Though we have reviewed other footwear from Arc'teryx (like the leather Acrux SL Approach shoe), this is the first ski-oriented boot we have tested. Arc'teryx is known most for its outstanding apparel offerings, many of which we have sampled and reviewed (see Arc'teryx Rush LT Jacket and Pants, Arc'teryx Alpha IS Jacket, and Arc'teryx Procline Hybrid Hoody and Procline FL Pants for a sample).
The Procline series of boots had an ambitious design objective, for sure. Just looking at the boot, you can see how they have "stuck their neck out" in the innovation category. If you think the Procline boots look like the Salomon S-Lab X-Alp boots we reviewed, you'd be correct. Salomon and Arc'teryx are owned by the same mothership and the design of the boots was a collaborative effort—though each boot has some distinct features, the overall design is similar.
Here is a fore and rear view. We'll zoom in on individual features a little later—this is just a taste.
Outside and inside. Note the carbon fibre cuff and fabric gaiter. Who made that alpine boot that was part fabric, part plastic? It may have been Nordica. Nowhere near as elegant a design as this...
Here below is the walk mechanism up close. See those little cut-outs above the 360 at left, and at right. To engage the ski mode, you push the metal lever down, lining up the "convex" shapes on the cuff with the cut-outs. I have had mixed success with this endeavour. It may work in terms of physics, but I found it a little difficult and finicky in practice—especially if the boots are on and you're looking back trying to line things up and change modes.
'love this feature. Here is a close-up of the forefoot buckle. The blue piece is sprung such that the buckle is held in place when open on the uptrack. Want to crank it for the down? Just snap it shut. Note that this buckle tensions an S wire for a uniform fit across the top of your foot.
This is the power strap program. I like the widening effect up front, but I am not too fond of the closure that requires you to thread the strapping through the slot to tighten and pinch the grooved bit to loosen. Again, like the walk/ski mode, I don't find it to be very practical—especially if you've got cold digits.
Here we are looking in, sans liner. You can see the carbon-fibre cuff that makes for such a stiff boot. You can also see the gaiter here (back loop aft and scrunched up a bit in the front). I am not sure what need/problem the gaiters are intended to address and they get in the way of inserting the liner, and also get tangled a bit with the tongue.
Here is the liner and sole. The other boots in the Procline line have beefier soles for mountaineering. The ski-touring-focused Procline AR Carbon's sole is all you need for touring and the occasional scramble.
Outsole: Vibram TOP85 Touring sole
Liner: Lite AR Liner thermoformable closed cell foam
Shell: Ultralight ULTRAMID 1000MPa
I have had these boots for the season and have some good and not-so-good impressions to share. First off, let me tell you where I skied them and with what... these are touring specific boots that have accompanied me into the Whitewater Ski Resort slackcountry on many occasions, for an overnight hut trip and to Kootenay Pass. I have never skied them at the resort—though I guess it'd be possible in a pinch.
I have them paired with a set of DPS Wailer 112 Alchemist skis and Dynafit TLT bindings. This is a light set-up, for sure. Though the skis are 112 underfoot, they are full carbon and weigh in at a little more than 4lbs per ski. I weigh 173lbs and am not a particularly aggressive skier. I scramble along the occasional ridge-top but I am not a ski mountaineer. I am sharing all this because it's important to know in evaluating the Procline AR carbon boots and whether they are right for you.
The flex rating—as we know—can be a little arbitrary and is best used as a means to judge boot stiffness within a brand's various models. For example, I say the Procline AR's rating of 110 may be a little generous when compared to similar rated boots from different brands. The Scarpa F1, which I also ski on, is listed at 95 and, from my experience, both boots are equally stiff.
So how about drilling down on the boots? The Procline AR's are remarkably comfortable on the uptrack and for après—like, bedroom-slipper comfy. If you want a mini upgrade, swap out the stock liners for some Intuitions--but you'll need the thin/light ones. On the down, they are plenty stiff for me and my 112 underfoot set-up. Anything fatter or heavier might be better matched with a burlier boot. I am the kind of guy who appreciates a lighter boot on the uptrack and doesn't need anything too stiff to have a lot of fun. I have noticed that, when flexed pretty hard, the lower "shoe" of the boot tends to bow a little bit—but this doesn't impact performance.
My challenge with the Proclines is on the transitions. I find the walk/ski mechanism difficult to engage. I have trouble lining up the nubs with the cut-out (see image above); perhaps I have yet to figure out the best way. I also don't like how the mechanism tends to hang off the back of your boot in walk mode, making a tidy tuck of all the bits into your pant leg tricky. The cam on the power-strap is also a little fiddly. Some other boot makers (like Dynafit's latest Vulcan) have a little pull loop that allows for more easy loosening of the cam.
To summarize, I think the boot skis great and is remarkably light and comfortable. If improvements were made to the power strap and walk mechanism, making transitions a little easier, it'd get two, rather than one and a half, thumbs up.
A word on size...I usually ski a 27.5 mondo but in the Proclines, I went with a 28\28.5 shell. Try 'em on before you buy 'em.
Price: $1,100CAN / $900US
Weight: 2.6kg / 5.73lb (27)
Range of Motion: 77º
Lean Angle: 14º
Cuff Rotation 2/2
Quality / Price 1/2
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