Written by ALFA Adventurer Andreas Orset
Winter offers great skiing conditions in many parts of the Nordic countries. Snow, adventure and mountain skiing go hand in hand and I get a lot of questions about the choice of touring boots.
As a shoe tester for ALFA, I've tested the shoes in a variety of terrains and climates, so I figured I might as well answer the question here on the blog. Here are my experiences with ALFA's BC boots that will hopefully make you more confident in your next choice.
SKARVET ADVANCE GTX - Traditional comfort
I've had the pleasure of wearing the Skarvet Advance GTX on many of my very best ski trips. When the sun sets on the horizon or the northern lights flicker across the sky, it's good to have boots that allow you to enjoy the best experiences.
The Skarvet Advance is, in my opinion, an incredibly comfortable ski boot that is suitable for a wide range of trips and experiences. This is a classic boot made for Norwegian winters and the varied conditions you may encounter on the winter mountains.
I find the boot to be just warm enough for longer trips over mountains and plateaus. They may get a little cold when you've been standing still for a long time, but the insulating properties mean you'll get warm quickly when you start moving while they breathe surprisingly well.
The good leather quality, as well as the reinforcement around the toe, means that the shoe can withstand a lot. So if you're good at maintenance, the Skarvet Advance GTX can last you on your adventures for many, many years.
What I like best about the Skarvet Advance GTX is that it is neither too warm nor too cold, and is just as suitable on colder winter days as it is in the Easter mountains. Therefore, if you are looking for an all-rounder, I would recommend this shoe.
Kikut Perform GTX
For those who don't want to be as careful with maintenance, Kikut Perform GTX can be a good alternative. This is a warm and comfortable mountain boot with a low weight. Nubuck leather does not require as regular maintenance as full grain leather. The Kikut Perform GTX is well suited for day hikes and cabin-to-cabin trips both on and off groomed trails.
OUTBACK A/P/S GTX - When conditions present greater challenges
With external, integrated gaiters, the Outback A/P/S GTX is an incredibly innovative product. If you're annoyed by getting snow up under your gaiters or that it's a bit more of a hassle to get your shoes on and off with loose gaiters, this might be the shoe for you. Not only does it insulate particularly well against the elements, it's also very easy to use. Here you no longer have to make sure that the gaiters fit properly when you put your shoes on. In fact, it's impossible to go wrong
In the middle of winter, I prefer this shoe to the Skarvet Advance GTX, but on the hottest Easter ski trips I sometimes miss the opportunity to take off my gaiters. The solution has been to fold down the gaiters. It works just fine, but I'd like to think about what you're going to use the boots for in the first place before deciding on shoes. If mid-winter skiing is the focus, the Outback A/P/S GTX is probably preferable, while the Skarvet Advance GTX gets the better of me on the Easter mountain. Both shoes are available in men's and women's models.
GUARD ADVANCE GTX - When you need sturdy mountain boots
The Guard Advance GTX is a further development of the Skarvet Advance GTX model with better stability for more demanding descents, or for those who feel they need a little more support and stability than you find in the Skarvet model. The shoes have the same great walking feel you find in the Skarvet model.
POLAR A/P/S – When limits are to be challenged
The feeling of setting foot in a Polar A/P/S model is truly unique. I'm not lying when I say it's like putting your foot on a sofa cushion. It's simply the most comfortable thing I've ever had on my foot, but at the same time it's also the warmest. This is the shoe for the most extreme conditions, whether it's freezing cold on the plateau or traveling in the Arctic.
Like the Outback A/P/S GTX, the Polar A/P/S is a very innovative boot with integrated gaiters and Kevlar in the most exposed areas for extra durability. What makes this expedition boot so great and warm is the extra layer of cold insulation in the sole and inner boot, as well as the lining. Many people are probably used to using a wool tank in their expedition boots, but after trying the ALFA Polar Liner, I'm unlikely to go back. Not only does the liner provide insulation and vapor barrier, it is this particular liner that provides the unbeatable comfort.
But for those who go on more normal ski trips in Norwegian forests and mountains, I think the ALFA Polar A/P/S will be too violent. When it's warmer than minus 10 degrees I think the Polar A/P/S will be too warm. But on the other hand. If you're looking for a shoe that will take you painlessly through your next big adventure, I highly recommend the ALFA Polar A/P/S.