Scarpa is likely the most common brand of alpine touring boots I see in the backcountry. Spirit 3’s seem to be the norm, but with the recent addition of so many boots in the line, there are also other options from which to choose. Everything from no-nonsense downhill-specific (lets be honest) boots on through to the standard touring fare with Dynafit and A/T compatibility.
With the less-than-perfect experience I had last season on the Scarpa Tornado boots, the folks at Scarpa were anxious to get me into the new Skookum touring boot this season–determined to make a believer out of me. My experience last season seemed odd to me, so I was up to the challenge and ready to try out these new boots. I realize going into this that each person’s feet varies and there’s no absolute “right” boot for every foot out of the box. To get the right fit always requires a visit to your local ski boot fitter. Surefoot is always my choice, but there are plenty of reputable ski boot fitters all across the country.
About the Scarpa Skookum Alpine Touring Ski Boots
Officially introduced for the 2008/2009 season, the Scarpa Skookum alpine touring ski boots are built to both ascend and descend with power and authority. The lower shell is derived from the popular Spirit 3/4 boot, but modified to meet the needs of an agressive skier who wants one boot to ski both at the resort and in the backcountry. Built with dual-density Pebax® materials, the Skookum keeps weight at a minimum yet still provides powerful performance.
Features of the Scarpa Skookum Boots:
- Liner: Intuition Speed Pro
- Weight: 8 lbs. 4 oz (pair)
- Bindings: A/T (Fritschi, Naxo) or Dynafit
- Sole: Skywalk lugged
- Forward Lean: 19-23 degrees
- MSRP: $770
Scarpa Skookum Alpine Touring Ski Boots Review
I’ve really been looking forward to skiing the Scarpa Skookum boots since their introduction a year ago. With the Skookum, you get a proven lower shell design that provides excellent comfort, binding compatibility and walkability. As one of the most popular backcountry ski boots, Scarpa knows their stuff and the Skookum has been heralded by many as one of the most versatile boots on the market. After a month of backcountry abuse, these boots are solid.
Fit out of the box is perfect with the 27.0 shell size accommodating my pancake-flat and normal width size 10 feet without any issues. Instead of swapping out my Surefoot orthotics, I simply trimmed down a stock SOLE footbed and have been extremely pleased with the overall fit and comfort–even with my super-flat feet. Though I’d highly recommend getting the Intuition liners custom molded, I didn’t have time to do so and have found them to adapt to my feet after 2-3 days on the hill. These are now a very comfortable boot.
For those who are stepping into alpine touring from a strong alpine background, or those who want to have one boot for inbounds and out, the Skookum can easily do the trick. Though I only made a few token inbounds turns with the Skookum’s, I’m pretty confident they can push just about any ski inbounds. Though they do have a swappable tongue for dedicated alpine use, do keep in mind that these boots are not DIN rated, so your binding options are limited to A/T only. They may fit in your alpine bindings, but that is definitely NOT recommended.
From a pure touring perspective, these boots are comfortable. The range of motion provided by the ski/tour mode was just enough to take the edge off on the climbs. There are better boots for touring with more range of motion (Garmont Radium), but the Skookums have been quiet performers for over a month now.
If you’re a weight weenie, you may scoff at the weight of the Skookum’s at first blush. But, if you compare them to the venerable Scarpa Spirit 3, they are only 1/2 lb. heavier–not really a big deal in my book. I’d say opting for the Dynafit bindings in place of Fritschis or Naxos is a better way to shave a few pounds. But, if a 1/4 lb. per boot is a big deal to you, then the Spirit 3’s should be money, but you’ll sacrifice sheer stiffness.
I’ve liked the traditional 4-buckles in place of what I affectionately call the “Rollerblade strap” that’s found on many other models in the line. The micro-adjustments are nice to have and I just feel like the fit and performance is more alpine-like with 4 buckles. The burly powerstrap is a bit of a hassle to adjust on-the-fly and it does sometimes get in the way of entry, but it does provide a solid feel that I’ve not had with other AT boots.
I did not use the boots with Dynafit bindings, so I can’t speak to how well they work with that binding platform. I can say that with Fritschi Freeride bindings, everything worked flawlessly. A quick adjustment for toe height and I was golden.
After completing the review and slipping back into my Garmont Endorphins (which I love), I felt a little off balance and missed the overall feel of the Skookums–that says a lot about how well these boots perform.
NOTE: If you’re interested in a more sidecountry boot, the Scarpa Typhoon is the same as the Skookum except it has a walkable DIN sole for use in Alpine or A/T bindings.
- Capable and versatile enough for inbounds or backcountry use
- Smooth flex and confidence-inspiring downhill performance
- Traditional 4-buckle design
- Intuition liner is one of the best on the market
- Flat footboard for instant power transfer
- Dynafit or A/T compatibility in a single boot
- Skywalk sole is grippy and durable
- Reversed lower buckles for sreamlined bushwhacking
- Tour mode could provide a tad more walkability
- Power strap got in the way of entry and was difficult to adjust on-the-fly
The Bottom Line on the Skookum Backcountry Ski Boots
A solid performer for people looking for a burly backcountry boot that will still tour well. At a slight weight disadvantage, the Skookum still shines in its versatility and overall comfort. Walk up, crank ’em down and start making turns with these performance touring ski boots.
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