2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

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Johnny

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2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Johnny » Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:29 pm

ALFA GUARD ADVANCE GTX M Telemark Ski Boots NNN-BC.jpg
Yes, granted, it is one of the most expensive leather boot on the market. At €339 a pair, it’s a boot for people who take skiing very seriously. But if you are like me, skiing is everything. You are probably spending your summers thinking about skiing, and dreaming of doing tele turns every single night. You are probably leaving your unmounted skis in the hallway for months so you can look at them every day and flex them every time you come back home. When skiing becomes a serious thing, you also need serious tools. While you might think that the brand new 2019 Alfa Guard Advance GTX might be a bit expensive at first, you will also come to realize that it is probably the finest XCD boot on the planet.

UNBOXING – You float like a feather… ♪ ♫
Wow. I ordered from Alfa’s website on Wednesday morning. They left Norway the same day, and they arrived here in Canada two days after on Friday! Best shopping and customer experience ever. I was so excited when I received an email from Fedex saying that my boots were already delivered. Unfortunately, my excitement soon turned into bitter deception.

My mom was with me that day and she picked up the magical box from Norway first. She asked what was in there, and I told her it’s boots. “Ski boots?!? That is not possible” she exclaimed. I picked the box myself and she was damn right. There was no way there could have been a pair of boots inside that box, it was just WAY too light for this. I felt terribly sad. Alfa made a mistake in my order and they only sent me one boot, not a pair. Or maybe they sent me some minimalistic shoes or something. But definitely not a pair of Guard Advance GTX sturdy full leather ski boots!

I sighed, grabbed a knife and opened the box with sorrow. To my surprise, there was really TWO boots inside! Yes! A whole PAIR of Guard Advance GTX leathers! I was totally amazed. How can they possibly achieve this?

The Guard Advance GTX weighs only a stunning 725g per shoe. That is more than 50% lighter than your usual leathers. That also means that they are actually 27% (!!!) lighter than the Alpina Alaska BC boots! That is quite something. It sure will make a huge difference for longer tours and hikes. I stepped into the boots and the magic kicked in instantly. They are so light, you just don’t feel them. You can jump around and dance and feel totally naked. The feeling is beautiful, feeling so light and free, but fully in control with a super-supportive boot. I never felt something like this before. Best XCD feeling ever. The most natural, yet supportive telemark feeling you can get. The closest thing to skiing barefoot with metal bars surgically installed into the bottom of your feet.

According to Alfa, this brand new model is designed For optimal stability on tougher trips and descents, with superior construction and function. This is their most advanced boot available. They feature premium full-grain leather, with a GORE-TEX waterproof, durable, breathable and insulating layer for use in very cold weather conditions. Reinforcements around the complete lower part of the boot adds durability that increases life span and provide stability for skiing in tough terrain. They also include a very cool Memory foam feature, affected by body temperature that allows the shoe to fit comfortably in the ankle area.

ALFA GUARD ADVANCE GTX M Telemark Ski Boots NNN-BC-3.jpg

A warm and sturdy back country ski boot in full grain leather with good support and comfort for demanding back country touring in the mountains. This boot is a reinforced model of the classic Skarvet / BC Advance GTX BC ski boots to be the perfect companion in hilly terrain with steeper slopes. The boot is winter lined with GORE-TEX, has a stable and heat insulating midsole, as well as anatomic insole. Memoryfoam provides comfort and together with the good fit in the heel this helps prevent blisters, so you can enjoy even the tougher trips and descents. The rubber mudguard protects and lengthens the life span of the boot.


SOLE STIFFNESS OR ANKLE SUPPORT?
Simple: both. The Guard Advance GTX has the stiffest sole of them all, the stiffest you can get from any NNN-BC Alfa boots. But according to the specs, the sole stiffness is 4 out of 5. Actually, they do not produce a NNN-BC boot with 5/5 stiffness. And that is a good thing, because stiffer than this, touring would not be possible.

I have always found the Alpina Alaska BC sole stiffness quite problematic for several reasons, poor kick and glide performance, heel lift problems, blisters, fatigue etc. The thing is, the Alaska BC and the Guard Advance both have exactly the same sole, same stiffness. But comparing both boots side by side, I finally found out why I find the Alaska BC problematic.

Yes, the sole on the Guard Advance GTX is just as stiff and the Alaska, but the Guard Advance sole offers a MUCH more natural feeling when pressuring the ball of foot. While crunching the sole with my hands, I could feel that the Alaska BC was very slightly harder to bend than the Guard Advance. But actually, this is not due of the sole itself, but because of the boot construction. After examination of both boots, I realized that the difference is that the Guard Advance have a much more natural “bellow”. Same sole, but the overall structure and leather construction of the Guard Advance is smoother than the Alaska BC.
ALFA Guard Advance GTX versus Alpina Alaska BC.jpg

Not sure I explain myself clearly here, this is a very important feature. The sole flexes the same way around the toes, but not the upper part of the boot above the BOF area, the bellow itself, which flexes much more naturally on the Guard Advance. Standing with a pair of each boot locked into the bindings, the bellow was slightly harder to flex on the Alaska BC, even if the sole stiffness is the same. And to my surprise, the flex point, or bellow position on top of the boot was NOT the same. The Alaska BC flexes somewhere between BOF and the toes, quite a strange thing, something I had never noticed before. While the Advance is smoother and flexes exactly at BOF where it should. Very, very interesting! I have used different pairs of Alaskas for several years and I have just discovered this. Maybe it's just my toes, but I like the flex point tuning on the Guard Advance A LOT.

So again, the sole is the same, the stiffest you can get from both companies. But the boot construction is quite different. The Guard Advance is made of full-grain leather, but offers a smoother, more natural flex while being very supportive. The Alaska BC is made of split leather, but the area on top of foot is a tad stiffer. While this offers slightly more “power” to the Alaska BC, it is also the very source of the problems I mentioned previously. No heel lift on the Guard Advance, just a super nice smooth, round and natural flex with tons of power and control. Almost the same downhill power as the Alaska, but with much more touring capabilities.

Ankle support is better of the Alfa Guard. Squeezing and twisting them in every possible way, I can definitely feel more ankle support on the ALFA. The very best you can get from a leather XCD boot! But again, the difference remains in the lower body of the boot. You can feel more ankle support on the Guard Advance, but the lower leather body is smoother, more natural. I use the Alaska BC for downhill only, because I find the forward flex way too stiff for touring, and I use the Alaska 75 for touring and XCDing around. Now the new 2019 Guard Advance will be used every day here for every single thing! From pure XC to pure DH! Finally, a one-quiver boot?
ALFA Guard Advance GTX versus Alpina Alaska BC-front.jpg
And on snow Johnny?
They are simply amazing. You are just not aware of wearing boots anymore. They are so light, they make you forget everything except the scent of evergreens and the reason why God put you here. They definitely have more ankle support than the Alaska, but once again, with a smoother body. They feature the featherlight weight of a XC shoe, combined with all the power of a sturdy extreme full-grain leather boot. Really, the feeling is amazing, something I have never felt before on skis. Complete freedom of movement, but still with all the power and control required on the most extreme and demanding terrain for memorable downhill performances. My new favorite XCD boots. Unique, super comfortable and super powerful.

I still have to try them in very cold weather to test that nice Gore-Tex insulation. I always have cold feet so I have big expectations here. I am also looking forward to put that Memory Foam thing to the test later in the season. I’m very, very excited about this new Alfa boot model. Yes, it is not cheap, but it’s humbly the highest quality you can get. After all, these guys have been making leather boots in Norway since 1931. For over 87 years, they have provided footwear to professional explorers, the Norwegian Police, the Norwegian Defense Forces and other occupational groups with non-negotiable standards for function, comfort and quality.

Yep, you will have to pay close to 500$ USD with shipping and custom duty charges to get your hands on the new ALFA Guard Advance GTX M, depending on where you are located. But seriously, you get exactly what you pay for: The very finest XCD boot available on the planet right now. One-quiver boot? Absolutely so. At your door from Norway in only 2 days...


ALFA Guard Advance GTX M 2019
Cross-Country: 80/100
Downhill: 85/100
Retail: 385$ USD
Alfaoutdoor.com


Similar boots:
Alpina Alaska BC:
Cross-Country: 40/100
Downhill: 90/100
Retail: 250$ USD
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."

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bgregoire

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby bgregoire » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:19 pm

That's its, the big man JL is SOLD on ALFA! It feels great duzenit! Do you think we can convince them to produce a Guard 75mm??? :mrgreen:
I live for the Telemark arc....The feeeeeeel.....I ski miles to get to a place where there is guaranteed snow to do the deal....TM

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Nick BC » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:49 pm

Ben, check La Cordee they have the 75 mm for $500. I assume that’s Canadian bucks.

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Johnny » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:05 pm

It feels AWESOME...!
You just have to cut your expenses a bit... (Read: buying less boots and skis, but better ones... I'm pretty bad at both... ;) )

I think Ben is secretly an Alfa Ambassador or salesman... I never asked for it, but he kept sending me links of Alfa products I didn't need telling me how great and affordable they were... He kept doing this until I bought 3 pairs of BRAND NEW Alfa boots in only 3 weeks... Hey, I'm only half-dumb, I can see his game... He wants me to buy boots, try them a few months and sell them back to him at half the price... :lol:

Nick, the model on sale at LaCordee is the old Quest Advance, not the new Guard Advance model. The new Guard is a reinforced model of the classic Quest model.

I think the Greenland Advance 75 must be pretty close to the Guard. The Greenland is the only Alfa boot with a 5/5 sole stiffness... Have you ever handled the Greenland Ben?
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."

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bgregoire

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby bgregoire » Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:00 pm

Johnny wrote:I never asked for it, but he kept sending me links of Alfa products I didn't need telling me how great and affordable they were... He kept doing this until I bought 3 pairs of BRAND NEW Alfa boots in only 3 weeks... Hey, I'm only half-dumb, I can see his game... He wants me to buy boots, try them a few months and sell them back to him at half the price... :lol:

Nick, the model on sale at LaCordee is the old Quest Advance, not the new Guard Advance model. The new Guard is a reinforced model of the classic Quest model.

I think the Greenland Advance 75 must be pretty close to the Guard. The Greenland is the only Alfa boot with a 5/5 sole stiffness... Have you ever handled the Greenland Ben?


Johnny johnny! you could say thank you and that would be the same, even better! But you know, the link I sent actually was for affordable shoes! I'm happy I now have an Alfa loving buddy but for the record, I cannot take responsability for more than the first pair you purchased. :) And if you want me to buy your boots, buy them my size!!! :mrgreen:

I have owned the Alfa Quest Advance 75mm (older version of Greenland) for like two or three years. Its the softest soled ski boot (but comfiest!) I own (I have too many), softer than the old Alfa Vulcs and similar to NNN XC shoes!!! There is no hard board under the insole, just some cushy material. Makes for a warm boot, good K&G but terrible lateral movement, especially with skis 60mm and greater underfoot.

I contacted Alfa when I first bought the shoes to suggest stiffening the sole. Would they have listened to me, some dude from Quebec? Do you think the Greenland is more than a rebadged Quest Advance???? Could it now have a stiff sole??? I wish. Who is going to find out for us? Johnny, are your there? You should get a pair in size 42. Cheers.

EDIT: I have received confirmation from Alfa that the Greenland actually does have a stiffened sole! But how stiff?
Last edited by bgregoire on Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
I live for the Telemark arc....The feeeeeeel.....I ski miles to get to a place where there is guaranteed snow to do the deal....TM

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Woodserson » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:00 am

I'm moving to Quebec where all the hawt action is.

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Johnny » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:22 am

bgregoire wrote:I contacted Alfa when I first bought the shoes to suggest stiffening the sole. Would they have listened to me, some dude from Quebec?

You Sir are the Alfa reference guy in North America. You were able to convince a poor guy, who is 3 times under the poverty threshold, to buy 3 pairs of new Alfa boots. No wonder the designers at Alfa in Norway listened to your advice when building the new Greenland GTX...! 8-)

Sole Stiffness:
Kikut Perform GTX: 3/5
Polar Advance: 3/5
Guard Advance GTX: 4/5
Alpina Alaska BC: 4/5
Greenland Advance GTX: 5/5

Of course a 75mm sole needs to be a lot stiffer to reach the same overall stiffness of NNN-BC because of the duckbill. That's why I think the new Greenland must be quite similar to the Guard Advance. There is no such thing as a 5/5 NNN-BC sole.
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby lilcliffy » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:30 pm

Johnny! Wicked boots. I can't wait to hear how they perform vs your Alaskas- especially on a ski like the Asnes 68!!

I too am amazed at how much they appear to have stiffened up the sole on the Greenland 75mm...I wonder of that glued sole can handle all of that torque and power transfer? I would feel more confident with that boot if it had a stitched Norwegian welt...

I must say that I want a pair of those Alfas...
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby Johnny » Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:59 am

They perform like Norwegian Gods! I have been using them everyday for 7 days now, they are really awesome. Even on the steeps with over 50cm of powder, they totally deliver the goods! A few more observations:

The lacing system. I forgot to mention it. It's just the best ever. Simple, yet effective, I'm ready to go in under 10 seconds, while lacing up the Alaskas took like 3 times longer and is somehow never perfect. Again this sounds silly, but this is something I REALLY appreciate about Alfa boots.

The flex is beautiful. And very interesting. For freedom of movement while touring, but especially for downhill control. This requires a very good skiing technique to fully appreciate it, but it's amazing. You see, as I mentioned, the bellow on the Alaska BC is slightly harder to crush even if they share the same stiff sole. At first, this might seem like an advantage to the beginner, the Alaska may seem stiffer and allow better control. But actually, it only makes you go tippy toes, with the grooves on the NNN-BC sole never fully engaged into the binding. Although this seems to be ok and easier for the beginner or the skier with poor telemark skills, it's definitely not the most efficient way of skiing downhill. Actually, this is not unlike a modern plastic tele boot bellow, where the beginner is tempted to go into fake-mark mode because pressuring the BOF requires additional skills.

The story is quite different with the Guard Advance. It offers the same stability and power of the Alaska, but with a softer bellow. Which means something VERY important for the advanced skier: complete and perfect pressure on the ball of foot. With the Guards, you can fully crush the BOF on the binding and completely lock the NNN-BC soles into the grooves of the binding. Something that requires more skills to do on the Alaska. Once the bellow is crushed and the BOF is locked into the binding, the rest of the boot offers all that you need to take full control of the ski under any condition. So not only the natural flexing bellow on the Guard offers a smoother touring experience, it actually allows more control on the downhill too...!
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."

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Re: 2019 ALFA Guard Advance GTX M Boots Review

Postby lilcliffy » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:22 pm

Your review is posted on the Alfa site!
https://alfaoutdoor.com/shop/ski-boots/ ... ance-gtx-m
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry


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