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Nasty blisters from a large shell and packed out liners - what next?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Here's my boot story.


I started backcountry skiing last season, and had a lot of trouble finding touring boots that fit well. Local bootfitter said my feet measured in at a 21 shell length, with a wide forefoot and narrow heel, which was an issue as no AT boots come smaller than a 22 shell. I eventually settled on the Salomon Quest 80W boots, which weren't as touring specific as I'd hoped but seemed like the best fit that included a reasonably good walk mode. Later, after doing a bit more research, I realised there were several additional brands we could have tried had the store carried them, including Scarpa and Dynafit.


The Quests worked really well at the beginning of the season. They were definitely on the heavy side for the uphill, but given that my focus is day tours that was completely manageable. They were comfortable and strong on the downhill. Toward the end of the season I started to have some issues with blistering on the insides of my heels, which I attributed to the additional warmth and sweatiness of spring touring.


This winter things started out okay, but as the season wore on the blistering problems became more consistent, always in the same spot on both feet. Last weekend I did a particularly strenuous day tour, and this was the result:




This is actually the slightly better of the two heels - the left has full thickness skin loss in two spots. My doctor was quite emphatic about not touring again in my current boots without at least changing the liners, and I respect that. There's no question that after two seasons of steady use (40 days per season; 10 touring) the liners have packed out. I'd noticed increasing slop on the downhill recently, and on my last two inbounds days I'd started buckling 1-2 notches tighter than normal to retain control. I also suspect that the liner was hiding the fact that the shell itself is too big.


I'd planned on replacing the Quests with more touring-specific boots with tech fittings (since I'm also planning a tech binding upgrade) next season. I'm quite willing to bump the purchase up, but I've been to every store in Vancouver and they're all sold out of decent AT boots in smaller sizes. I'm heading to Squamish and Whistler tomorrow with my fingers crossed, but I know this is a bad time of year to be looking for new boots. If I'm out of luck, is it worth paying for Intuition liners for the boots I have? A couple of stores recommended this option, but I can't help feeling that it would be a stop-gap solution if the shells are too big, and I'm really concerned that it won't fix the hot spots that caused the blisters.


I did try on a rental Scarpa Gea that I found it to be a really good fit, and noticeably snugger than the Quests. However, I can't find Geas in a 22.5 anywhere online or locally. I have found a Scarpa Skadi in the right size online; I'm not too concerned about the weight difference between that and a Gea, and I'd be happy to upgrade to an Intuition liner, but I'm extremely wary of buying boots online and am not clear enough on the differences between the Gea and the Skadi to know if this is a good option.


So...I think that lays out my dilemma. Is it worth spending close to $300 on new liners for boots that I know aren't really working, given that I may not be able to find the right pair of new boots at this time of year? Are the Skadis worth serious consideration? I'm conscious that boots are the most critical piece of any ski setup; I don't want to compromise the new boot purchase, but I feel backed into a bit of a corner given the damage to my feet and the fact that I can't use my current boots again without at least replacing the liners. I also don't want to give up all of my spring touring plans to wait for the right pair of boots to come along next year. Advice from folk who really know boots would be very much appreciated.

post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 

Sorry for the gigantic picture of the heel blister - I hadn't realised it would come out quite so big and I don't seem to be able to reduce the size...

post #3 of 4

dont spend money on liners, for shells that you know dont work.


Dynafit LTL5 in 22 is really tiny shell fit.


technica cochise is out,  they use a 23 with a toe cap.


nordica and lange both make a real 22, but no tech fittings


some of the scarpa might be small enought..  I dont sell it so not sure.

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
dont spend money on liners, for shells that you know dont work.


Truth. I ended up making the trek up to Whistler yesterday to talk to the pros at Fanatykco. They don't stock touring boots (apart from the Cochise) so it was an interesting back-and-forth between the stores that carried the boots and the guys I trusted to fit them. The shell fit in a bare foot on the Quest was an eye-opener - it was huge in all directions, with massive amounts of excess volume around the heel. Their advice was to forget the Quest and start over. 


I eventually settled on a pair of Scarpa Geas after a close run contest with the Dynafit Ones. When I took them back to Fanatyk they checked the shell and said they were pretty much perfect. I thought we'd have to punch them, but they want me to ski them for a day or two first to see if I actually find hot spots - they're not sure that I will.


And holy crap, if this is the way new boots are supposed to feel then no wonder nothing I've ever had before has really worked. My foot feels like it's in a just borderline bearable vice (albeit one with a great walk mode.) Yet no particular point feels crushed - it just feels super snug all over. I haven't skied them yet but just thinking about the difference between this and the Quests, where my forefoot had room to wiggle the toes and move back and forth - well, it's going to be a whole different experience.

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