If last year was about lightweight - with the buzz about the Dynafit TLT 5 and the introduction (finally!) of La Sportiva's boot line, this year (actually, next year) is definitely "all about the down". K2 finally introduced their AT boot (that's distinct from their park-popular Full Tilt boots, which are actually the old Raichle Flexon 5's) and it's pretty impressive, though wow is it heavy! But at least the range of motion is nearly nil. Atomic and Salomon (owned by the same company) also both have huge, burly AT boots that are very similar to the K2, and even Sportiva took their innovative boot and made it 4-buckle and burlier, as did Dynafit. The latter did make the TLT 6, which was made on a new, wider last (which was mandatory) and they improved some of the mechanical shortcomings of the TLT 5, with some nice design flair as well.
The new Black Diamond Factor FMX definitely held its own and then some alongside these impressive boots, despite the fact that I had a hand in the development! The original Factor arguably defined this genre and Thomas Laakso (BD ski line manager) correctly anticipated that there was going to be intense competition for this side/slackcountry market. The BD Team Boot responded well with a boot that is every bit as good as the offerings from the established Alpine bootmakers, with a fit that is "right on" and a surprising range of motion for a big boot. Scarpa introduced a very nice-looking new big freeride boot in two versions (peebax and PU) that are very similar, but the FMX is $100 cheaper than the Scarpa peebax boot and lighter than the PU version at a comparable price. And I just got word that the FMX won a best-of-show type of award at ISPO, the European sports trade show held this week.
Scott USA purchased Garmont this fall and re-branded all the existing Garmont boots as Scott. According to a Scott guy I talked to they will spend the next year working on their own new designs. He was mum about the possibility of resurrecting the original Scott boot, which I actually think has some potential as a lightweight AT boot!
Anyone figure out a way to make this Dynafit binding compatible? And warm?