2017-2018 Salomon S/Lab X-Alp Touring Boot
Size Tested: 27.5 / 295 mm Boot Sole Length
Stated Last (size 27.5): 98 mm
Stated Weight (size 27.5): 1150 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight:
- Shells & Boot Boards, no Liners: 977 & 980 g
- Stock Liners (no footbed): 213 & 214 g
- Stock Footbeds: 17 & 18 g
- Total Weight per Boot: 1207 & 1212 g
Salomon introduced their entry into the ultralight touring boot market at Winter OR earlier this year. The S/Lab X-Alp should look a little familiar if you’ve been paying attention to this category — the general profile and walk mode mechanism is very similar to the Arc’teryx Procline. Salomon and Arc’teryx actually developed the Procline & S/Lab X-Alp together (they are owned by the same parent company), and while the Procline came to market a season earlier as a more climbing- and mountaineering-focused option, Salomon claims that they worked with the same technology and implemented it with more of a focus on downhill performance.
And Salomon is confident enough in the S/Lab X-Alp’s downhill chops that they wanted us to go ahead and compare it to one of our favorite (and much heavier, and much burlier) AT boots, Salomon’s own MTN Lab.
So we’re going to be offering comparisons to some of the 120 & 130 flex touring boots on the market (Jonathan Ellsworth just finished up his first day in the X-Alp), and we’ll weigh in on how much you gain and how much you give up with the much lighter X-Alp. Then we’ll have other reviewers A/B the X-Alp against some of the lighter options like the Atomic Backland Carbon, Arc’teryx Procline Carbon, and Fischer Travers Carbon.
For now, though, here’s a quick breakdown of the S/Lab X-Alp.
First of all, note the very short boot sole length on the size 27.5 X-Alp: 295 mm. 295 mm would normally be a BSL found on a size 25.5 alpine boot or burlier AT boot.
Point is, do not order this boot in your typical alpine boot size — you’ll almost certainly want to size up.
Jonathan Ellsworth skis the Salomon MTN Lab and MTN Explore in a size 26.5 (both of those 26.5’s have a boot sole length of 301 mm), and he is also in the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD in a 26.5 (BSL = 302 mm).
But in the S/Lab X-Alp, he was directed to bump up to a size 27.5 / 295 BSL, and that was absolutely the right call.
Here are a few of Jonathan’s initial notes on the fit of the 27.5 X-Alp:
Length (Left & Right): 271 & 274 mm
Width (Left & Right): 100 & 99 mm
Instep Height (L & R): 79 mm & 75 mm (The Boot Doctor’s Charlie Bradley describes this as a “high arch / high instep” — on a scale of 1-10, he calls my arch / instep a 8 or 9).
Charlie also notes about my feet: Fairly stable, solid platform. A bit of pronation. A good amount of ankle range of motion (aka, “dorsiflexion”).
I have always preferred a tighter “performance” fit over a “comfort” fit, so I’ve always worn a size 26.5 in low-volume (“LV”), ~98mm-wide boots (e.g., Tecnica Mach 1 LV, Lange RX 130 LV, Nordica Patron Pro, Atomic Redster Pro, Fischer RC4 130, Salomon MTN Lab & MTN Explore, Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 & Hawx Ultra XTD 130, etc.). And if I am reviewing a boot with a wider last (e.g., Salomon X-Pro or Atomic Hawx 2.0 120), I’ll typically drop down to a 25.5.
But in the S/Lab X-Alp, there is no question that I belong in a size 27.5, and I wouldn’t think of going with my typical size 26.5.
A Few Initial Fit Notes
Given that I am accustomed to and like a tighter fit, I like the initial fit of the X-Alp in a 27.5, and I would be inclined to call it a low-volume fit.
I have no extra length in the toe box (and for my feet, I wouldn’t be mad about 1 or 2 extra mms).
And, out of the box, I would not call the width or height of the toe box particularly spacious. It’s a fairly narrow toe box.
But having walked around and stood in the boot for about an hour, then just finished skiing a day in it, I’d call the X-Alp at least as comfortable as my Salomon MTN Lab boots, and I feel confident that I could go out on a long tour in the X-Alp and be just fine. (I didn’t require any tweaks to the size 26.5 MTN Lab, either, but I did heat-mold its liner immediately).
Stepping Into the Boot
Important / maybe-obvious note: to get into the boot, flip the lever out of ski mode and into walk mode. This makes slipping into the boot super easy (as opposed to basically impossible).
The S/Lab X-Alp has a very similar walk mode to the Arc’teryx Procline Carbon. The cable and lever mechanism allows the two halves of the cuff to unhinge and move separately, effectively giving a lateral range of motion that makes scrambling and side hilling much more comfortable. While we haven’t toured in it yet, we’ll be surprised if this boot doesn’t walk really, really well.
The S/Lab X-Alp’s top buckle and power strap are very similar to the Procline — and that’s a good thing; we love the Procline’s power strap. The lower buckle is just a traditional latch instead of the Procline’s cable system. It will be interesting to see how well it stays closed when bootpacking and scrambling.
The S/Lab X-Alp features an internal gaiter very similar to that found on the Fischer Travers Carbon. The X-Alp’s gaiter doesn’t have the zipper and full coverage of the Procline’s gaiter, but so far, we haven’t found that it makes it more difficult to get the liners (or your feet) into and out of the boot. The lack of a zipper should shave some weight over the Procline, and the current gaiter system should be totally acceptable for most skiing situations.
Like the Procline (and most other ultralight boots) the S/Lab X-Alp has a very light liner. It has the standard heel cutout to aid ROM, and it is very thin and light. The X-Alp saves 50 g in each liner over the same-sized Procline Carbon Support.
NEXT: Sole, Shell, Etc.