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2007-2008 Boot Reviews


by Brent Amsbury, Certified Podiatrist

Atomic


Atomic's well proven Race Tech boots are back this season with little cosmetic changes. Yes, they are still snowblind white with red, but the big changes are internal. The last width for the complete Race Tech line-up is the 98mm from last years CS (club sport) version as opposed to the 95mm last width that was offered last season as the Race Tech TI. TI's are still available, but only in Atomic's Race only catalog for those who want to special order. The shift to the more generous last width, generates a race boot that is easier to fit and use all day, everyday. Most of us, even if we do train gates all morning, still want to do some afternoon tree skiing if the conditions come calling. A 95mm super narrow race last fit is the equivalent of doing the morning the commute in a F1 race car. Yes, you may look cool, but lack of comfort and flexibility will have you arriving more frustrated than when you departed.

The new RACE Tech CS come in 140,130,110 and 90 flexes.

The 140 uses the top of the line Team Pro race liner, with cork flow in the heel pocket for a firm and precise fit, while all other flexes us the Team Sport with memory foam in the heel pocket for a easier break in period.

Sizing is 22 to 29.5 mondopoint and 22 to 27.5 in the 90 flex. Women take note, Atomic is one of the few boot manufacturers that offer the very small 22 size.

Also being offered in lieu of the RT (Race Tech) series are the FR (Freeride) models. Instead of the spiffy white, these models are a stealthy smoke grey color. I guess when you freeride, having a boot that doesn't show the 1/2 mile walk up the gravel access road back to the parking lot is important to ya.

Nevertheless these models use the same CS 98 mm last width and hardware as their race brethren. The only main difference is the flex range, 120, 100, and 80 flexes fill the gaps not offered in the RT series.

Sizing is 22 to 29.5 mondopoint for the FR series.

Dalbello


OK, so Dalbello is not exactly a ski racing boot company. No sponsored ski racers, and their spoke person is bumpmeister Glen Plake, but their Krypton boot is the evolutionary culmination of one of the greatest ski racing boots of all time, the Raichle Flexon comp. Back in the 1980's the Flexon was the default choice of many downhillers and tech event skiers. Today, the Krypton is earning a strong reputation as a great backcountry burner and an all day high speed machine.

The Krypton comes in two versions, the Pro and Cross. The Pro being a 100 to 140 flex, and the Cross a 90 to 120 flex. Both versions come with an extra set of external tongues that give the stiffer second flex number. The Krypton also offers an EVA custom molded liner option labeled I.D.. This option allows the wearer deeper ankle pocket contours and a warmer fit as well. The last width is a slim 98mm, and the heel pockets are fairly shallow not unlike most top race boots, but the big separator is the upright upper cuff and shallow boot board angle. With the forward lean set to minimum, this boot almost feels totally upright. Great for hucking air and smashing bumps all day!

Just insert the provided forward lean shims and the Krypton can be made to feel pretty racy in case a Nastar race course is on the menu.

The Krypton also has an excellent upper cuff alignment adjustment range. It uses a series of insertable spacers as opposed to rotating units found on most other boots. The result is a wider range that can accommodate even some of the most knock kneeded and bowlegged skiers out there.

Krypton sizes are 22 to 29.5 in the PRO and 24 to 29.5 in the Cross. These boots run a little larger than most, so expect to downsize.

In a more conventional offering, Dalbello offers the Proton series. This is a standard four buckle overlap design with a more moderate last width of 101mm. It looks racier than the Krypton, but is really designed for all day cruising and Nastar training in an easier to fit out of the box option.

Another nice bonus, Protons can usually be had for lower than average ski boot prices so you can throw a little more cash at a nice pair of race boards or powder fatties.

Proton sizing is 24 to 29.5 and with flex options of 130, 120, 100 and 90. Proton 14 also comes with a thermo custom ID liner option.


Fischer


It has not taken long for one of greatest names in racing skis to put their mark in ski racing boot history with a innovative new approach called Soma. Fischer ski boots are back this season with their abducted (duck footed) Soma technology with more offerings than ever. (Please look at my topic, "abduction junction, what's your function?" for more info.)

To start at the top, the Soma World Cup Pro is now available in 150, 130 and 110 flexes. This boot has a super slim 95mm last width, making it one of the narrowest and lowest volume fits available. The liner is their FFS high performance liner that is firm but thin so that the foot and leg can transmit energy to the ski with hyper efficiency. These boots require fitting by experienced racing boot fitters, and are not expected to fit right out of the box. But if you want a true World Cup caliber boot with the most progressive and responsive stances available, then step right up and get a pair fit on ya!

Soma World Cup Pro is available in sizes 23.5 to 29.5 mondopoint.


Fischer's next race offering is the Soma RC4 WC 130 and Race 120 boot. This boot uses a fairly slim 99mm last width, but with the little more generous lasting, these boots are easier to fit and give most racers the best balance of comfort to high performance response, without breaking the bank for fitting services.

There is also another cosmetic offering of this version called the Progressor. The boot is identical to the Race 120, but with the color scheme of Fischer's new all event racing ski, the RC4 Progressor. Put this boot and ski together and you might just have the quintessential Nastar or Masters race package. One ski, one boot, but a multitude of potential turning radiuses.

Soma RC4 Race and Progressor is available in sizes from 24 to 30.5 mondopoint.


Head


Head has got to be doing something right to be able to woo Bode Miller from his perennial favorite the Dobermann. But those in the proverbial "loop" already know that Head used to be San Marco which had decades of great ski racing boots, especially if you wanted a custom foam or silicone injected liner.

To get Bode's attention, Head produced an all new shell lasting shape that is designed to provide optimal anatomical wrap around the foot and optimal foot retention. Enter the Raptor. Lean, mean, and bright blood red.

The all new Raptor Racing Pro RD comes in 150 and 130 flexes. RD is the lowest volume last that Head makes, though they don't provide a numerical reference for it, I think it's safe to assume that it will be close to the 95mm benchmark most World Cup boots use.

The Racing Pro liner is a unique combination of ideas, with an adjustable tongue, cork flow ankle pocket inserts, and optional laces (provided) if your want to increase foot wrap and retention.

A custom foam liner is also available, which is becoming very scarce with most boot manufacturers mainly due to cost and lack of demand, so racers with really narrow feet, take note.

The Raptor also boasts a double looped power stramp and dual sided cuff alignment adjustment.

Plenty of features and adjustments here, for those who like to be able make some changes on the fly.

Head Racing Pro sizes are available from 23.5 to 28.5 mondopoint.

Head also provides a Raptor for those who want the look of their meanest beast, but with a friendlier fit. This is the RS lasted series, with a 98 to 99 millimeter width that is matched to either a Performance Pro liner in the 120 flex, or a Heatfit Pro liner in the Supershape 110 flex.

All the hardware and features of the Racing Pro are available here too.

Head RS Pro and Supershape sizes are available from 23 to 30.5 mondopoint.


Lange


Just the thought of Lange ski boots may conjur up images ranging from Phil and Steve Mahre's Olympic victories to the bloody shins that used to be the default consequence of wearing of Langes early models, ergo the phrase "Lange Bang".

But these boots have come a long way and Lange is probably the most experienced and sophisticated ski boot manufacturer in the ski industry. More World Cup victories have been amassed wearing Lange's than any other boot, so these guys have some pretty important things to say when it comes to racing boots.

Crazy blue is back in the World Cup line of boots this season, with three flexes available, 150,130, and 120. The 150 is the true blue race machine with a 95mm low volume last and a sock like liner for the ultimate in feel and leg power transmission.

One of Lange's secrets to performance may not appear to a be reasonable one, but it guarantees incredible edge to edge performance.

The ankle pockets are very shallow, so they don't allow for any sloppy movement. Consequently they are intended to be shaped in the fitting process if necessary. Expert boot fitter required. Don't skimp, just keep working to get them right. It will pay dividends!

The 130 also comes in a 95mm low volume fit for lighter weight race course pilots.

The High Performance fit, which is just a touch wider (98mm) and more generous, is available in the 130 and 120 World Cup. The HP liner also boasts a thermo moldable layer in the upper that help to improve fit without extra grinding or punching.


All Lange World Cup models use the Elastic Pressure Driving sole, or EPD, which is a computer designed boot sole shape that bridges the toe and heel lug to help flex with the ski to improve rebound and response.

World Cup models are available in mens US sizing 3 to 11 in the WC fit, and 3 to 12.5 in the HP fit. Lange does not use mondopoint, so when sizing, don't try to compare to mondopoint models from other manufacturers.

120 flex still to stiff? Lange has two softer models hiding in their Freeride line that use the 98mm HP fit and the same shell shape as the World Cup models in a 110 flex. The 110W is the womens designation and comes with a slighter softer lower.

Freeride models are available in mens US sizing from 3 to 12.5, including the womens 110W model.


Nordica


Looking for a pedigree that is more bark than bite? Nordica Dobermann's are back for 2007/2008 with their Aggressor (abducted) stance expanded through the line up.

Last season the classic WC 150 flex Dobermann was offered in both classic stance and Aggressor stance, this season the WC 150 is only available in the Aggressor stance, with a 130 and 100 flex available as well. The classic stance is now only available in the Dobermann Pro series.

World Cup (WC) boots all have the 95mm low volume last for a snug precise fit, though over the years the toe boxes have become just a little roomier and some will say the heel pocket is not quite as snug. The liner is still a leather lace up style that requires a fair amount of break in time, so don't expect to keep these boots buckled down all day your first time out. WC boots have thick shell walls, so find an expert bootfitter with plenty of grinding experience to get the fit just right.

Other features include a forward lean spoiler that is easily removed for a more upright stance, and a dual side cuff alignment adjustment that is more effective than most out there. You also can't beat the color, deep, glossy, "I'm a bad ass" black.

Nordica WC Dobermann's are available in 3 to 9 United Kingdom sizing. British sizing is a numerical size lower than US sizing, so a 3 UK equals a US 4 and so on. Largest size is a US 10, so if you have really big feet, look at the Dobermann Pro (size 11 max) or look elsewhere.


For a slightly roomier fit, the Dobermann Pro 130 and 100 are back with 98mm lasting and with a Pro liner that is slightly more padded and resilient. The Pro Liner also has an elastic toe box for a roomier and warmer feel on cold days. The Pro offering may not have the Aggressor stance, but they are a more realistic choice if you are looking for a boot that can rip race courses and backcountry bowls all in the same day.

Nordica Dobermann Pro series are available in 3 to 10 UK sizing. See above description for UK sizing equivalents.


Rossignol


During Rossignol's era of acquisition they not only purchased the long lost Caber ski boot brand but eventually the Dynastar ski and Lange ski boots brands to add to their alpine empire, but now in an environment of higher labor and production costs, Rossignol decided that having to produce two different ski racing boot lasts was just a little too inefficient. Especially when they had Lange's experience and reputation at their finger tips.

Last season we saw a Lange inspired race boot in Rossi's collection and this year is no different, but with a few twists.

The Radical World Cup is back nearly identical to the Lange World Cup but with a 96mm last width instead of Lange's 95mm last and an orange color called Solar. (kind of a toss up against Crazy blue, don't ya think?)

Even with the one millimeter addition in the lasting, this is a full on race boot and requires an expert bootfitter to set up properly.

Liner is the thin and precise WC version with custom flow heel pocket inserts. Flex options are a 150 (ZC) or a 130 (ZB).

Radical World Cup is available from sizes 3 to 11 US sizing. It is recommended you downsize one full shell size when fitting this boot for optimal performance.


The Radical Pro is back too with its high performance 98mm lasting, but has a carbon fiber composite rear spine addition that makes this boot stiffer laterally but lighter than most all day race performance models.

(It also looks really cool, if carbon fiber turns your crank)

Rounding off this high performance offering is the Pro Fit liner with resilient and anatomical padding, and a nice solid 125 flex rating.

Radical Pro is available from sizes 3.5 to 12.5 US sizing. Downsizing is recommended but not required depending on your foot shape and volume.


Salomon


Salomon has been going through some major paradigm shifts over the last couple of winter seasons. What was once a ski racing powerhouse from France was recently purchased by the Amer group, who owns Atomic, and the decision to slowly pull racing from Salomon and leave that for Atomic is more evident than ever in this years retail ski racing product offering. Full race skis and boots are only available through their race department and are no longer offered at retail.

But does that mean you should not take a look at Salomon's Falcon race boot, heck NO!

The Salomon Falcon Race is getting some of the best reviews out there, and for good reason. Salomon has developed a unique technology to create a boot shell that is thicker where stresses are the highest and thinner where they are lowest to create a lighter and more sensitive boot. The liner is nicely crafted with probably the most waterproof toe box of any boot on the market. Other features include a three position instep buckle, dual sided cuff adjustment, and a beefy powerstrap.

Falcon Race uses a 98mm last width for easier fitting and a flex rating of 120. This boot is easy to heat shape, and grinding is not always necessary due to the thinner shell technology. This boot has one of the broadest spectrums of user ability, so if you need a boot that can race, instruct, coach, and freeski all in one package, take a good strong look here.

For a touch softer Falcon, take a look at the Falcon 10 or 9 with flex ratings of 110 and 90 respectively.

Falcon Race and Falcon 10 are available in sizes 24 to 29.5 mondopoint.

Falcon 9 is available in sizes 25 to 29.5 mondopoint.


Tecnica


Twenty years ago, Tecnica was barely a speck on the radar screen of ski boots. Names like Dynafit, Koflach, and Dachstein were common among racers, but today all these names only remain as footnotes in ski race history and Tecnica has become one of most popular choices among racers anywhere. Their distribution marriage to Volkl skis has created a ski racing synthesis that has brought Tecnica to the top level of ski racing recognition.

This season Tecnica's successful Diablo series is back with no significant changes. The boot uses a 98mm last width for an easier fit and the shell can be easily fit with heat shaping and moderate grinding. Tecnica does not offer their World Cup boot to the public, so you will have to look elsewhere if you want a ultra low volume race fit.

The Diablo Race Pro comes in 130 and 110 flex ratings and these boots are feature packed. Adjustable rear spoiler, dual cuff adjustment, flex adjustment rivets, and easily adjustable cuff catches make this boot easy to set up for all type of racers. The liner is smoothly padded and has a neoprene toe box that makes it easy on the toes. Two grip handles at the tongue and rear cuff make it easy to get the heel seated for a solid fit.

The Diablo Race Pro is available in sizes 3.5 to 11.5 US. (It is common to have to downsize to properly fit in the Diablo Race Pro series.)


New for 2008, is a 100 flex version call the Diablo Pro and also a freeride version called the Agent that is flex rated at 120 and has a funky plaid cosmetic. Both boots use the 98mm race last of the Race Pro and share the same adjustment features.

Diablo Pro and Agent 120 is available in sizes 3.5 to 11.5 US. (Downsizing is important for these too.)


Alternative Ski Boot Options (i.e. The Others)


So you might be wondering why some other ski boot brand were not listed in our preview listings, and here's the answer, or should we say answers. Below is a listing of alternative ski boot brands and what's going with them this year.

Dolomite: These guys have a great legacy, but their recent purchase by the Tecnica group has caused their R and D department to stall out and their boots are being marketed as price point options for big box stores instead of the speciality retailers. Their most recent Z race was a pretty good boot, but it had a hard time competing with the rest of the competition.

Garmont: This company is known for it's great randonee and telemark boots, but has just entered the high performance alpine boot arena with a unique boot called the Shaman. The shell is as thick as any World Cup race boot and the liner is firm and thin for sensitivity, but here is the real cool part, the boot has removable soles so an extra set of rugged hiking soles (provided) can be attached. Essentially this is a race boot with a backcountry ability like no other boot out there. Might be worth a peek if this combination is your mantra.

http://www.garmontusa.com

Full Tilt: Remember the original Raichle Flexon Comp? It's back..............with a few updates like improved liners and harware. It is being made from Raichle's original molds in eastern Europe, with fairly impressive quality. The marketing is being aimed at backcountry shop and specialty retailers so distribution is going to be fairly small, but if you fell in love with original Flexon you might just fall for it again.

http://www.fulltiltboots.com

Strolz: This Austrian custom boot builder from Lech is still importing to the United States. They are still the only manufacturer that makes a size 15 and uses narrow, medium, and wide lower shells matched up to a leather custom foam liner. This one of the only full custom ski boots that uses a 4 buckle overlap shell. They can be found at their main location in Hampton, New Hampshire.

http://www.strolzboots.com

Daleboot: The only remaining US custom boot builder is still keeping skiers happy. Their Salt Lake City office focuses on a reverse overlap 3 buckle boot who's specialty is backcountry skiing and powder. Although not racing focused, these boots have a strong reputation among skiers who have a hard time fitting anything else.

http://www.dalebootusa.com

To discuss these boot reviews, visit our the boot review discussion section on our forums!