Alpine touring equipment has long intrigued serious alpine skiers looking for access to the backcountry. But even with the introduction of bindings with good release functions, the lineup of alpine touring boots had a serious limiting factor — just too wimpy.

That’s no longer the case, though, with the Garmont Adrenalin, the first AT boot that really competes with high-end alpine ski boots. Indeed, it’s the first boot that has interchangeable outsoles: a standard flat alpine sole and a rockered AT sole for better walking.

Switching the outsoles takes about five minutes (11 screws per boot), so most people will seldom bother. But it does give an AT skier the option to demo alpine skis, or vice versa, without compromising performance. And for skiers who hike a lot over rocky terrain, replacing a worn down outsole is now simple.

While the swappable outsole is a unique feature, what really distinguishes the Adrenalin from all previous AT boots is the stiffness. Thanks to graphite inserts, double overlap cuff and co-molded tongue, these offer significantly more control than all but the most high-end alpine race boots. Yet they aren’t too stiff either, even when in the cold, since a progressive forward flex is desirable; this can be tuned by positioning the powerstrap inside or outside the tongue.

The new G-Fit 2 thermoformable liner has a thicker tongue and more reinforcement in the cuff as well. Anyone seeking this level of performance will also be adding custom-molded footbeds. It’s difficult to judge fit and performance until the boots have been dialed in so keep that in mind if you demo a pair.

At 8 pounds, 4 oounces (size 27.5), these are about the same weight as high-end telemark boots and lighter than most alpine equivalents. In walk mode, the forward flex is the same as all other AT boots. Where the Adrenalin is a bit disappointing is the rearward flex when walking; they are rather clunky hiking downhill. We remedied this drawback ourselves by trimming the inside lower edge of the cuff in our test pair with an X-Acto knife — but keep in mind if you decide to attempt this yourself, you are modifying the boot and as a result, voiding any warrantee as a result.

Garmont ships the Adrenalin with the AT outsole installed. However, alpine ski shops would do well to swap the outsole off a floor sample and put this up on the alpine boot wall. Typically, shops hide AT and tele boots in some obscure corner and that’s a disservice to customers who should be told there is finally a good crossover option. The Adrenalin won’t satisfy the most demanding alpine skiers, but it’s more than enough for the majority of expert skiers.

Although it is currently the most expensive AT boot on the market ($629), the tremendous versatility and performance put the Garmont Adrenalin in a class of its own — there’s little reason to own alpine boots anymore. This is an ideal match up to the Fritschi Freeride or Naxo N1 bindings mounted on the biggest boards you care to handle. Time to rip!

SNEWS® Applause Meter: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $629

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