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Daleboot VFF Pro

Posted

Pros: Great fit and comfort for virtually any feet, great innovative features, laterally stiff, forward flex stiff enough for an expert.

Cons: Best fitted at Daleboot or from a fit center (few around).

Boot: VFF Pro, which is stiff enough for an expert skier to use.

 

What I like about my Daleboot VFF Pro:
1)      All day comfort in a laterally stiff cog boot.  They should be comfortable since it is a “custom” boot with decent heat molded liners and custom insoles.
2)      Canting is super-easy using snap-in replaceable boot soles (using the canting adjustments on the sides boots never works right, which is why racers either use wedges under their bindings or grind the soles of their boots).
3)      The boots give you the ability to radically change the forward stiffness by using a spring-tensioned cable that can be released (pop the lever outside the boot) for walking or skiing powder. I now don’t tire as much when skiing powder.  You can vary the forard flex (VFF) with a screw driver.
4)      These are ridiculously easy to put on and take off, at least compared to the Langes I skied on for over 25 years (The HEADs are a little easier). There is no tongue, so your foot slides right into the Intuition liners. Easy to put on boots aren’t supposed to fit well—at least they never did before—but these do fit.
5)      The buckles are actually reversed, and they never pop from boot-out, hitting the sides of the moguls or whatever. 
6)      This is likely the last time I’ll have to buy an all-around boot. It is really a component boot, so you can just swap out parts as they wear or if your foot changes. The cog is as stiff as they get, and should last forever.
7)      You are buying product made in the USA from the guy who is responsible for most of the innovations in the ski boot industry. There is something cool about that.
 
What took a little time to get used to:
 
1)      The even forward flex. Rather than plastic stopping plastic, the forward flex is based on a cable with an even tension (you can tighten or loosen it) until you push as forward as the boot allows. It took a couple of runs to get used to it. This is different than the constantly stiffening plastic-on-plastic or hinging of a typical boot. I found no loss of control for normal skiing, but still prefer a “race boot” for my race skis. It is something you probably won’t think about after a few runs.
2)      This is not a “racer’s fit”, which I consider a comfortable (but not necessarily warm) tight fit into a “smaller” than usual shell. This is just a comfortable and warm fit. At first I kept thinking the boots were too loose, even though there was absolutely no sliding or sloshing of my foot. This is fine for recreational skiing but still felt a little weird to me, so I re-heated the liners with a super-thin sock and made the toe area fit a little snugger.  Perfect (for me). I imagine most people would want the more comfortable fit, though.
What I don’t like about the boots:
1)      Not many places to fit them outside of Salt Lake City. You can measure yourself and get a great boot through the mail, but for the truly custom job you want to have everything checked in their factory or through a dealer.
2)      You can’t buy them cheaply like a good new pairs of boots discounted simply because they are a season or two old. They sell custom, you get custom (and total comfort) and you pay for it. Of course, you can make the argument that it doesn’t cost more in the long-run since you can keep them forever by simply replacing parts as they wear out.
 
Conclusions:
1)      These are great boots designed to custom fit feet and legs regardless of how they differ than the norm. For example, I have no doubt Daleboot will perfectly fit my wife who has a very narrow heel and a wide fore-foot, with one foot a half-size larger than the other (we’ll stop by Daleboot during our next trip to Salt Lake).
2)      The features of the boots, most of which they patented, make the boots even worthwhile for people like me who can be fitted in quite a few off the rack brands. 
3)      If may be less expensive to buy a quality boot from your local ski shop and have it fitted properly. There are very few great boot fitters out there, but if you can find one (usually a former racer) and don’t have a really weird foot, than that option is probably good enough for many people. 
4)      The constant forward flex on the VFF Pro is OK for everything but racing, where you may want all the maximum pressure possible immediately on tips. They do offer a race model, but I haven’t tried it.
5)      My feet aren’t too weird and I certainly didn’t have to buy a Daleboot like some people. I am a self-described “innovator” who likes to try different things when the finances permit. I’m glad I got this boot, because of the comfort and innovative features. I can ski all day in comfort without my feet feeling tired.  Wow!
 
Update 9/4/2015: Ski Magazine reviewed of the boots. http://www.skinet.com/ski/gear/daleboot-vff-pro-2016

Posted

Pros: Comfortable, well fitted, good ride, unlimited life time adjustments

Cons: None


After owning and hiring several pairs of boots, I decided to treat myself to some Dale boots and I AM MASSIVELY SATISFIED.

I experienced all sorts of discomfort and pins and needles in previous boots which included a variety of Salomon, Fischer and Lange, and I got tired of spending so much of my holiday in boot shops because literally nothing worked for my flat feet.

After lots of research I decided upon Dale Boots for three reasons. One, some custom made suppliers have relatively inexperienced boot fitters and apparently its all about the fitter. I read about an excellent fitter at Dale and thought this sounded like a good way to go, two, Dale offer life time adjustments and you don't have to be in your country of purchase for the adjustment to be made, I wanted to ski on the boot for a few days in Austria and have the option to have an adjustment if I needed, Dale ticked that box. Three, I read some good reviews about the ride, I like a degree of stiffness but not too much.

The boot fitter that reviewed well was in Reading so I went out of my way to Outdoor Traders in Reading. I had a couple of really professional intensive fittings and a really good sales experience then zipped off to Austria. Being as sceptical of boots as I am I expected something not to be right, BUT to my complete surprise I didn't enounter a single ache, pain or need for adjustment. This was kind of a shame as I wanted to go and tease some guy called Dicky who is part of the Dale fitting team but no need to go and see Dicky that time.

So each to their own, but I am pleased to share, my experience is one of complete satisfaction. Best £750ish pounds ever spend!

Posted

Pros: Easy on and off, comfortable, lateral stiffness, variable flex, excellent customer service.

Cons: Feet get wet in slop, easily prevented with some duck tape.

I’ve been needing to replace my 6 year old Atomic M9’s with a softer boot, was attracted to Daleboot for a variety of reasons, and talked myself into buying a pair using the mail order option. One thing I kept hearing was how they’re built quite differently from most boots, but there was very little info that a geeky engineer like me would really want, so I thought I’d post this. Not having had then on the hill yet, I can't really provide feedback on durability, etc., so my ratings are few and subject to revision.

 

The ordering process was pretty straightforward. I downloaded the form, took the measurements as directed and provided a traced outline of my feet. They say to run the pencil under your feet to show where the point of contact is under the arch, but instead I stepped into wet spray paint and made a stamp… the results were a lot more accurate. Faxed it over, and in about five weeks they arrived.

 

I knew that the variable flex is controlled by a cable assembly located in the rear of the boot, and that the buckle at the back pops it loose for a quick softening. What I didn’t understand was the function of the round pins that ride in slots on the side of the boot (located between the upper buckles). Those pins are fixed to the clog; when the boot is fully flexed and the back of the slots contact the pins, load is transferred to the clog which effectively stiffens the flex above the amount provided by the cable.

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The front of the orange spat has pins that fit into holes in a boss at the front of the clog. With the spat removed and the boot spread you can see how open the top of the clog is, so that any load on the side pins has to be taken elsewhere (not on the top of your foot) The spat, shin tongue and cuff lay on top of each other like leaves, and as you flex they slide around on each other to accomodate the strain without pressing on your foot.

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Here’s the inside of the cuff and shin tongue, showing how they’re riveted together. Note that the front cuff rivets ride in slots as well, it has some small range of vertical travel. The rivet at the top of the clog also attaches the flex-limiting post.

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Here you can see the anchors for the flex cable; one of them can be adjusted with a screwdriver. Also notice the orange liner bed at the bottom of the boot.

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There are hex screws on the bottom of the bed to allow for adjustment.

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Intuition liners and Blueprint footbeds came stock.

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The soles slide on from the ends and pop over the angled bosses toward the midpoints of the boot (on the right in this picture). Just get a screwdriver under them, lever them off of the angled bosses and slide them off the end of the boot. The boots came with a template so you can plumb bob from your knee, mark the spot and ship it back with the soles to get ones with the right cant if needed.

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There are a lot of crevices between the overlapping pieces, and you can see the liner through a few of them. In this picture, the screwdriver’s touching the liner, and you can also see it between the clog and the spat. At first I was concerned that sloppy conditions would get things soaked down, but since the liner’s a closed-cell foam that shouldn’t be a problem.

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The fit out of the box was pretty good, it’s squeezing my Achilles tendon a bit and I’m not sure I’m quite getting all the way down into the heel pocket but overall not too bad. I imagine that doing the heat fit on the liner would help a lot. The Blueprint footbed fits my high instep well. The way the boot and liner open up makes it extremely easy to get on and off. As described previously, the forward flex is soft but laterally it’s very stiff. I’ve not had a chance to ski on it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

 

I first emailed Daleboot back in April, and talked once again on the phone in August. When I sent in the order in mid-October I didn’t write down a lot of the stuff I’d told them previously, and yet when I spoke to Adam in November he remembered a lot of it. Either a good memory, or else he made notes; whatever it was, it made a good impression. I really hope I can make it to SLC this year to get the final tweaking done.

 

EDIT: I've got about 100 hours on them now. The canted soles I got based on the plumb bob were near perfect. They respond well to steering input in all three planes.

 

They're a bit large in the upper calf, I have to spend some time wrapping the upper of the liner snug while I buckle up. Swapped in my custom footbeds from the replaced boots, and got some tweaking done with Tim Hart at the Balanced Athlete in Fairport, NY (didn't manage to get to SLC). The boots came with four long plastic pieces that fit into pockets in the liner on either side of the achilles and are intended to reduce heel lift; they did the trick but bear on a small area and can feel uncomfortable when riding a lift. Eventually I'll make it west and have some more work done.

 

My biggest gripe is that, when it's warm, slop gets driven in under the spat, and when it makes it to the seam in the liner your foot gets wet. Boot gloves seem to do a decent job of preventing it, but at 40 degrees more insulation can make your foot pretty warm; given the design I don't think there's much else you can do about it. I'll probably make a thinner pair of gloves.

 

Overall, I like them a lot.



EDIT January 2016: I had been thinking the last couple of seasons that I needed tweaking to the shell at the heel pocket and instep, and last season I cocked up the liner trying to do a heat fit myself to see if it would help. I finally got to Utah this week, spent three days at PCMR but first stopped into Daleboot. My appointment was for 2:00; thanks to the incompetence of United Airlines my flight didn't land at SLC until 4:00 but Adam told me to come in anyway and he'd see what was up.
I got there just before closing, and even though I offered to come in the next morning he suggested that we get the new liner in and see what happened. So he stayed quite late taking care of me, and I left around 6:00.
Got onto the hill first thing in the morning and things were much improved, my heel was much more stable in the pocket than ever and the various hot spots were gone. I was still experiencing what seemed like a bit of rotary looseness, but there was also a slight void over my instep. Adam had had the foresight to give me a set of thin closed-cell liners to go under my footbed, and viola! The void was gone with less buckle load, so it was more comfortable and rotary response was great; after I reminded myself that good technique is a requirement then everything was good.
So I still love the boot. It's extremely easy to get on and off, comfortable enough to wear all day, firm enough to rip turns on hardback but I can soften the flex easily when I go into moguls. And customer service is great, they even switched out the spat for a newer design that's wider and pinned in so it won't pop off when I take out the liner.
Daleboot VFF Pro
Description:

A custom ski boot manufactured in Salt Lake CIty.

Details:
DetailValue
Binding Compatibility
Cuff
Flex Rating
Last (mm)
Liner Material
Micro Adjustable
Model Year
Number of Buckles
Recommended Level
Replaceable soles
Shell
Shell Material
Sizes
Thermo-moldable Liner
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC

Since writing this review Daleboot changed the color fo the boot (see photo).

 

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