Last season the ski world took notice when Scarpa rolled out its new quiver-killer boot. The 4 Quattro XT is billed as the lightest hybrid GripWalk-compatible boot out there, and I was lucky enough to snag a pair for a trip to France and Italy last March. My first impressions?
From Verde Brand Communications
From Verde Brand Communications
Blue! I love blue boots.
Light! But only a little lighter than my Atomics.
Small! Now this is something. The BSL on my 25.5 is 282, much closer to an ultralight touring boot than your usual hybrid from Atomic or Lange. Not only that, but the stand height is quite a bit lower, and there is just not much material in the clog.
Not so small! It is a four-buckle boot with a normal alpine boot cuff.
Agile! With a 61° range of motion, full rubber sole, and the aforementioned tiny clog, they are like dancing shoes. More on that later.
I am a convert to hybrid boots for resort and touring. I got into Lange’s first Freetour and never looked back. I used several iterations of that boot, and then moved on to Atomic’s Hawx Ultra XTD 120, which so far has been one of the better fits for me. My own ski feet can be described as low-volume heels, healthy insteps, bony shins, and sad, sad toes. I keep trying lighter-weight touring boots but I just can’t adjust to the downhill. I feel … naked. (Sidenote: PM me if you want to buy a barely used pair of Atomic Backland Carbons in 25.5.) Conversely, I am over spending all day in boots that don’t have walk mode and rubber soles.
Here are some photos to compare the outward shapes and sizes of these three boots. They are all size 25.5; the Ultra XTDs have an aftermarket Booster and Palau liners, the others have stock liners and straps. BSLs are 292, 282, and 278.
You can see how much lower the Scarpa sits than the others, and just how much smaller the clog is — but not the cuff. Speaking of the cuff, it does appear to be shorter, but I think it is about the same once you factor in how much lower your foot sits in the boot. The liner is from Intuition. It is nice, but it is thin, so beware when baking it: too long and it will get floppy. Don’t ask me how I know this.
The walk mechanism is simple to use, even in gloves. The pull tab will most likely break at some point, but it seems easy enough to replace. Unfortunately we experienced a bit of a drought while in France, so I can’t say if snow clogs anything up, but I didn’t experience any trouble during light tours in Colorado.
I think the power strap is actually made by Booster; it has the three bands and I’m guessing it’s the Expert version. The hook makes it easier to use because you don’t have to thread the strap through the buckle every time you put your boots on. Just hook the strap and pull to tighten (or loosen). I had no issues with the buckles, either; everything worked as advertised.
One of the 4 Quattro’s selling points is its sole. The full-length rubber sole is also GripWalk-compatible, a first in the industry. Obviously it also sports fittings for use in tech bindings.
So how do they ski? My first day was in the resort on narrower skis with alpine bindings; I happily cruised groomers and found the boots to be snappy and responsive. I noticed and appreciated the lateral stiffness. Honestly, I haven’t really thought about the flex, which means it must be just right for me. Rated as 130s, the boots hold me up fine when groomer zooming but aren’t too stiff in soft snow, either. Yes, the numbers are subjective, but I tend to prefer boots around 120, which means these are not uber-stiff hunks of plastic.
Everyone’s foot needs are different, so I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole, but just as a data point, I generally always need to pad up my ankle area and add a heel lift. Tongues move sideways and I get bruises on my bony shins. All these things happened with the Scarpas, too.
I can’t really say much about forward lean. It is advertised as 15°, 17°, and 19°, but I never touched it. (One of my other challenges with boots is a long inseam and a short BSL. This is a really short BSL, and I had some experimental shimming going on with my bindings, so the fore-aft situation is still fluid.)
The last is 100. I tried on Scarpa’s Freedom boots a few years ago, and the toe box was way too tight and would have needed a ton of work. These are wider and felt great initially, but that was winter. After our first long, warm day in France, I was desperate to blow them out a bit. The ceiling, on the other hand, is higher than my other boots (even though it doesn’t look like it) and my toes are much happier in that regard.
Range of motion is 61°, which is plenty for me, but just in hand testing it, the aft range isn’t quite like a dedicated touring boot. Speaking of motion, for those of you who need to operate vehicles while in ski boots, these are hands down the easiest I ever used for driving — much better than most of my regular snow boots, in fact. That is the positive part of the thin clog; the negative is that there isn’t a lot of material to dampen your experience in rough snow. We had a day in coral reef, and combined with my carbon skis and little bitty touring bindings, there wasn’t much absorption happening. Ouch.
Liners. Ah. Well. An Intuition comes with it; it’s fairly thin so I did experiment with my endless supply of aftermarket liners: I tried a 25 Zipfit touring liner, and it was way too thick. Even my old 24 Garas didn’t fit, so maybe that helps with questions about boot volume. Next will be the Palaus but I ended the season with the stock liner and lots of Gorilla tape. (Like the forward lean, this is still a work in progress on my own pair.)
Europe was a great test because you live in your boots there. I walked up mountains with skis on, I walked down mountains with crampons on. I walked to the bus stop, I walked up 500-something stairs, I walked to après, I walked home. I climbed into and out of helicopters, I climbed onto tables at La Folie Douce. I skied ice, I skied coral reef, I skied dust, I skied sastrugi, I skied breakable crust, I skied a little bit of corn, I skied uh yeah we didn’t get anything better than that so we’ll stop there. I used them on skis from 84 to 106 underfoot. (I did not wear them to drive the rental car, though, just in case Hertz is reading this.)
- Who are they for? You use your boots for lots of things. You need them to ski, walk, ride lifts, hike, skin, climb, sled, drive, fly, dance, cook, whatever — and you want just one pair, one that is pretty stiff and not a boat.
- Who are they not for? You carry your gear to a locker room, boot up, ride a lift, ski down a hill, and repeat. (Even then, as long as you aren’t the biggest baddest fastest one out there, the 4 Quattro is still an attractive option.)
- Insider tip: The 4 Quattro may be the successor to the Freedom, but it is much closer to the weight of the Maestrale (around 1500 g per boot).