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Ski Boot Redesign?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

How does anyone feel about The walk Feature being better?  Not many people talked about it.  I was a little suprised.  Does anyone have any suggestions on walk features?

 

Thanks Again...

 

 

 

(original post)

 

"Hi Everyone!  I am an Product Design Student at Auburn University. I have been put to the task of redesigning ski boots.  I am an avid skier, but would like to hear what the community thinks on the topic.

 

I would like to make them better through research.  What are some wishes you would have for the next generation of ski boots?  Are there any problems that you would like to see solved on current boots?

 

Thanks for your input, you are helping a student graduate.  It is much appreciated :)"


Edited by sinclairal - 3/2/11 at 8:08am
post #2 of 24

I think ski boots are lacking in a buckle design that uniformly tightens all around the boot, instead of applying most of the force to the buckle area.

 

Lots of people get numb feet because to keep thei ankle in place, they have to tighten the instep buckle to the point of compressing the nerve that runs down the foot.

 

Come to think of it, why not a heel buckle to take up space around the ankle and heel? Have it just above the heel binding interface, angled down.

 

Seamless liners. Too many boots have seems, or bad design at the tongue of the liner that creates pressure points.

 

A better fitting process. The typical boot fitting process involves a tech measuring the legnth and width of the base of your foot, then you trying on a bunch of boots. Why not take a 3d image of your foot/leg that crosses with manufacturer dimensions that can suggest which models will be the best bet? At this point, an Iphone has enough processing power for this. Why not?

post #3 of 24

This is something I have been thinking about also. Since the Fischer Vacuum System was brought out and publicized.

 

Boot design does seem to be lagging behind in developments. The industry has seen changes over the years, single buckles, rear entry etc. I think first you should look back to look forward. Hansons, Scott, Lange and others. The boot liners have recently taken a big click forward from the old crappy dish rags of the past. With all the changes and deviations we have seen over the years in ski boots. All the manufactures seem to come back to the old ski boot standard eventually. That being front entry, four buckle, two or three piece shell boot.

Interesting project you have there. If you hit it hard you might have a sale able item that someone might be interested in taking from where you leave off.

Please look at and try on a pair the Dalbello Virus series. Notice the waking function and how it is actuated. It is one of the more interesting new designs on the market. 

 

Hopefully a few of the boot fitters will chime in with what they are thinking. They are an interesting cantankerous lot of plastic grinding, punching and stretching magicians. They provide a thankless job that is a foundational first step in what we all like to do.


Edited by skimalibu - 8/25/11 at 7:35pm
post #4 of 24

Sounds like a great project - best of luck!

 

First off - A properly designed ski boot should not require a 'bootfitter' to grind / punch, or otherwise alter a store bought boot in order for it to perform as it should.  How many people take any other type of athletic shoe in for custom modifications ? Maybe if you're a world cup racer, but for the average skier ???

 

That being said, what is the design criteria for a ski boot:

 

  • ability to support the foot, ankle, shin firmly 
  • prevent the foot from moving around inside the boot
  • transfer movement / pressure directly from the foot to the ski
  • provide "feel" or feedback from the snow/ski interface or dampen shock and vibration - depending on preference or type of skiing
  • comfort + warmth
  • adjustability 

 

just a few of my toughts, any others ?

post #5 of 24

 

Get rid of the need for a boot with a last width of 95-105 mm to sit on top of a  boot lug that is at least 30 mm narrower.

 

If the skier wants to be "flat" on the ski, then let them be flat on the ski.  

 

Put the boot lug or whatever other attachment feature is required to mate with a "binding"  around the foot instead of under it.

 

post #6 of 24

A ski boot looks like it looks now for a reason- my advice would be to look at the biomechanics of skiing and see where the current design has shortcomings.  Everything else is either armchair quarterbacking, or wishful thinking.   Kind of reminds me of some posts on photography sites that ask for a tiny camera that delivers perfect noiseless images in total darkness (hint- you can have any two of the three but not all three).  

post #7 of 24

Easier to get off when it's cold, without compromising performance.  Maybe electrically induced rigidity changes in the shell and liner?

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Easier to get off when it's cold, without compromising performance.  Maybe electrically induced rigidity changes in the shell and liner?


Good luck with this idea, especially when the boot circuitry shorts in the middle of the run....

post #9 of 24

In order for an athlete to perform at his/her best, one must be balanced.  Skiing demands balance in a dynamic situation.  The foot is the foundation for balance, so a ski boot should allow the foot to spread out and do its job, not crunch it in a vise.  At the same time a ski boot needs to be able to provide support (fore, aft, side to side) so that the skier can direct energy into the ski.  That's the line that a boot designer needs to walk to achieve a better product.   Simpler is better.  The best boot designs of today are derived from the Lange racing boot and the Nordica Grand Prix/Dobermann from the late 1960's and early 1970's.  These are very simple products without a lot of bells and whistles.  Look at materials.  Is PU still the best material?  Look at David Dodge's carbon fiber boot.  Carbon fiber is a great material.  Is its best application in a ski boot?  Look at moldable shells and liners.  They allow a designer to take a functional design and make it fit an individual foot.  Look at warmth.  Why can't boots be warmer?  Add on boot heaters are not the answer.  They work, but are just more stuff to deal with.  Simplify......  My thought has always been to reduce the boot to its essential elements.  Blend a structural skeleton that provides flex and support and nothing else with a warm, comfortable, easily-custom-fit, next to the foot component that allows for a warm, balanced stance.  

Don't think that the boot guys haven't thought of all this stuff dozens of times over and have tired hard to push boot design forward.  The market is littered with attempts to do just that.  Good luck with your project.

post #10 of 24

Quote:

Originally Posted by skimalibu View Post

This is something I have been thinking about also. Since the Fischer Vacuum System was brought out and publicized.

 

Boot design does seem to be lagging behind in developments. The industry has seen changes over the years, single buckles, rear entry etc. I think first you should look back to look forward. Hansons, Scott, Lange and others. The boot liners have recently taken a big click forward from the old crappy dish rags of the past. With all the changes and deviations we have seen over the years in ski boots. All the manufactures seem to come back to the old ski boot standard eventually. That being front entry, four buckle, two or three piece shell boot.

...


I'm not sure lagging is really descriptive. Lots has been tried. much has been found lacking.

Excellent point about 'History'!  as so often noted - ignoring history means you're doomed to repeat it...


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILOJ View Post

Sounds like a great project - best of luck!

 

First off - A properly designed ski boot should not require a 'bootfitter' to grind / punch, or otherwise alter a store bought boot in order for it to perform as it should.  How many people take any other type of athletic shoe in for custom modifications ? Maybe if you're a world cup racer, but for the average skier ???

 

That being said, what is the design criteria for a ski boot:

 

  • ability to support the foot, ankle, shin firmly 
  • prevent the foot from moving around inside the boot
  • transfer movement / pressure directly from the foot to the ski
  • provide "feel" or feedback from the snow/ski interface or dampen shock and vibration - depending on preference or type of skiing
  • comfort + warmth
  • adjustability 

 

just a few of my toughts, any others ?


at first thought having to go thru all these machinations and mods seems crazy, but when you think of alpine/downhill skiing, there's hardly anything like it for Biometric and Kinesiological requirements. We are talkin a 4 component system, consisting of unrelated components, expected to work precisely and comfortably together Skier/Boot/Binding/Ski, all under extreme forces in a hugely varying environment. piece O cake...
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

A ski boot looks like it looks now for a reason- my advice would be to look at the biomechanics of skiing and see where the current design has shortcomings.


I'll add one other area worth investigating...

many of us, who have been sliding for some yrs, HAVE or ARE investigating  (or have already made a move to ) AT type equipment, both to expand the ski experience and to get the advantages of AT design stuff. I'm personally in a quandary as to direction because of the fischer 'vacum' idea. Initially on my re-entry last year, after some investigation, I had planned to do stop-gap purchasing of alpine gear to get me back on skis with the intent to 'traverse' to AT gear within the next 2 yrs. AT gear is now fully up to the task of pure Alpine skiing, with many of the advantages of walking/hiking and greater mobility in the winter environment.

I personally think that there's a huge opportunity for areas to merge (as smartphone and notebook technology is...) between pure upper end non-race alpine and AT.

I'm sure there are many Epic members who already have made the switch to AT stuff... would be good to hear from them...

Might suggest you look into companies not in the pure Downhill envelope like Scarpa, Dynafit, Lowa, Black Diamond, etc for the more ideas.

post #11 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by choucas View Post

In order for an athlete to perform at his/her best, one must be balanced.  Skiing demands balance in a dynamic situation.  The foot is the foundation for balance, so a ski boot should allow the foot to spread out and do its job, not crunch it in a vise.  At the same time a ski boot needs to be able to provide support (fore, aft, side to side) so that the skier can direct energy into the ski.  That's the line that a boot designer needs to walk to achieve a better product.   Simpler is better.  The best boot designs of today are derived from the Lange racing boot and the Nordica Grand Prix/Dobermann from the late 1960's and early 1970's.  These are very simple products without a lot of bells and whistles.  Look at materials.  Is PU still the best material?  Look at David Dodge's carbon fiber boot.  Carbon fiber is a great material.  Is its best application in a ski boot?  Look at moldable shells and liners.  They allow a designer to take a functional design and make it fit an individual foot.  Look at warmth.  Why can't boots be warmer?  Add on boot heaters are not the answer.  They work, but are just more stuff to deal with.  Simplify......  My thought has always been to reduce the boot to its essential elements.  Blend a structural skeleton that provides flex and support and nothing else with a warm, comfortable, easily-custom-fit, next to the foot component that allows for a warm, balanced stance.  

Don't think that the boot guys haven't thought of all this stuff dozens of times over and have tired hard to push boot design forward.  The market is littered with attempts to do just that.  Good luck with your project.


This ^^^^ is a very good post.

 

Having been in the biz for over 35 years including a 4 year stint as a product manager, I can state that these are not new ideas. Many of these concepts and ideas were broached in R&D meetings/bull sessions well over a decade ago (usually with ample supplies of Grappa at hand). However, new materials and processes have trickled out of the woodwork recently (esp the new Fischer deal)  that are starting to make these ideals seem possible. Various forms of full custom liner tech have been available for a while now but shell tech has lagged. While the Salomon CS shell was a good start, they have dropped the ball and lost their initiative. Fischer has apparently picked it up and is starting to run with it.

 

We shall see.

 

SJ

post #12 of 24

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by choucas View Post  Simplify......  My thought has always been to reduce the boot to its essential elements.  Blend a structural skeleton that provides flex and support and nothing else with a warm, comfortable, easily-custom-fit, next to the foot component that allows for a warm, balanced stance.  

Don't think that the boot guys haven't thought of all this stuff dozens of times over and have tired hard to push boot design forward.  The market is littered with attempts to do just that.  Good luck with your project.


Kinda like .... NAVAs.

 

 

FWIW, the rough vision I have of my idea involves essentially a Spademan butterfly plate set into the boot at the level of the boot board, and everything below that chopped away.    No zeppa.    If the athlete can't do a balanced stance on a flat surface....

 

Seriously- why are we even talking about "balanced stance" at all?    Why can't someone who expects to ski balance on their own two feet?  Should we be sending wannabe skiers to remedial walking school instead?

 

My answer: because the zeppa and forward tilt of the boot spine are pushing them forward in order to give them the ability to pressure the tips of the skis.   

 

Well, we now have at least one system for mechanical assistance in pressuring ski tips (Anton Glider-type).   

 

The major reason I like the thinking behind those is because they offer a better opportunity for redesigning the ski boot again.  Better than what has gone before that is, an opportunity that does not have to sacrifice pressure to the tips to get a stance that is inherently stable.

 

Only if we get rid of the assumption that transferring the range of balanced motion forward is an essential need in a functional ski boot (as opposed to a role of the binding, frex) can this happen.

post #13 of 24

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

I think ski boots are lacking in a buckle design that uniformly tightens all around the boot, instead of applying most of the force to the buckle area.

 

Like the new Head spine buckle system, or Full Tilt's design?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

Come to think of it, why not a heel buckle to take up space around the ankle and heel? Have it just above the heel binding interface, angled down.

 

Full Tilt smile.gif
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

 

Seamless liners. Too many boots have seems, or bad design at the tongue of the liner that creates pressure points.

Hmmm http://fulltiltboots.com/

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

 

A better fitting process. The typical boot fitting process involves a tech measuring the legnth and width of the base of your foot, then you trying on a bunch of boots. Why not take a 3d image of your foot/leg that crosses with manufacturer dimensions that can suggest which models will be the best bet? At this point, an Iphone has enough processing power for this. Why not?

Now that would be cool!
 
post #14 of 24

You want to design a new boot and be fool proof for every person even if they have 7 toes on each foot.   3D scanning and 3D printing.   Use the functions and design of whatever boot out there is most universally accepted as the best ski boot ever designed then simply have the shell printed sized to fit exactly to each and every persons foot.   Would require no boot inventory and essentially no material waste.   3D printers are much cheaper now than years ago and can be obtained on lease.   You can make as intricate and as durable products as you desire....even the buckles could be made in this thing.   Medical community has been using these devices for a while now, and they ensure 100% error free body parts, better than any artist could accomplish.  The only down side is that it would probably take a full day to make each boot....but a large machine could make several at the same time.

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post

 

Get rid of the need for a boot with a last width of 95-105 mm to sit on top of a  boot lug that is at least 30 mm narrower.

 

If the skier wants to be "flat" on the ski, then let them be flat on the ski.

 

Put the boot lug or whatever other attachment feature is required to mate with a "binding"  around the foot instead of under it.

 

 

Whoa. Mind = blown.
 

 

I want an ankle high boot, like speed skate or xc ski boots, but stiffer with a din sole.

post #16 of 24

I don't race so my opinion is very subjective. I do like the bumps - even less credibility?

 

My best boots ever were Raichle rear entry boots. Great flex, a clip to hold the foot tight where it belongs. Comfortable and responsive. Easy to get on and off. But I get razzed when I wear them. Lots of (unwarranted) prejudice against rear entry boots. You might have marketing issues (not necessarily technical issues) with a rear entry boot. But there is lots of room for innovative design in a rear entry boot.

 

I'm currently skiing Full Tilt boots. Light, responsive (with the ability to change flex with a new tongue) and reasonably comfortable. The Intuition liners are nice and customizable but they pack out quickly.(easy to re-mold though). The clips are horrible. Redesign the clips and copy lots of Full Tilt features and you might have a great product.

 

What a fun assignment! Enjoy it, get an A and make us a sweet boot! But be careful, I had an assignment to build a waterski. It led to an addiction to waterskiing and 30 years later the ski won Nationals. Probably cost me millions....

 

Eric

post #17 of 24

if u want to be cutting edge, redesign a functional rear entry boot...retro baby!

post #18 of 24

I haven't read the whole thread so not sure if this has been mentioned or if perhaps there's already technology developed along this line.  I don't think you can have a good boot fit without a well made foot bed orthotic. typically these slide inside the inner boot. I wonder if there's a better way to design and integrate orthotic and inner boot design.

post #19 of 24

....trust your instincts......think outside of the box......trust in your own ingenuity and creativity !

 

I can't wait to see what you come up with !

post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone!  this is all great info.  When the project is over I will post images of a link to where the project went.  WOW!  I got so much valuable feedback.

 

Thanks Again!!!!

post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 

bump

 

post #22 of 24

How did your project turn out? Good or bad I just wanted to see where you went with it.

post #23 of 24

I spoke to a sick electronics inventor friend today on the phone. He has a couple dozen pattens out there that he draws money from and basically plays around all day. He told me he has a few ways to stiffen plastic electronically. 

 

I'm good at taking things to the next level and then some. It's what I do.

The idea: A ski boot that could range from a 100 to a 150 in stiffness with a few clicks from an electronic remote retrofitted on the wearer's ski pole.

 

There could be a slight problem with those enterprising people that try to install the system on their person...........Come to think of it, maybe that would be the real market. rolleyes.gif

post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimalibu View Post


 

There could be a slight problem with those enterprising people that



...hack into the comlink between your pole and your boots.    "And look at what I can make the gaper do now!"

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