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Arcteryx Procline Carbon Support Boot – Gear Review

Doglotion contributors Lee Lau and Sebastien Johnson put some of Arcteryx’s sexy new ski mountaineering boots through the ringer this winter and here’s what they had to say…

Arcteryx’s Description:

The first ski alpinism boot with revolutionary 360° rotating cuff for unmatched climbing and ski performance. The patent-pending 360° rotating cuff delivers unrivaled vertical and lateral ankle agility while climbing or skinning. On the descent, the cuff’s carbon-fibre charged construction improves stiffness and power transfer without adding weight or sacrificing agility. The thermoformable Procline Support liner combines support with flexibility, and a full-coverage gaiter seals out snow.

Tech Specs

  • Forward Lean: 14°
  • Vertical Rotation: Forward +50° / Backward -25°
  • Lateral Rotation: 23° Internal, 12° External

Materials

  • Gaiter: High density CORDURA® with TPU reinforcements
  • Sole: Vibram® Procline dual compound rubber
  • Shell: Grilamid
  • Spoiler: Grilamid 60% fibreglass
  • Cuff: Carbon fibre with over-injected Grilamid 30% carbon fibre charged
  • Liner: Procline Support thermoformable EVA liner

Test Locations: Duffey Lake Area, Whistler Backcountry, Squamish Area, Rogers Pass, Iceland.

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Introduction

Arcteryx have always been into developing new and unique products that lead the way for others in its class and when it comes to the Procline Boot this is no exception. They have stepped into the Ski Touring/ Mountaineering/ Alpinist market with the goal of developing a versatile boot with “unmatched climbing and ski performance”. Now I have been skiing the Dynafit TLT 6 as my main boot for both big multiday trips to ultra light traverses for the last 3 years with minimal complaints. So how does the Procline compare?

Fit

To start I have always had issues with finding boots to fit my low volume, bulbussy ankle, narrow heel foot to the point where once I find boots that fit I stick with them for a while.

During a talk from one of the designers of the Procline boot he had mentioned that they based a lot of their fit off the TLT 6. Which meant I was in luck. The Procline is definitely on the lower volume side of the boot market and I do agree a very similar fit to the TLT 6. The toe box is little narrower and I did end up punching the outer edge of the boots to make more room for the fore as I had noticed some pressure where my metatarsals and proximal phalange meet. While thermo molding the liner I also added some additional 3mm foam to my anklebone to make a little more room and to my medial cuneiform to reduce the pressure on top of the foot.

The boot has a very snug feel around the heel; this helps to add a huge amount of support and stability. Although, the first few times I went for 3hr+ tours I developed blisters on my inner heels but once I started to pack in the liner this problem disappeared.

The boot definitely seems to be built around a low to normal arch foot, narrow forefoot and narrow heel.

Liner

With a good friend of mine immediately swapping his liners out with some Intuitions I was a little nervous at first. But, after heat molding and spending a few big days out in them I’ve grown to find these liners do the job they were intended for very well.

The liner I skied was named “Support” which when you are in the tour mode is one of the last things you’ll get. But, I found this a positive as it adds to the free range of motion you get and in return adding to its great uphill performance.

The EVA foam Arcteryx has chosen, although on the thinner side has held a heat mold very well with no need to remold or swap out, but I have felt the foam to be quite soft and I do see it packing out faster than other similar boots. I have found that the foam doesn’t add too much warmth and when temperatures start dropping below around -6 my toes do start to succumb to the cold. Weirdly, the ankle and upper area of the boot is very warm. This may be down to the gaiter.

Ski Performance

With many people trying the boot on in their local store and making assumptions on how soft it was I was really looking forward to taking the boot out into the real world and giving it the real test.

To cleanly put it; the boot skis how it was designed. If you are an aggressive skier who likes to pressure the tongue of the boot and regularly over powers their equipment then yes this boot may not be the one. But, if you ski quite balanced, spend a lot of time on the uphill and have spent time in a sub 1400g boot in the past then this boot is great! Throughout the test I spent a lot of time in many different conditions from blower powder to breakable crust, corn snow to resort groomers and for their weight and stiffness they handle very well. I have found the boot to edge well without losing to much power to the lateral flex and even under the rougher variable conditions it’s very predictable.

I should note that the flex is definitely all or nothing. You’re not going to get that nice progressive flex you’ll find in the burlier touring boots. I found them to be very stable and supportive until you take a sudden momentum change and you’re weights shifting forward and then you suddenly blow through the boots flex. I did have this happen a few times but mainly on variable terrain or in low visibility where it’s hard to see the contours of the snow.

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Touring Performance

Hands down the best walk mode on the market (in my experience). I know that is a big statement but even after playing around in some of the lighter randonee boots such as the Scarpa Alien or the competing boots in the weight class i.e. TLT 6, La Sportiva Spectre or the Atomic Backland Carbon none of them come close. You may be able to find some boots with a larger degree of flex but how much of that flex is usable and unrestricted? The flex on the Procline seems to have very little resistance. One of the main attributes to a great walking boot. Not only that but during transitions I find myself well ahead of the pack as I only have to flick the walk mode lever and not adjust/ loosen off any of the buckles. The boot is comfy enough on the up without the need for adjustment.

The one fault I do have with the boot is in the way the walk mode is actuated and how this pertains to touring, boot packing and hiking. If you want to use the incredible fore and aft flex that the boot provides then you obviously have to disengage ski mode. And if you don’t want to get snow inside your pant leg or in the liner of the boot then you have to pull down your gaiter/ pant leg. But, due to the way the spine disengages from the cuff when in walk mode you’re unable to pull your gaiter down and even if you do get your pant cuff down within a few steps it’ll work its way back up again. Therefore I have had to resort to touring with my pant and gaiter around the top of the boot and boot packing up couloirs with the boot in ski mode. The only way I can see getting around this issue is going with a larger circumference pant. My Arcteryx Theta SV pants are a little too tight.

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Climbing Performance

I have to mention I haven’t spent too much time climbing in these boots but what I can say is the fore/aft and lateral flex does make a big difference in comparison to other hard shelled boots.

I noticed where the boot really excelled was when I was side stepping into awkward stretched out positions. It allowed me to reach and extend my foot a lot easier and found I could reach further due to the give in the cuff. Accurately placing my feet onto smaller features with precision was also much easier as the free unrestricted range of motion allowed me to mike minor tweaks to my movements effortlessly.

Adding to that, with the easy to access walk mode lever I could also quickly switch in and out of ski mode without the need to undo or redo the buckles and power strap if I did want a stiffer platform to stand on.

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Binding Compatibility

I have personally used the boot in both the G3 ION 12 and Dynafit Speed Superlight 2.0 with no issues what so ever. The tech inserts aren’t too hard to locate even when the toe of the boot is covered in snow. I should note that the Procline is designed for both tech toe and heel bindings and will not work with the Marker Kingpin, Dynafit Beast or similar style bindings with alpine heels or additional add-ons. This is down to the reduced heel welt/lug size.

Initially when finding out I was going to be using the new Procline boot I quickly checked the BSL (Boot Sole Length) to see if they would fit into my non-adjustable Speed Superlight 2.0 bindings as these were mounted for my 293mm BSL TLT 6 boots. I was a little disappointed to find out the 27.0 Procline runs a 295mm BSL so it would be too big for my binding. But, after trying the boot out in the binding it actually has around 0.5mm more clearance than the TLT 6, which I found odd. I am guessing the toe inserts are set further back than the TLT 6.

It would be nice to see some form of mark on the toe welt to increase ease of step in.

Durability

After around 45+ days of touring in many different conditions the boots did start to show signs of wear.

The first thing I noticed was due to the looser fit of the gaiter around the liners I found this excess material bunches where the gaiter is welded to the boot shell and this causes rubbing of the material against the boot cuff when in walk mode. This how now managed to wear through the gaiter material and this allows water seepage into the boot.

Secondly, where the cuff of the boot is riveted to the shell (canting rivet), play has started to appear. This gives the boot a knocking feel/sound when you flex laterally in ski mode.

Thirdly, the pressfit pin which holds the spine of the boot and the lower shell together fell out after 15 days of touring. I pressed it back in using a hammer and around a week later it fell out again. I resorted to applying epoxy glue and a little piece of plastic to prevent the pin from coming out again as this releases the boot so that you would be stuck in walk mode.  As a fix the pin may need a tighter enclosure to slide/press into. Thus prevent it working itself loose.

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Finally, the most glaring issue is that while skiing a couloir in Iceland I went to jump turn and blew apart where the spine attaches to the lower shell (over the Achilles). Luckily I was able to perform a quick fix with a lighter and a curtain rail fitting which managed to last the remainder of the trip but I feel this area will definitely need reinforcement.

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Similar to other competitors in the market it would be nice to see more accessibility to parts, user maintenance and repair. As this boot is designed around covering ground and moving fast you don’t want to find yourself stranded with no ability to fix or repair the boot.

Overall

With Arcteryx stepping into the touring boot market I really do believe they have hit the nail on the head when it comes to weight vs ski performance.

When it comes to durability there is definitely room for improvement. A little more reinforcement in areas and more accessibility to field repairs would make a world of difference.

Overall they have managed to design a boot that really exceeds any comparable boots in terms of an unrestricted walk mode and have delivered great ski quality for the type of user the boot is designed for. It is a boot that feels just as comfortable scaling ridgelines with crampons on as it does descending steep technical couloirs. Although, if you are an aggressive skier or spend the occasional day in the resort then you may want to look at a more aggressive/ stiffer boot such as the Dynafit Vulcan, Mercury or the Scarpa Maestrale.

About the author

Born in the U.K. and raised in New Zealan, Sebastian is now living in Whistler, BC where for the last 6 years he has been getting out ski touring, mountaineering and climbing throughout BC and the Yukon. Seb has primarily a touring focused background and has never spent much time in the resorts or on alpine skis. Most of his previous background revolves around light to mid-weight touring set ups designed for efficient backcountry travel.

Guest Comments by Lee Lau

At just 160 pounds I am not a big guy but do ski 100+ per season, mostly in the backcountry. I’ve had 25+ days on all of this equipment with almost all of the days spent in either Whistler backcountry, the Duffey and the BC Interior with some inbound resorts soft-skiing day. My skiing is usually in high moisture-content snow. Accordingly, my preference is for bigger skis and relatively stiff boots.

I approach boots more from a skier’s perspective as opposed to a climber’s perspective and coincidentally have the same foot size and shape as Seb so took a few days (six to be precise) in the Procline.

At the outset I asked for a punch at the 6th toe as the boot was narrow’ish at forefoot.  The Procline holds a punch so that bodes well for customized boot fitting tweaks.   I did find it hard to get a feel for clamping force in the forefoot even though the bootshell was appropriately sized for my feet, something which I attribute to the placement of the forefoot buckle at the top of the forefoot.  Simply put the forefoot buckle seemed to apply uneven clamping force so that tension felt unevenly applied throughout forefoot; something which couldn’t be solved even by experimenting with buckle placement and various bontex shims.

I was not amused by the Arc’teryx stock liner and developed blisters after a day in them.   After toughing it out in minus 10 to 15 degrees C touring over two days (ie this isn’t actually that cold) my feet also got pretty cold as well as blistered.  I had to come to the conclusion that the Procline liners are like the majority of touring boot liners that aren’t Intuition and binned them for Intuition ProTour liners.  I stuck a set of low volume ProTour’s in the boots and was instantly warmer and happier.

Touring performance of the Procline is insanely good as one would expect from a boot billed as such.   Flick that walk mode switch and the forefoot buckle and you feel like you’re in bedroom slippers while attached to skis with commensurate freedom of movement.  I do have minor quibbles in that the scallop of the lower boot once disengaged from the main bootshell by flipping the walk mode is perfectly positioned to collect snow.  Collect enough snow in that scallop and you’ll have to whack and clean snow out of your walk mode to then engage in ski mode.  Granted, this only is an issue in deep powder conditions but that is the first world problem we had to deal with this year in the Whistler area.

In terms of skiing performance I would have to say that the Procline lived up to its billing.  It was reasonably stiff fore-aft for a boot of its caliber and intended design.  It was very stiff laterally (something which cannot be divined in showroom carpet testing) which made it a solid boot for the more modern upright ski style where one doesn’t pressure ski tips.  Where I was somewhat underwhelmed was in the quality of the Procline’s flex.  Simply put there is very little progression to the Procline with its flex being very on-off even compared to other boots in its weight class.  Hit bumps or inconsistent snow and you’ll be up against the wall in the Arc’teryx boot.  Govern your speed and take care of your knees accordingly.  In soft powder snow the Procline will do fine.  In more challenging conditions expect your legs to take all the workout as you won’t get much help out of your boots.

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