Matt Berkowitz, Director of Marketing for Fischer Sports USA, gave us the insider preview at the SIA Show. The wall of boots to the right is the Vacuum line for 2013-14, including the Freeride Ranger, which in the 101mm last has been this year's best-selling boot for Fischer in North America.
I. New Liner
II. New Comfort Fit Option
The improved fit and increased warmth of the new liner combined with more last sizes partly addresses the complaint that this is a cold boot. The development of the Vacuum boot's "little brother," the Comfort Fit Vacuum, completely addresses the comfort and warmth issues. The Comfort Fit station is smaller than the standard Vacuum Fit Station and the process does not require that the boots be heated in the oven before vacuum fitting, because only the heel area of the shell is targeted.
First a heating pad warms the area and then a compression pad is placed around the area and filled with compressed air, which adjusts the ankle and heel area of the shell as it cools it. The liner is full thermofit with the Thermo Toebox, but without the Ultrafit padding that the Vacuum boots have, because those parts of the shell are not affected by the comfort fit process. The idea is that a lot of recreational skiers can benefit from Vacuum Fit technology who don't need their boots to be super-snug in the forefoot or precision molded to their stance. The Comfort Fit is also an option for the highest-end consumers like Bode Miller -- even a 93mm custom lasted race boot can be vacuum fitted because it doesn't compress the toebox but customizes the fit in the heel and ankle.
The Comfort Fit boots come in a wide range of lasts going up to 103 and 105 in the Fuse line. Here's a photo of these models:
III. Peer Pressure and Compression
At least some of the problems with fit derived from human error, when either the shop tech or the customer would over-estimate how tightly fitting the boot needed to be. The machine was shipped with a label that equated skier type with pounds of compression so naturally people saw that label and went for the max: more is better, right? That label is no longer on the machine and the notion that more is better is being addressed in training.
Lasts in the Vacuum Series now come in 95, 98, 101, and 103mm lasts. Comfort Fit boots come in 103 and 105mm lasts. The wider range of shell sizes combined with the improved liners and the increased experience and skill of the people fitting the boots is expected to go a long way toward making this product truly a game-changer for consumers and specialty ski shops.
V. EpicSki's Feedback
Everyone participating in this thread should be proud to know that your comments went into the conversation that led to the improvements in next year's Vacuum boots!