The SCARPA Alien Boots employ some radical technology to obtain a race weight at a reasonable price. With walkability similar to hiking boots and skiability similar to heavier kit, the Aliens are quickly becoming a go-to boot for skimo racers and light and fast tourers.
SCARPA designed these with a more comfortable last than other lightweight boots, and used a BOA closure system instead of a buckle in the forefoot. This allows you to get a precise fit over your instep without consulting a boot doctor with a heat gun. The laced upper buckle system is integrated into the walk/ski mode switch so you can transition between uphill and downhill modes in one simple step. Once pointed downhill, the Alien Propulsion Tech frame provides a sturdy platform for driving skis harder than you would think for a 2 pound boot.
Flexible waterproof sheathing around the ankle helps keep snow off the liner.
A single-throw buckle so you can switch quickly between walk and ski modes.
Adjustable forward lean allows you to choose your stance at either 9 or 13 degrees.
Full 60 degree range of motion in walk mode lets you actually run uphill (or down if the need arises).
Moldable Intuition liners (166g/5.9oz) wrap securely around your foot with a BOA closure system.
Vibram "UFO" soles are the perfect ride for Aliens, providing 360 degrees of durable traction on sketchy terrain.
I guess I'll throw in my 2 cents even though this review will be moot after the new Aliens hit stores next season.
My Aliens have seen near-daily use for 1.5 seasons and for the most part are still going strong. However, I ended up making a couple modification before I felt truly pleased with their performance.
Most notably, I cut out the "baffle" to improve touring performance. Honestly the baffle is such a terrible solution to the problem of snow getting in your boots. I found it hindered my cuff articulation and reduced the enjoyment of skinning. IMO Scarpa should just include a free pair of their gaiters with purchase of the boots.
Do yourself another favor and ditch the power strap--another terrible design.
I concur with previous reviewers pointing out the latch cord as a weak point in the boot's design. I've broken countless cords and sadly have yet to find a cord that lasts longer than 2 weeks or so. Be prepared and carry a couple extra cords.
I've worn holes in the heels of 2 pairs of liners. This wouldn't hurt so much if they didn't cost over a quarter of the price of the boots.
All this being said, I've been immensely pleased with their ability to tour AND ski. These are the only boots I own, so I ski them with race skis as well as touring skis (Dynafit Cho Oyu) and powder planks (La Sportiva Vapor Floats). Aliens x Cho Oyu has been a great combo. On the Vapor Floats they are admittedly a bit under-powered, but if you latch and cinch the boa tight, you can dance down the pow just fine.
I am wondering if there are any crampons capable of climbing WI2-easy WI4 for use in alpine climbing situations with the Scarpa Aliens? I have a pair of Cassin Blade Runner crampons that I use with mountain boots and I love 'em but they don't cinch tight on the Aliens. Intended usage would be east coast Mt. Washington/Katahdin gully climbing and skiing off. Potentially also some ski routes on Rainier and such.
Hi Derek, the cuff nuts, washers and screws are available in our listing for boot parts. The parts are different for the 1.0 version versus the standard Alien, so note that each are listed separately in the drop list.
I'd like to add two things to the above positive reviews, all of which I agree with.
Durability. The cuff pivot on the Alien is user maintainable. This is a big improvement over boots with just a rivet in this location which just loosens over time introducing slop into your downhill mode. With access to the right equipment you can repress this rivet but that is a huge inconvenience compared to just using a few tools you already have on hand. Other important moving parts on the Alien are also field maintainable like the lock lever pivot. This is all really good stuff. The one durability question mark in my mind is the cord that is part of the cuff locking mechanism. I think carrying a spare is prudent but should say that mine has not broken and I see lots of racers with this boot and have not seen one sidelined by cord snappage. Probably an infrequent problem but one to be prepared for!
Powder protection. My boots are the older model but I have seen the new version has full liner coverage which is pretty unique for a race boot. This makes it a great bet for all day use in fresh powder which can really pack in to more open boot shells like the PDG. Having only seen these I dont know if the extra coverage negatively impacts walk mode. Hopefully someone else can comment on that.
Spot on about the cord locking mechanism being a weak link. I've personally sheared both of mine while post holing through mank and into talus. (Voile straps to the rescue!) Carrying backup cord, as well as voile straps for both boots is highly recommended if you are mountaineering with Aliens.
As for the full liner coverage, it is actually an overlap that does not impede the walk mode. At least that I know of, as I've not owned the prior Alien w/o such liner. But I can't imagine it being too much different.
I am looking to buy a pair of Aliens. I have tried on the Alien in Mondo 28 and it is about 3-4mm too short at the front – ie all 5 toes are touching the front of the liner and shell – a little too close for comfort. I have also tried on the Alien in 29 and it just feels a little bit too big. Essentially I am a 28.5 in the Alien which does not exist. Do you have any suggestions? Can I heat mould the 28 to make it bigger by 4mm, or should I put a thick insole in the 29 and wear a thicker sock. Or should I try a different boot altogether?
Hi Joss, in general it's better to start small as a boot can be made bigger, but not smaller. It sounds like something a heat mold would fix. We're happy to walk you through a shell fit after you receive the boots, just give us a call.
I've had the same problem with the Alien 1.0 and also the RC1. (Note that half sizes are a fiction in all alpine boots, whether touring or downhill - Scarpa gets credit for being honest on this with the Alien line.) But with a dremmel and some courage, you can shave down the foam in the toe box. Even with these thin liners, the toe box still has foam that is serving no purpose for fit. (Well, okay, it might be adding to warmth, so don't try this for a Denali expedition!)
I got a pair of these to replace/upgrade from F1s. I have put circa 50 miles on these so far and can't get over how great they feel. The really do feel like running shoes. I also find they ski downhill surprisingly well. My only complaint is the power strap. When I am in uphill mode, the power strap slides up and over the cuff and rubs my shin. This is extremely annoying. Has anyone else had this problem? How do you prevent it, besides not having any tension on the power strap?
Considering putting together a really light setup for both winter touring and spring ski mountaineering on PNW volcanoes. Focusing on the Alien due to to the vibram sole and a poor experience with the durability of Dynafits. How does this boot pair with (relatively speaking) moderately-wide skis like the Cho Oyu or Response-X? If you typically ski something in the 180 range should you shorten up a length if using the Alien? Any thoughts on an appropriate ski combo and what one might experience from a boot like this is much appreciated. 175lbs, 5' 11', not an overly aggressive skier.
Hi SlabbyD, good questions. The answers are subjective of course, and it depends on whether you tend to use ski boots as a crutch and how much you drive a ski into turns. Your size and target skis are approaching, right near, or over the limit for these boots, depending on your style. The 1.0 version of the Alien can handle this with carbon reinforcements in the lower shell, but this one has a bit more flex. Shortening the ski can help in some circumstances. I am close in size and use both race boots and TLTs on a Response-X 177 in different situations, the latter in tougher conditions.