Testers said that for a skier who'd like the power and stability of a fixed-cuff all-mountain boot for inbounds days, riding the chair, but who'd like the touring range of motion of a dedicated backcountry boot, the Lange XT3 Free 115 W MV offers a one-boot solution that comes with little compromise on either end of the hybrid performance spectrum. This is a claim that many brands make about their Freeride boots but in our experience few actually deliver on the combination of legit alpine descent capabilities with passable backcountry ascending skills. Lange's past attempts similarly failed on their touring range of motion and quality of cuff rotation feel, but the XT3 (new last year) has solved those problems, according to our testers.
A proper anatomical fit for the medium width foot and leg is found here, testers agreed, and the cuff height is appropriately tall (like a real ski boot) and offers a comfortably firm and progressive flex feel (if a little softer than the 115 labeling), they said. These qualities should not be taken for granted in the Freeride category--a boot that fits right, flexes right, goes down the hill without hesitation or miscue and tours back up in a functional way remains rare, if we're being honest. Testers say this is one of the few that executes well on all those fronts.
Testers note that the fully rockered backcountry-specific XT3 Tour W Pro is available for women this year after the men's-only launch last season, and for those skiers looking for a suitable BC mate to their fixed cuff frontside ride in a two-boot solution, that may be the way to go for a trekker that won't turn an otherwise good skier into a tip-wheelie-prone kook upon descent. However, our testers still like the GripWalk sole option and slightly beefier Dual Core polyurethane shell build of the XT3 Free for a sidecounty single quiver, one and done.
“Boot feels plush, roomy but consistent. So good! So good! (You've got to sing it like Sweet Caroline, the Neil Diamond song). Again, solid. I thought it reacted predictably and consistently turn for turn--great for experts but would also be nice for someone advanced intermediate and a bit tentative. ” -- Megen Johnson
“Yes! The fit is tapered from open front to snug rear. Secure. Consistent. This boot just works for its shape and category. It's got the true Lange last shape, with width and depth in the forefoot and midfoot, without being sloppy. Through the waist and lateral edge of the midfoot, there is cradling and support, but not too tight, or loose. It really seems to be made for the V-shaped foot. Heel counter is firm, but not pinchy. Range of motion in hike mode is great for a hybrid boot (it's not a pure touring boot). Not the lightest boot, but it's not needing to be in this category. It skis like an alpine boot; a little softer than the advertised 115, but still holds up well. Great for dancing during Apres for sure! ” -- Sam Tischendorf
“Crazy comfortable! I love the well-contoured overlap across the top of foot. What can I say, it's got pink bales! ” -- Liz Elling
“It's got the right weight, not light weight. Beautiful boot, classic Lange feel. Quick and nimble response from the lower boot. ” -- Emily Poore
“Flex is fine until you get too aggressive and then it can collapse at the instep. ” -- Liz Elling
“The clog and cuff don't seem to have a very good working relationship, like maybe a lack of communication. The clog seems to be a bit of an over-achiever and the cuff is just a strong, dumb gal, standing around. ” -- Emily Poore