Brought to you by SCARPA Backcountry Week
Backcountry skiing continues to become more and more popular; it seems like every ski boot brand in the industry now has a touring boot. With the sheer amount of boots available to choose from, it can seem like a daunting task to select the right one. Touring boots are optimized for different things; some are ultralight and flimsy, meant for long days where performance isn’t a huge issue; and others are ultra beefy, essentially inbounds boots that have been modified to perform like a touring boot.
With this variety of boots, it can be hard to find the “right” touring boot. The right boot can be different for everyone; however, in my 5 years of skiing on a variety of touring boots, I think the 2020 Scarpa Maestrale XT rounds out the bunch as the best all-around touring boot that I’ve skied on. In this review, I’ll delve into the boots’ technical details, what I like, and what I don’t.
- Name: Clay Malott
- Days skied on the 2020 Scarpa Maestrale XT: 17
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 160lbs
- Skiing Level: Expert
- Skis/bindings used: DPS Pagoda 100, G3 Zed 12
What I like:
One of the first things that jumped out to me about the Maestrale XT was the fit. I have a long, narrow foot, and unlike many other boots that I’ve tried, the Maestrale XT did not feel too wide on my foot. It was the perfect shape to really lock my foot down in the boot even on the uphill, so I had no real issues with blisters from heel lift.
Another thing about the boot that I love is the buckle system. Before the Maestrale XT, I owned the regular 2019 Maestrale boot. It was a great boot. However, one of my main complaints was the buckle system. It only had one buckle and a power strap across the boot’s cuff, and I never felt like I really had the rigidity in the boot that I needed to really push the boot and charge hard. However, the Maestrale XT completely reimagined the design, adding a second buckle to the cuff. This really made the boot feel like the 130 flex rating advertised as, and it made the boot feel extremely sturdy.
On the 2019 Maestrale, one of my primary frustrations with the boot was the walk/ski mechanism. It was located as a lever outside of the boot, meaning it got jammed by snow and ice all the time. I even made a contraption that was essentially a nail with a handle that I would use to pry the ice out of the mechanism, which was incredibly annoying. Fortunately, the 2020 Maestrale XT completely changed that design and made the mechanism internal, meaning it was no longer subject to jamming. I have not yet experienced problems with the mechanism.
The downhill performance of the boot was flawless. The boot made maneuvering the skis comfortable while still maintaining a performance fit. In the 13 days that I have tested the boot so far, I have skied everything from November powder to September ice and everything in between. It handled everything I threw at it with grace and truly skied like a downhill boot.
What I don’t like:
My chief complaint is the liner thickness in the cuff. I am particularly tall and lanky, and my calves are not thick enough to fill the liner. This leads to some extra room in the boot, which makes the boot feel slightly less solid. However, I solved this issue pretty easily using SkiShin poron inserts, which helped fill space in the boot without making it uncomfortable.
Another complaint I had was the weight. The Maestrale XT weighs 1260g at the 27.0 length, which is on the heavier end for a touring boot. However, every boot has to compromise somewhere, and considering the boot’s elite downhill performance, the weight is not a huge deal to me. The DPS Pagoda and G3 Zed are also very light, so I can save some weight there to make up for the Maestrale XT’s weight.
So far, overall, I really like the Maestrale XT. I would recommend this boot for someone who is looking for a nearly strictly touring-oriented boot but prioritizes downhill performance. This boot has handled everything I’ve thrown at it, and I will definitely continue to use this boot as my all-around touring charger boot in the future.