Scarpa has long been one of the major players in the backcountry ski boot market. The Scarpa T1 tele boot has long been the free-heel boot of choice for backcountry and resort adventures. As backcountry skiers have pushed the limits of human-powered access and have begun pushing bigger and fatter skis in the backcountry, alpine touring technology including bindings and boots have had to step it up.
No longer will slightly-modified mountaineering boots hack it for alpine touring. Backcountry skiers want it all… burly and stiff for the down and light and flexible for the up. Several manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and Scarpa is a natural leader in this growing market segment.
About the Scarpa Tornado Pro
The Tornado Pro is the top-of-the-line A/T boot–built to drive any ski on the market. It is essentially a 4-buckle design with the latest in dual-density materials (soft/hard plastic combo), a top-shelf liner and all the features you’d expect from an alpine touring boot. MSRP is a reasonable $669.00 and total weight is 8.6 lbs.
The sole is both DIN and UNI compatible, so stepping into alpine bindings won’t require any toe height adjustments. Also of note… they are the only A/T boots to date that have passed the tough TUV standards for releaseability. The Vibram Ride sole isn’t a burly mountaineering-type sole, but it gives enough grip for hiking on rocks or walking down slippery resort stairs, and still ensures consistent releases in either alpine or A/T binders. An aftermarket lugged sole is also available.
The Intuition Speed liner is like a burrito for your foot. This liner is akin to the old Raichle Thermo-wrap in design with two overlapping thermo foam layers wrapping around your lower leg. After a quick 45-minute visit with a bootfitter, the Scrapa Tornado Pro should fit your foot better than your favorite pair of sneakers.
The ski/walk mode allows you to switch the boot into a more walkable, upright stance and the ski mode can be set at either 19 or 23-degrees forward lean. Three of the buckles are of the lightweight, micro-adjustable aluminum variety, while the third, instep buckle is like an old-school Rollerblade ratchet buckle. You get two tongues… one for ski touring (softer) and one for a more straight-up alpine flex.
Scarpa Tornado Pro Review
I had the Scarpa Tornado Pro’s at the same time I had a pair of Garmont Endorphin’s, which made for a great side-by-side comparison. If I was going on looks alone, the Scarpa’s wouldn’t stand a chance next to the much-sexier Garmont’s. However, I’m the kid of guy that can look beyond the skin to make a decision based on actual functionality on the snow. So, a quick trip to Surefoot to get the Intuition Speed liners heat-molded to my lower extremities proved to be well worth my time. With my custom Surefoot orthotics in place, the Tornado’s were ready to rumble.
The ski/walk mode on the Tornado’s is great. The sole doesn’t provide any rocker, but an upright stance and loose buckles makes walking/hiking a breeze. The ski/walk switch is easy to move in or out of either mode. However, to get it into what I’ll call “real ski mode”, you’ll have to flex forward pretty hard. There are two forward lean settings (19 and 23-degrees) and believe me, you don’t want anything to do with the lower of the two. I couldn’t even force myself to stay on the balls of my feet in the 19-degree setting. Once I got it into the 23-degree setting and was much happier.
The flex of the Tornado Pro with the stiffer, alpine-esque tongue was great. They felt a little soft in the comfort of the living room, but in the real-world, they stiffen up nicely. The lateral stiffness was on par with the best alpine boots out there and overall comfort is as good as they come–thanks to the Intuition Speed thermo-fit liner.
My biggest gripe with the Scarpa Tornado Pro is the wimpy forward lean options. As stated above, I absolutely could not pressure the tips of my skis or even force my weight on the balls of my feet in the 19-degree setting. I was skiing scared actually as I felt completely in the backseat. After switching to 23-degrees, things greatly improved, but I was still not centered on the balls of my feet as I would like. I was still forced in the backseat, no matter how conscious of an effort I made to stay centered on the balls of my feet.
I could still make decent enough turns in tight trees and pow, but when I tried to arc turns on groomers, I was still unable to pressure my tips to initiate a proper turn. This was a bit disappointing.
I had issues with the buckles and the overall design of the overlapping cuffs. With so many “this before that” and “this under that” type of things, it took me a few tries to get the boots buckled properly. I think some simplicity could be in order here, but maybe just a few more tries to get the hang of it would do the trick. Also, with gloves on, it was nearly impossible to release the instep buckle and equally difficult to thread it into the ratchet.
Even though I had some issues with the Tornado’s, I do have to add one caveat: ski boot fit and function is a highly-personal thing. So, find somewhere to demo a pair of Tornado’s and see how you like them yourself. You may not have the same forward lean gripes that I did. The overall function of the boot is spot-on… it just appears to need some refinements for me to recommend them for myself.
NOTE: Just for reference, my feet are flat and medium volume. I wear 103mm last width alpine boots. The Scarpa’s were a 1.5 finger fit in shell sizing for me, thus putting me in a size 27.0.
The Bottom Line on the Scarpa Tornado Pro Boots
The Tornado Pro is a burly alpine touring boot that will handle the skintrack and cliff hucks with equal skill. However, I feel they could use another 2-3 degrees of forward lean combined with a few tweaks to the buckles before I can whole-heartedly recommend them. Try them on at your local shop and see if you can demo a pair for a day before plunking down for them. You might be OK with the forward lean settings and decide you can live with the difficult-to-open instep buckle. Hopefully Scarpa improves on both of those items for next season.
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Nice post Jason. I’m still on the Garmont Adrenalin. I found the same exact problem with the forward lean on that boot, though. The more upright setting makes you ski scared (and your skiing scary). The more forward lean setting works perfect. That’s 25 degrees. So I agree with your conclusion that 23 degrees might not be enough, and that a couple more degrees would be nice.
Thanks for chiming in, Mike! Yeah, forward lean issues are not just limited to the Tornado’s. Many other boots suffer from a lack thereof. As I was saying to Kendall while skiing these, “Um, excuse me sir… do you have any extra forward lean for sale?”
As I said and you confirmed, 2-3 degrees is detectable and makes a big difference.
I’ve skied on my Tornados about 15 times this year at Whistler…. generally on powder days and when heading out of bounds. (Freerides mounted on 195cm AK Rocket Swallowtails). I totally agree with the authors comments, in that on my first day at 19 degrees I was close to being afraid for my life!!…. I wondered if it was just me and even at 23… yes I’m bid for another 2 or 3 or 5degrees!!…. on the other hand the boot’s performance envelope is fabulous…. stiff as my Lange race boots while still warm and comfty… remember to trim those toe nails….Finally I noted that the boot can only be adjusted in “walk” mode and not “ski” mode
Kimono… thanks for your thoughts and confirmation that I’m not the only one vying for an extra 3-5 degrees of forward lean on these badboys!
Jason’s review is very good. Same confused feeling about forward lean and buckles, that are bulky and difficult to close or open. While climbing w/out skis but with crampons on I found the two lower buckles annoying as they would open up due to breaking of crusty snow pushing the buckles up. I think the more typical, reverse layout of the lower buckles would be more practical. On a plus side I found the Tornados very comfortable- did an extensive 3 day touring trip with the brand new boots on without any blisters or any pain. Check your canting screws every once in a while: they are easy to lose. Cheers!
I’ve been skiing these tornados this year and so far have liked them. My question is: Does anybody know where you can find the touring lug sole to screw on the bottom??? Is there even such a thing out there? Seems like a nice option but not much help if they don’t make the lug sole. I’m hoping not to have to make my own. Thanks!
I don’t believe that they offer an A/T-specific sole for these. The biggest selling point of the soles on these are that they are the only DIN-certified A/T-esque soles on the market. They aren’t burly climber style, but they are pretty solid for the flexibility. I’ll ping Scarpa directly though.
Hey there, Dave with SCARPA here.
First off, yes, you can get a lugged mountaineering sole for the Tornado as an aftermarket accessory. It’s called the Rally sole (as opposed to the DIN compatible, rubber Ride sole that comes on the boot), and is the same sole that would also work on the Typhoon, Hurricane and women’s Domina. Probably the easiest way to get it is to just call SCARPA, 303-998-2895, and have them direct you either to a retailer who stocks it or they can sell it to you direct if there are no retailers in your area.
A couple of other points on the Tornado. For next year, the lower buckles were redesigned and reconfigured, so they address some of the complaint above – a lot easier to get in and out of the boot.
Finally, there is a forward-lead adjustment on this boot. For anyone who feels they’re unable to get in the driver’s seat and wants more forward lean, make sure you’ve adjusted the forward-lean adjustment to your preference. Likely Jason did this, but just making sure that everyone knows that’s an option. Out of the box, the boots aren’t dialed as far forward as they can be.
Thanks for the straight scoop here Dave! I’m really loving the Skookum’s I’ve been rallying for the past few weeks. Great Boot!
I totally agree – I love these boots to death, but cant even ski in them on hardpack as the max forward lean isnt forward enough. I find myself leaving them almost completely unbuckled to allow for some more dynamic forward movement. Does anyone know of a way to compensate for this? Perhaps a riser under the heel would put me more on the balls of my feet?
Hey Justin i had the same problem so i swapped out the tongues and that solved all my problems. The stiff tongues is just too hard unless the terrain your on is nice and steep so you can get your weight into your toes. Well that’s what i found anyway. Once i swapped to the white tongue they were great. That Black tongue sure is one thick chunk of plastic.
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i skied these boots in a 24.5-25 shell and also had the forward lean problem. i was on the more forward setting but still could get the boot to flex forward. if you look at the beefer instep strap on the smaller sizes, it hits the bottom of the shell overlap on the top buckle. the boot can’t flex forward because the instep strap won’t allow any movement by the upper shell. at least on the smaller sizes, this could account for the lack of ability to presure the ski tip. It looks like there is a crrection in the newer (red) tornado pro.