Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

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Johnny
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Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Johnny » Wed Mar 09, 2022 12:53 pm

Alpina Pioneer Pro XP Review XPLORE Discoverer Vital.jpg

Woooah! Wait, did I ever mention that it was such a super exciting time to be a telemark skier? I know, all my reviews have been starting like this lately. But it's true, what can I say! There are so many new and innovative products on the market now, it's crazy! And the new 539L-1 boot from Alpina is just as great as its little sister the Alaska XP! From the picture in the official catalog, the 539L-1 is called the Discoverer Pro. From the same catalog, the description says Pioneer Pro. And on the Alpina website, it's called the Pioneer Vital. Quite confusing, I know. But it seems like the final name of the 539L-1 is officially the Pioneer Pro. Here are my first impressions after a few days on them.

This is definitely a new generation of boots here. Alfa were the first to start this trend in 2019 with the Guard GTX boots, and now it's time for Alpina to be part of the game too. Just like the Alaska XP, it's like nothing you ever seen before. A new concept from Alpina, a new design. The power of a heavy military boot, the comfort of old slippers (almost!), and the superlight weight of a world-cup skating boot. All of this, combined with a new 2-pin nordic norm! Remember when the original Alaska came out in 2012? It was a new generation then, a complete revolution for XCD skiers. Well, the new offering of XPLORE boots from Alpina is just as refreshing as the Alaska was when it came out over 10 years ago. Well, MUCH more than this actually! (Also notice the new Discoverer Vital and the Discoverer FREE NNN-BC boots in the 2022 catalog...)

Alpina Pioneer PRO XP Boot 2.jpg

The new Pioneer Pro has a lot in common with the Alaska XP, so I am not going to repeat the 14 pages / 4500 words I wrote about them last fall. But still, it's quite a different design in itself. And really, it is just as mind-blowing as the Alaska XP. The sole is stiffer, pretty much as stiff as the Alfa Free. But somehow easier to flex, thanks to that same perfectly tuned flex point, exactly like on the Alaska XP. And there is more ankle support than the Alaska XP too. And one of the most amazing thing is this: While the soles are stiffer and they offer more support, the forward flex of the Pioneer is almost the same as the Alaska XP. Which makes them awesome cross-country boots with plenty of power, but it also makes them pretty easy to flex for turning too. Brilliant! Almost all the support and power of the Alfa Free, but without the semi-robotic feel, and as an added bonus, the comfort of the good old Alaska!!!

Alpina Pioneer PRO XP Boot 1.jpg

A few words about feeling now, because this is where the Pioneer shines too. Blindfolded, I could identify any of my boots just by wearing and skiing them. The first thing that struck me with the Pioneer is that I had the feeling of wearing no boots at all! It was the first time I felt something like that. I was pushing the boots to the test: downhill, XC and skating and I just couldn't feel the boots at all, like if I was barefoot! The design, perfectly molded to my feet, the comfort and the super-lightweight just gave me the impression that was not wearing any boots at all. I just totally forgot that I was wearing ski boots. WOW! And all the while feeling totally in control at the same time. Mind-blowing again. Really, mind-blowing.

The Pioneer is so natural that you don't even notice it. Quite funny you will say, but this is exactly how I felt the first time. On my second day, I really tried to keep my focus on the boots to write a decent review without any silly stuff. My feeling was exactly the same: I just completely forgot about the boots after a few seconds! Yes, these little marvels are really self-effacing boots! I just couldn't explain it the first few days... Until I put the boots on the scale. Really, by the time you wear them, they instantly disappear from your mind. And the only thing that remains is the thought (and feeling) of pure skiing.

Alpina Pioneer PRO XP Boot 3.jpg

Comfort is just as good as it can get for such a stiff boot. Super tight fit for maximum control, no heel lift, no blisters. Remember how I emphasized on the word precision when I reviewed the Alaska XP? Well, here's even MORE PRECISION! This is how I would describe the Pioneer Pro in two words: More precision. MORE precision, more control, and the feeling of skiing barefoot. It doesn't get better than this.

Alpina Pioneer PRO XP Boot 6.jpg

Made from natural leather with a traditional-yet-modern look, the Pioneer features Alpina's Alpitex Waterproof Membrane for good boot ventilation as well as comfort. But wait, here is THE BEST PART. Sit comfortably on your easy chair and get ready for a shock: The new Pioneer Pro is only 657g!!!

Yes, 657 grams! That is freaking crazy. It's lighter than the Alaska XP (740g), and much lighter than the Alfa Free (845g). That is a 40% (!!!) weight reduction compared to the original Alaska 75! And without any compromise (Quite the opposite in fact!) No, this is no mistake, a 40 percent weight reduction. Stop reading and think about it, seriously. And try to imagine. I'm telling you, it's the closest thing to skiing barefoot!

Alpina Pioneer PRO XP Boot 5 Flex zones.jpg

The flex zone #3 is the bellow, which flexes very nicely despite its stiffness, to get more control and edging power while turning. Flex zone #2 makes striding very smooth for nice and effortless transitions while XC skiing. And the flex zone #1 adds some extra comfort while also making the end of the kicking phase very smooth and natural.


Here is the updated chart below. (You might need to refresh the page or delete your browser's cache for the Pioneer to appear or press CTRL-F5.) As you can see, the new XP boots are all clear winners here, each of them with different strengths. Once again, to make things fair, I have to reiterate that the comparisons were made without any combination of cables, springs, cartridges or flexors, which obviously would change the numbers and would be just too complex to compile. (Click to enlarge)

Image

The new boots from Alpina are simply marvelous. Real marvels of innovative Slovene technology. Progress and innovation. Not cheap cost saving and labor saving improvements, or supply chain efficiency. But real technological progress for modern skiers. Lucky for us, telemark skiing never progressed so fast in history! A brand new generation of boots, a brand new generation of bindings. Right here, right now. The finest of the finest. The lightest of the lightest. Marvelous. Mind blowing. Seriously.

(Optionally combine with the Alpina Pioneer 80 ski and feel the whole Pioneer magic experience...)

Availability: Fall 2022
MSRP: 500$ USD
Weight: 657g.
(Yes, that is only six hundred fifty seven grams. 1.44lbs. Really. Can you believe it?!?)


Alpina Pioneer PRO XP Boot 7.jpg


UPDATE March 16, 2022

A little update after 10 days (and a nice snowstorm!) on the Pioneer. Ok I found it. I found the right word to describe the Pioneer Pro: DELIRIOUS. Totalement délirantes! as we say in french. Delirious, like in the sense of "wild excitement or ecstasy."

Despite their quite neutral and pioneer look, the Brownies shine like diamonds on the inside. It's totally crazy how just a few hundred grams can change the whole skiing experience! As soon as I finish lacing them, they suddenly completely disappear from my mind and feet. A very unique feeling you won't find with any other boot. They give the straightest, most stable and most uniform nordic XC ski experience ever, while also providing all the power and control needed for everything else. Driving wider powder planks is just sooooo smooth and easy with the Brownies! Absolutely no interference here, that blissful telemark feeling goes from the ski straight to your nervous system! Yep, directly from the earth to your Ajna chakra!

A really fascinating boot. On one hand, its a fine European, old-school, sturdy, utilitarian boot for humble pioneers and hardworking loggers. And on the other, it's the lightest and most advanced technical boot conceived for the most demanding modern ski enthusiast. Like a moon boot designed by the NASA for the most extreme and challenging lunar exploration conditions.

Delirious, really. Delirious, the boot in itself, but also the totally new ski sensation it provides to the skier. The ultimate Nordic XC boot. The ultimate XCD boot. The ultimate BC telemark boot.

657 grams guys... 657g!


Image
/...\ 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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Stephen
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Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Wed Mar 09, 2022 4:22 pm

@Johnny, maybe I missed it, but how does the Alfa Free come out 2 points lower than the Pioneer Pro for “Downhill,” when the “Support” “Stiffness” and “Control” numbers are “10” for each boot? That makes the Free equal to the Guard (both 7), which seems very surprising.
I can understand there is not a DIRECT correlation, but still…

Also, whould you say the BoF width is the same for the various Alpina boots mentioned?

Thanks for the write-up!
Last edited by Stephen on Sun Jun 26, 2022 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Johnny
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Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Johnny » Wed Mar 09, 2022 5:16 pm

Stephen wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 4:22 pm
Johnny, maybe I missed it, but how does the Alf Free come out 2 points lower than the Pioneer Pro for “Downhill,” when the “Support” “Stiffness” and “Control” numbers are “10” for each boot? That makes the Free equal to the Guard (both 7), which seems very surprising.

Thanks for the write-up!
The answer right here:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4512&p=48871#p48871

Also, would you say the BoF width is the same for the various Alpina boots mentioned?

Yep, pretty much the same... Size and width is consistent with other Alpina boots... 8-)
Thaaanks!
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."



User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 737
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:49 am
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Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Wed Mar 09, 2022 6:19 pm

@Johnny wrote
Second, for all the folks out there judging a boot just by its stiffness, here is a little something for you. Stiffer and More Supportive does NOT necessarily always mean better downhill performance.
Thanks Johnny! Hard to believe. But now maybe I should wait and try the Discover Pro.
(But in the past, the Alpina boots have been too narrow for me.)

Since you think the Free’s flex point is the issue for downhill control, is it possible the Xplore hard flexor might push the Free’s flex further back in the boot and fix or at least help? I know this changes the comparison from apples to apples to apples to oranges…



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Johnny
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Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Johnny » Wed Mar 09, 2022 6:35 pm

Stephen wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 6:19 pm
Since you think the Free’s flex point is the issue for downhill control,
Please, don't get me wrong... I NEVER said the Free flex point was an issue. Or that it was "The issue for downhill control". I think it was Gamme who said that, others said that too, but not me. What I said is that they were both great, but different, that's all. I never said it was better or worse. It's not an issue at all, it's just a different design.

Just because I find the Alaska XP and the Pioneer better for downhill doesn't mean that there are any issues with the Alfa Free. The Free is a masterpiece too!

is it possible the Xplore hard flexor might push the Free’s flex further back in the boot and fix or at least help?
Of course, with any boot, whether it's XP, NNN or NNN-BC, changing the flexor is going to change the whole thing. All the different flex points will react in a totally different way. Change the flexors and you change the entire boot characteristics.
/...\ 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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Stephen
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Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Wed Mar 09, 2022 7:46 pm

OK -- when you said
It's interesting to note that the Free is giving a lot more control for skating. It's a lot more fun and more powerful than the Alaska XP for skating. But yes, despite the Free being much more stiff and much more supportive, turning the same pair of skis is much easier with the Alaska XP. This definitely has to do with the flex point, and the flex itself, which is ridiculously stiff. The Free flexes near the toes, while the Alaska XP flexes significantly before that point.
I read that as: Because the flex point is further back in the Alaska XP and Pioneer Pro they have better downhill control than the Free, which has the flex point further forward.

But still, do you think the Hard Flexor might help with all that?

Curious what @Tom M thinks about the flex changing as the boots break in, since he's been skiing them for a while now.



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Johnny
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Occupation: Full-time ski bum

Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Johnny » Wed Mar 09, 2022 8:04 pm

Stephen wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 7:46 pm
I read that as: Because the flex point is further back in the Alaska XP and Pioneer Pro they have better downhill control than the Free, which has the flex point further forward.
Partly. The flex point itself is different, but also the flex of the sole is different, and the construction of the upper boot, which affects the way the sole flexes, is totally different too. So one should not expect the 3 boots to ski and turn the same way. They each have their own strengths, none of them has "issues" in my humble opinion... 8-)

But still, do you think the Hard Flexor might help with all that?
Any super-hard flexor on any of the 3 nordic norms can change downhill control like night and day.* With stiff soles, the effect is even more pronounced than adding cables or springs. But people never ever cared for that... Hard flexors have been around for 30 years but people (mostly narrow-minded pinheads) always refused to believe in this... I am writing a little something about it and the new XPLORE ones, since it seems like people are suddenly rediscovering flexors... But adding the flexor / attachment factor into the chart would be a nightmare and would only confuse people even more... The simpler, the better... 8-)

* Now the real question is why would anyone want to do that? Is it for lack of skills? Lack of practice? Lack of technique? Lack of experience? Because like EVERYTHING else, easier very rarely translates into more fun at the end of the day by the fire. Or else everybody would be snowboarding...
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."



User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 737
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:49 am
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Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance
Occupation: Beyond

Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Wed Mar 09, 2022 8:17 pm

@Johnny, thanks for all the data points!

:D



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Johnny
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Posts: 2208
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:11 pm
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Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska XP, Scarpa TX Comp
Occupation: Full-time ski bum

Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Johnny » Wed Mar 16, 2022 9:29 am

A little update after 10 days (and a nice snowstorm!) on the Pioneer. Ok I found it. I found the right word to describe the Pioneer Pro: DELIRIOUS. Totalement délirantes! as we say in french. Delirious, like in the sense of "wild excitement or ecstasy."

Despite their quite neutral and pioneer look, the Brownies shine like diamonds on the inside. It's totally crazy how just a few hundred grams can change the whole skiing experience! As soon as I finish lacing them, they suddenly completely disappear from my mind and feet. A very unique feeling you won't find with any other boot. They give the straightest, most stable and most uniform nordic XC ski experience ever, while also providing all the power and control needed for everything else. Driving wider powder planks is just sooooo smooth and easy with the Brownies! Absolutely no interference here, that blissful telemark feeling goes from the ski straight to your nervous system! Yep, directly from the earth to your Ajna chakra!

A really fascinating boot. On one hand, its a fine European, old-school, sturdy, utilitarian boot for humble pioneers and hardworking loggers. And on the other, it's the lightest and most advanced technical boot conceived for the most demanding modern ski enthusiast. Like a moon boot designed by the NASA for the most extreme and challenging lunar exploration conditions.

Delirious, really. Delirious, the boot in itself, but also the totally new ski sensation it provides to the skier. The ultimate Nordic XC boot. The ultimate XCD boot. The ultimate BC telemark boot.

657 grams guys... 657g!

Alpina Pioneer PRO XP Boot 4.jpg
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."



User avatar
Stephen
Posts: 737
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:49 am
Location: PNW USA
Ski style: Aspirational
Favorite Skis: Gamme (210), Ingstad (205), Objective BC (178)
Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance
Occupation: Beyond

Re: Alpina Pioneer Pro Vital XP Discoverer XPLORE boots Review 2022

Post by Stephen » Wed Mar 16, 2022 2:56 pm

@Johnny, curious how are you seeing these compared to the ALFA Free — these two boots compared to each other?
Maybe going so far as to include use of the hard flexor in the comparison…



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