Scarpa F1 2017 Ski Touring Boot Review
In the 2014-15 ski season Scarpa released the new-look Scarpa F1 EVO touring boot. It was subsequently recalled following issues with its “Tronic” automatic walk to ski mode system and released again for the 2016-7 season with a more conventional walk mode lever as the Scarpa F1.
The F1s intended audience are touring-focused skiers who want light-weight gear coupled with decent downhill performance. It incorporates different technologies such as a hybrid tongue, overlap closure (shades of Maestrale here); cable BOA style closure; and “carbon core construction” (bands of carbon at heel and rear spine of boot) to promote stiffness.
The F1 is is best in classs of touring boots that are light, stiff and tour well . Arguably as stiff as the older mango Maestrale the boot will be almost 350g lighter per foot. At a MSRP of USD 699 the boot is also price towards the lower end of the range. The Scarpa F1 can be found in sizes 24.5 – 31.
I weigh 160 lbs and ski mainly in the Coast and Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia. I’ve had 8 days on the F1 mostly in powder snow touring so my impressions are exceedingly preliminary and tempered by cautious optimism. My skiing is usually in high moisture-content snow. Accordingly, my preference is for bigger skis and relatively stiff boots. I’ve skied Dynafit, Tecnica, Salomon, Scarpa and Arcteryx boots so if you have a question comparing the F1 to other boots, ask in the article comments and I will try to answer.
BOOT CONSTRUCTION AND FEATURES
The Scarpa F1 Evo has the same cabrio construction of the Maestrale and Maestrale RS but with a softer more flexible tongue replacing stiff plastic. The tongue does not have the metal hinger of the Maestrale that were breakage prone. Forefoot boot closures are via BOA type metal laces actuated by a rotating clasp. Ankle/cuff closures are via two pieces of webbing.
Thin plastic is used for boot construction combined with carbon infused – plastic at various key locations. A carbon-fiber piece runs the length of the foot, underfoot, and wraps around the side of the foot up to the ankle hinge point, so that the carbon underfoot connects directly to the upper cuff. According to Scarpa carbon was used in this way (versus in the cuff) so that you get lateral stiffness and transfer of power to the ski edge, but still have the progressive forward flex in the cuff that skiers are looking for.
Cuff and forefoot are in two pieces joined by a impressively beefy looking lean-lock walk mode mechanism; a traditional method of constructing touring boots. The factory set forward lean is an exceptionally forward lean of either 20 or 22 degrees. Forward lean can be changed by swapping the block around but ensure that you reassemble with generous amount of loctite! Another point is to check that the black forward lean bar (see picture below) is so that the top of the tab is under the plastic of the boot. If you reassemble the walk mode and black forward lean bar without inserting the black bar under the boot plastic the black bar will not be supported causing too much force on the bolt holding the bar to the boot and potentially causing it to shear. That was user error on my part and one that was fixed by Scarpa CS coming through with spare parts.
I sought comment on the forward lean and Scarpa has this to say:
I know that it sounds like you and others think there’s too much forward lean in the F1, but know that a considerable amount of effort went into deciding what that number was on the F1 and every other boot SCARPA makes.”
So if you do want the boots to be more upright, AaronT has kindly shown how one can mod the F1 lean lock to a less forward lean by punching out pins and drilling holes – see the album. The size 27 Scarpa F1 tested actual weight was 1232g (manufacturer’s weight 1230g). The included Intuition Liner was 237g.
The Scarpa F1 is a generic neutral shape with a bias towards wider forefoots.There is no arch bump as the boot bottom is flat which means you start from a blank slate. The F1 is a 102 last so fits my flat-footed typical Asian just fine with only a liner cook required to tune for fit. In terms of heel hold, I found the F1 not to be a performance fit but rather more tuned for the average. The heel is anatomical so if it fits right out of the box (as I did) you will find it to cinch tight.. Chicken legs and ankles will probably have to play with Bontex pads to take up space at the instep.
When tightened the Boa laces seem to distribute pressure evenly so there weren’t hot spots. The Scarpa’s forefoot plastic is thin, which can deform if cinched down tight with camming buckles (the plastic gets squashed). Perhaps the Boa and the stiffness of the carbon-infused helps because the F1 did not feel overpowered when skiing.
Of note this can be a cold boot (weight saving thin plastic doesn’t insulate all that well).. Intuition’s custom for Scarpa liner only has approx 4mm of foam on the sole so a lot of heat is leaked through the bottoms of your feet. The stock footbeds included with the boot are the standard generic thin footbeds; I swapped them out for cork footbeds and subsequently didn’t have cold feet.
The Scarpa F1 tours shockingly well. I would have been surprised to report otherwise. There’s very little to dislike about a boot this light, with this good a walk mode (the touring stride is practically friction free). Transitions when using the F1 can be astoundingly fast depending on user setup. I tend to leave my power straps quite loose and it’s no exception with thie F1. Consequently switching from walk to ski entals turning the Boa dial and doing up the mdidle webbing buckle; a two-step quick process..
The F1 is also surprisingly good on the downhill. It’s at least as laterally stiff as the venerable orange/mango Scarpa Maestrale; an attribute which does not show well in showroom carpet testing tending to only be evident when you lay your skis (and boots) down sideways at speed. It does give up a little in terms of fore/aft stiffness so won’t be as stiff as the heavier Maestrale RS (for example) but then all touring boots are about trade-offs.
Speaking of trade-offs there is now a growing category of boots in the approx sub 1250g which purport to tour and ski well. But in the real world something’s gotta give; you can’t be the ultimate downhill and uphill performer while being the lightest. Having said that, in my opinion the F1 strikes the best balance between uphill and downhill performance in this lighter-weight category. To expand, the F1 succeeds the now-recalled Scarpa F1 Evo which skied rather abruptly ie with a hitting-the-brick-wall feeling in in terms of fore/aft stiffness. The F1 feels quite a bit more progressive then the older F1 Evo. I would attribute this fairly progressive feel to factors such as the hybrid cabrio construction, the Boa closure and the use of this wonderfully stiff yet tuneable carbon-infused plastic.
To sum it up, reasonably priced, touring incredibly well, skiing quite well, the Scarpa F1 shows that sometimes one can have their cake and eat it too.