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  • Pure Northern Lights

    I've been having a lot of fun with a light tele setup, Scarpa F1 race boots and Pure Tele bindings and Northern Lights skis from Moonlight Mountain gear. Here's a review of the setup for those interested. There's a few different things to review, boots, bindings, skis, and how they work together.

    Overall: it is what tele should be, very free to move around in yet can ski steeper terrain downhill, though not at very high speed. The setup often let me get one more lap than I would have done on my usual gear (I usually tour on TX or TXP/Meidjo/Fischer Ranger 98). The bindings and skis were available on a nice sale online this spring, not sure there are still deals. And for the question of what boot Scarpa should release next, here's my sugestion: a modified F1 race lower, with added duckbutt and bellows guard, removed AT heel hardware, grilamid upper to save some weight, slightly wider toe box, and that's it. Of course, that would require admitting that toe bail NTN wasn't quite right and 2-pin NTN was really the way to go.

    Boots: these are of course 10 year old AT boots with bellows. They are very light for tele boots, <1100 grams. You can find a lot of reviews of them online from long ago, but here are my impressions. They have great ROM in walk mode compared to any production tele boot today. The ROM is very noticeable when bushwacking (basically they feel like hiking boots there), though I did not find the ROM to be that big a deal when skinning. Modern AT race boots are of course lighter/stiffer/better/etc but I feel like the combination of light weight and bellows really helps in moving around in these.

    Downhill, I had to tighten them a bit more than I normally would to get good control, but once I did that, I was surprised how well they performed. I also felt more of a need to use a tele stance. I rarely P-turn on tele gear (for me, I feel like I can't commit forward enough to do an aggressive P-turn with a free heel, course I can do relaxed P-turns or hops), but on these boots the T-turn really seemed necessary. I was making up for the lack of fore-aft stability due to the low cuff by really bending my ankles. I've never skied F1s locked heel, but I can almost imagine that they might be easier to tele.

    Minor downside on boots: they did collect a lot of water on one rainy day, maybe due to not having a tongue and to how much the boots open in tour mode.

    The bindings: these are a TTS system. I had some issues my first day with the heel lever popping off the F1 boots, since the boots don't really have the right heel ledge, but increasing the preload a bit solved that. I'm still at a pretty light preload. I have had no issues with them since. There have been no pre-releases and I have not been skiing with the toes locked.

    There are three different positions for the pivot point. I am using the forwardmost and the result, with the F1s, is a fairly neutral feel as I like. I never ran out of travel in the springs.

    The springs can be removed from the bindings to reduce weight. This is pretty easy to do, but requires removing skis. On days that involve one long uphill followed by one long downhill I remove them, but if running laps I leave them on. Weight without springs is light, <250 grams. Heavier with springs, 500-550 grams I think.

    The toe springs snap very tightly. Even when the heel lever popped off the boot, so that I was skiing just an unlocked tech toe, I did not pre-release and I was able to control myself to a stop without incident. The downside of the toe is that it requires a bit more care to line the pins up when getting in than some other toes, but overall it is very well-made.

    Since I bought both bindings and skis from the same manufacturer, I had them mount the bindings, but it seems like mounting is easy. The toe and pivot use a total of 8 holes. As I understand it, the front four holes can be drilled using a 4 hole Dynafit pattern and any shop that mounts AT bindings can do that. Once they are drilled, one can mark the location for the rear four holes and they also match a 4 hole Dynafit pattern.

    One interesting feature of the Pure Tele is that it has a heel locator. I had the shop mount the bindings for my TX boots, but I have been using slightly shorter F1 boots so the heel locator has not been used at all. Despite not using the heel locator, I have not had prereleases or had any slop that affected my skiing.

    A minor downside of the bindings is that the springs can fall out of the pivot points if you just let the heel piece flop around while carrying the skis on your shoulder (does not happen while skinning). You can secure them under the climbing bar behind the heel easily, though. However, it would have been nicer if they had designed the binding so that the climbing bar was in front and the heel throw could secure under a ledge on the back of the heelpiece of the binding, similar to the OMG heelpiece. A minor quibble, but doing that way would be a little nicer for some transitions.

    The binding is a bit expensive, at least without the deals being offered before, but I don't see any reason that a larger production run of it could not be as cheap or cheaper than other 2-pin bindings. It is a nice simple design. I see this as a good TTS binding that just works out of the box, rather than requiring cobbling together parts.

    No issues with snow buildup but I didnt have any conditions that would lead to buildup.

    Finally, the skis: these are 84 mm wide at the waist. A bit narrow, but good for spring skiing. I did not have any deep powder to test their performance there, but on an inch or two of fresh over a soft base they did fine. The edge hold is very very good and they are very light. A great ski for touring and it inspires confidence.

    The top sheet is beautiful. An interesting feature is that the sidewalls are untreated wood. They give you sidewall wax with the skis and you are supposed to wax the sidewalls every three days of skiing. Instead, I applied some urethane varnish to them; probably it is best to do this before waxing them as varnish will not adhere well to wax. This made the sidewalls a little darker, but still very nice looking.

    Skiing this setup, I definitely kept the speed much lower than I would on heavier gear, but I felt fine skiing steeper terrain, 45 degrees or a little more. I can't really give a good review of the skis until I ski them with some heavier boots. Given the speed I want to go in these boots, I did not have any issues with stability in these skis. They locked up into carves well on good snow and open terrain, and could be hopped and skidded around in tighter terrain.
    Last edited by Dostie; 12 August 2019, 09:46 PM. Reason: added tags

  • #2
    Nice review. Good to hear the toes close with a resounding snap. And you answered my question of whether the springs can accidentally come off. Did you ever bother to lock the toes when skinning? Pictures of the rig?
    Last edited by Dostie; 12 August 2019, 03:11 PM.

    ain't no turn like tele!

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    • #3
      Great write-up, thanks for sharing! Moonlight does make a pretty slick product. It's too bad you can't use the heel prongs with your F1's; I've definitely found that they add some rigidity & control. But I guess that's just the way it has to be if you have differently-sized boots. I certainly concur that the bellows make skinning more comfortable/efficient, even in an already-efficient 2-pin binding.

      Originally posted by xmatt View Post
      There are three different positions for the pivot point. I am using the forwardmost and the result, with the F1s, is a fairly neutral feel as I like. I never ran out of travel in the springs.
      Do you feel like the generous flexibility of the F1 Race sole is playing a role here (shortening the BSL to a greater degree than with other boots)? Do you bottom out the springs when you ski TX's in the same configuration?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dostie View Post
        Nice review. Good to hear the toes close with a resounding snap. And you answered my question of whether the springs can accidentally come off. Did you ever bother to lock the toes when skinning? Pictures of the rig?
        I did lock the toes when skinning. Habit, plus why not? Here's some photos. Note the crampon slot which I forgot to mention.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by bobbytooslow View Post
          Do you feel like the generous flexibility of the F1 Race sole is playing a role here (shortening the BSL to a greater degree than with other boots)? Do you bottom out the springs when you ski TX's in the same configuration?
          With 27.0 TX's in the middle position, I can go a little bit past shin parallel before the springs bottom out. That should be plenty for skiing. This is at a fairly light preload, maybe a bit less if you crank the preload. btw, user zonca in another review said he could go knee to ski with the red springs, but his boots were a little shorter, 25.5.
          Last edited by xmatt; 13 August 2019, 11:01 AM.

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          • #6
            Thanks for taking the time to fill us in on this setup --- nice review!

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