Salomon S/Lab X-Alp 2019 – 2020 Boot | Review

Salomon have combined a lateral mobility with a frictionless walk mode to create this impressive touring boot

*The boot pictured is the softer and heavier S/Lab X-Alp Explore. This review is for the stiffer and lighter Salomon S/Lab X-Alp.

Flex: 100
Last: 98 mm
Cuff Range: 75˚
Forward Lean: 14˚
BSL: 295 mm (27.5)
Binding Compatibility: Tech (pin) bindings only
Weight (per boot): 1150 g
Price: £675


Why we chose the S/Lab X-Alp: Natural cuff range of motion.

The Salomon S/Lab X-Alp is a thing of beauty, a real nice bit o’ kit. As a concept, it was originally produced by Salomon’s sister company Arc’teryx – with the Procline boot. The Salomon S/Lab X-Alp takes technology from the successful Arc’teryx Procline Carbon, a more ski mountaineering focused product, and aligns it with the skiers that are more about the downhill.

See it as a Procline shell, that’s been handed over to the Salomon ‘S/Lab’ design team in Annecy. This design team has then stripped off excess weight while also beefing it up in certain areas. The result is a lightweight yet stiffer sibling to the Procline. If you’re one to get geeky about ski boot tech, read on – this thing’s a beauty.

“The result is a lightweight yet stiffer sibling to the Procline”

3D rotating cuff. What is it exactly? Well, essentially it’s a split carbon cuff that allows 23˚ internal and 12˚ external lateral rotation. To you, I, and the man on the street, this means it’ll be easier to roll your ankle laterally. What this means, in turn, is that you’ll be able to keep the ski flat on the snow as much as possible – more surface area on the snow equals more traction. It’s a subtle benefit that this boot has over boots without lateral mobility, not exactly groundbreaking but it’ll be appreciated over long distances.

The soles of the S-Lab have also received a bit of the Salomon nip/tuck treatment, with an extremely thin amount of rubber now evident on this boot. This, like with so many decisions here, has been done to save weight. If you’re going to be bootpacking through rocky terrain on a frequent, you should be aware that these weight-saving choices means you’re losing a bit of durability. Nothing to worry about too much but it’s worth noting.

How about when you crank this boot down into ski mode? Does that lateral mobility create play whilst rolling skis over on edge? Well, not really… the weight savings have impacted on durability slightly but Salomon have still added some nifty reinforcement to the lower shell exactly where you’d expect to see the typical “bowing” of the unreinforced plastics.

The S/Lab X-Alp certainly holds its own against many of the other boots in this category. With a fairly tough feeling 100 flex, this isn’t going to be half as progressive as say the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 or the Salomon S/Lab MTN.

“This boot has the potential to make your touring even more joyful”

As we’ve sort of touched upon already, the weight saving measures taken by Salomon with the S/Lab X-Alp means there is a minor loss in the boot’s durability department. That being said, the introduction of some cool extra features means it should ski a little better than, for example, the Arc’teryx Procline.

The durability question is going to come up with any sub 1200 gram touring boot out there. It’s all about trade offs. If you’re happy to manage these boots in the right way, and generally take care of them, you’re left with a high performance, lightweight, product that’s able to tour extremely efficiently. This boot has the potential to make your touring even more joyful, and performs really well for its weight and size.

A internal gaiter keeps any of the wet stuff out

Expert’s Verdict

Dave Searle, Chamonix-based UIAGM Mountain Guide

Website: Instagram: @searlerdave

The problem with most ski boots is the lack of flexibility and comfort that they afford when going deep into the back country. When combining climbing and skiing you need ankle flexibility, precision and minimal weight. I choose the S/Lab X-Alp boot for long days going deep into the mountains where I’m spending more time going up than down. The flexibility this boot affords alongside its ability to ski well is impressive.

“This boot is certainly worth a look if you spend more time going up than down whilst on skis. I’ve mixed climbed in these boots and done long link ups skiing steep couloirs and variable snow along the way. This boot might disappoint the diehard freeriders but for those looking to get far away from the lifts this boot is worth your attention”

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