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Thread Starter 
Boot Make: Tecnica
Boot Model: XT17
Boot Size: 25.5
Snow Conditions Used In: Hardpack/icy manmade, packed powder, 4-18" fresh powder, lots of walking for children's lessons!
Number of Days Used: 4
Your Ability: 8-9
How Many Years Have You Been Skiing: 33
Avg. Days per Year Skiing: 10-20
Other Boots You've Owned: Lange XLR, San Marco Comp Foam, Tecnica TNT, Salomon XWave 10
Your Height/Weight: 6', 180lbs.
Comments: So I have been trying to figure out how to communicate the difference that these boots--and their balancing by Jeff--have made for me. I hope that this review is useful for some of you...

I have spent many, many years skiing on what I thought were top-of-the-line ski boots. When I got the XWaves, I had relegated myself to a lower-performance boot, thinking that age and being less fit limited my requirements from my boots. However, I was slopping around in the boots and not enjoying my skiing as a direct result. I visited Jeff early in the fall and got his recommendations for boots that would be good starting points for me. The XT17 was one of them, and the one that I ended up buying.

The first time I tried them on, I noticed three things immediately:

  • The shell was physically much smaller than any other boot I had ever had on my feet</font>
  • The liner was thinner than any liner I had ever seen</font>
  • The flex was smooth and progressive--and I finally understood what those words meant</font>
I was amazed to see how small a boot could be while still accomodating my feet. The boots felt light, too, as a result of there being less plastic, and the liners felt like they were hugging my feet, although I could see that they were much thinner than anything I had ever used.
I flexed my old boots (both the XWaves and the TNTs) and felt how the plastic caught and released during flexion and extension, creating a somewhat ratchet-like motion (and a plastic-on-plastic squeak). Then I flexed the XTs. No sound, no catching, just a single smooth motion forward and then back as the boot flexed.

Some of our fellow Bears know just how fearful I was that these boots would be too cold or tight or stiff as I asked for their opinions and input. They very graciously gave it to me, and while not all will think that I followed their advice, I weighed it all before the purchase. Suffice it to say that I'm delighted!

Jeff's adjustments to the boots were relatively limited, although he referred to my alignment issues as "a challenge". He built footbeds for me, ground a little on the side of the heel of the shell to allow my foot to rotate slightly, and added a lift to both the toe of the boot and the toepiece of the bindings.

While I have had them out in a broad range of temperatures and conditions, I have been incredibly pleased both with their comfort and performance. I do wear boot gloves with them since wet seems to be my biggest enemy (my toes were coldest on a warm day when I didn't wear the boot gloves!). I have had two 6-hour days teaching 4-year-olds in them (effectively walking around on-snow and in the lodge), and I was not uncomfortable. I do not even unbuckle them at lunch or during breaks.

For performance, I was amazed. The first day on them I got 2 runs on icy/manmade hardpack conditions. I was absolutely astonished at the carves that I could hold, and I can only give credit to the boots, since I was not holding as well even on the same skis a week earlier. "Snow" that would have had me in high trepidation in the past became a surface I could carve on and control! Edge control was exceptional--even slow-speed wedge turns leading a level 1 group of 7-12 year-olds glided better; I could definitely tell the difference. And skiing in powder up to 18" deep trail-side was a lovely experience, as well. While these are "ultra-high performance", I don't find the stiffness to be the least bit limiting.

In summary, I have learned that true top-of-the-line boots have significantly better plastic than at least many top-of-the-line consumer models. I have learned that boots can be very close to your feet, and that when they are, the performance is amazing. I have also learned that a knowledgeable alignment specialist can transform the skiing experience. Find one. You won't be disappointed.