Plake, Dalbello take Cabrio Shell Design to the Backcountry

Virus AT/Touring boot, $800–$950

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Glen Plake is clearly having fun in his new career as boot designer. First he helped Dalbello to redefine the shell-tongue design, and his Krypton has become a popular choice among young park-and-pipe skiers. His latest creation just debuted, and it’ll take skiers about as far from the park as is possible. The new Virus is Dalbello’s entry into the burgeoning alpine-touring market, where brands like Scarpa, Black Diamond and Garmont have had big successes with AT boots that are beefy enough to keep even the hardest chargers happy. As you might expect from Plake, the Virus is built first and foremost to perform in a way that would keep skiers used to sturdy alpine boots happy. Like the Krypton, it’s a three-buckle shell-tongue design. (Dalbello calls it “cabrio shell”; think Flexon, but with buckles instead of cables.) There are three versions: the ultralight Lite ($950), for serious touring; the Tour ($900), which aims for ultimate uphill/downhill versatility; and the Free ($800), built for sturdy big-mountain freeride performance. Dalbello says to expect the Virus in shops by Thanksgiving.