I have been trying with some difficulty to find a stiff boot with in a "comfortable" width (i.e., 104mm at 29.5), and that is accomodating for my large-ish calves. I have been to five shops, two that were a 1 hour + drive from me, been shell fit four times, and tried on about half dozen boots.
I've gotten close to a great fit with a stock shell, but I haven't found a shop that will say, no problem, we can fix that with a punch here or a grind there. Instead, what I've gotten is a push to the moldable shells by Fischer or Salomon. I just don't have confidence in the final result to purchase either one, particularly because they always seem to be the most expensive boots in the shop. (And also I was one of the folks who bought a pair of the "foam injection" boots in the 80's that were a disaster.)
Now most of the shop folks start with a song and dance about how wide my foot is, or how fat my calf is. I don't buy it. I never had difficulty finding a stock Tecnica shell that fit me. The only guy who seemed unfazed with my foot was from a shop that I found from the ABB website. He said pretty frankly that as it was mid-season, they didn't have many advanced boots left in my size, and put me in a Hell-and-Back H3, and it was a pretty close fit once again but the stiffness was a little soft, so, again, he pointed me to the Fischer and Salomon.
I haven't put on anything in a hard flex from Tecnica, Head, Lang or even Alpina (which I used to find were the most comfortable boots for me years ago). Should I just bit the bullet and go with the shell molding, or keep looking? And in terms of different moldable shells, each of which I'm told will fit perfectly after the molding process, is there a big difference between the result you get with a "bake" Salomon shell, and the Fischer "pressure vac" shells.
Specifically, despite the lack of stock shells in my size, in the custom shell I have four options near me I can get in 29.5: the X-Max 120, X-Pro 130, RC4 130 Vacuum, and the Hybrid 12+.
When I look at my choices from a business perspective, I feel a little suspect that all these choices in "moldable" shells, and the dearth in out-of-the-box models, is part of a scheme to lock in business for local shops and put the online shops dealing in last year's models at a disadvantage. For example, none of these shops with the fancy vacuum machines are even stocking the Fischer Progressor in any size, which is a boot that looks promising as to my fit (based on the ABB review).
OK, done rambling.
If your a non-bootfitter and have some thoughts on this topic feel free to PM me.