Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Salomon Quest 12 Boots

For the past few years I've been renting and demo'ing alpine touring equipment, surveying the latest products and trying to dial in my choices.  Cost is what was mostly holding me back and the fact that I haven't skied nearly as much as I would've like over the past couple of seasons.  So when I finally pulled the trigger on my own AT kit, I tried to do so for less than $600.  While this limited my choices somewhat, my homework from the last few years really paid off when it cam time to shop for gear that may be a few seasons old.

I scored a huge deal on some never used Rossignol Bandit B94's so that allowed me some extra money for boots and bindings.  I don't trust used bindings and the boots I found we also NIB, leftover from last year's stock.  Today we'll discuss my boot purchase.

With a little extra money I discovered used boots were not much cheaper than buying "new" 2012 boots. But that also depended heavily on the brand.  The best AT boots I've demo'ed were from Scarpa.  I loved the Tornado Pro's and Typhoons but I couldn't find Typhoons for less than $400 and the deals I found on Tornados were cosmetic 2nds.  The cosmetic 2nds wouldn't be such a big deal but the issue was yellowing of the white parts of the boot.  My last set of Rossi boots had a huge piece of white plastic that yellowed over time and I hated the way it looked.  I know, trivial, but I had waited this long to buy my AT gear and wanted to get it just right.  I also felt that while the Tornados were just a bit too "touring" focused and not "alpine" enough.  The Typhoons would have fit the bill, but again, no luck on price.  I've demo'd Gamont's as well, but they really did not agree with my feet.  I never had a pair feel quite right and I always had pain in various parts of my feet and shins.  I never had a chance to wear anything from Black Diamond.

So that led me to the more traditional alpine brands that are now carrying alpine boots with grippy soles and a walk function.  The formula is simple, providing stiff, bomber freeride boots with just enough functionality to tour.  These types of boots are much heavier than offerings from Scarpa, Garmont and Black Diamond, but you really give up no downhill performance.

I narrowed my search to Lange Blaster Pro's and Salomon's Quest 12.  The Lange's because I've had Lange before and they fit well and the Sally's because they have a big local Ogden presence and a good reputation. The other good thing about the Sally's is that the 2013 Quest offerings aren't much different than the 2012 boots and I could try a few on before settling on a size.  I really, really wanted the Quest Pro Pebax, with its lighter weight and rockered sole, but missed out on my size waiting to decide.

With a few trips to Alpine Sports in Ogden, I narrowed in on a size, 27.5, and found a deal that was $100 better than any Lange's I found so I went with the Quest 12's.

The Ride
"ski mode"

The Quest's come with 3 buckles and and huge power strap that really serves as the 4th buckle.  I assume this design is to save weight.  I think they should just go one step further and get rid of the small first buckle on the the forefoot as well.  I've never skied a pair of boots, AT or otherwise, where that small buckle really made much difference.  I think a single oversized buckle across the foot would do just fine and save a few ozs.  There's a super grippy rubber sole on the bottom with the requisite slick DIN part for compatibility with alpine bindings.  The liner has a nice Boa type lacing system which keeps the liner snug even when the boots are loosened a bit for hiking and touring.  The rest of the boot is solid traditional overlap construction.

My first outing on my new boots began with the skin uphill.  So my first assessment is of the tourablility of the boots.  I knew they were going to be heavy so there was no surprise there.  While the walk function is simple (flip the lever up to walk, down to ski) I am disappointed with the range of motion in walk mode.  Its hard to tell if the boot is actually canting forward and back or if I'm just flexing the boot or moving a but with the buckles loosened.

"walk mode"
That's the only issue I have with the boots though.  Once we packed up the skins and got into ski mode, the boots performed just as good as any stiff alpine boot should.  They drive my 94 mm waisted Rossi's with ease in the deep powder and the hard packed cat track back to the car.  They busted through the crud of my first outing and drove me down the fall line in Saturday's knee deep.  I couldn't be happier with their downhill performance.

2012 vs. 2013

Why am I reviewing last year's gear?  Well, as I said before, there's no real difference between the 2012 Quest 12 and 2013 Quest 120 other than the color.  Both are rated at a 120 flex.  Also, if you're like me and looking for a deal, its nice to know someone has used the gear you might be looking for.

There is a Quest 120 Max, which comes with a heat moldable shell, not just a moldable liner.

Now, there is some bad press out there about Sally's AT offerings, but those issues had to do with the Dynafit compatible soles of earlier offerings, NOT the traditional soled AT boots that I have.  Salomon has been building boots a long time and I trust them.  While their early foray into tech fittings was bad, their AT product looks like it will serve me well.


While the Quest 12's are on the heavy side for touring and the walk function could be improved overall I'm happy with my boots.  I care more about the down than the up and with my traditional alpine skis, I wanted a boot that would drive my skis without issue.  I tend to get into some rowdy terrain and I want a bomber set up that will get me home safely.  It looks like there's still some deals on Quest 12's out there but the new Quest 120's and Max's look like an awesome set up as well.  When buying boots however, I believe fit is the number one concern, so go try some on or hit your local resort's demo days.  If you're willing to forgo the "newest and latest" there are deals to be found everywhere.  Just be sure to give your local shop some love when it comes time to mounting and servicing your gear!

No comments:

Post a Comment