The growing popularity of the ski touring category has probably been one of the biggest trends in the ski industry during the past few years. In the past ski touring products were strongly divided between the side country market, with beefy skis, stiff boots and frame bindings, and the pure ski touring market, dominated by dynafit tech bindings, light weight boots and skis.

Recently however, these two sub categories have been getting closer to each other, and manufacturers have started to offer more products that not only tour well, but also perform on the way down. Athletes like Eric Hjorleifson, who are known for their ripping skiing,  and who also spend a lot of time in the backcountry, have been forerunners of this trend – pushing manufacturers to produce  better performing products. 

“There are good skis in every brand, but a good boot is key.” Jérémie Heitz

 

 

Enter Lange´s new XT Freetour 130 LV – the company´s answer to the recent trend. According to Lange´s description “the new XT 130 Freetour delivers all the skiability of piste boots combined with the easy walking of ski-touring boots.” 

 

Lange XT Freetour 130 LV

Specs

 Weight: 1790 grams per boot.

The boot comes in 130, 110 and women´s 110 flex versions.

Lasts: 97 (LV) and 100 mm.

Shell: The lower shell is made of Grilamid and upper cuff of Polyolefine.

Liner: Made of heat moldable Ultralon.

Soles: WTR (Walk To Ride), ultra grip soles,

Over-injected certified Dynafit inserts.

Range of motion in walk mode: 40 degrees.

 

About the boot

While Lange has a reputation for building heavy-charging race and free ride boots, the XT Freetour is their first boot with Dynafit inserts. The XT line that preceded the Freetour was already utilising a built in walk mode. On paper the XT Freetour 130 seems to be a great contender for the do-it-all free ride boot: it´s stiff and light, and the range of motion in the hike mode is good for an overlap boot. Add the Dynafit inserts, and you have a boot you could use both for ripping the moguls in the resort and skinning up the back country on your touring skis with Dynafit bindings.

The only thing limiting the boot´s overall compatibility is that it comes with WTR soles, so you need to check that the bindings in your resort skis are WTR compatible. (Bindings like Marker Duke and Jester, Look Pivot Dual WTR and Salomon Warden MNC work for example.)

Some competitors for the Lange XT Freetour 130 would be K2´s Pinnacle 130, Technica Cochise Pro 130 and Salomon´s MTN Lab.

 

Fit

 My test boot is the 97 mm LV (low volume) version of the boot in size 26,5, skiers with wider feet might want to opt the wider 100 mm last. I have skinny ankles with not much curve above the heel so heel retention is often an issue for me with ski boots. I found the heel retention with the stock liner to be good, but not super tight in XT Freetour 130 LV. (The heel retention got better after I switched the original insoles for Superfeet´s insoles.)

While my feet are also wide just below the smallest toe, the boots also underwent a stretching procedure by a local boot fitter. Lange states that the mono-injected Grilamid material is especially good for boot fitting, so opting a low volume 97 mm last and then having it fitted to your feet is also a valid choice.

The Ultralon liner is said to have the same foam in them that Intuition uses in their liners. (When comparing the liner with an Intuition liner that I took from a pair of Dalbello Viruses, it´s clear that they feel different – the Intuition liners feel firmer.) However, I found that the stock liner gives you a pretty good balance between being comfortable and delivering performance – the tongue is solid and doesn´t give in when being applied with pressure.

 

 

The performance

My initial impression on the downhill performance of the Lange XT Freetour 130 (after spending a couple of days on the hill) was very positive. From the first few turns it was easy to notice that the boot was built by a company with a strong racing background: it felt stiff, the flex was predictable and the energy was being transmitted almost instantaneously to the skis. In short: the boot performed like a proper, stiff free ride boot should.

My view on the downhill performance of the boot didn´t change after spending a full week of skiing in them at the Pyhä Ski Resort in Lapland during the New Year. The snow conditions were´t optimal and I got to put the boots to test by skiing on rock hard corduroy and moguls on the pistes, crud and mixed, variable snow on off-piste. Performance-wise the boot delivered the same stiffness, quick energy-transmission and predictable flex that was noticeable already during my initial test days on the hill. I really could´t find anything noticeable to criticise on the downhill performance.

In my opinion the XT Freetour 130 is a considerable step up from the K2 Pinnacle, a boot that I have quite a bit of skiing experience from. While the K2 Pinnacle is a good all-around boot with Dynafit inserts, adequate stiffness and good range of motion in the touring mode, the flex is a bit unpredictable. When I skied the Lange XT Freetour 130 one day, followed by a day of resort skinning on the K2 Pinnacle 110, the difference of the performance seemed huge. After skiing on the XT Freetour with it´s aggressive stance and predictable flex, which boosted your confidence to really attack the terrain, the Pinnacle in comparison felt a little bit lacking performance-wise.

 

 

Testing the touring mode in  – 30 degrees centigrade in Lapland.

 

 Touring mode

The touring/walk mode is switched on by pulling the strap on the back of the boot. To activate it fully though, you then need to lean forward and preferably un-buckle the top buckles of the boot. To put them back on ski mode you pull the strap down, buckle up and lean forward.

I found that if you unbuckle the two upper buckles of the boot, pull the strap on the back of the boot into hike mode and lean forward the boot would enter the hike mode on the first try, nearly every single time. The same applied when switching the boot back into the ski mode, if I just repeated the steps mentioned above in reverse order.

When doing quick laps, I used the metal hooks found in the the beginning of the teeth used for closing of the two upper buckles, for both up and downhill. This way I could basically switch the mode either way  in a few seconds – very effortless. The fit of the boot was so good, that unless the terrain was very challenging, closing the two upper buckles tighter was not necessary.

On one occasion, though, I noticed at the crux of my off-piste route that the left boot was in fact on walk mode – not a very nice feeling. Still it was my own mistake; I had not checked it by leaning back and seeing whether the boots give in or not. So it is a good idea to check that your boots are in ski-mode before starting the descent.

The 40 degrees of range of motion felt more than adequate for the side country tours that I did during my test week. I was on Marker Dukes, which is not the lightest option. (The test skis with Marker Kingpin bindings never arrived). Still, I had no issues regarding the weight of the combination or the range of motion of the boot; I could just concentrate on the skinning up and enjoying the nature. One thing that I noticed, however, is that the majority of the flex comes when you lean back – there is not  that much forward motion in the touring mode. While I didn´t find that restricting going uphill, it could be, depending on your style, an issue if you plan on touring a lot on terrain with long approaches / long flat sections.

I think that equipped with some light skis and Dynafit tech bindings, you could also make longer tours on the Lange XT Freetour 130.  Having said that, this is probably not the ideal boot for expedition touring use with several consecutive days of long touring, especially if you are camping out. After doing laps on the slopes in – 15 to -20 degrees centigrade, I found it not so easy to take off the boots in a slope side café. So I think that if you plan on doing some touring on your winter camping trip, getting the boot on and off could be an issue.

Feeling blue.

Cold performance

I tested the boots in very cold conditions in Lapland and found that the stock liner did reasonably well. (I did switch the original insoles to Superfeet´s Merinowool insoles.)

When skiing inbounds in – 15 to – 20 degrees centigrade conditions I had to have small breaks every now and then to warm up the toes, but I believe that this is the case with 99% of the boots without a heater in these conditions . I also did a couple of hours ski tour in -30 degrees centigrade, after which the front part of my right foot was a bit numb; I had to rub it for a while in order to get the feeling back. Still, I had no problems while on the tour and I think that the conditions were already a bit extreme for a boot that was not originally built for expedition type of use.

 

Conclusions 

 The Lange XT Freetour 130 LV is a relatively low weight boot with certified dynafits insert and grippy Walk To Ride soles. I found that the boot delivers the classic aggressive Lange performance, giving you confidence to attack the terrain.

In my opinion the Freetour 130 tours well for side country use and equipped with some light skis and dynafit tech bindings could easily handle longer tours as well. (Of course there are boots that are lighter and have a larger range of motion. Not many of them will ski nearly as well as the Lange XT Freetour 130 though.)

The Freetour 130 is not an ideal choice for winter camping, as getting the boot on and off in cold conditions might not be easy. So if you plan to do consecutive days of touring you should opt for an accommodation where you can keep the boots warm. The stock liner handles cold considerably well, but if you live in an area where cold temperatures are the norm, you might want to invest in an Intuition or similar thermo liner.

 All and all the Freetour 130 is a good choice for those skiers who appreciate the aggressiveness of a traditional stiff overlap boot, but still want a reasonably light weight, dynafit-compatible boot that can tour as well. (It will not be easy to find another tech-compatible boot that skis this well.)

The only downside is that the XT Freetour 130 comes equipped only with WTR soles, meaning that if you have non-WTR-compatible bindings in your resort skis, you´ll need to get some new bindings

 Note: This review has been updated after my test week, on the 17. of January. On the 4. of February I made an update concerning my view on  switching the boot between hike and ski modes, after having done more touring laps with the boot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 replies added

  1. Michal February 18, 2017 Reply

    Hi, thank you for review. Can I ask you what is your regular size of shoes? Thanks.

    • Jaakko Järvensivu
      Jaakko Järvensivu February 18, 2017 Reply

      Hi Michal,

      Normally my shoe size is 43 or US 10 and UK 9, but can be also 44 – US 11 and UK 10 in some shoes.
      I think since shoe sizes can vary between different brands, it´s more important to focus on the centimetre (cm) size – with ski boots mine is 26,5 cm. So the Mondopoint size (a universal size system created by the ski boot manufacturers) of my ski boots is 26,5 – regardless of the brand or model. In order to buy the right size ski boots, I think it´s always a good idea to stop looking at the regular shoe sizes and find out your Mondopoint size.

      You can do this either at a ski shop or by having someone draw the outline of your feet without socks on paper and then measuring the distance between the longest points of your foot in the drawing, usually from the big toe to the heel. With me that´ s 26,5 centimetres, so I usually always buy boots in Mondopoint size 26,5 and I know it will be the right size. In my experience if you buy ski boots using your regular shoe size as reference, there is a serious risk that you end up getting boots that are just too big for you.

  2. Bryn Cunningham March 15, 2017 Reply

    Nice review. Regarding ski boot sizing, I’ve come to find that boot sole length (BSL) is a more reliable number, even better than mondo point. Armed with a good idea of what BSL works for your foot, you can go to http://www.evo.com/ski-boot-sole-length-bsl-size-chart.aspx, find the boot that you’re interested in, and cross-reference the BSL and mondo point sizing for that particular brand. Hope this helps!

    • Jaakko Järvensivu
      Jaakko Järvensivu March 21, 2017 Reply

      Hi Bryn,

      Thanks for your comment and sorry for the late reply, been a bit busy..

      Regarding your suggestion that boot sole length (BSL) would be a more reliable way of pin-pointing the right size for your ski boot: I am not so convinced about it.

      While Mondopoint indicates the exact length of your naked foot in centimetres, the BSL indicates the exact length of a ski boot in centimetres. Since you have feet instead of ski boots as natural extensions to your body, I think it makes more sense to follow the Mondopoint size.

      If you would follow the BSL for the reference point and you would for example look for a boot with 305 mm BSL, using the chart you provided, with Atomic Burner a 305 mm boot would be Mondopoint 26/26.5. Whereas for example in the Atomic Backland the closest BSL would be a 308 mm boot, which would be Mondopoint 28/28.5 cm. That boot would be two centimetres bigger!

      Arc´Teryx Procline´ s BSL is 285, Atomic Hawks Ultra´s BSL is 300 and Atomic LF120´s BSL is 309 mm – all in Mondpoint 26/26.5.

      Since the BSL varies so much in the same Mondpoint size, I think it is way more useful to follow the Mondopoint size, which indicates the real length of your foot – not the length of the plastic molded around it.

      • Bryn Cunningham March 22, 2017 Reply

        Hi Jaakko,

        Your reply has managed to prove my point exactly, and is a fine demonstration of the fallacy of mondo point objectivity. I’ll use myself as an example: I get a pretty reasonable shell fit in a dalbello sherpa 26.5/27 mp, 307 bsl. With liner out and toes to the front, I can get my index finger (plus a smidge more) between my heel and the shell. Same goes for a Scarpa 26.5 (306 bsl). So far, so good right? When I try the same exercise with an Arc’Teryx Procline 26.5 (285 bsl), I can barely squeeze my foot into the liner-less shell! This is an isolated example, but one that has been vetted time and again in my years fitting ski boots to myself, and others. At the end of the day, I think you’re placing too much faith in the perfect alignment of mondo point sizing with boot shell reality from brand to brand.
        No need to get into the additional considerations of last width, overall volume, and the myriad other potential areas of concern one must think about when purchasing a pair of ski boots!
        Anyway, cheers on a great site, and may many happy turns grace your future! Bryn

        • Jaakko Järvensivu
          Jaakko Järvensivu March 22, 2017 Reply

          Hi Bryn,

          Thanks for your reply.

          While I think that in most cases the Mondopoint size gives a pretty accurate referral where to start your boot-trying process, I agree that there is a point in checking out the shell size as well. So if you have doubts about a certain size, it might be a good idea to take the liner out and see how much extra space there is between your foot and and the shell.

          Ideally the Mondopoint would indicate you the right size boot, regardless of the brand or model. For me it has worked out for years basically without problems. (Of course this has included work by a professional boot fitter, usually due last width problems – I have a narrow ankle with wide duck-like feet).

          In my time, before I started using the Mondopoint as a referral when buying boots, I have made some terrible mistakes by relying on the regular shoe size (43/44) and ended up getting boots that were waaayy too big. Had to sell those boots pretty quickly.. I think my Mondopoint size 26.5 is 41 in regular size, so the shoes that I use are approx. 2 cm longer than my ski boots. To wear size 41 shoes would be pure torture and to ski in size 43/44 boots would mean that my feet turn inside the boots before the boots actually turn the skis.

          One problem with the Boot Sole Length in my opinion is that it indicates (as far as I´ve understood) the length of the boots sole, including the heel and toe piece. http://www.skiessentials.com/boot-sole-length
          Somehow I think that it might be more useful if it excluded the heel and toe pieces, then it would follow the shape of your foot more accurately and could be a great/better addition in determining the right boot size. Now you can of course also use the BSL for a very accurate binding adjustment.

          Like you said there are many considerations to be made when you purchase a pair of ski boots. I think that by using the Mondopoint and maybe also using the BSL as a cross-referral you should be heading for the right direction. In my experience you should forget about your regular shoe size when buying ski boots.

          Thanks, wishing you some great turns as well!

          • Bryn Cunningham March 22, 2017

            Great observations, Jaakko. Ultimately, equal consideration of MP, BSL, last width, etc. is necessary to achieve a good fit, don’t you think? If you ever get over to http://www.tetonpassresort.com/ in Montana, let me know…I’ll show you around! Bryn

          • Jaakko Järvensivu
            Jaakko Järvensivu March 22, 2017

            Hi Bryn,

            Yes, I agree – last width is also definitely something you have to pay attention to. Some boots just won´t fit your feet, or at least they will require a lot of boot-fitting and still not be perfect. I remember showing my foot back in the day at a boot fitter in Chamonix Süd – according to the boot fitter it was no wonder I was having problems finding a well-fitting boot (because of the shape), he also added that he could not recommend any brand right off the shelf!

            Thanks, I´ll keep that in mind! Would be great, I´ve never skied or even visited the U.S. which is a bit of a shame really.

  3. Zbyszek April 14, 2017 Reply

    Hello Jaakko,

    Thank you for great review. I would like to ask you about your last width. I’m 176 cm tall and 68 kg weight, my last width is 97 mm. I tryied XT 130 regular volume (100 mm last) and felt it little too roomy in the forefoot. But I don’t know If LV version won’t be too tight. Unfortunately I don’t have possibility to try any LV version of Lange boots.

    • Jaakko Järvensivu
      Jaakko Järvensivu April 16, 2017 Reply

      Hi Zbyszek,

      Thanks and sorry for the delay in answering – I´m currently on a ski trip in Lapland.

      Well, if you´re normally happy in ski boots with a 97 mm last and you have tried the 100 mm wide version of this particular boot (finding it too roomy), then I would think that it would be a fairly safe bet to go with the 97 mm LV version. (Given of course that you have previous experience of using Lange ski boots and you think that the company´s last is a good fit to your feet.) And unless you have tried them on before buying you can never be 100% sure that the boots will fit you perfectly right out of the box, so it´s good to keep in mind that getting a perfect fit might involve using the services of a good boot fitter.

      A bit of a politician´s answer, but I hope that it is of some help. In a nutshell: especially if you have skied (97 mm) Langes before successfully then I would think that there is very little risk in buying the low volume version of the boot. With no previous experience from Langes before, the risk gets bigger as there is the added risk of the last not fitting your feet (as opposed to just being a bit too tight). If the boots are just a bit too tight that is easily fixed by a boot fitter – if the last is a not a good match to your feet then things get more complicated.

Feel free to leave a comment or question.