Hiking and Touring in the XT 130
We later ventured farther out of bounds, and I brought the XT back out to test its hiking and skinning ability for trips up Cerro Martin and Torrecillas. For boot packing, the XT was great; walking over the rocky, Martian landscape was smooth with the full rubber sole. The range of motion I had was nice for walking, but I appreciated it even more for our short skin to Torecillas.
My skinning efficiency in the XT was far superior to the RX. I was able to extend my foot at the top of each stride without digging into my calf. This is obviously the case for most boots with a walk mode, but, unfortunately, I can’t speak to the ROM in the XT versus other touring boots. I can say that I wouldn’t have minded a few more degrees of rearward extension if I was going to be on a longer tour.
When we reached the summit of Cerro Martin, I dropped into the Banana, a 45-degree chute with a ten-foot choke in the middle. I skied cautiously and had to check myself a few times before entering the choke to ensure I had ample control of the ski. Later in the week, I wore my RXs when we returned to Martin, and I was able to attack the steep chutes with noticeably more confidence and control. Off Torrecillas, I again was not able to attack with my normal level of aggressiveness, and in the middle of the run (where the snow was grippy and wind affected), I could not control the tails and again hip-checked to stop myself from barrelling out of control into a potential long tomahawk.
At this point, I am not sure if the issues I experienced with the XT 130 are due to the fact that the boot is softer, or that the lack of a full lock and resultant play in the walk mode causes the lack of precision.
Charlie Bradley’s mod involves adding a small shim to take up the play in the walk mode, and he did experience increased precision; the XT skied more like the RX.
My Lange XT 130 felt softer and less precise than my Lange RX 130. If you are used to skiing stiff boots and demand the highest performance and precision, this is probably not the solution you are looking for.
However, if you are looking for a beefier boot for touring that you can ski most of the time, and you do not demand as much precision from your boots, it’s easy for me to imagine people adjusting to the XT 130s (especially if they aren’t skiing them directly against the RX 130) and being quite happy with them.
But for me, the benefits of the XT for hiking and skinning do not outweigh the compromises I found in the downhill performance. I would rather endure the a 20-minute bootpack going up in my RXs to enjoy the increased performance going down. I could see this being a good option if I were skinning more, and if the play in the cuff when locked in ski mode can be minimized with modifications.
At the end of the day, I could make the moves I wanted to in the XT, but compared to the outstanding RX 130, it felt like driving a car with a loose suspension versus driving a tightly tuned race car.
That was my experience, but you now need to read Marshal Olson’s review of the XT.