Expert Review: Dalbello Lupo Pro HD Ski Boots Men's
This review is my honest opinion of the Dalbello Lupo Pro HD boots which I purchased with my own money in September 2022.
About this review: This review is my honest opinion of the Dalbello Lupo Pro HD boots which I purchased with my own money in September 2022.
The Dalbello Lupo Pro HD is a great option for dedicated skiers looking for one boot that can perform in-bounds, in the sidecountry during short hikes, or deep in the backcountry for longer tours. These boots provide a consistent, damp, and lively feel, and can easily be transitioned for skinning or hikes with an easy walk mode and a removable tongue.
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Dalbello Lupo Pro HD
- Size: 26.5
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 210 lbs
- Street shoe size: 10
- Experience: 25+ years of skiing
- When I bought these: September 2022
- Days tested: 25 days
- Skis: Line Vision 118s
- Bindings: Cast Freetour
- Where I’ve used it: Throughout the Washington Cascades
- Terrain: In bounds, out of bounds, sidecountry, and backcountry
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for a one-boot quiver. I wanted a boot that I could trust for skiing in bounds, as well as for some shorter tours out of bounds. I wanted tech inserts and a walk mode with a wide range of movement but also a predictable and confident in bounds boot.
Why I chose this gear
I bought the Lupo Pro HD because the majority of the boot is constructed out of PU polyamide rather than lighter yet lower performance plastics that are more common in backcountry boots. I was willing to sacrifice weight savings for the familiar skiing performance of a PU shell. I also chose this boot because of the tech inserts and walk mode.
I considered buying the Sammy Carlson Pro Full Tilt Ascendant, because of the Intuition Tour Pro Wrap liner, but I don’t fit in boots with a higher volume fit. The Lupo Pro HD has a narrower 98mm last so I knew they would better accommodate my foot. I also considered the Dalbello Krypton 130 T.i. but I wanted a wider range of motion for skinning and there is no walk mode on the Krypton.
What I love about it
- Accuracy of Claimed Stiffness: This boot is plenty stiff yet still provides ample feedback when flexed! It feels predictable and lively and is plenty stiff for a 3 piece boot that also has a walk mode. I was even able to ski my heavy 118mm underfoot Lib Tech Yewps with Cast Freetour 18 bindings with this boot and I felt that it handled the extra width and weight with ease.
- Accuracy of Claimed Fit: The fit was on par with what I have learned to expect from Lupos but there was a little more room in the toes than I would have expected–probably to give some extra room when touring. I am in between sizes and I wouldn’t have sized down.
- Flex: I love the responsive, predictable, and lively feel of the PU shell and the added stiffness of the carbon reinforced polyamide cuff. I am a big fan of the Cabrio Design and I love the consistent feel of the flex. It’s also great that the tongues can be swapped to allow for different flexes for a broad range of users.
- Ease of use: Dalbello’s Cabrio Design is much more user-friendly than traditional two piece boots. I can easily remove the buckles from the ladders and fold the tongue out, which helps with ease of entry. I did struggle to put these on more than previous versions of Lupos (pre-2019 with Intuition wrapping liner) at first, but quickly got used to the new design.
- Resort: When riding chairlifts, I feel like I am wearing a dedicated resort boot. The boots are consistent and I don’t feel limited to lighter ski setups–it is nice knowing they can handle any skis I want to use. They also feel lively yet damp, which is a feeling I rarely get out of a backcountry-friendly boot. The PU shell feels as good as I can imagine when skiing inbounds!
- Park: The Lupo stance is very upright and feels natural for park skiing. The Cabrio Design is reminiscent of Full Tilt boots in stance and flex, so they feel very natural in the park.
- Backcountry: Where this boot really comes to life is in the backcountry. I really like the removable tongue as a means of weight saving for the ascent. I primarily ski the Cast Freetour bindings so putting a piece of equipment into my backpack before the skintrack feels natural. The waterproof gaiter on the shell is a really nice touch and doesn’t leave my feet feeling exposed without the tongues covering the liner.
- Adjustability: The Lupos ships with volume reducing insoles for lower volume feet, as well as spoilers to add some forward lean to the boot for skiers who don’t like the upright stance. The buckles offer plenty of macro and micro adjustment. The heel retention buckle and inverted forefoot buckle are positioned well and adjust for a variety of instep heights and forefoot widths.
- Walk mode: The walk mode is very easy to engage and disengage. When engaged, the walk mode allows for rearward movement but forward movement is only possible if you remove the tongues.
- Grip: The GripWalk soles offer plenty of grip. They feel like climbing boots and perform equally walking through an icy parking lot as they do scrambling up some icey bootpacks. They can be replaced with Vibram soles if needed!
- Durability: These hold up against ski edges and plenty of abuse. I haven’t encountered any issues; Dalbello clearly thought about durability when designing these boots.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Comfort: The liner is a little thin and when skiing heavier skis my feet were a little beat up at the end of the day. In a season or two I will probably replace the liner with the Intuition Tour Wrap pro.
- Weight: This boot is heavier than its competitors but I chose these for the confident feeling I get from PU polyamide as opposed to lighter alternatives! It’s hard to be critical of the weight when I know that this is the trade off of a PU boot, but it is worth noting that these are not light.
- Walk mode lever: I don’t love how the walk mode lever only prevents backward movement, not forward. The only times I felt that these boots lacked performance was when I felt I didn’t have enough support from the rear cuff of the boot–notably when skiing heavier skis in dense snow. I never flexed the boot into walk mode but I did feel a little give at the very end of the boot’s flex. This is a minor issue because the tongue adds most of the forward support but I think being able to lock the cuff completely would help further the performance of this boot.
- Hot spots: Due to the added room in the toe, I did feel that the widest part of the boot didn’t line up with the widest part of my foot. I like boots that squeeze my mid foot but I felt the squeeze more at my forefoot in these boots. A bunion punch will likely suffice but I have yet to do any boot work.
- Any workarounds? A few punches and a pair of custom insoles is all I need to make these boots feel like they were custom made for my feet.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with these boots was a spring day at Crystal Mountain when no snow had fallen for a few weeks. When preparing for the day, the logical choice would have been to bust out a pair of sub 100mm underfoot skis with plenty of camber to deal with the mixed ice and a little tip rocker to help with the slush. But I ended up skiing my full rocker 118mm underfoot Lib Tech Yewps and had a blast. I slarved through the icy patches with control and smashed through huge slushy moguls with power and confidence. I was so impressed by how well these boots handled those skis and conditions–that was the day I knew I could use these boots for literally everything!
Value for the money vs. other options
The value of these boots is pretty incredible. Not only are they a great price for a high performance boot, but because these can replace one’s resort and touring boots I consider them half off.
The Dalbello Lupo Pro HD lets me mindlessly put one pair of boots into my ski bag regardless of the type of skiing I have planned for the day. These boots beg you to toss out your second pair and solely use them; no matter the snow conditions, ski type, or means of ascent. They are the one boot to rule them all.