As some of you know, I buy and sell a lot. I’m a gear head, I can’t help it (I have been working on it a lot lately). I need to try all the cool stuff in the tele world. I buy several pairs of boots and bindings every year, and way too much skis too. But I do not have the time to review everything. In fact, I review only a very few items every year. As some of you know, when I take the time to review something, it’s because it’s really worth it. It’s because the gear is just too good to be ignored. And the ALFA boots are one of these.
I got my hands on a pair of the ALFA Quest Dynamic boots, which for the 2018-2019 season are now called the Kikut Perform GTX. Almost the same boot, different name. I also just got my fifth pair of Alpina Alaska this summer, I am totally sold to them. So as you can imagine, it’s very hard for me not taking the Alaska as my reference boot. I never thought this would happen someday, but I love the ALFA boots even more than the Alpinas, and for several different reasons.
First of all, comfort. They are just THE most comfortable boots I have ever tried. Ok, I remember saying this about the Alpina Alaska when I first tried them too. I have to admit that the ALFA boots feel even more comfortable than the Alaska. Not sure how I would define the word comfortable, but it’s not related to my feet or the fit of the boot. It’s just the overall feeling, how my feet, body and mind feel with the boots on.
They also fit my feet much better than the Alpinas. The overall width and the toe box is about the same as the Alaskas, maybe a tad narrower. But from the inside, they feel a bit bigger. Probably due to the leather thickness, which is thicker on the Alaska. I think it’s better here to figure the correct size with the original EURO point. I usually wear 10.5 US, but according to Alpina, my Alaska are 8.5 US! And as Ben pointed out earlier, the same seems to apply with Alfa size conversion. Hint: stick to EU!
The tongue on the Alaska always bothered me. It never seemed to fit properly, always moving, or making bumps somewhere, even after years of “training the tongue”. Quite a small annoyance you will say. But after trying ALFA boots… WOW! It’s so damn easy! No matter how you do it or how fast you lace up your boots, the tongue always fits perfectly into place! I know it sounds weird, but I never realized how much the Alaska tongues have been bugging me over the the years until I tried the Alfas. WOW, I love these boots!
Speaking of lacing, I never really got the Alaska lacing pattern. The combination of closed, open and locking eyelets never really worked for me. I always found myself fighting with their lace system, no matter the technique or pattern. Again, not a big annoyance, considering how much I love everything else. BUT... Guys, lacing the ALFAs is a dream! So easy! It takes half the time, and it locks your feet into the boot in a way I never seemed to achieve with the Alaskas. No complex combinations like on the Alaska, just a very simple lacing system like you find on most mountaineering boots. And it works perfectly! At this point, ALFA wins. I am sold already. I feel MUCH better in these boots, tightly laced, with the tongue exactly where it should be every time, securing the feet at it should.
The sole stiffness is not as extreme as the Alaska, which could be called ridiculously stiff. I still consider the ALFA Kikut Perform GTX sole quite a stiff one compared to regular tour-oriented NNN-BC boots. I can squeeze the sole with my hands with some force on the Kikut, while I need a lot of force to squeeze the Alaska. Actually, while I LOVE the Alaska BC sole for downhill, I find it way too stiff for XC skiing. The Kikut sole offers a better flex, while offering the same lateral stiffness as the Alaska. Remember that the stiffer is a sole, the more it can be problematic for heel lift inside the boots. (I have serious heel lift problems inside my Alaska BC, but no problem at all on the Alfa Kikut…)
As you can see on the picture above, the sole on both boots look exactly the same. (Alfa on the left, Alpina on the right). Alfa have softer boots than the Kikut, and they have stiffer ones too. The Kikut sits in the middle, as you can see in this chart compiled by Lilcliffy and bgregoire.
According to ALFA, the Kikut is A backcountry ski boot made for moderate to challenging skiing in the mountains and alpine environments. I agree with that. Not too soft for serious and challenging terrain, and not too stiff for longer tours.
The first very scientific test was crushing the toes. For my tests, I had the Alaska in one foot, and the Kikut/Quest Dynamic in the other. Please keep in mind that both boots were brand new, straight out of the box. No break in period for true super-scientific tests.
With a different boot on each foot, I crushed the toes in every direction. Lifted the heels to flex the boots at ball of foot (Crushing the fictitious bellow… ) They are both stiff soles, but there is definitely more serious stiffness on the Alaska. Not a huge difference though. I was expecting a bigger difference after squeezing them by hand.
For the real test, I just put my S-Bounds on the floor, stepped into the bindings and twisted the boots in every direction. I also asked the wife to stand on the skis to really feel the flex of the boots (A very advanced romantic Yoga posture called the Leatha S-Bandha Asana)…
Laterally, the ALFA is just as stiff as the Alaska. It offers the same lateral control and edging power. Exactly what we expect from this kind of boot. Flexing them forward, the ALFA is slightly softer than the Alaska for a smoother feel. They should be much more comfortable for longer tours. Moving them all around and dancing on the skis like it’s 1999 in the Chic-Chocs, the Alfa is quite softer than the Alaska, but here again, there is not a huge difference. The Alfa is very well built, offering a very interesting support for the overall smoothness of the boot. Very, very interesting.
The Alaska is a bit taller than the Alfa. The last eyelet is about 1cm lower on the Alfa. Not much, but I could feel the difference. I am very curious to try other Alfa boots. I would really to see where the stiffness comes from in their other models, whether it comes from a stiffer sole, a stiffer cuff or both. Maybe it’s time for me to sell more skis and grab more Alfa boots. Unfortunately, most of my skis are overused and totally worthless.
I would really like to see where they stand in the cold, which one is warmer, as this is always a bit problematic for my old feet. Alfa's thermal insulating midsole sounds very cool to me. But that would have to be tested later in the season.
I bought both pairs brand new, thinking I would compare them side by side, keep the pair I like best and sell the other. And honestly, I just cannot decide. Yes, the Alaska is stiffer. But stiffer doesn’t mean better. For reference, I bought my softer Alpina BC-1550 and T5 boots after buying my first pair of Alaska BC. It all depends on what you plan to do. I just want to ski, that’s all. I can’t decide. You should see a pair of brand new boots for sale in the TeleTurnAround section soon. Either a pair of Alaska BC or a very nice pair of Alfa Quest Dynamic.
Retail: 300$ USD
https://alfaoutdoor.com/shop/ski-boots/ ... form-gtx-m
Alpina Alaska BC: Cross-Country: 40/100
Retail: 250$ USD
Alpina Alaska 75: Cross-Country: 70/100
Retail: 250$ USD
Alpina BC-1550: Cross-Country: 80/100
Retail: 150$ USD