For some, speed on the mountain is an aim, for some it comes naturally, but occasionally – when the weather’s closing in for example – it is a necessity. Whether or not you are aiming to break records or just have a gentle trot up the hill, there are always moments when you need to get a move on. ‘Fast and light’ isn’t just a buzzword for this seasons’ outdoor gear, it should be a mantra. It’s safer for a start.
When Salomon released the ‘speed orientated’ S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX it could have been another marketing ploy, but even on first glance it was clear that something very different was going on here. These mountaineering boots are different from pretty much anything else we’ve seen.
Páramo claim that traditional membranes which use body heat to evaporate any excess water cool us down too quickly. Their point is that breathability is not enough, you actively need to move the water away to regulate your temperature. The Directional system moves liquid water (sweat) away from us as quickly as possible, while keeping all the insulating properties. The idea is that it mimics the action of animal fur, pushing water outwards while protecting insulation. And it works particularly well in cold conditions, where you’ll be doing intensive exercise for shorter periods and then, potentially remaining still – for example ice climbing or winter mountaineering.
“The boots are exceedingly light at around a kilogram a pair, despite protective caps on the toe and heel.”
The most noticeable difference is the ankle-high integrated gaiter, a piece of technology that has carried across to their mountain running range, as in the S-Lab XA Alpine, also included in the Outdoor 100. The gaiter of course stops a buildup of snow on the boot ensuring your feet aren’t going to get wet. A lycra collar ensures a tight fit, and the Gore-Tex membrane means you’re feet will help move sweat away from your feet as well as keep moisture out.