One of the few, true standard-bearers in the lightweight Backcountry descender class—testers once again put the Maestrale RS in the top group for its strong skiing character and superior touring mode performance.
Entry and exit are the Maestrale's Achilles heel—just busting the sideways-hinged external tongue out from under the buckle straps feels like cracking Dungeness crab and always seems like things are on the verge of breakage. But they don't break, and testers cram their feet in, getting a little crab claw snap on the top of the foot on the way past the boot's cabrio throat. Once in and on, testers like the close wrap around the foot—much narrower feeling than a 101mm last prior to cooking the liner, they said, but still good. The toebox and lateral side of the foot offer slightly more room to spread than the rest of the lower boot. The Axial Alpine cuff closure wraps the leg in a snug tube, with an initially firm feel at the top of the tongue against the shin that relaxed with some wear time or liner molding.
The Maestrale is slightly under-edged, stance-wise, giving it a loose schmeary feel underfoot that lends to easy steering moves at slower speeds, but once the edge angle spools up there's plenty of edge power there, testers said. They also mention that the elliptical lateral cuff adjustment made for an easy increase in inside edge power once tweaked. The flex feel is slightly softer than billed, testers thought, but they liked the smooth and progressive loading of power to the ski throughout the flex range. The tongue is made of Pebax, the upper cuff and lower boot both are made of polyamide, which is like Grilamid without the capital G brand name—a lightweight and snappy combination. The touring mode switch is simple and intuitive and when released the cuff glides like butter fore and aft in a long and ergonomic swing.
Testers liked the Intuition Pro Flex RS liner and said that full molding, with toecaps and pre-padding for bony prominences yielded a more medium-width fit tension—lace eyelets and double pull loops on the liner are nice add-ons. The grab-hole at the end of the power strap did not go unnoticed—good for hooking a finger through to crank the closure.
“I'm totally shocked at how powerfully it skied—great feel for the snow, too.” -- Kevin Gabriel
“Range of motion in hike mode is great, and it will lay trenches too.” -- Greg Coulter
“An outstanding, do-everything backcountry boot!” -- Bob Egeland
“One of the best B.C. boots available—well-balanced, quick and strong.” -- Mark Elling
“Well-done shape! Lightweight without sacrificing skiing ability. ” -- Bob Gleason