2018-2019 Lange XT Free 130 LV

Paul Forward reviews the Lange XT Free 130 for Blister
Lange XT Free 130 LV

Boot: Lange XT Free 130 LV (18/19)

Stated Flex: 130

Available Sizes: 24-29.5

Stated Last: 97 mm (100 mm version available)

Stated Range of Motion: 43°

Stated Forward Lean: 12°, 14° with spoiler

Size Tested: 27.5

Stated Boot Sole Length: 315 mm

Blister’s Measured Weight (27.5):

  • Shells, no liners: 1472 & 1473 g
  • Liners, no footbeds: 376 & 376 g
  • Shells + Liners = 1848 & 1849 g

Buckles: 4 Micro-adjustable

Powerstrap: 45 mm Velcro

Shell Material:

  • Cuff: Polyolefin
  • Shoe / Clog: “Dual Core Light” Grilamid

Soles:

  • Alpine ISO 5355 soles come attached to the boot
  • Grip Walk soles are available for purchase

Binding Compatibility:

  • With Alpine Soles: Standard Alpine bindings; all “tech” / pin bindings; MNC Bindings
  • With Aftermarket Grip Walk Soles: All “tech” / pin bindings; MNC Bindings; Grip-Walk-compatible bindings

Tech Fittings: Dynafit Certified

MSRP: $850

Test Locations: Chugach Powder Guides, Kenai Mountains, & Alyeska Resort, AK

Reviewer: 6’0”, 195 lbs

Days Skied: 10

Intro

As backcountry skiing increases in popularity, more brands are offering boots that are supposed to perform on the downhill like an alpine boot, but that also allow you to walk uphill in a lightweight alpine-touring “tech” or pin binding. That is the case with Lange’s new XT Free 130 LV, and according to Lange, their XT Free boots offer “maximum mobility” for the uphill while also providing “uncompromising downhill performance.” The more experience you have with AT boots, the more you realize just how massive that claim is: maximum mobility for the uphill, and uncompromising downhill performance? We’ve yet to review an AT boot that offered zero compromises, so is the new XT Free 130 LV really an exception?

Well, I skied the first iteration of the old Lange XT Freetour 130 a couple years ago, and found that it did, in fact, ski better than any other boot I’d used that was compatible with both standard alpine bindings and pin touring bindings.

New Changes to Lange’s Alpine-Touring Boot Lineup

For the 18/19 season, Lange made some noteworthy changes to their lineup of alpine-touring boots. They discontinued the men’s standard XT boots (the women’s XT boots are still available). They also updated the XT Freetour line with their new “Dual Core Light” construction and changed the name to “XT Free.” Lastly, they added a few new flex options in the XT Free line, and the line now includes a 130, 130 LV, 120, 120 LV, 100, 90, 80, and a model called the XT Free Promodel LV, which has a stated flex of 140.

I skied the new XT Free 130 throughout this past spring while heli-ski guiding at Chugach Powder Guides, for lift-served skiing at Alyeska Resort, and for a bit of touring and sled skiing in the Kenai mountains outside of Girdwood, AK.

So how significant are the changes to the 18/19 boot, and does it retain the previous boot’s excellent downhill performance?

Shell Construction

The primary difference in construction between the 17/18 XT 130 Freetour and the 18/19 XT Free 130 is a switch from the XT 130 Freetour’s standard Grilamid lower shell to the XT Free 130’s “Dual Core Light” Grilamid lower shell. This basically means that the lower shell of the new XT Free 130 uses a mix of softer and firmer Grilamid plastics in order to reportedly offer better rebound and a more consistent flex. The 18/19 XT Free boots still feature a Polyolefin cuff, just like the XT Freetour line.

Overall, the new and old boots look very similar. And while I noticed a significant difference between the 17/18 Dual Core RX 130 (review coming soon) and the non-Dual-Core 16/17 RX 130, I did not notice a major difference between the Dual Core Light version of the XT Free 130 and the older XT 130 Freetour.

Weight & Comparisons

For reference, here are our measured weights for some other notable touring boots (keep in mind the size differences). Our measured weights show the mondo size of the boot, then the weight of each shell. Then the weight of each liner. Then the total weight for shells + liners, listed in grams:

Scarpa Maestrale RS (24.5 / 25.0): 1053 & 1057 + 244 & 245 = 1297 & 1302 g
Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro (26.5): 1099 & 1100 + 210 & 211 = 1309 & 1311 g
Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour (26.5): 1156 & 1158 + 224 & 223 (pre-production liner) = 1380 & 1381 g
Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 (26.5): 1124 & 1128 + 271 & 276 (lighter pre-production liner) = 1395 & 1404 g
Salomon MTN Explore (26.5): 1126 & 1135 + 281 & 281 = 1407 & 1416 g
Scott Cosmos III (26.5): 1186 & 1187 + 264 & 264 = 1450 & 1451 g
Head Kore 1 (26.5): 1132 & 1136 + 392 & 393 = 1524 & 1527 g
Salomon S/Lab MTN (26.5): 1257 & 1246 + 288 & 303 = 1545 & 1549 g
Fischer Ranger Free 130 (26.5): 1204 & 1204 + 348 & 351 = 1552 & 1555 g
Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 (26.5): 1157 & 1161 + 419 & 417 = 1576 & 1578 g
Roxa R3 130 T.I. (27.5): 1341 & 1348 + 263 & 262 = 1604 & 1610 g
Salomon QST Pro TR 130 (26.5): 1389 & 1391 + 273 & 274 = 1662 & 1665 g
Nordica Strider Pro 130 DYN (27.5): 1445 & 1440 + 363 & 373 = 1808 & 1813
Lange XT 130 Freetour LV (27.5): 1470 & 1473 + 350 & 347 = 1820 & 1820 g
Lange XT Free 130 LV (27.5): 1472 & 1473 + 376 & 376 = 1848 & 1849 g
Full Tilt Ascendant (27.5): 1613 & 1615 & + 3018 & 311 = 1921 & 1962 g
Tecnica Cochise 130 DYN (25.5): 1493 & 1496 + 440 & 441 = 1933 & 1937 g
Scarpa Freedom RS (27.0): 1614 & 1623 + 396 & 397 = 2010 & 2020 g

Fit

As always, we highly recommend that you go to a bootfitter to figure out what boot might work best for your feet. With that said, I’ll go over how the XT Free 130 LV fits my feet.

(It’s worth noting that the “LV” versions of the XT Free boots have a stated last width of 97 mm, but the XT Free 130, 120, 110, 100, 90, 90 W, and 80 W are available with a 100 mm last.)

The XT Free 130 LV fits very similarly to the other “LV” boots I’ve used from Lange (e.g., the XT 130 LV, XT 130 Freetour LV, and the RX 130 LV). In fact, I haven’t noticed any appreciable difference between all those boots when it comes to fit.

Paul Forward reviews the Lange XT Free 130 for Blister
Paul Forward in the Lange XT Free 130 LV, Chugach Powder Guides, AK. (photo by Charlie Renfro)

I went into a lot of detail on the fit of the 15/16 XT 130 LV in that review and I’d recommend checking it out since the XT Free 130 LV has a pretty much identical fit. But the bottom line is that Lange’s LV fit works very well for my foot. I have a relatively low-volume heel and ankle, an average to wide forefoot, and a high arch and instep. I’ve found that all of Lange’s “LV” boots give me excellent heel and ankle retention.

So if other recent “LV” versions of the Lange RX, XT, or XT Freetour boots worked for your feet, the fit of the new XT Free should feel very familiar.

Buckles

No big changes here. Lange has brought back essentially the same buckles that were on the Freetour line. They work well and I’ve had no issues with them.

Liners

Overall, the liner on the XT Free 130 is very nice and hasn’t been altered dramatically from the previous version, apart from a very slight increase in weight (~25 grams). The liner still uses Ultralon heat-moldable foam, has a stiff plastic tongue reinforcement, and plush, comfortable tongue padding. The liner has a small “flex-zone” over the Achilles area for better ROM while touring. If the previous liners worked well for you, I think these will too.

I spent several days skiing in the XT Free 130 with its stock liners and found that they offered above-average heal hold for my feet and I liked the well-padded and stiff tongues. While I liked the stock liners, I ended up swapping back to my Zipfits (originally molded for the 15/16 XT 130). This was in part due to the Zipfits’ increased heel hold, and also as an attempt to standardize the liner in order to get a better idea of the flex differences between the different models of the various XT shells I’ve used.

Soles

I’ve written several times about my general preference against boots that require bindings that are compatible with WTR or Grip Walk soles, and this was one of my major quips with the non-swappable WTR soles on the 16/17 XT Freetour. It just doesn’t make sense to me to make an 1800-gram boot that’s intended to ski like an alpine boot, but then limit its alpine binding compatibility to WTR-compatible bindings.

For the 17/18 season, Lange made the XT 130 Freetour’s soles swappable and started shipping it with ISO 5355 alpine sole blocks in addition to the WTR blocks (the 17/18 and 18/19 ISO 5355 sole blocks are not backward compatible with the 16/17 boots).

The new XT Free 130 comes standard with alpine sole blocks attached, and Grip Walk soles are available for purchase. I’m fully on board with this — for a boot that skis this well (keep reading), I think it makes a lot of sense for the XT Free 130 to be compatible with regular alpine bindings.

Tech Fittings

I’m a big fan of the standardization of tech fittings and was happy to see that the 18/19 XT Free Promodel, 130, 120, and 110 all come with Dynafit-certified tech fittings (the XT Free 100 and 90 do not include any tech fittings). I didn’t spend a ton of time skiing the XT Free 130 in tech bindings, but had no issues with it when clicking into the Marker Kingpin, Fritschi Tecton & Vipec, G3 Ion, or Dynafit Radical FT 2.0.

Getting Them On and Off

The 17/18 Dual Core version of the RX 130 LV is a little easier to get on and off than the non-Dual-Core 16/17 RX 130 LV. I was curious to see if I’d notice anything similar with the “Dual Core Light” update to the XT Free series. But in a variety of temperatures, I couldn’t tell any difference between the new XT Free boots and the older versions of the XT and XT Freetour when it came to getting the boots on and off. They’re not terribly difficult to get on and off, just don’t expect a major improvement with the new boots.

Uphill Performance

The new XT Free 130 shares the same exact walk mechanism as the XT 130 Freetour, and the new boot comes in just slightly heavier than the old XT 130 Freetour. As a result, the XT Free 130’s uphill performance is pretty much identical to the XT 130 Freetour’s, and everything I said about the XT 130 Freetour’s uphill performance applies to the new XT Free 130.

The XT Free’s walk mode is a bit tougher to engage than most other touring boots, but it’s very solid in ski mode and offers enough ROM (stated 43°) for a day on the skin track as long as you don’t prefer to take really long strides while skinning.

On long, flat approaches the XT Free 130’s more limited ROM will be a bit more uncomfortable than just about any dedicated touring boot (e.g., Salomon S/Lab MTN, Scarpa Maestrale RS). The XT Free 130 also feels like it has notably less ROM compared to the new Fischer Ranger Free 130.

But beyond the ROM (which isn’t a huge issue if you take small strides), the XT Free 130’s biggest drawback on the skin track is its weight. It’s a very rare day, even in Alaska, that I feel like I can justify this much extra weight for a day of touring since there are plenty of boots that are stiff enough for high-speed pow skiing but weigh hundreds of grams less and that have more comfortable touring modes.

If I lived somewhere with side-country gates and easy skinning from a lift-served area I might feel differently, as that seems like a scenario where the XT Free boots would excel.

Downhill Performance

I could tell very little if any difference between the downhill performance of the 18/19 XT Free 130 LV and the XT 130 Freetour LV. I greatly appreciated being able to use the new boots in a wider variety of alpine bindings thanks to the sole-block update mentioned above, but I honestly couldn’t tell a difference between the two boots’ flexes when skiing in a variety of conditions and temperatures. There were a few times that I thought the new boots flexed a little deeper before the flex ramped up, but if that is actually the case, the difference was very subtle.

Overall, the 18/19 XT Free 130 is the best tech-binding-compatible boot I’ve used when it comes to downhill performance. It should suffice for strong skiers who want a boot that can handle long days of inbounds skiing but that can still be used with tech bindings for touring.

The XT Free 130 doesn’t have the super smooth and powerful flex that I found in the 17/18 RX 130, but the XT Free 130 handles most conditions and speeds quite well. (And a quick spoiler for the RX 130 review — it’s probably the best flexing and skiing alpine boot I’ve used, so I’d be surprised if a lighter boot like the XT Free 130 matched its downhill performance.)

Paul Forward reviews the Lange XT Free 130 for Blister
Paul Forward in the Lange XT Free 130 LV, Chugach Powder Guides, AK. (photo by Charlie Renfro)

I did have a few days of skiing on firm, bumpy, and somewhat sticky snow at high speeds where both the old XT 130 Freetour and new XT Free 130 started to fold up on me in a disconcerting way, but this was when I was at the upper end of my personal speed comfort level. It is worth noting that I later skied the same conditions on the same ski (193 cm Volkl Confession) in the 17/18 RX 130 and Head Raptor 140 RS and felt noticeably more comfortable. Compared to the RX and Raptor, the XT series of boots allowed for more forward flex / travel than I wanted when pushing really hard into my boots.

Once or twice I took some jarring hits that almost threw me into a forward fall over my tips in the XT Free 130, whereas the RX and Raptor ramped up in flex and helped me stay a bit more upright. Again, this was at the outer limits of what I’d expect any tourable boot to handle, and the XT Free 130 is still skis better than any other boot I’ve used that has tech fittings. But I think it’s worth noting that these lighter boots are still not quite as strong on the downhill compared to some of the best dedicated alpine boots.

Durability

We discussed some concerns regarding the softness of the lower-shell plastic in my review of the original XT 130 Freetour. It seemed abnormally easy to ding and dent those boots and I got one notable dent in the heel that I think was simply from the heel piece of my binding.

I haven’t spent enough time in the new XT Free 130 to get a sense of whether the Dual Core Lite material is more durable, but I haven’t yet had any significant shell damage on the 18/19 boot (though I haven’t done any rocky hikes in them). I’ll update this review if I notice any durability issues with the new boots.

Bottom Line

While there are now plenty of boots on the market that go uphill better than the Lange XT Free 130, there might not be any AT boots with tech fittings that go downhill better than the XT Free 130.

I haven’t noticed any major differences with the new boots’ Dual Core Light construction, but the XT Free 130 is still a solid choice for those looking for a lighter boot that skis extremely well, allows you to tour on tech / pin bindings, and retains Lange’s very nice “LV” fit.

1 thought on “2018-2019 Lange XT Free 130 LV

  1. Any experience on the 140 flex version , the pro? I have been told by quite a few people that Lange tends overstate their flexes, a 140 is more a 120 in a Technica.

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