A recent poster on our forum brought up the
subject of the life-span of telemark boots. As I bought a pair
of first-year Terminators and wore them for a very long time,
I thought my experience might just be useful and informative
for all of you.
I got my T's (back then there were just Terminators,
no T-2's or 3's) in February of '93 and opening up the box (I
got them in the mail) I felt just like a little kid on Christmas
day. Up to that point I had been through a major progression,
from light weight touring boots to Camp 7 leather tele boots
( basically a heavy hiking boot with a tele tip ) to the Camp
7's with a Lange alpine boot cuff bolted on in my home workshop,
to a pair of Merrell Supercomps on which the toe box ripped out
in a single season ( ouch! 5 c-notes down the drain ). So getting
the Scarpa's was a big deal, I had high expectations and was
As all of you regular readers know, I am not
afraid to express negative opinions on this site. This is not
happy-talk here. If a telemark product blows you will hear all
about it. Well, the original Terminators did not blow, in fact,
slipping my feet into these boots reminded me of one thing right
off the bat: it was like sliding into the driver's seat of my
friend's fifty thousand dollar (back then) Porsche. You could
just feel the performance before you even began to drive!
Sure, the later years brought many improvements
in flex and the improved buckles were smoother to operate, but
I will never forget how great those first new Scarpa's felt on
my feet! Tele'ing the first time in them was a revelation. For
one thing, there was no need to bother with super gaiters. These
boots were warm and the plastic did not need the protection.
The actual control and performance of these boots was like a
high end alpine boot, I was able to ski with a much more upright
stance. Also, it was immediately clear that these boots were
not going to require the maintenance that the leathers did: I
would get home, pull the liners out and let the sweat dry out
and that was it! No constant water-proofing required.
Enough of that, the debate concerning leather
vs. plastic has been over for years and has been clearly decided
by skiers voting with their wallets, so we go to my history of
these first plastic boots.
There was no break in period. The liners packed
out only a bit, far less than any alpine boot I have ever owned.
I immediately set about thrashing these boots thoroughly. Our
regular BC route in those day took us on stream bed exits, rappels
over a waterfall and a fair amount of rock scrambling. Long approach
hikes on dry trail in the Sierras were (and still are) a regular
spring time staple. All this off-piste was combined with a fair
amount of lift served as well.
So here is the report: I skied and hiked those
original boots on more then 100 days a year for five straight
years ( I used to be really, really obsessed, now I am only really
obsessed ). They are still skiable ( I gave them to a patroller
friend from our local mountain ) and I never had any major failures!
The buckles and straps did get hammered and I actually broke
one of the instep straps about two and a half inches from the
end but it was still workable, it just closed a bit tighter.
A quick aside: I have a ski partner who sent his original Scarpa's
in to BD and they replaced all the straps and buckles for about
$80.00, giving them new life!
As I mentioned on the Telemark Talk forum,
one thing that did occur was an elongation of the holes through
the cuff that the rivets that hold the cuff to the boot go through.
This resulted in a lot of play (about half an inch) up and down.
I actually never noticed this while skiing, just when inspecting
I have a friend who has skied a second year
pair of Terminators almost exclusively at the resort ( Mike Elliot,
the star of our Photogallery 2 ), his boots, as of this season
still look great and do not have all the play in the cuff that
mine developed. He must have six or seven seasons on his and
the difference in cosmetics between his boots and my old ones
is striking, the backcountry and dry trail hiking really take
a toll on the appearance of these boots. As far as functionality
though, their seems to be little difference.
I have yet to see or hear of an old pair of
Terminators cracking, splitting or having any kind of catastrophic
failure that we all used to worry so much about. I have heard
of Garmont's being sliced open by sharp ski edges in the bellows
area but I am told that they have fixed this problem.
So how long will a pair of plastic tele boots
last? The new Scarpa's come with a hang tag that says that they
should be replaced after five years due to wear and tear, but
in reality I am not sure that anyone really knows yet. I know
several tele'ers that are skiing on really old Terminators with
a heck of a lot of days on them so, who really knows? I am sure
as the years go on we will have a better idea, and perhaps BD's
five year mark is not that far off. The later models in the Terminator
line have been definitely softer so perhaps they will not be
as durable as the originals, but if my history with these boots
is any indication of longevity, than you should probably spend
your time worrying about other parts of your set up!