When I read the press release about the Procline, I admit to being underwhelmed about the promise of an incredible walk mode with 75° degrees ROM. I typically don’t give much thought to the ROM of touring boots, since I personally tend to keep my skis under me while skinning, and avoid the long strides and downclimbing where a lot of rearward ROM is more beneficial.
That said, the freedom of movement of the Procline walk mode is a notch above that of any touring boot I’ve used. I’m not sure how much the built-in lateral movement contributes to this, but the overall feel of the Procline while hiking, scrambling, and climbing is closer to a purpose-built climbing boot than any other ski boot I’ve used. The shell moves easily and fully through its ROM with no catch or resistance.
I wouldn’t call it a dramatic difference between these and the three boots mentioned above, but it is immediately noticeable. Furthermore, swapping between walk mode and ski mode involves the least amount of adjusting buckles and straps of any of the boots in this weight class that I’ve used.
Before I dive into this, I need to clarify three things:
(1) While I’m happy to employ ropes, crampons, and ice axes and enjoy the occasional exposed move on rock or ice, I am not what I would consider a “climber” or a “ski mountaineer”. To try to be clearer about this: I know a lot of people claim to be “ski mountaineering” when they are touring in places with steep terrain or on mountains that have names, and they occasionally use ropes and ice axes, which is what I find myself doing, too — my friends and I spent much of our winter touring and dealing with bergschrunds, crevasses, and steep climbs in big terrain, sometimes using pointy bits. But when I think of “ski mountaineering,” I think of the Alaska Range, Himalayas, or anywhere that involves vertical ice or rock and big, technical, climbing objectives.
I, however, climb up purely to ski down, and I’m usually chasing powder until sometime in mid-May, when I finally shift to looking for corn and summer snow. As a result, my boot preferences lean heavily toward skiing performance, even when looking at this class of super-light boots.
So we will be getting more time in and saying more later about the touring and climbing capabilities of the Procline Support and the Procline Carbon Support, but here, I’m focused on the skiability of the Procline.
(2) I’m going to make comparisons between four excellent ski touring boots that are all similar in weight, materials, and (except for the F1 Evo) in appearance. Unfortunately, by the time I got the Procline Carbon in June, my season was largely over, and I had minimal time to ski them and no time to do any direct comparison. (It had been almost a month since I had skied any of the other boots I’ll mention.)
3) Everything I’ve written so far about the Procline applies to both the Carbon and non-carbon version of it. But now, I’m going to speak first about the Procline Carbon, then address the non-carbon Procline separately.
Based on my minimal time in the Procline Carbon Support, I would say that it is comparable on the descent to the other boots mentioned. As far as lateral stiffness, with an 88mm-underfoot ski, on mostly suncups and firm snow, the Procline Carbon Support is excellent. The boot is powerful edge to edge, and I found it to be well matched to the relatively stiff and cambered Salomon MTN Explore 88 that I was using with them. In this regard, my initial impression is that the Procline Carbon Support is equivalent to the Atomic Backland Carbon and TLT6 Performance, and perhaps a touch stiffer laterally than the Scarpa F1 Evo (although the difference is subtle).
In forward flex, the Procline Carbon Support is probably the softest of the group, but the flex feels slightly more progressive than my recollection of the other boots. The difference in forward flex is not great, but the Procline Carbon Support offers less leverage when pushing into the tongues of the boots, even when I wasn’t skiing with a heavy pack. I reserve the right to adjust this ranking, but as of now, I would say that the Atomic Backland Carbon is the stiffest of the bunch, with a flex that ramps up to maximum immediately. Slightly softer (and a bit more progressive) is the TLT6 Performance, with the 16/17 Scarpa F1 Evo coming in close behind. And the Procline the softest.
The Procline Carbon does seem to have plenty of rearward support, and should provide enough of a “backseat” to keep skiers out of trouble who find themselves there, even with a pack on.
Again, I’ll reserve the right to change these rankings as I get more time in these boots and have a chance to ski others in this category, notably the Dynafit TLT7 Performance which we hope to be getting on snow in September.
As I alluded to above, I spent a single day in the non-carbon version of the Procline earlier this winter. I was primarily skiing about 6 inches of low-density powder overlying a firm crust, and was on an old pair of the Praxis Backcountry, a ski that initiates turns easily and floats relatively well for its width. By the second turn, I realized that the boots were softer than anything I’d ever skied, and I had to be very careful not to push too hard for fear of falling forward through the flex of the boot. Laterally, the standard Procline seemed stiff enough, but at my 190 lbs plus pack, these boots are not something I personally would find suitable for any ski touring aside from the most mellow meadowskipping. When I got lower, I encountered some funky, refrozen snow, and I definitely had to pay close attention to my balance of the ski.
A lighter skier or someone looking to use skis primarily as a means of travel and not so much as a means to ski tour might find the non-carbon Procline to be a good choice, but it’s hard for me to recommend them to ski tourers who are anywhere close to my size, unless you know you prefer a very soft boot. The only comparison I can make is based on trying on a pair of non-carbon Dynafit TLT5 Mountains and not using the tongues, and while I know people who enjoy skiing a boot that soft, it’s important to know what you’re getting.
We’ll update this review this winter, but the Procline Carbon Support is a beautifully-designed boot with some very thoughtful features. It may very well be the best boot in its weight class for all things ascending and climbing, and so far, we’ve found that the Carbon Support version of the Procline can still provide a fun ride on the way down.