By Russell Rainey
I have always preferred lower, lighter, more flexible boots.
The first buckled boot I owned was the original Terminator, and
I got those solely for testing bindings. Before that, I had Asolo
Snowpines and loved them. The first plastic boot I skied regularly
was the original T2, and I switched to the T3 as soon as it came
out. The last couple of years I have been skiing the Garmont
1) The sole is one piece and goes completely from the toe to
the heel. Many new boots have eliminated the sole at the instep
for weight savings, which I appreciate, but if you hike and climb
much, the unprotected instep portion gets some serious wear and
tear. Designing the Excursion for plenty of hiking and climbing,
Garmont protected the instep with a light one-piece sole.
2) There is no mechanism to lock the cuff
in a forward lean position. I consider this a nice omission which
saves weight and expense. I never lock my cuffs forward anyway.
Locking the cuff is the perfect way to load up an ACL. Ouch!
I will gladly fall down when I get thrown in the back seat, rather
than expose my ACL to injury by levering myself back into the
front seat. A knee surgeon friend educated me to this danger
several years ago.
3) The buckles and straps are light and simple.
4) The inner boot is very nice with no laces
and a power strap. No laces makes getting the boots on and off
easier, and the power strap does offer a little more downhill
Weights and Measures:
I did some weighing and measuring for comparison purposes. Shell
weights for all the boots are listed, but only the Excursion
and the new T2 have shell and liner weights listed. Weights were
obtained on a digital scale accurate to tenths of an ounce and
rounded to the nearest ½ ounce. Only one boot was weighed
so double the amount for a pair. I normally use Thermo-Fit liners
from Intuition which weigh 5 ounces each. Shell cuff height was
measured from inside the shell heel to the back of the shell
cuff. All boots fit a men's size 11 foot.
- Garmont Excursion - 51 oz., 38 oz., 7 ¾"
- Scarpa New T2 - 67 oz., 47 oz., 8 ¼"
- Crispi CXA - n/a, 49 oz, 8"
- Garmont Veloce - n/a, 50 oz., 8 1/8"
- Garmont Libero - n/a, 45 oz., 7 ¼"
- Garmont Libero w/modified sole - n/a, 42
oz., 7 ¼"
That means a pair of Excursions weighs in
exactly 2 pounds lighter than a pair of new T2s, which are excellent
boots and relatively light for as much horsepower as they offer.
The fit is snug in the back half and very roomy up front for
more touring comfort and warmth. Using Thermo-Fits eliminates
any fit issues if your foot doesn't naturally fit a particular
plastic boot well. I have a men's 11 foot, and the 28.5 Excursions
are the correct size for me.
Initial Flexing and Hiking:
Just flexing the boot inside the house you could tell this was
going to be a nice touring boot. After doing some hiking and
climbing, I was VERY pleased with how comfortable the boot was.
The overall flex these boots provide allows a much more natural
feel and stride than I have ever had in a plastic boot. Very,
As you would expect, the touring was superb. About like a well
broken in pair of Merrell Ultras or Asolo Extremes (remember
those). These boots just make you want to travel! I set the buckles
with a medium amount of tension and leave them like that all
This was the real test. The fact that they hike and tour well
is no surprise, but how much horsepower do they have? The answer
was a pleasant, "Much more than you'd think." They
were the equal of a Libero or an original T3 (I understand the
new T3s are stiffer). If you know how to ski lower, lighter,
more flexible boots then these boots can be skied just about
Turning lower, lighter, more flexible boots
does require you to ski out of your ankles more than your knees.
They also require more foot steering. For years, I have watched
my buddy Tom Turiano ski some incredibly steep and difficult
slopes with his lace-up Merrell doubles. Tom has made more first
ski descents than anyone in the Tetons, and most of them were
on his lace up boots. The point is that light boots can ski much
more than many would have you think. Big, tall, stiff plastic
boots are not always necessary, and for me, skiing lower, lighter,
flexible boots is a more intimate and freeing experience.
I took the Excursions out to Snow King for
some test runs. I started out easy, but soon was at the top of
the steep Bearcat (40 degrees in spots), which is one of the
toughest in bounds runs in all of Jackson Hole. This day it had
big, irregular bumps covered with some chopped up powder and
junk. Good skiing, but not easy by any means. The Excursions
were up to the task. I couldn't believe how much control I had
with such a boot.
Now Garmont probably doesn't want to market
this as an area boot, but for those familiar with turning soft,
touring oriented boots, the Excursions can handle a variety of
in area terrain.
When used as marketed, the Excursions should be as durable as
any other plastic boot, but lots of area skiing may shorten their
I am going to give you the whole truth about how I got so much
performance out of such a soft boot, but it will undoubtedly
sound like an advertisement for my company's HammerHead, so beware.
I skied the Excursion in all 6 possible cable pivot positions
offered by the HammerHead. For backcountry touring and easy powder
I found the front position to work great, and I never needed
more power. In more difficult backcountry conditions I liked
the second or third position. It was at the area where I needed
all the power I could muster. I tried the third and fourth position
at the area, and for moderate skiing they were fine, but on the
tough slopes I needed the back position and plenty of cable tension.
The difference was immediately noticeable; there were slopes
I could not ski successfully until I moved the pivot point to
the back position.
I tried skiing some of the same terrain with
the exact same skis and SuperLoops. Now I love my SuperLoops,
but I have to say that with them the boot's downhill performance
was not nearly as impressive. Same with other bindings I tried.
For good turning performance these boots require a binding with
fixed cable pivots that are really far back.
Honestly, the HammerHead applies a lot more force to the ski
and stiffens up the boot torsionally in such a way that the boot
skis better. Much better. Okay, that's the end of the sales pitch,
but I didn't want you to ski an Excursion and be disappointed
with it's downhill performance. The Excursion can deliver power
to the ski, but the binding you use makes a huge difference.
Just as the binding you ski is important, so is the ski you ski.
Lower, lighter, more flexible boots need to be matched with an
appropriate ski. If you try to drive a TUA Sumo or an Atomic
10ex with the excursion, you will not be as successful as you
would be if you were skiing a light ski like the TUA Hydrogen.
A boot and ski need to be matched. Don't try to swat a fly with
I have mainly been skiing the TUA Hydrogen
and Helium with the Excursions. These skis perform like they
were made for this boot.
I have already fit Thermo-Fits to my excursions. Next, I plan
to cut the toe off, as I love to do, for better climbing, hiking,
At last years Winter Outdoor Retailer show, the Excursion was
the most exciting new product I saw (okay maybe the HammerHead,
but I already had one of those). I couldn't wait to give them
a try, but none of the prototypes were anywhere near my size.
Frustrated, I waited, and they were worth the wait. I love to
make the most with the least, and Garmont has made this more
possible with the Excursion. They allow those of us who miss
the freedom of a softer boot, but don't want to give up the control,
comfort, warmth and durability of plastic, to experience FreeHeel
skiing like we haven't in years.
Editor's note: Garmont boot designer Paul Parker has asked us to
make clear that the Excursion is designed with the kick and glide
in mind. "We don't want skiers to be disappointed and we
want them to know what they are getting," said Paul. We
agree, so I want to stress that in reviewing these skis for tele
turning performance we are doing so only as a service to expert
tele skiers who are looking for the challenge of doing more with
less. The Excursion should not be viewed as a cheaper alternative
to true tele turning boots or as equivalent in power and control
to backcountry telemark boots like the Libero or T-3. They are
Also, as the designer of the HammerHead, the
biases regarding bindings expressed by the author of this review
should be clear. With that in mind I will say this, I have been
using my Excursion/HammerHead combo with much success and satisfaction
so I believe his comments to be accurate. That is not to say
that in all cases some skiers will not prefer another binding
with the Excursions, but the HammerHead with its adjustability
is indeed an excellent match for those looking to squeeze every
ounce of downhill performance out of these plastic backcountry