We love that there are boots available for every niche of backcountry skiers. The Tecnica Zero G Guide is an alpine overlap constructed, all mountain resort boot with a walk mode, rubber sole, and "tech fittings" for use in the backcountry. As such, it will appeal to those looking to ease the transition to touring equipment and looking for the ultimate in downhill support, whether to support high speed and high energy expert skiing or to support rudimentary technique of more beginner backcountry skiers. The Zero G is basically the same in function and performance as the Lange XT FreeTour, but it fits a narrower foot better than the Lange. The last of the Lange is more accommodating of more people, so we granted it our Top Pick award.
Tecnica Zero G Guide Review
Cons: Narrow fit lacks wide appeal, heavy for normal ski touring
Our Analysis and Test Results
With the increase in participation in backcountry skiing comes more and more options. Many skiers have long been awaiting the widespread design, manufacturing, and distribution of overlap alpine boots with tech fittings and a walk mode. The Zero G Guide is exactly this boot, with a little more. It tours better than you'd expect, skis just as well as you'd ever need, and is lighter than some of the competition. The main drawback is that it is relatively narrow. In our testing, that included a fair amount of try-ons to various foot shapes, this narrow design worked for fewer people than the more average volume of the Lange XT FreeTour 130. In the end, these two boots are virtually identical in function, with the Lange seeming to fit more people. For this reason, we granted the Lange our Top Pick for Hard Charging award, but if it fits the Tecnica will function just as well.
Overall, the Tecnica scores at the bottom of the heap. This is mainly due to the poor uphill performance and weight. If it fits you, and you need the support, you'll dig this boot.
You don't choose boots like this for maximized up-hill performance. That being said, these tour better than you would expect. Our lead test editor is a dyed-in-the-wool "touring dork". Since 2005 he has used, as his primary boots, products directly descended from randonnee race equipment. Prior to that, he was a telemark skier for 10 years. In short, he's never really used alpine equipment, much less AT equipment optimized for the down. In this test iteration, with three products that are basically alpine boots with some touring attributes built in, Jed was pleasantly surprised at the touring chops of the Zero G, the Editors Choice Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120, and the Lange XT FreeTour. Even given his preferences for the light and fast, the touring ability of these downhill oriented boots was impressive. The Zero G and Lange seem to tour about the same as one another, and are far more restrictive than any other boot we tested. Read on for why you might make this compromise.
The Zero G Guide is the third heaviest boot in our review. Starting our scoring metric discussion with up-hill performance followed by weight might leave you, at this point, wondering why you would choose the Zero G Guide. The Lange is slightly heavier, as is the Best Buy Dynafit Radical Boot, while the Top Pick Scarpa Alien RS is half the weight. These are heavy boots, further compromising your uphill pace and energy expenditure. They are rather similar in weight to the Fischer Transalp Vacuum TS and the Radical, but they outpace these two products in downhill performance.
These boots are made to go downhill, fast and in control. As compared to standard "all mountain" alpine boots, the Zero G makes few compromises for touring. They ski well. The lateral and aft flex is essentially the same as that on the Lange XT and far surpasses these attributes in all the other boots. Skiing in the g Guide on one foot and the Arc'teryx Procline Carbon Lite on the other is like playing two different sports. Once the Zero G Guide is clicked into your bindings, and you flex your ankles forward, you really, really notice the difference. The forward flex is even and smooth, with the resistance starting out supportive and gradually ramping up and "pushing back" harder the further you flex forward.
This "progressive flex" is virtually impossible to replicate in a non-overlap boot like how most of our test roster is built. Only the Lange and Atomic Hawx ski similarly. Of the "tongue boots" we tested (made with three pieces: lower shell, cuff, and tongue, as opposed to the two parts of the Tecnica), only the Salomon S/Lab MTN and Scott Cosmos III have a flex that can be called progressive. Even these carefully tailored flex patterns don't fully replicate that of the overlap cuff of the Zero G or XT FreeTour. In short, as it pertains to downhill performance, the Tecnica and Lange boots we reviewed are in a league of their own.
Comfort and Fit
Our average-volumed lead test editor found the Zero G Guide to be fairly narrow. Only the Salomon S/Lab MTN is narrower. His perception is corroborated by his fellow testers as well as online reviews. While there are no particular hot spots or pressure points, the lower shell is definitely on the narrow, low volume side. This is great for that niche of consumers that has especially narrow feet, but for the majority, the Lange will fit better. It is this more versatile fit that lets the Lange edge ahead of the Tecnica for our Top Pick award.
For some reason, even when fit closely for optimized performance, the overlap construction and robust liner of the Zero G Guide is very warm. It is just as insulating as the Lange XT, both of which are warmer than any other boots we used. At the other end of the spectrum the lightweight Atomic Backland and Arc'teryx Procline Carbon Lite feel downright drafty, what with thin shells and liners barely keeping out truly cold conditions.
Ease of Use
Overlap boots are tougher to get in and out of than tongue boots. Right away, this sets back the ease of use scores for the Tecnica and for the Lange. The alpine style sole provides less rubber for traction and rock scrambling than others in the review. And then, with four buckles, stiff walk/ski mode lever, and a velcro power strap, there is a lot to do at each transition. For high-tempo, multi-lap backcountry skiing these transitions can seem daunting in the Tecnica. By comparison, if you skip the power strap on the Dynafit TLT 7, which is totally reasonable to do for any competent skier, there is just one buckle to negotiate for each transition. The Zero G Guide has at least four things to do to accomplish the same transition.
Near the very end of our testing, atop Wyoming's South Teton in a storm, our lead test editor had trouble getting both Tecnica boots into ski mode. After 6000 cold and snowy vertical feet, the mechanism was iced up. This required taking the boot off, disassembling shell from the liner, and cleaning out the ice. On one boot, this addressed the issue. On the other boot, in the process of clearing ice, the ski/walk mode broke, leaving the boot with only "walk" mode. In scouring the web for other reviews, we found only the vaguest reference to reliability problems. No other reviews cite this specific concern.
These are beefy boots for relatively new skiers heading into the backcountry, or those that ski hard and fast in the toughest of conditions, or for those that are intimidated by making a dramatic change from their resort gear.
These are tied for the lowest retail price in our review. Only our Best Buy Dynafit Radical is priced the same. For this price, these are worth having if only as a back-up, quiver tool for the dedicated skier. As primary touring boots for human powered skiing, they are a bit specialized, regardless of the price.
The best testament to this boot (or, more accurately, the category this boot fills) is that our lead test editor and dedicated efficient-touring geek is considering owning something like the Zero G Guide for his own use. The Tecnica is a little narrow for much of the population, but it is worthy of consideration by anyone for whom the niche seems appealing.
— Jediah Porter