Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Real reviews by real skiers. What a concept! Add your own today. Reviews only please, questions can be posted as replies but new threads looking for opinions should be posted to the main Telemark Talk Forum.
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Stephen
Posts: 1460
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:49 am
Location: PNW USA
Ski style: Aspirational
Favorite Skis: Armada Tracer 118 (195), Gamme (210), Ingstad (205), Objective BC (178)
Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance, Scarpa TX Pro
Occupation: Beyond
6’3” / 191cm — 172# / 78kg, size 47 / 30 mondo

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Wed Feb 01, 2023 1:39 pm

- Like I posted earlier, I think in some cases, one can modify how the boots break across the toes to resolve toe crunch: http://www.telemarktalk.com/viewtopic.p ... =90#p56876

- Like @lowangle al, said, the boots have more toe room than I expected and are pretty comfortable in that respect, for me with a wide forefoot.

- My biggest gripe with the boot is the lack of fine-tuning the lacing system provides. You get two lacing zones, period. With my Alfa Guard, I can lace for at least three zones: Toes / BOF; Heel / top of arch; Ankle. I like my toes loose, my heel tight, and the ankle snug. With the Free, to keep the heel tight, I have to go too tight on the toes and ankle, for my liking.

- I wont do it this winter, but may this summer — the Boa Lacing System is repairable, which means it can be taken apart. I’m thinking of shortening the bottom lacing section by not running the lace through the bottom eyelets, and then shortening the lace, and put it all back together. That way, I can tighten for my heel, without getting so much tightening on the toes. Seems like it should work, we’ll see…

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lowangle al
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Location: Pocono Mts / Chugach Mts
Ski style: BC with focus on downhill perfection
Favorite Skis: powder skis
Favorite boots: Scarpa T4
Occupation: Retired cement mason. Current job is to take my recreation as serious as I did my past employment.

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by lowangle al » Wed Feb 01, 2023 4:09 pm

Stephen wrote:
Thu Jan 26, 2023 7:27 pm
Stephen wrote:
Tue Jan 24, 2023 12:39 am
Edit / Update to a previous post…
http://www.telemarktalk.com/viewtopic.p ... =80#p56689

Point #1: - Unless the soles soften in flex quite a bit, I see no way one can keep back foot BOF on the ski in tele turn;
Point #2: - I have minor toe pinch on one foot, not the other. I have low volume / wide foot and have one extra insole in the boot to help fill the space. I'm trying @Tom M's idea to help, but it may not work with these

On Point #1, I want to modify that. First, I think skier weight is a factor. Heavier, stronger skiers may have more latitude in terms of getting the BOF on the rear ski. Below is as far back as I can move my rear foot with 50/50 weight distribution. Further back, and the stiff sole causes my BOF to start lifting off.

On Point #2, that didn’t work. The sole is too stiff to get the boot to crease on top.

With 50/50 weight, this is as far back as I can have my rear foot before the BOF starts to lift off. If I was heavier, or putting more pressure in a high-power turn, it seems like I could have the rear ski further back.
.
55CF13FC-8110-47D5-BD18-6FF1E1AF4335.jpeg
[/q@Tom M[/me@Tom M

Stephen if you work on keeping your stance tight enough to keep that heel low it will have many benefits.



User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 1460
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:49 am
Location: PNW USA
Ski style: Aspirational
Favorite Skis: Armada Tracer 118 (195), Gamme (210), Ingstad (205), Objective BC (178)
Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance, Scarpa TX Pro
Occupation: Beyond
6’3” / 191cm — 172# / 78kg, size 47 / 30 mondo

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Wed Feb 01, 2023 7:39 pm

lowangle al wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 4:09 pm
Stephen if you work on keeping your stance tight enough to keep that heel low it will have many benefits.
Right, that was one of my points in one of the pictures.
As long as my back foot didn’t go back any further than in the picture, I could keep the BOF on the ski.

Stating the obvious once again, but it sure is easier to keep all the pieces lined up right with plastic boots and active bindings!
For me, keeping my back foot from drifting back and losing pressure is a challenge on light gear.

EDIT:
Is this your idea of “tight,” or not (maybe not?)?
.
28E5CDA4-48BD-4D31-879F-31A5C24FDA06.jpeg



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lowangle al
Posts: 2741
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:36 pm
Location: Pocono Mts / Chugach Mts
Ski style: BC with focus on downhill perfection
Favorite Skis: powder skis
Favorite boots: Scarpa T4
Occupation: Retired cement mason. Current job is to take my recreation as serious as I did my past employment.

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by lowangle al » Fri Feb 03, 2023 4:48 pm

When I feel my back ski want to drift back, it because I don't have enough weight on it. Concentrate on the back foot even more. My guess is that as you pick up speed you get too far forward and the weight comes off that ski.



User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 1460
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:49 am
Location: PNW USA
Ski style: Aspirational
Favorite Skis: Armada Tracer 118 (195), Gamme (210), Ingstad (205), Objective BC (178)
Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance, Scarpa TX Pro
Occupation: Beyond
6’3” / 191cm — 172# / 78kg, size 47 / 30 mondo

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:30 pm

lowangle al wrote:
Fri Feb 03, 2023 4:48 pm
When I feel my back ski want to drift back, it because I don't have enough weight on it. Concentrate on the back foot even more. My guess is that as you pick up speed you get too far forward and the weight comes off that ski.
That’s about right. Also, I think I shift weight to the leg with the stronger stance (front leg).
Work in progress…



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JoshC
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Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by JoshC » Wed Mar 08, 2023 11:22 am

These are on sale over on Alfa's website for $441 with free shipping from Norway. Takes a little sting out of the $$
Screenshot 2023-03-08 112136.jpg



User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 1460
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:49 am
Location: PNW USA
Ski style: Aspirational
Favorite Skis: Armada Tracer 118 (195), Gamme (210), Ingstad (205), Objective BC (178)
Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance, Scarpa TX Pro
Occupation: Beyond
6’3” / 191cm — 172# / 78kg, size 47 / 30 mondo

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Wed Mar 08, 2023 9:15 pm

Or for $334 US, delivered, from Varuste.



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telerat
Posts: 227
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Location: Middle of Norway
Ski style: Telemark, backcountry nordic and cross country skiing.
Favorite Skis: Any ski suitable for telemark or backcountry skiing, with some side-cut for turning.
Favorite boots: Scarpa plastic telemark. Asolo and Alfa leather boots.

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by telerat » Mon Jan 15, 2024 11:07 am

I have finally given in and bought a used pair of Alfa Free. So far I have only tried wearing them inside, as well as outside skating once, but I look forward to using them on my Falketind 62s. I do feel that the Free has significant possibilities for upgrades though and that, as well as toe crunch when trying it in shop, has kept me from buying until now. After getting to try Crispi Futura CXP in a shop, I prefer the Free and will try and see if it can work for me.

Firstly I think the Alfa Free could be split into to versions:
1. A softer and slightly lower boot for faster tours based on the current version. BOA(s) enable quick entry/exit, as well as comfortable and quick tightness adjustment.

2. A taller version with more support. The current version is the same height as Skaget and although it provides more support, I feel that the difference could be larger. The flex point need to be moved slightly back and I think that a full rubber rand around the whole boot combined with a redesign of the lacing support would help with that and prevent the boot bearing down on my toes, as well as protect the fabric better. I also believe a bit more insulation would be nice, as I have seen some complain on warmth and my toes got a bit cold skating as well as standing still in -17 C.

I agree with @Stephen that it needs more instep pull/heel fixing, without tightening the rest of the forefoot too much, especially for the uphill. If it was possible with just two BOAs as currently it would be nice, but heel retention needs to be part of the lower/forefoot BOA tightening then. A ratcheting strap as on Crispi Svartisen/Futura CXP might be a better alternative.

I also wonder if the lacing on the upper could extend around the rear of the shaft and thus increase rearward support in downhill mode. Maybe an even larger/stronger BOA would be needed then. A booster strap on top could also be nice and I think the BOA lacing could probably well go to the top and work well with the strap, instead of the traditional lacing ending too low on Svartisen/Futura CXP.

This would be a significantly more supportive boot than the current one, approaching T4 support. I will post more impressions when I have used the Free for some time.
Last edited by telerat on Wed Apr 17, 2024 5:33 am, edited 1 time in total.



User avatar
telerat
Posts: 227
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:09 am
Location: Middle of Norway
Ski style: Telemark, backcountry nordic and cross country skiing.
Favorite Skis: Any ski suitable for telemark or backcountry skiing, with some side-cut for turning.
Favorite boots: Scarpa plastic telemark. Asolo and Alfa leather boots.

Re: Alfa FREE A/P/S GTX XPLORE Boot Review 2022

Post by telerat » Mon Apr 15, 2024 8:05 am

I have now tried my Alfa Free on some outings and can share my impressions. As stated above, I bought a used pair this winter. I wanted them as a complement to my Skaget and have used them with my Falketind 62 Explore.

My size 41 Free weighs in at 805 grams compared to my Skaget at 710 grams. The shaft with internal plastic support is stiff and much more supportive than Skaget, The boot, binding with stiff flexor and FT62X worked well on hard snow at up to 25 degrees and slightly steeper on a bit softer snow, but I have not gotten to ski downhill in loose snow. It is not telemark gear with plastic boots, but the combination feels well matched and is great fun on such lower angle terrain. It is impressive to have this much support in such a light boot and binding combination.

The BOAs are surprisingly practical, with quick and easy adjustment to go between walk mode and downhill mode, and gives about as much tension as I can possibly want.

I think Alfa Free boot could handle wider skis on softer snow conditions, maybe to about 80mm, but after that I think it would not be a good match unless you like skiing low angle stuff at slower speeds and want float above all else. In loose snow I personally would likely use my wide ski, stiffer boots (NTN) and ski steeper lines though, as I want to turn and would loose too much speed on narrower skis.

I have two trips on the same mountain but different routes, one 11 km round trip and one alternative at 15 km, both with the same vertical at 960 meters. I have also used them on a short 3 km / 200 meters tour, one 11 km / 550 meters tour and a last tour at 8.8km and 270 meters vertical.

The 11 km tour is usually skied on plastic AT or telemark gear, but can also be skied on leather boots and narrower skis. We were there in February and the conditions where firm, with a bit of looser snow some places. Not great conditions, but just fine for a ski tour. I only saw people using AT and telemark gear, as well as splitboards that day. Ascent was great with the light gear and the short skins had sufficient grip the whole way up. I had no problems descending as fast or faster than slow AT skiers on the firm conditions, and while I could not match the fastest skiers in my group, they didn't have to wait long for me either.

On the 15 km alternative route this weekend the snow conditions were rather bad when descending, with breakable crust if crust at all, and quite a lot of loose spring corn beneath. I fell some times, but rather that and turning, than only skiing in survival mode as the other skier on T4 and Switchback did. Alfa Free and Xplore with the hard flex still felt like a good match with the FT62X. I noticed higher speed helped float and avoided breaking through on some instances, but consequences also increases with speed, so it is a balance. I would have preferred my telemark gear on the descent as wider skis would float better and stiffer gear would enable more control at higher speeds. It would also have enabled taking a steeper line with better snow.

I can feel the Free bear down on my toes, but it only causes discomfort/slight pain, not greater pain or problems so far, but I think it is close. On the 3 km trip I had a bit of toe pain in one foot on the descent with the hard flexor. It was a short descent, did not hurt afterwards, and was likely because I had not gotten my foot far enough back into the heel pocket. I also felt discomfort on the longer tours, especially with the hard flexor on descents, so I have to see if the boot works for me long term. The rest of the boot fits snug and well without any sore spots, so apart from the toe the current boot is fine.

I still think I would prefer the taller version I described in my post above. Hopefully Alfa can release a revised version of Free that fits more feet, as many seems to have problems with the current version. My wife wants one, but does not dare buying the current one even at 40% off. I would also likely upgrade if I found a new version at a good price.



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