AMGA Guide Lindsay Fixmer reviews the Salomon X Alp Pro GTX boot with integrated gaiter.
I tested out the Salomon X Alp Pro GTX ($280) boot with integrated gaiter working a spring Mt. Whitney trip in the High Sierra a few weeks ago. Due to our balmier weather, what typically would have been an ill-suited boot for a snowy and cold spring mountain overnight trip became an appropriate amount of warmth and coverage.
Although made from waterproof Nubuck leather, the boots were slightly damp at the end of each day. In order to dry out the sweat or snow from the day’s elements, I pulled out the footbed liner and nestled the boots inside my sleeping bag under a down jacket as a pillow. This aired out the boots and kept them warm throughout the night. After the sun set, I found these boots were not warm enough, though performing in cold temperatures is not their intended use.
During the day, the Salomon Gore-Tex high top worked well on greatly varying terrain (especially on a low-snow year in the Sierra). We began and ended the trip hiking on rocky terrain, with an occasional scramble. The friction of the climbing zone Contragrip rubber on the toe was adequate up to low-fifth-class terrain. If one were to get more ‘sendy,’ I’d recommend stickier rubber. When encountering snow, the boots are crampon compatible (though without heel and toe bales) and versatile enough to tackle various conditions, slicing into firm and plowing through loose snow. The integrated gaiter kept all snow out, adding a little warmth.
Light in profile (650 g; 1 lb, 7 oz per boot), the boot doesn’t feel bulky or weighty. It’s extremely comfortable, and Salomon uses EVA technology with shock-absorbing technologies. I returned from this trip without a hint of a blister—often rare with new boots. The fit runs a little long; I would recommend sizing down half a size. That said, my boot was a half size too big and still performed quite well: it still didn’t feel sloppy. If the climber has an average to wider foot, Salomon might fit better than the standard Italian, narrow boot. For a narrower foot, the laces need to be continually cranked down throughout the day.
Following four days and thousands of feet of vertical gain and loss, the boot looks barely worn. The rubber sole still looks practically new, and the material shows no wear aside from some lingering trail dust. Compared to the La Sportiva Trango Cube, previously my alpine boot of choice, I project these Salomons will hold up longer—a little thicker material combined with Gore-Tex goes a long way. And although the rubber isn’t as sticky as La Sportiva’s, the thicker sole is more durable. For guiding purposes, I’ll go with the Salomon workhorse boot; for recreational, more ‘sendy’ alpine rock objectives, I’ll stick with the Trango Cubes.
The Salomon boot seems ideally suited for guiding summer North Cascades overnight trips: this type of terrain would showcase the boot.