want to admit that, so I went to Arapahoe Basin for several weekends in late May & early June to ride lifts and A/B the MTN Labs against two of my favorite alpine boots (Fischer Vacuum 130 and the new Tecnica Mach 1) to prove that the MTN Lab wasn’t in their league.
That didn’t work out exactly as I’d planned.
And to jump to the punchline here, for those of you who also hate AT boots—and especially those of you coming from low volume, 120 or 130 flex alpine boots—you need to check out the MTN Lab.
This is also why I knew we had to get Paul Forward into this boot, to see if the guy who hadn’t given up on AT boots felt as strongly about the MTN Lab as I did. So we got him the boots, and you can read his review.
It seems to me that there will be two primary camps: (1) people who want to know whether the MTN Lab is as good as or better than the Vulcan, etc., and (2) those who, like me, mostly want to know how much / whether this boot sucks compared to alpine boots. Paul will be posting his Deep Dive “Vs” review of the MTN Lab vs. the Vulcan for those in camp #1. I’m here to address camp #2.
NEXT: Stiffness, Sizing, Fit, Last, Etc.