One twist in Alpine product development that I did not see coming – notice how I subtly suggest an otherwise spotless record – is the direct impact backcountry boots might have on Alpine boot design. Over the last 20 years, the paradigm of high-performance recreational boot design has taken two, non-parallel paths.
One I’ll call the Classic Clones, boots clearly derivative of race boots but modified in several ways to make them more suitable for all-terrain skiing. Note that Classic Clones don’t have to use an actual race model’s chassis to qualify, and can be made in any last volume.
I used to refer to the other branch as the Innovation class, but I like the sound of the Deviants, iconoclasts who refuse to believe that the only viable solution is a 2-piece, 4-buckle boot. Over the past 25 years, many Deviants have come and gone, most deservedly so. While there are some remnants of Deviant DNA in a few Classic Clones, the market has taken a by and large homogenized approach to constructing their product lines.
Then along came the boom in backcountry interest and designers got creative again because they had to in order to meet the expectations of this new pocket of affluence. Boots for this skier would have to be lighter, much lighter, and incredibly easy to walk in, plus be compatible with whatever binding type conditions called for. Hmmm. Sounds like a boot a lot of skiers might like, whether they hike or not.
By now the Alert Reader might well wonder whether my medication should be discontinued or increased. What has any of this got to do with Rossignol? Rossignol doesn’t even have a touring boot. Well, it does now. The new 98mm Alltrack Elite LT and 100mm Alltrack Elite Pro aren’t built like the rest of the current Rossi line of Classic Clones. Rossi has been paring away excess material since the advent of its Alltrack series and it waffle-grid shell; the Alltrack LT shell takes the science of shell wall minimization a step further. Better yet, the entire last is more accurate in all dimensions, bringing the skier into intimate contact with the supportive shell.
Returning to my opening proposition, boots like the Alltrack LT represent a new, robust branch of Deviants based on backcountry requirements but outfitted with Grip Walk soles so they can be used with (most) Alpine bindings.
Rossi’s Alpine line-up touches all the bases – narrow, medium, wide and extra-wide models for men and women, spanning all recreational flexes from 70 to 130, either with or without a hike mode (HM) – without leaving its home base of classic, 4-buckle, 2-piece, overlap shells. Both the Speed (no HM) and Track (with HM) extended families return in 2019 intact.
One noteworthy characteristic of all Rossi boots but the new Alltrack LT’s is a sizing shift that creates more toe room – roughly a half-size-worth – than you’ll find in most other models of the same size. If, say, a 26.5 feels a tad too short in Brand X, you might find a comparable Rossi in the same size to be a perfect fit.