A touring boot that skis like an alpine boot
The Aspen Times
A couple of years ago, I bought a pair of lightweight, alpine touring boots that I still love. My Garmont G-Rides fit perfectly and have taken me on many trips – hiking up Highland Bowl, touring in the backcountry and skinning up our local ski areas.
But I decided recently to invest in a bigger, beefier AT boot – not because I don’t like the G-Rides, but because I’d purchased a new pair of touring skis and I needed a heftier pair of boots to drive the heftier boards.
Funny how new ski gear can become a self-perpetuating money pit.
Anyway, I settled on a pair of Black Diamond Factors after doing some online browsing, talking to other skiers and, finally, demoing a pair for some ascending and descending. I’ve skied the Factors now for the better part of a season – in B.C. powder, in Highlands bumps, and skinning up Tiehack and in the backcountry – and they’re everything I had hoped.
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Though heavier than the G-Rides (7 pounds, 6 ounces for the G-Rides vs. 9 pounds, 2 ounces for the Factors) and thus harder to haul uphill, the Factors are comfortable and flexible for walking or uphilling. With the Boa cross-wired closure system, I can adjust the liners to fit as tightly or loosely as I want them. The liners even hug my Achilles tendons, which helps to hold my feet firmly in place.
So, though a little heavier, the boots walk nicely across icy pavement and tour comfortably up a backcountry ridge.
On the downhill, though, is where the Factors really shine. They ski like my Salomon alpine boots – stiff, powerful, with a clean, precise translation from foot to ski. In fact, they’re probably stronger and better than my alpine boots, which must be five or six years old by now.
Long story short, the Factors have become my boot of choice – for resort skiing or for touring and skinning. I’ll still use my G-Rides, but mostly for longer tours and uphills when time and weight are important.
I have heard complaints about the Factor – one from a friend who thought they were too stiff, and another from someone whose walk-ski adjustment had failed.
The first criticism came down, I think, to taste; this guy just wanted a more flexible boot (and stuck with his Garmonts, as I recall). The second complaint gave me pause. I haven’t detected any problems with the walk-ski lever on my Factors yet, so I’m hoping for the best.
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