2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

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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Johnny
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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by Johnny » Mon Mar 06, 2023 7:44 am

Alpina Pioneer Tech XP ski boot.jpg

Yep, it's a technical backcountry boot. A high-tech nordic boot for the advanced skier. Yet another sensation from Alpina. It's amazing because while the Tech shares a few things with other XP boots, it feels totally different from the Alaska, the Pro and the Free. The feeling is very, very different.

No, it's definitely NOT a XP cross-country boot. Absolutely not. It's a lot more than that. The first thing to mention about the Tech is that just like the Pioneer Pro, the boot seems to disappear by the time you hit the snow. It's freaking light at only 700g. Quite amazing for such a high boot! It's even lighter than the Alaska XP! But really, again, it's the closest thing to being bare foot. By the time you put them on, you just forget about them. Only for this feeling, the Tech is worth its price.


Alpina Pioneer Tech XP ski boot 2.jpg


The other important thing that you are dying to know about is the sole. Yep, it is quite softer than both the Pioneer and the Alaska XP. (Because seriously, any sole stiffer than that would make telemark and nordic skiing impossible!) To give you an idea, the flex of the sole at the toes is similar to the Alaska 75, but more complex. While I say it's "softer", I have to make it clear that it's still stiffer than the Alfa Guard. What I REALLY like about the Tech, is the way that it flexes. There seems to be 2 different spots where the sole flexes progressively. A medium flex for the ball of foot, and a stiff one for the toes. See the creases on the picture below.


Alpina Pioneer Tech XP ski boot - flex.jpg


The upper section feels super-supportive. So supportive that it might actually hurt your legs a little bit straight out of the box. I needed a few days to get used to it. It doesn't seem very supportive when you handle it, but once tightly laced, it's very effective. To be honest, the Tech does feel a bit like an alpine boot! It really reminds me of the feeling of the upper section of the Alfa Free. In fact, it even makes a nice alpine downhill boot! Seriously! Just for fun, I did a few runs alpine-style, without dropping the knees, something I haven't done in YEARS. And WOW! The feeling is amazing! The boots reacts very quickly to the smallest movement of the knees and legs. I would take the Tech in a mogul field alpine-style anytime! The top of the boot really secures your legs in there. Every movement of your lower body is instantly transmitted to the boots. And while other boots with such a stiff cuff might feel like being stuck in cast, this is absolutely NOT the case with the Tech. Yep, it reminds me of the feeling of an alpine boot, and also of the Alfa Free feeling. But without the bad sides, and with the ability to flatten the ball of foot on the ski very easily.


Alpina Pioneer Tech XP ski boot 4.jpg


The ankle support is great, but the support around the heel is even more amazing. The whole section around the heel is super stiff. And inside the boot, it wraps your feet so tightly and so perfectly that I just cannot imagine how heel lift could be possible. (Something that is often problematic for me.... But not in this case!) Here again, every movement of the heel is felt through the entire boot. You move your feet, you move the skis. It's so tight that when you put the boots on and take them off, they will really remind you of your racing plastic boot... Yep, the pull loop in the back is quite useful here. Actually, it's the only boot I have for which I use that pull loop thing. I need to loosen the red eyelet completely in order to be able to put my foot inside. Something I do not need to do on any of my other size 43 boots. But once in there, it just won't budge. Just perfect, precise transmission of movement from every single part of the feet. No, it does not fit smaller at all, don't get me wrong here. Actually, there is still PLENTY of space for my toes to play. It just fits better and mostly, more precisely than ever!


Alpina Pioneer Tech XP ski boot 3.jpg


It's super easy to telemark with the Tech. Driving the cuff will make your bellows flex in a second. Laterally, the sole flexes more easily than other XP boots, but surprisingly, without significantly sacrificing the downhill performance. The power transfer of the upper boot kind of compensates for this. And so is the super-powerful and wide 2-pin connection, which drives the ski like never before. Thanks to all this, I can take the Techs downhill anywhere with complete control, even with fat skis. Even with the larger Objectives, I find it much easier to make telemark turns on the Pioneer Tech than on the Alfa Free or the Pioneer Pro.

Alpina Pioneer Tech XP ski boot vs Alaska XP.jpg

It's funny because it's really hard to say which one is better for downhill. This is probably the hardest part to evaluate in my chart. They all make great telemark downhill boots, but they do in totally different ways, each of them giving you a completely different telemark feeling. Amazing boot, really amazing.

That classic smooth, timeless, nordic feeling, wrapped in a modern technical boot that you can take anywhere, any way you want. A technical and futuristic XC boot, with enough downhill power to ski anywhere. The smoothest, most natural flexing XP backcountry boot I have tried so far. Sadly, and I really hate to say that, but you will need of pair of them too.

At a glance:
Pioneer TECH:
Stiff and high uppers
Medium sole

Pioneer PRO:
Stiff and high uppers
Stiff sole

Alaska XP:
Soft and low uppers
Stiff sole

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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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by Peter P » Mon Mar 06, 2023 6:54 pm

Very exciting Johnny. You kind of implied it is similar, but how does the fit compare to the Alaska XPs (in terms of length and width)?

Also, any thoughts on availability for next year. It seems like the Pioneer Pro still isn't widely available.



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fisheater
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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by fisheater » Mon Mar 06, 2023 7:03 pm

Johnny, I’m really enjoying reading your reviews of the new XP boots. I have two questions, what are your thoughts in regards to the warmth and waterproofness (if that is even a word) of the Pioneer Tech XP?
My second question is who makes those super cool socks? Are they available to the public, or were they a gift from a Jedi Princess and not readily available?



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Johnny
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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by Johnny » Tue Mar 07, 2023 10:15 am

Peter P wrote:
Mon Mar 06, 2023 6:54 pm
Very exciting Johnny. You kind of implied it is similar, but how does the fit compare to the Alaska XPs (in terms of length and width)?

Also, any thoughts on availability for next year. It seems like the Pioneer Pro still isn't widely available.

Yep, VERY exciting! 8-)
And yep, the fit is very similar... I would say that both the length and width are pretty much the same...

No precise idea about availability... Next year for sure. I was told 4 different dates for the Pro's and they are still not here so... I guess it's the same as the Pros, grab them when you can...! 8-)

fisheater wrote:
Mon Mar 06, 2023 7:03 pm
Johnny, I’m really enjoying reading your reviews of the new XP boots. I have two questions, what are your thoughts in regards to the warmth and waterproofness (if that is even a word) of the Pioneer Tech XP?
My second question is who makes those super cool socks? Are they available to the public, or were they a gift from a Jedi Princess and not readily available?

Thanks! I can't really speak about warmth, I didn't include this in my chart for one good reason: I do not ski when it's cold anymore, I stay inside and read a book by the fire. But the official info from Alpina is this:

Alpitex Waterproof Membrane
The membrane is water-resistant and allows for good boot ventilation as well as comfort. The Alpitex membrane has been developed by Alpina engineers.

Thinsulate Insulation
Compared to standard boot linings, the Thinsulate insulation system guarantees conditions for the fet that are twice as warm than other boots. The feet can breathe and regulate the natural physical feeling of the foot. Consequently they stay warm even in unusually wet weather conditions.

As for the socks, well, I honestly have no idea. Verily, I say unto you, I didn't buy a single piece of clothing for the last 17 years. Thanks to the Jedi Princesses, they all magically appear on top of my piles of clothes in the bedroom. They take care of everything for me.

But for the record, this is called the "Telemark" pattern in knitting jargon. Everytime the princesses spot something with the Telemark pattern somewhere, they always end up on my pile here. Yep, there are indeed a few good things about the conjugal life... 8-)

PS: After taking a second look at the pictures, it seems like my socks are actually mismatched. As we can see, I personally don't seem to care much about anything... But I sure will tell the girls to be more careful not to mismatch my socks next time... :P
/...\ 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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Peter P
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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by Peter P » Tue Mar 07, 2023 4:30 pm

Johnny wrote:
Tue Mar 07, 2023 10:15 am
As for the socks, well, I honestly have no idea. Verily, I say unto you, I didn't buy a single piece of clothing for the last 17 years. Thanks to the Jedi Princesses, they all magically appear on top of my piles of clothes in the bedroom. They take care of everything for me.
That sounds like a very charmed life Johnny!



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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by Inspiredcapers » Thu Mar 09, 2023 12:25 pm

Hi Johnny,

Is there any comparison that you’d care to comment on between this boot and the Alfa FREE A/P/S regarding up and down use? Am I correct in understanding both have considerable ankle support (for a leather boot)? Yet there’s a softer sole you’ve mentioned on the Pionner Tech…I’d assume softer than the one you mentioned on the Alfa Free?



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Johnny
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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by Johnny » Tue Mar 14, 2023 9:19 am

telerat wrote:
Mon Mar 06, 2023 7:30 am
I managed to test the Pioneer Pro in a shop and came away fairly unimpressed.

I'm very curious... Could you please tell us which boots exactly had impressed you in the last decades? Because for me, the Pioneers are just the most mind-blowing boot I have seen in 45 years of skiing... So if you're unimpressed with them, you will understand that I'm very, very curious to know about the boots that you find impressive... Please tell us more about your impressive boots, I really want to know about them!

Peter P wrote:
Tue Mar 07, 2023 4:30 pm
That sounds like a very charmed life Johnny!

Indeed! But that is just because I omitted to mention all the major annoyances... 8-)

Inspiredcapers wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2023 12:25 pm
Is there any comparison that you’d care to comment on between this boot and the Alfa FREE A/P/S regarding up and down use? Am I correct in understanding both have considerable ankle support (for a leather boot)? Yet there’s a softer sole you’ve mentioned on the Pionner Tech…I’d assume softer than the one you mentioned on the Alfa Free?

That is pretty much what I did, I mentioned the Alfa Free like 4 times in my review... 8-)

On the up, the Tech boots feel like you're naked, while the Free feel like having your foot in a cast. Of course you have the possibility to release the BOAs on the Free to sort of compensate for this, but they still feel a bit bulky compared to the Techs, which will show at the end of the day. The Techs can actually feel a bit like this if you lace them very tight, but without the bulky/cast feeling. The techs are also significantly lighter, 17% lighter than the Frees actually, and you can feel it.

On the down, the Tech offers a super easy way to make telemark turns, like what we are used to with 75mm and NNN-BC. With smooth, natural flexing bellows at the toes like we were used to since the beginning of telemark. On the other hand, the Free is super hard to flex and quite hard to flatten, so it makes telemark turns quite tricky to perform. In fact, while the Free makes a great alpine-style downhill boot and a great nordic boot, I don't think it was ever intended for telemark. Both are amazing boots, it all depends on what you do. ;)
/...\ 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: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by lilcliffy » Tue Mar 14, 2023 9:26 am

Johnny wrote:
Tue Mar 14, 2023 9:19 am
On the down, the Tech offers a super easy way to make telemark turns, like what we are used to with 75mm and NNN-BC. With smooth, natural flexing bellows at the toes like we were used to since the beginning of telemark. On the other hand, the Free is quite hard to flatten and makes telemark turns quite tricky to perform. In fact, while the Free makes a great alpine-style downhill boot and a great nordic boot, I don't think it was ever intended for telemark. Both are amazing boots, it all depends on what you do. ;)
This is a big deal for me-
the Free boot's flex does not suit me- similar to the Fischer Transnordic.
I want/need to be ably to "freely" use Nordic-downhill turn techniques (including the Telemark).
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.



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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by Inspiredcapers » Tue Mar 14, 2023 8:36 pm

Hey Johnny, thanks for the additional insight. Should’ve reread your initial comments before posting, somehow I zoned out on your comparison of the two boots (Night Shift Brain gives me the Dumbs).

The Tech sounds quite desirable. I’m enjoying the Fischer BCX Traverse but find them extremely warm in moderate conditions and it seems like the Pioneer is almost half a pound lighter.



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Re: 2024 Alpina Pioneer TECH XP Backcountry/Telemark ski boot review XPLORE

Post by telerat » Wed Mar 15, 2023 10:58 am

Johnny wrote:
Tue Mar 14, 2023 9:19 am
telerat wrote:
Mon Mar 06, 2023 7:30 am
I managed to test the Pioneer Pro in a shop and came away fairly unimpressed.
I'm very curious... Could you please tell us which boots exactly had impressed you in the last decades? Because for me, the Pioneers are just the most mind-blowing boot I have seen in 45 years of skiing... So if you're unimpressed with them, you will understand that I'm very, very curious to know about the boots that you find impressive... Please tell us more about your impressive boots, I really want to know about them!
I'm not easily impressed, so no ski or telemark boots so far, except perhaps the original Scarpa Terminator. The closest recently is the Alfa Free, but toe crunch and a few other details hold it back and prevent me from buying it even though I really want such a boot. It's not an all-round boot though. My Alfa Skaget is so far the best ski boot for varying terrain I have used; It is fairly simple in its design but well executed. Skaget is snug fitting, easy to lace as tight or loose as one wants in three zones, relatively comfortable (when laced, as before it doesn't feel so) and the three eyelets on the shaft makes it easy to lace up tight for good support on descents. Skaget still flexes nicely back and forth, but could be better for long, fast, flat tours. Any boot has compromises, and one should choose the one(s) that suits one's use case(s) best.

Regarding the Pioneer Pro; After reading you glowing review my hopes were higher than the boot seemed to deliver on. Caveat: I often prefers snug fitting boots (both for skiing, hiking and climbing), with some support. Pioneer Pro with a wide toe box and lacing starting further back felt loose, and the shaft felt noticeably softer and less supportive than Skaget. The sole also felt softer and less torsional rigid, so to me it felt more like a comfortable boot for flat skiing.

This Alpina Pioneer Tech XP looks (to me) like a much more interesting boot.



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