I returned to skiing last year after a nearly 10 year layoff. All of my equipment was old, even back then, and so I've been renting. Since I had a great time in the 10 days or so I skied last year (7 at Big Sky, the rest at local hills in PA), I decided to invest in new gear starting with boots. As far as ability, I am probably in the 7 range, moderately aggressive, and am reasonably comfortable in most terrain from steeper bumps and glades to powder and east coast hardpack. To give a better sense of where I fit on the scale, I didn't even think of doing Big Couloir when I was at Big Sky but did come down from the peak, very much enjoyed The Bowl and really liked a lot of the gladed terrain, particularly at Moonlight. I'm barely 5' 7" but about 190 pounds and was on a pair of 170 Solomon Enduros (can't recall the precise model) most of the time and enjoyed them.
As far as boots, I tried the Phoenix 12, FT High 5's and Rossi Exp Sensor 110's. None really fit well. As it turned out, one of the managers at the shop overheard my discussion with their boot fitter and suggested that I consider a pair of Atomic Waymakers that were there on consignment. The boots were technically used, having been sold to an employee last season, but they were never fitted to him and had not actually seen the snow.
I was pleasantly surprised when I tried them on - their shape seems great match to my feet. Excellent heel hold but wide enough to fit my D-E width, high instep feet and with some nice room at the toes due the design. The uppers were tight at the calf however, and even with the top buckle barely fastened seemed to have the potential to impede blood flow. After removing the stiffening panel at the rear of the shell however, the fit was much improved. Bottom line is that after wearing them around the house for several hours this past weekend, they appear to be a great choice, though I still need to work with the shop to fine-tune the fit. I frankly did not realize until after I got the boots home and did some searching on the web, that the back buckle that allows the boot to flex for walking was apparently designed in to allow the boot to be used for telemark skiing. Don't think that this is necessarily a drawback as the boot is quite stiff when locked (rated at 130) and seems to have fair amount of forward lean.
So having found a pair of boots that I can work with, I moved on to skis. The ski I really need probably doesn't exist: My time will be split more or less evenly between eastern and western skiing, and so of course want a ski that is responsive in the bumps but flexible enough for fun in soft snow while also being able to carve and handle hardpack and ice. In short, a miracle ski. Since that ski probably doesn't exist - and because I can only afford one pair, I narrowed things down to the Kendo and Prophet 90. I need to also be honest and say that budget is a major issue, so my selection is constrained to what's available on the discount rack (both the Kendo and Prophet are leftover 2013's offered at about 40% off list). My tentative selection is the Prophet (172) because it seems more versatile.
Appreciate any feedback or thoughts on the above.