One of the problems with touring boots is they just do not have the stiffness needed to drive big mountain skis. The solution for freeriders and extreme skiers has been to use alpine boots but these are uncomfortable and heavy for climbing. Over the last couple of years ski touring boot makers have been eyeing this increasingly dynamic sector of the market as off-piste skiers increasingly climb to find fresh tracks.
Garmont Endorphin Mg and Xena
The Italian firms Scarpa and Garmont currently lead the way with their four buckle Megaride, Tornado and Adrenalin boots. The latter two are really cross-over boots available with alpine soles that work properly in standard ski bindings.
Next season Garmont increases its presence at this end of the market with the Endorphin Mg and Xena boots. The boys over on the Fritschi stand were raving about the Endorphin and saw it as the ideal boot for their binding range. As it is not fitted with adapters for Dynafit bindings we can see their logic. The Endorphin is supplied with G-fit 3 and Pad-Lock linings with separate liners to fit the morphology of women’s and men’s feet.
The G-fit 3 liner improves on the original G-fit liner by using a stronger outer material, often a weak point on thermo boots and it comes with a lacing system said to improve comfort and response. However the liner is not suitable for use as a refuge boot. The Pad lock liner is non thermoformable, it has a sole suitable for hut wear and is what you will get on rental boots.
So what of the Endorphin? It is similar to the Adrenalin. It comes with four Magnesium buckles arranged as inverted pairs so they don’t interfere with each other if released for walking. The top buckles have an additional hook that secures the buckle for relaxed walking and can be adjusted up to 18mm for a variety of calve widths. All the buckles can be field replaced with a screwdriver.
What we really liked were the ice-breaker pins on the lower pair of buckles. Icing is a real problem when touring and the pins can break through the toughest ice without reverting to knifes, screw drivers and much cursing.
Ice breaker pins
We are slightly dubious about multi-position ski-walk levers. Scarpa dropped this from the Matrix after the first production run showed it to be hard to use and failure prone. The Endorphin locks the boot cuff into one of two walking positions, 20° or 25° as well as a walk position where the cuff is free to move both forwards and backwards.
The boots use the Broadband 2 tongue developed on the Adrenalin. This double injected tongue has firmer plastic under the buckles to distribute pressure and it is higher and stiffer on the inside of the boot for ski edging performance with fat skis.
The soles continue the Adrenalins interchangeable design with a plastic Din Iso compatible sole for alpine bindings and a new Uni sole for ski touring use. The Uni sole shows current thinking in randonnée soles and a possible future Din standard. The sole has the usual grips but has two red “sliding” areas at the toe and along the middle of the foot to aid with binding release.
Endorphin Mg sole with sliding areas
More information on the Garmont Endorphin Mg
The Xena shell and cuff are very similar to the Endorphin but it uses elements from the Garmont Adrenalin ski boot such as the buckles, sole and ski/walk level. Presumably these are cheaper. It is built for the different morphology and sizing of women’s feet. The name is obviously meant to invoke “warrior princesses” battling through acres of steep and deep although hopefully clad in more than a leather leotard.
The main difference between the Endorphin and Xena is a saving of 200g per pair in size 24.5 and no ice-breaker buckles. The boot is available with both the G-fit 3 and Pad-Lock inner boots. It has a selectable forward lean of 20° and 25° and a walk mode and comes with 4 buckles plus power strap. Like the Adrenalin there are no Dynafit inserts. It should certainly interest female freeskiers who want to rip it up with the boys on bigger more powerful skis.
More information on the Garmont Xena