Alpina Alaska NNNBC

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lilcliffy

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Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby lilcliffy » Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:20 pm

The Alpina Alaska NNNBC is the best NNNBC Nordic boot I have tried. I have well over 1000kms of backcountry touring on my current pair- without any significant problems. Pros include: comfort, durability, warmth, and performance. The only con I have had is that the stock insoles are very poor.

My everyday skiing is off-trail x-country through rolling terrain (with the occasional steep climb and decent). Although I appreciate 75mm telemark bindings when I truly need them; I find it agonizingly inefficient compared to NNNBC for most of the skiing I do. If there was more vertical in my backyard- I would probably be on 75mm 3P Nordic telemark gear (I have 75mm 3PC bindings for my “mountain” setup). I have always been convinced that 75mm 3pin tele bindings offered much greater downhill control. I have become more and more impressed with what I can do on NNNBC.

In recent years, I have struggled to find the perfect NNNBC boot. I have tried the Rossi BC line; like them; but not enough support. I used the Fischer BCX6 for two seasons; love the performance; but they hurt my feet. The Fischer’s' flex point squeezes my toes and metatarsus. So far; the Alpina Alaska is the best NNNBC boot I have tried: incredible comfort; impressive support; excellent stability; excellent stride and glide.

I am currently using this boot with NNNBC-Magnum bindings; Madshus Eon, and Annum skis.

Backcountry-xcountry. After more than 1000kms of backcountry touring, the comfort and support continue to impress me. As far as performance; these boots excel at what they are designed to be: a heavy-duty, off-trail, stride and glide x-country boot. They stride and glide beautifully.

Downhill performance. I have found that I can turn a wide range of skis with these boots- depending on the snow conditions. (Now I realize that this is also partly due to the potential limitations of a NNNBC binding (versus a 75mm tele)). In powder snow, I can stride through a telemark turn- even on the Madshus Annum (109-78-95mm). But on hardpack, ice, and/or a groomed surface, I need to be on a narrower ski with these boots (one might ask why anyone would ski on hard snow/ice with a powder ski in the first place- but these things do happen!) By comparison; with the Eon (83-62-70mm) I can hold a carving turn with this boot on hardpack.

(I would love to do a downhill test comparison between the Alaska NNBC and the Alaska 75mm on a variety of skis and snow conditions)

Regardless; this boot is perfect for my everyday skiing: off-trail, backcountry, kick and glide, xcountry. And for that; the NNNBC binding is a perfect mate. When the snow conditions are too harsh; I simply am a bit more strategic with my descents.

Durability. Overall, durability is impressive. The standard insoles are inadequate; they have little support, and they gradually slide back as you ski (I replaced them). The lace system is excellent; however the cleats are hard on the laces. The cleats, coupled with no lace cover; cause the laces to wear. I would definitely recommend bringing an extra set of laces if you were headed out for a multi-day trip. If I did not wear a full gaiter over this boot, I expect the laces would already be worn out.

Care. I recommend treating the leather- thoroughly. I am using Zamberlan Hydrobloc. Make sure you use a product that does not affect the waterproof-breathable liner. I thoroughly wet the leather before applying the Hydrobloc- for complete saturation (a few times per season). I treat the flex points every time I take them off in order to prevent the leather from eventually cracking.

Color. Out of the box these boots are more orange than red. Once you treat the leather- they will turn red.

Fit. These boots have relatively narrow heels, with memory foam supporting the ankle and shank of your calf. I have a small volume foot. I have relatively narrow heels, with a comparatively wide ball of foot /metatarsus. The footbed of these boots fit me perfectly- but I find them to be large volume for their width. I made up some of that volume with a high-volume insole. Through a process of boot treatment, and diligent training of the leather tongue- I now have a perfect fit. I had to train the thick leather tongue to slide under the sides of the boot. I have read reports of these boots being too small for people- I have a thought that this may be more of a problem with width- rather than boot volume. I would describe these boots as being high-volume, with only narrow to moderate width. I have managed to train the leather to dial in a perfect custom fit. These boots are incredibly comfortable and very supportive.

(As an aside- Alpina makes a heavy-duty backpacking/mountaineering boot with the same construction: the “LHOSTE”. I want a pair!)
Last edited by lilcliffy on Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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MikeK

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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby MikeK » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:21 pm

What size are you lilcliffy?

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lilcliffy

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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby lilcliffy » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:29 pm

Hey Mike- I am typically a 42.5-43EU. My Alaskas are a 43. I used to be a 42-42.5- my feet have "expanded" in the last decade (I'm 41 years old). My worn out Scarpa backpacking boots were a 42- and they used to fit! Just bought a replacement pair in a 43- fit perfect.
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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby MikeK » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:31 pm

OK - just checking to see if I might be able to help you out on the 75mm pair to try (mine are 44s). I think I'm going to retire those ones for the NNN, I just need to be double, ultra sure.

Thanks again for the great review!

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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby connyro » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:15 pm

Thanks for the review! I've been eyeballing the NNN-BC version of those boots for a little while now. I wonder if they would be overkill for Rossi BC 65's/NNN-BC for kicking around the woods. What are your thoughts on those boots on skinnier skis? My current Rossi BCx2 boots are poorly constructed and don't offer much support or comfort.

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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby MikeK » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:28 pm

Overkill!!! No way... these boots love skinnies (I can't really speak for the NNN version yet, but...)

Conny - have you ever tried the Alpina 1550s? Those are marketed as being for skinny skis too. I've used the NNN version. It's not half the boot the Alaska is. The Alaska is actually softer and flexes better. The sole is the only thing that is the same I believe.

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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby connyro » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:07 pm

I have not tried those boots but looked at them too. Do I remember correctly that you posted a review that compared the Alaskas to the Alpinas? I can't find it anywhere. Maybe I'm making it up...

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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby lilcliffy » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:12 pm

Hey Connyro- these boots should be perfect for the BC65.

They really are a xcountry boot- designed first and foremost for striding- as opposed to steering. They have a moderate flex to the sole and instep- offering classic xcountry striding performance- but with excellent stability.

They are very torsionally rigid below the ankle and through the foot bed (while still being flexible through the instep). They are supportive but NOT rigid above the ankle. Again- this balance of support versus flex, is primarily geared to striding- not steering. (I have discussed this with an Alpina Rep that has confirmed this).

That being said- I am in fact impressed with the downhill performance of this boot. I am NOT an expert on telemark technique by any means...However- one approach to the telemark is to STRIDE into it (i.e. actually lifting the outside ski into the initiation of the turn)- as opposed to steering into the telemark. In other words- one approach to the telemark is just an angled classic diagonal stride. This boot has more than enough support to stride into a turn- and the torsional rigidness below the ankle will facilitate using the ball of foot and heel, to hold an edge and carve a turn.

I have had similar disappointment with the Rossi BC Nordic line. Another boot to consider is the Alpina 1600. Check it out: http://www.backcountry.com/alpina-bc-1600-touring-boot

My friend just bought a pair of Alpina 1600s- they are beautifully constructed full leather Nordic boots.

As far as skinnier skis...I have retrofitted a pair of classic track skis with NNNBC-auto bindings so that I can use my Alaskas on the occasions when I am in town on the groomed track- excellent performance.

My next pair of skis will be a backcountry ski even skinnier than the BC65 (Voss, E89, or BC59)- which I will also use the Alaska with.

I am so pleased with these boots that I do not want anything else on my feet when I am on xcountry skis. If they ever begin to show signs of deterioration- I will have to order a backup pair!
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lilcliffy

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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby lilcliffy » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:24 pm

My understanding is that the Alpina 1550 and the 1600 (they have the same sole/last) have a softer flex than the Alaska. Here's some info I got from Alpina regarding the 1600- compared to the Alaska:

Hello mr. Gareth

Here below are the answers to your questions:

1. The boot is made in Europe. Uppers are made in Romania and assembly in Slovenia.

2. Stiffness of the midsole that determines the sole flex is 35 Shore D. It is softer than the stiffness of the Alaska model.

3. The thickness of the leather is 2,0-2,2 mm. The thickness of Alaska leather is 2,6-2,8 mm.


Alaska model is generally stiffer boot than BC 1600. It is more reinforced and was developed for more demanding skiers. It provides better stability than BC 1600.

If you have additional questions don’t hesitate to ask and we will provide you our answers.

Best regards!

Janez Novak, Product Marketing
Alpina d. o. o.
Strojarska ulica 2, 4226 Žiri
T: +386 4 51 58 315
M: +386 31 364 897
F: +386 4 51 58 376
E: janez.novak@alpina.si
W: http://www.alpina.si
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Re: Alpina Alaska NNNBC

Postby MikeK » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:28 pm

OH! Good info! Mine was just based on feel. I'm also extrapolating a bit because I'm comparing a NNN 1550 to a 75mm Alaska.

I never did a comparison of the 1550/75 and the Alaska - if I did I wouldn't have much good to say about the 1550s - they hurt my feet and gave me bad blisters. The support was decent but the cuff really wasn't stiff enough to really provide proper support. At this time I was really not liking the Alaska because it was all leather, no cuff... then I tried it!


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