Garmont has long been a leader in mountaineering, hiking and alpine touring boots. They have continued to push the limits of stiffness and power while at the same time making those same stiff and powerful boots lighter and more suited for longer backcountry tours. The Garmont Endorphin has been in the line for a couple of years now, but has been refined for 2008. It’s built on the years of experience and on the shoulders of the latest generation of backcountry skiers who demand more from their boots because they are driving wider, longer and stiffer skis and skiing in unthinkable backcountry terrain.
Not that I’m going to huck my meat off a 40-foot cliff every day I’m out and not that I’m cranking down super-technical, super-steep Alaskan peaks, but I’ve been reluctant to try A/T boots until recently. So, I’ve been touring with my Fritschi Freerides and my super-dialed Head World Cup alpine boots. Yeah, I’ve sacrificed hikeability and uphill comfort for the power and finesse I’m used to.
But, even though I enjoy a stiff boot for the most fun part of the day–the descent–I’ve been more and more psyched on the latest crop of freeride alpine touring boots. They are stiffer and burlier, yet still have stuff like Walk/Ski modes and Vibram rocker soles. They aim to deliver the best of both worlds and the 2008 Garmont Endorphin boots are Garmont’s top-shelf entry in the freeride backcountry market. So, yes, I was amped to get on a pair to see how they skied in the Wasatch backcountry.
About the Garmont Endorphin Alpine Touring Boots
The Endorphin boots are Garmont’s top-of-the-line entry into the A/T freeride market. With their years of experience building shoes and hiking boots, they know feet more than many ski boot manufacturers. They show off this knowledge by building their boots completely different from most ski boots on the market. The ADD (Anatomically Directed Design) technology used by the Endorphin makes complete sense. Looking at the boot, the asymmetrical nature of the forefoot and upper cuffs follows the natural shape of the human foot and leg. Check out the following chart that explains all about this design philosophy.
When compared with most ski boots–not just A/T boots–the Endorphin’s stand out. They look well thought out and it’s because they are. The anatomical design makes them some of the best boots on the market right out of the box. Not only are the boots designed to fit the human foot, Garmont uses some very high-tech polymers, carbon fibers and magnesium to shave weight and add comfort.
The Endorphin is built to drive the stiffest and fattest skis on the market–just as their alpine cousins can. And, they come standard with two interchangeable soles: A lugged, mountaineering-type sole and a DIN standard sole.
Garmont Endorphin Boots Review
My Endorphin’s showed up just before a quick backcountry trip to the Meadow Chutes in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. But, I didn’t have time to get the liners molded to my feet. I just slapped my Surefoot orthotics inside and enjoyed the best out-of-the-box fit of any ski boot I’ve ever owned. Because of this great initial fit, I thought I’d risk some foot discomfort and possible blisters on a short backcountry trip.
It had been a couple of days since the last storm, but there was plenty of untracked still to be had. Suiting up in the west end of the Solitude Ski Resort parking lot, the temperature gauge was in the single digits. At that temperature, my alpine boots would have turned my feet into ice blocks within minutes. The Endorphin liners–though fairly thin–did an excellent job at insulating my feet. Not once did I feel my toes going numb. On top of that, the out-of-the-box fit was stellar… snug, but stellar.
Skinning up in walk-mode, the Endorphins provide just enough flex to allow for a natural stride. I’m sure there are other, flexier A/T boots, but the amount of flex was perfect. The only fit issue I noticed (again, unmolded) was on my left shin where the tongue and the liner matched up. The seam put a nice bruise on my shin, but other than that things were dialed. Once properly heat molded, this went away–so be sure to get them properly fitted you won’t have any issues.
When it came time to head downhill, a quick flip back into ski mode and I was dialed in. I love the 4 standard-style micro-adjust buckles. They are lightweight, but perfectly designed for easy buckling and unbuckling with gloves on–something that’s uber-important but often overlooked in buckle designs. I love that the forefoot buckles are reversed, which minimizes the chances of catching a buckle on something. It also pulls the anatomical shell just right–reducing the volume in proportion to the shape of your feet.
The 25-degree forward lean is perfect to keep your weight balanced and on the balls of your feet. I could pressure my skis just the same as with my alpine boots. I never once felt like I overpowered these boots in the backcountry. They felt just as stiff and just as balanced and responsive as the best alpine boots I’ve used.
After a successful day touring, I headed up to Surefoot at The Canyons Resort to get the liners heat molded and fit to my feet. A quick 45 minutes later, I had the boots custom fit and completely dialed in. After some bootfitting love, he G-Fit 3 liners will fit your foot like a glove.
To get a feel for the overall versatility of these boots, I took them up for a day inbounds at Sundance Resort. Bombing the hardpack groomers, I did feel that they were a tad softer than my alpine boots, but that should go without saying. Pound-for-pound though, the Endorphin’s are definitely the most versatile boots I’ve ever ridden. They go from hardpack to skintrack do the untracked without blinking. I could lay down smooth arcs on the groomers like nobody’s business on day, then skin up 3000 vertical feet in Little Cottonwood the next day–all with the same boots.
The only downer on these boots is the pricetag. They will set you back $759, but consider this… they can truly be your only pair of boots, so they are less than buying both alpine and A/T boots. Total weight for the pair is 8.8 lbs.
NOTE: Just for reference, my feet are flat and medium volume. I wear 103mm last width alpine boots. The Garmont’s were just under a 1.5 finger fit in shell sizing for me, thus putting me in a size 27.0.
The Bottom Line on the Garmont Endorphins
Garmont simply has their alpine touring boots dialed. The Endorphins are light, responsive, stiff and supportive. When going up, they are comfy and tour like champs, but when the best part of the day comes, they will drive even the fattest skis with aplomb. I totally dig these boots and they fit my feet like my favorite pair of trail runners–not once did I have any pain or fit issues once I got them properly fit at Surefoot. If you have the coin and want to have only one pair of boots for inbounds and backcountry, the Garmont Endorphin should be tops on your list.
BUY NOW: Find Touring Boots at Backcountry.com
I couldn’t agree more on Garmont’s fit philosophy. I have skied several different AT boots, tele boots, and alpine race boots, and Garmonts fit my feet better than any other boot out there. Even better than the 3 different pairs of Raichle flexons I have owned in my lifetime. I have a medium-volume instep, and Scarpas are waaaay too roomy in the lower foot area. I have been riding a Garmont G-ride and am reluctant to upgrade to the Endorphins because of the metal lugs under the toes and heels (that are needed for the replaceable soles). I have had some minor frostbite on my toes before, so they get cold/numb extremely easily…I am worried that the metal lugs under the toes would conduct the cold from the ground & snow directly up through the outer sole to your toes. Do you know if there are any boot heaters that operate off of standard batteries (instead of a charger) so you can carry spare batts in your pack for an extended tour?
What’s your opinion on the difference between the Adrenalin, Endorphin, Shaman, and Axon? Since I got my Adrenalines, which are still the stiffest boots I’ve ever owned, it seemed like Garmont has come out with something stiffer every year. Despite a couple obvious features (Dynafit compatibility, etc.), it’s hard to really differentiate between them as far as stiffness.
Also, for the record I got my Adrenaline’s foamed at Surefoot. Seems unheard of, but I love the fit and the extra stiffness.
As far as stiffness goes, I haven’t skied the Garmont Adrenalin, Shaman or Axon. Kendall has a pair of Axon’s right now and seems to like them overall. He’ll post a review shortly.
On the Garmont Shaman… that boot is a burly, no-nonsense race-fit alpine boot with a hikeable sole. I really want a pair for my alpine boots, but don’t see much use for them touring. Yeah, they’ll hike well, but they won’t flex at all while skinning, so I might as well just use my current alpine boots.
That’s sweet you got your Adrenalin’s foamed at Surefoot… those guys do wonders. If you got your Adrenalin’s foamed, I’m guessing their stiffness is at least on par now with the Endorphin, but that’s just a guess.
From what I’ve either skied or been told by the Garmont folks, this is how I’d rank ’em from soft to stiff: Adrenalin, Endorphin, Axon then Shaman. The Axon’s have a different liner than the Garmont Endorphin’s, thus stiffening them just a tad.
They are all great boots for backcountry touring and will provide the best overall fit… period.
The new Shaman is basically the old Nordica Grand Prix race mold for the exterior shell — down to the shell bolts & everything. So expect them to be burly.
Actually… after spending some time with the Garmont rep, they developed the Shaman from scratch. It may look a lot like the old Grand Prix boots, but I’m pretty sure Garmont developed it from the ground-up themselves.
So now that you have skied these and the Scarpa Tornado Pro’s back to back is there one that you would recommend over the other and why? Thanks, Will
Hey Will… for me, the answer is simple. The Garmont’s simply fit my foot better and perform nearly on-par with the best alpine boots I’ve used. You do sacrifice a bit in forward flex, however, they are great all-around inbounds/backcountry boots.
You need to try them on for yourself and see how they fit your feet. The Garmont’s true anatomical fit–which suits low to mid-volume feet–should provide a more high-performance and better feeling boot overall. I’d go with the Endorphin’s or the Adrenalin’s at this point.
I had an issue with these boots. Garmont must have a much smaller side profile (sole length) then other boots or downhill specific boots. My 28.5 Endorphins do not fit my size XL Fritschi Freerides when my old Dalbellos (size 28.5) fit somewhere near the middle of the sole length adjustment. It is honestly like a 2-3 cm difference in length!
I like my current mount and ski setup: Are there any suggestions for boots similiar to the Endorphins that are known to have a longer sole length without an overly enlarged shell size or compromised mobility?
Funny you should ask that because I was just thinking about this a few weeks ago as I contemplated boot switching. Yes, the Endorphin has a shorter shell length per size than other boots, but it seems comparable to most true alpine sole lengths I’ve seen. For example, my Head World Cup Ti alpine boots, Garmont Endorphin and Scarpa Skookum boots all sit between 302-306mm sole lengths for comparable sizes (26.5-27.0).
But, there are some boots that for some reason have longer sole lengths for comparable sizes. I guess Dalbello is one of those. And, I’d add the Garmont Radium and Argon touring boots to that mix. I believe that the sole length for a 27.0 Garmont Radium is in the 312mm length arena. My guess is that the 28.0 shell size would be over 320mm, but I’d have to check on that.
The Radium/Argon boots are awesome from what I’ve heard. One of our testers has been absolutely stoked on his (look for a review shortly).
Looking at the lasts, the Radium/Argon seems to position the foot lower and closer to the boot sole, thus requiring the length to be increased.
Hope that helps!
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