There's a new kid in town; the Scott Superguide carbon. Think about is as the renowned Scott Cosmos touring boot but on a heavy dose of performance enhancing drugs. The Ski Club's resident Kit & Equipment Expert, Al Morgan, has been lucky enough to test a pair, and here's what he thinks.

Scott Sports make some fantastic touring products, and in 2012 they took on board the Garmont brand. Since then Scott Sports has worked on the ski boot range, developing some superb touring and downhill boots. At the same time, they acquired Garmont’s Life-link range, allowing them to offer a true all-round free ride and touring range. The only things they do not currently offer are transceivers or their own bindings, but they do work closely with some big names in ski bindings, like Amer (Salomon/Atomic) and Diamir.

Scott touring boots are popular amongst the touring fraternity and for this winter they’ve enhanced their range with the Superguide Carbon.

This is what Scott Sports has to say about the new boot -

"The SCOTT Superguide Carbon is the next step of ski boot evolution. For 2015-16, we introduce the New POWERLITE Carbon shell, combining strength and stability with carbon frame inlays from a Grilamid® material injection. This lightweight technology allows for perfect and precise mobility of the foot on the up and strong stability during the down. SCOTT also proudly introduces the first liner to use GORE-TEX® technology, keeping feet dry in all conditions. Throw on Dyanfit certified tech inserts and this is the boot every mountain explorer was dreaming of last winter and will be using this winter."

So, how does the real thing compare to what Scott would like us to believe?
I was kindly provided a pair by Scott Sports to test and here’s my report of what they’re like.

I would like to start by making one thing very clear: there is no tie in and this is a warts-and-all assessment. I, and the Ski Club, are not being paid by Scott Sports and I am under no obligation to write a favorable result. This is exactly my experience and opinion of the boots. This is how I test all products – on their merit only and not on what a brand may (or may not) want me to think or say.

Scott Superguide Carbon ski boot test by Al Morgan

My first test with these boots was on my skis I use most of the time – Blizzard Cochise with Marker Baron bindings. I then got to ski them on other free-tour rigs and see how the boots dealt with them.

The Scott Superguide Carbon’s are 103.5mm last, and I did no work at all on these to customise them to my foot shape, apart from heat moulding the liner. I used my custom footbeds in the liner rather than the ones that come in the boot. I found I did not need to do any work on the shell of this boot. The shell is a great shape around the forefoot and the heel hold is superb. The toe box is tapered on both sides a little, so if you’re used to a very square toe box in your boots this is worth noting, in particular the taper around the big toe.

The liner is pretty special in that it is Gore-tex lined – meaning your feet should stay drier and therefore warmer when it is cold or more comfortable in the warmer spring months (when boot liners tend to get damp due to melting snow coming in). The liner comes out of the same factory as Intuition liners, although it is not branded as an Intuition liner and Scott are not allowed to call it an Intuition liner. The liner does mould like an Intuition liner, and the fit and warmth are very good as a result of the foam used and the Gore-tex membrane. The liner comes with a nice and easy lace system which helps hold your leg and foot in the boot and makes it easy to keep the liner on, such as when using them as hut boots. The laces can make it more difficult to get the boot on and I found it worth ensuring the laces were pulled loose at the bottom of the boot (as well as the top) as then it was easier to get them on. They are not as easy as some boots to get on, but then the skiing performance and foot/heel hold is excellent as a result of this snug fit – as always with touring boots, there are compromises to accept.

The shell is made of Grilamid, a plastic used in many touring boots, reinforced with carbon in key areas. It is not as thermo stable as Pebax (thermo stable means the boot keeps the same flex irrespective of the temperature) but the flex does not change as much as regular downhill boots as the temperature changes. Grilamid is light, as is Pebax, but it is easier to work on should you need to customize the boot. You may see images of this boot with adjustable canting on the pivot, but the boot does not have adjustable canting. The buckles have ladder gates on the cuff, so the bails do not come undone when you’re skinning, and the buckles on the clog of the boot are reversed (clips on the top of the boot rather than the side of the foot) meaning they don’t get knocked undone when walking in snow or touring. The clog buckles (the ones over the foot) also flip out of the way nicely when undone, making it easier to get into and out of the boot. The top buckle of the boot is a combination of metal and material, so acts as the top buckle and power strap. This system is similar to that seen on a number of other freeride and free-tour boots and works fine, although some may like the locked in feel of a standard metal buckle and separate power strap. For me, the weight saving is worth the compromise and the combined strap/buckle makes it easier to go into a comfortable skinning mode. There is a little metal lever on the back of the boot for moving between ski mode and walk mode – this is very easy to locate and move from one mode to the other, even without lifting the cuff of your ski pants up. There is a metal bar running up the spine of the boot. In ski mode a pin in the ski/walk mechanism engages with this hole and locks you into the 11.5 degree skiing position. I like this position and it is a lot less aggressive than some other touring boots I have used. This more upright position works really well with modern free tour skis. When in tour mode there is plenty of fore-aft rotation in the cuff. Scott claims this to be 60 degrees, which is comparable with many other touring boots and is easily enough to allow a comfortable and natural stride when skinning. I do not tend to use the full rotation when skinning, so for me I don’t need to look for boots with more than 60 degrees of rotation.

The sole of the boot uses Vibram rubber and is as grippy as you would expect, with a rubber footboard inside the shell to help dampen vibrations and keep your feet warmer. The boot meets the Touring DIN ISO norm 9523, meaning it can be used with appropriate touring bindings. The boot also has Dynafit certified tech inserts. As the boot is Pin Tech and Touring Norm compatible it means you can use it with the Marker Kingpin binding, which is a real advantage over some other boots. I am a big fan of the Kingpin so was very pleased this boot could be used with them without any alteration. The toe lug has arrows on the top showing where the tech inserts are which makes it much easier to engage the toe of the boot into pin bindings.

How do the boots ski?

Surprisingly well! These boots are light, meaning they save you a lot of expended energy on the way up, leaving you more in the tank for the ski down. I weighed them at 1,463g per boot (without footbed), in size 26.5MP, which is slightly heavier than the 1,415g claimed by Scott for the same size. This is far lighter than the breed of freeride boots with a walk mode, and comparable with other lightweight free-tour boots on the market. If weight is your main concern you can go much lighter than this, getting under 1kg per boot but then you can really compromise the skiing performance. For me, this boot offers an excellent blend of lightness and skiing performance. I skied with them on my really heavy, burly touring set up and these boots exceeded my expectations by a long shot. I have used many touring boots, so had a good benchmark, and the lateral stiffness (side to side) of these boots was impressive. It was easily enough to drive my Cochise skis on all but the hardest of piste, and off piste the boots performed really well. The construction of the boot offers a really sensitive touch when feeling what is happening under the skis, making it quick and easy to make even small adjustments. The stiffness of the boot means you can really drive through the ski when making bigger adjustments.

This boot is not as beefy as my 130 flex downhill boots, but it is not competing with that kind of boot either. As a result though the Superguide Carbon’s do not allow you to push the ski at the upper end of speed on hard snow, but in softer snow you do not lack the performance you need.

I also skied this boot with a number of other skis – like the Blizzard Zero G 95, Scott Superguide 95, Salomon MTN Explore 95, Volkl BMT 94 and more. This is where this boot really excels. A dedicated free-tour ski and modern Pin Tech binding, like the Maker Kingpin, Diamir Vipec and Diamir Radical 2.0 is a superb set up but needs the right boot. The Scott Superguide Carbon sits perfectly along side any of these skis/bindings. The boots are very light making skinning up a breeze, and the walk mode on the boot gives more than enough range for efficient skinning (and hiking, if you’re starting below the snow line or headed along a rocky ridge). Going into ski mode is very quick and easy and you don’t have to wrestle a tongue stiffener into the boot, like some models.

Who's this boot for?

If you skin at all then having a touring style boot makes it far easier and more pleasant than doing it in your regular downhill boots. Until recently this meant really sacrificing the skiing performance. The Scott Superguide Carbon offers a superb compromise of lightness and performance when skinning. They ski so well you could use them on many of the regular lighter weight free ride skis out there – but I would look at regular downhill or freeride boots if you are using stiffer freeride or big mountain skis.

If you’re looking at modern free-tour skis then you really do need to try this boot on and see if it works for your foot shape as it performs so well with that kind of set up.

If you want to use Marker Kingpin bindings then you need a boot that is Pin Tech and DIN ISO 9523 – not all are, but the Scott Superguide Carbon is. If the boots you use are not 9523 compliant then there could be issues of heel retention in the Kingpin.

If you’re mainly about skinning and not the skiing then again there are lighter boots you would look at really, and accept that they will offer a poorer experience when skiing down.

In summary, if you love skiing and want to ski off piste more and get away from the madding crowd, then the Superguide Carbon is a great boot and one I strongly encourage you to look at. If you have a light freeride ski with a touring binding then this boot works really well, and it is one of the key boots to try if you’re interested in the modern range of free-tour skis and bindings.

To give you an idea of what I feel of this boot - recently I was testing next season's skis and I could not wait to test the free-tour skis (a category I love) and it meant I could again ski in these boots. I put the Superguide Carbon's on and remembered how much I love them; happy days and very happy skiing!

If you want to know more about free-tour skis then visit our ski tests online. If you’re a Ski Club member and have any questions about kit or equipment then you can contact me, Al Morgan, via Ask the Expert online or by calling 020 8410 2009.