Salomon S/Lab X-Alp vs. Arc’teryx Procline Carbon Support
Again, I’ll have in-depth comparisons between a whole flock of ultralight boots in my Deep Dive, but for now it’s worth comparing the S/Lab X-Alp to the Arc’teryx Procline Carbon Support since they share so much of their design.
Salomon claims that alterations to the X-Alp shell (particularly in the mold of the lower shell) help them resist deformation more than the shells of the Arc’teryx Procline. This is supposed to give the X-Alp a stiffer, more supportive flex. With the caveat that I skied different sizes of the two boots, I would generally agree with Salomon that they achieved a stiffer, slightly more progressive boot with X-Alp. With one on each foot in my living room, there does appear to be slightly less deformation of the lower shell of the Salomon, and this does seem to result in a subtly stiffer-flexing boot. I need to ski them back to back (and ideally in the same size), but I think the S/Lab X-Alp does ski better overall.
If I was trying to decide which boot to buy right now, I think I would lean toward the Salomon because my primary goal is ski touring, so the burlier, heavier sole and rubber rand of the Arc’teryx aren’t super important to me. And I appreciate the slightly stiffer flex of the Salomon.
That said, I much prefer the lower shell buckle of the Procline, and the taller gaiter of the Procline is a bit more protective for some of my more questionable spring and summer ski adventures that involve a lot of water and wet conditions. If I lived in a super rocky environment or an area with thin snowpack, I would definitely opt for the Procline with its substantially thicker rubber soles. And if my objectives were more climbing and mountaineering based, the Procline would be the stronger choice.
Salomon S/Lab X-Alp vs. Salomon X-Alp Explore
In my Arc’teryx Procline Carbon Support review I discussed my time in the non-carbon version of the Procline, and said that “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.”
Similar to my one day in the non-carbon Procline, my day in the Salomon X-Alp Explore was also one with challenging skiing conditions. Based on that one day, I don’t think that the X-Alp Explore is quite as soft as the non-carbon Procline (for the same reasons I discussed above in comparing the carbon versions), but most of what I said about the non-carbon Procline holds true of the X-Alp Explore, and I would be equally hesitant to recommend them to heavier or more aggressive skiers.
Salomon S/Lab X-Alp vs. Salomon MTN Lab
Several people have asked me how the MTN Lab and S/Lab X-Alp compare. Whenever this questions arises, I do my best to explain that these boots remain in completely different categories with different design intentions and applications. The MTN Lab is a dedicated touring boot that skis remarkably close to a true 130-flex alpine boot, and comes in around 1600 g. The S/Lab X-Alp, on the other hand, is a ~1200 gram lightweight touring boot that is designed for maximum touring efficiency while still providing enough support for balanced, downhill skiing.
For most skiers, the Salomon MTN Lab will be a more versatile boot that can easily handle a full day of inbounds skiing without massive compromise, while still being light and comfortable enough for extended tours, or even expeditions.
In contrast, the S/Lab X-Alp is for backcountry skiing only, and in the spectrum of pure downhill skiing power, it is much farther from the MTN Lab than the MTN Lab is from a dedicated inbounds alpine boot like the X-Max 130. So yes, you can ski fast and hard in the S/Lab X-Alp but it takes far more balance, finesse, and good snow conditions to do so.
The S/Lab X-Alp is a well-designed, high-performance addition to a growing category of lightweight boots that ski remarkably well. Similar to the Arc’teryx Procline it’s related to, the Salomon S/Lab X-Alp offers some nice refinements and other features that will be appreciated by many, and its downhill performance is in line with the best skiing boots in the category.
Stay tuned for our Deep Dive Comparisons article, with uphill-performance and downhill-performance comparisons between the Salomon S/Lab X-Alp, Dynafit TLT7, Atomic Backland Carbon, Scarpa F1, Arc’teryx Procline Carbon, and the previous Dynafit TLT5 and TLT6 boots.