After trying various Garmont and Scarpa tele boots I found Crispi, an Italian brand that fits my feet perfectly: wide and high volume. I ordered the XP’s as they were described to have the broadest versatility, especially for a relatively new telemark skier. Medium weight to help punch through any crud snow and plenty stiff for tight response. These boots have served me well in all conditions from crusey groomers to earning turns in the backcountry. Most importantly they are very comfortable and my feet are totally secure in them. My heel stays in place and I’ve never had any issues of rubbing, blistering or cramping. I skied on them for a full season before I baked the thermal liners. After molding the liners to my feet I found a whole new level of comfort and control. The boots are also plenty warm which is very important when on a backcountry lunch break between climbs and runs sitting around in the snow. I have yet to take these boots on a multi-day tour to see what it’s like to put them on after sitting out overnight in the cold, but hopefully that will come soon.
The Crispi XP’s soft rubber Skywalk sole grips the snow well when walking around on compact snow and the duckbill is strong and stiff enough to punch enough of a lip to step on when booting it up sections too steep to make it worth while to skin up.
My few concerns stem from how easily the tongue under each of the upper buckles sometimes mesh the wrong way. I usually catch this when it becomes ridiculously difficult to lock the buckle down and after catching this the first time I know to keep an eye out for this. Also, the power strap is way too long. It makes me wonder how fat of a leg it can accommodate. Maybe it’s that long to work as a shoulder strap when strapping the boots together to carry them, but I’m not sure as I have a boot bag for them. Another little annoyance is having to flip up the D-ring where the leash attaches. I don’t really have a well thought out solution in mind, but if the D-ring could somehow stick out some and not just rest right up against the boot, it would make it easier to attach the ski leash.
Ironically, the morning after I posted this review, the tongue of the left boot snapped off. Actually, it didn’t even snap. I reached under the bench to grab the boot to put it on and all that came out was the tongue. No pop, crack, or any resistance. A little confounded I just stared at it for a moment.
Many of my previous gear reviews have commented on the customer service of the companies, sometimes more so than actually the equipment itself. Well, I can now report that the Crispi reps for the US, Alpina Sports, are great. I connected with Ken who got the part number from me and said “yup, I have one of those, in charcoal gray instead of blue, is that OK?” That was fine by me and he put it in the mail, no charge. It should be a pretty easy fix with just two very accessible hex screws.
So, with a few more days on the mountain, I needed another pair of boots. So I took the gondola down into Breckenridge Town and stopped by Mountain Outfitters, one of the very few places in Breck to carry tele gear. They don’t cary Crispi, so I got a pair of shiny red Scarpa T-race boots. If I get a feel for them, maybe I’ll post a review on those as well. As was typical for me and Scarpa, they ran a little narrow so I had to size up for the best fit.
I’ve also come to realize in skiing on the Scarpa boots, the ring for the safety leash is further up on the top of the foot, actually on top of the first (lowest) buckle while on the Crispi boot, the ring is along the side of the boot. This may have placed the shackle for the safety leash, which broke while on some hard packed steep terrain, at risk putting the fault of the break on the boot instead of the G3 binding. I suspect the shackle somehow ended up between the snow and the metal edge of the K2 Work Stinx ski. Since the shackle was spliced into the cable leash, I had to replace the whole thing with a small piece of webbing. Fortunately, the shackles can be picked up pretty cheaply at a hardware store (in the marine section of all places!).
These boots are going on their 4th season of pretty rigorous use and they are holding up remarkably. If and when I need another pair of tele boots, I’m sure they will be Crispi’s.