2017 Ski Trends: Lighter, More Comfortable Ski Boots
Historically ski boots don’t exactly have the best reputation. They can be heavy, they often hurt, and they’re harder to shimmy into than that pair of jeans you still have kicking around from high school. Yeah, we know you guys can relate to that too…
Ask most seasoned veterans and they’ll tell you that dealing with pedal discomfort is simply ‘part of skiing.’ Yet, they’ll also stand firmly by the undisputed truth that your boots are, in fact, the most important piece of ski gear you own. Fortunately, manufacturers have refused to settle. With the help of new materials, improved designs, and continually improved liners, there’s a growing trend towards significantly lighter and substantially more comfortable ski boots, from alpine ski boots to dedicated touring boots and everything in between.
Leading the way are companies like Atomic, Nordica, Lange, Tecnica, Salomon and Scarpa, who are rolling out designs with strategically engineered variable thickness shells. Not only does this result in significant weight savings, but it also yields a more natural flex or ‘give’ in key areas (see image below). Combine that with fully customizable, heat moldable liners and you get high performance boots that not are not only way lighter, but vastly more comfortable than ever before.
Whether you’re a veteran ripper who’s been reluctantly teetering at the tipping point of discomfort, or an up-&-comer looking to get into a more aggressive pair of alpine brogans, here are a couple new wave ski boots you won’t want to miss.
The Atomic Hawx Ultra is a high performance, crazy lightweight, all-mountain ski boot line built to round out what’s already one of the best-selling series in the world. Using a Grilamid® cuff (a plastic used only in touring boots in the past), which compared to traditional Polyurethane (PU) can be less than half as thick, these bad boys are substantially lighter yet still just as stiff. Similarly, the entire Hawx Ultra lineup also feature what Atomic is calling “Progressive Shell” construction, where they’ve thinned out the shell except for key reinforcement zones. The result? Atomic’s lightest alpine ski boot ever by a whopping 25%.
Same name, brand new ski boots. Nordica’s beloved Speedmachine Series underwent a full-fledged remodel and have a cutting-edge new design for the 2017 season. With their modern Tri-Fit Customization technology, the new Speedmachines rely on isolated infrared heating to allow for isolated, spot-specific molding. Nordica is also introducing a variable thickness design they call “Tri-Force Construction.” According to Nordica Production Manager, Alberto Contento, “a size 26.5 (mondopoint) Speedmachine weighs 500 grams less than previous models.” That’s a net weight savings of one kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) per pair with zero compromise in on-snow performance.
The full PU shell is divided into 3 sections: 1) a thinner, flexier soft flap over the ankle area for easier entry, 2) a moderately soft makeup across the top of the foot for flexibility, and 3) a hard, stiff PU spine and underfoot area for stiffness and power transmission. Round that out with the new Primaloft® insulated Custom Cork 3D Liners for cozy, packout-proof comfort and adjustable, boot-fitter-friendly components. The new Speedmachine Series is poised to be a dominant force.
Although no one can say Lange does anything fast – loyal fans have been asking for a ski boot with tech fittings for years now – they certainly do things well. The XT Freetour series builds on the popular XT mold with significant upgrades that will benefit you both in and out of bounds. Tech fittings molded into the shell for efficient backcountry travel, a Grilamid® lower for extreme weight savings, a premium Ultralon heat moldable liner and Lange’s signature fit make the Lange Freetour an all-purpose threat across all dimensions of skiing. Two different width options give most skiers a great fit choice, too.
The new Tecnica Zero G line defies convention. Either they’re the lightest performance alpine boots we’ve seen, or they’re the most progressive feeling performance touring boots to come down the pike yet. With a Custom Adaptive Shell that’s pre-formed for a better anatomical fit out of the box and Ultralon heat moldable liners the Zero G’s are impressively comfortable for a performance ski boot. Add in the fact that their “Power Light” Triax 3.0 shell is 30% thinner and 2.5x stiffer than conventional PU for 18% weight savings without loss of performance, and it’s easy to see why these boots should be on the radar of any skier who spends time both inbounds and in the backcountry.
The Salomon QST Pro Ski Boots borrow technology from three different sports disciplines (running, touring, and alpine skiing) and combine them to create an all-new boot design that’s simultaneously lighter weight, better fitting, and higher performing than any previous all-mountain offerings. An inside-out tongue construction that Salomon calls EndoFit is integrated with the heat-moldable liner and wrapped beneath the boot’s lower shell. This minimizes the amount of excess instep volume and delivers a more ‘wrapping’ closure for an excellent fit and more fluid flex. To drop weight, the QST Pros all feature Salomon’s new “Sensifit” shell construction, leveraging thinner walls that are reinforced in key areas to maintain performance.
With swappable tech soles, a full-range walk-mode, and a lightweight, high-performance construction, the Salomon QST Pro Series are tee’d up to meet just about all of your skiing needs.
Also catering to multi-faceted skiers, the Scarpa Freedom Boots are mixing things up with a fresh new shell construction. Using Pebax® for a featherweight construction and Injection Technology to create a variable thickness shell that delivers a smoother, more progressive flex. Pair that with Carbon Core Technology — a carbon insert over-injected on the shell sole for better power transmission and anti-torsion control and you’ll see why Scarpa’s athletes continually push further and further into the backcountry.
Curious to see what else is coming down the pipeline? Be sure to checkout our entire lineup of 2017 ski boots and ski gear, in stock or available for pre-order.