Product: 2014 Lange RX 130 LV
Shell Size Tested: 26.5
Flex rating: 130
Ski tested with: Kastle MX78, Rossignol Soul 7, Hart Phoenix
Footbed: semi-custom Aline
Modifications done to boot: None
Environment of Conditions:
*Location of review: Sugarloaf, Maine
*Runs Taken: Lots (6 days worth)
*Snow Conditions: Typical Maine: Powder to boiler plate
*Demo or Own: Own
Summary (inc. Strengths & Weaknesses):
Pros: Great fit, flex and stance. Warm. Matches my wardrobe (lime is the new black)
Cons: Ya, they do leak - or make my feet sweat like a fountain
Other boots in class: No idea
Height/Weight: 5'9/175 lbs
Average days on snow: 11-25
Years Skiing: 30+
Skis in your Quiver: More than fingers and toes (almost)
Foot issues (Pronation ect): Pretty normal, except for chicken shins
Preferred Terrain: groomers, off-piste
Ski boots are far more personal and intimate than skis. Fact is that once you click into a new pair of boards, physical forces treat everyone equally, for better or worse. Maybe you will like them and maybe you won't. Often, a preference for one ski over another is as subtle as the the vagaries we are asked to report during a visit to the optometrist, when prompted to choose between two final test options that present distinctions without a difference. Even ski undies, while a more "delicate" a topic, have qualities that may be universally applied. They either keep your bits toasty or they don't. And so it with these caveats that I share some thoughts on my new boots. The fact that they work for me does not mean they will work for you, unless you are that long lost identical twin I never had.
First, a bit of context. My retired boots are a three year old pair of Nordica Doberman Pro 130. I bought them because they fit my foot like a glove. I struggled for a few years before that to get Dalbello Krypton's to fit, all without success despite aftermarket liners and other shell work. Ultimately, they got worked over more than an expendable flunkie in a B Mafia movie. After much time and effort I conceded that these were just not meant for me. Lesson learned. Conversely, the Doberman's fit splendidly out of the box, both with the stock liner and then the Zipfit World Cup liners. And they never stopped feeling like they were made for my feet. It was, ultimately, the rest of me that balked. Simply put, the geometry was not good for me. Specifically, the forward lean and ramp angle, combined with the 130 flex, put me in an unforgiving, aggressive stance. I felt like George Kastastanza, when he lamented to Jerry that he felt like he was always "on." And that was exciting - for a while. And then it became tiring. So more work to undo the forward stance that seemed to shove me in the back seat as my body compensated. First a 3mm riser under the toe. And then a 4mm plate fitted under my VIST toe piece. And that helped a bit. But it did not alter my body geometry in the boot, only my geometry in relation to the ski. I dealt with it for three years, as my learning curve and frustration grew. Oh, did I mention that the Doberman's were brutally cold boots. As the temps dropped, the stiffness took on the flex of boat fiberglass. And getting them off after a frigid day on a Maine hill was always the final pleasure, especially with the Zipfits which have to come out of the shell with your foot inside. I felt like that flunkie as he struggled to remove his concrete overshoes.
On the horns of dilemma. How do you scrap boots that fit perfectly out of the box despite unfolding performance issues. Eventually, my reading led me to a class of new boots that seemed to have me and my predicament in mind. Hype or reality? Unknown, but the theory looked good.
As EVO described the Lange RX 130 : Natural Stance - A neutral and upright stance compliments modern ski design and allows for more efficient power transfer. This means less quad fatigue and better, longer ski days thanks to 4° ramp angle, 12° forward lean (14° with spoiler) and a 0° medial / lateral stance.
The tech sheet made my heart flutter. An upright boot with a solid flex but low ramp angle sounded like the perfect "rx" for my woes. But would they fit? No way of knowing without trying.
The $650 sticker price made my heart flutter even more. And I will not go into a local shop and take their time with no intention to buy. So I did what everyone tells you not to. I bought a pair on line, from EVO - last year's which is identical to the current model at about half the price. No worries with returns, so nothing ventured....
I find the Lange's handsome, further proof that lime is the new black.
Appearance: First, I gave the boots a close inspection. The shell plastic has a very pleasant tactile feel and a soft matte finish giving the boot a nicely finished look. The translucence of the lower shell is a gimmick, and one I rather like. I read somewhere that the difference between the RX and RS is that the upper and lower shell materials are reversed. I have no idea. Just throwing that out there to chew on. But the color scheme appeals to me, especially given my recent penchant for all things lime. The buckles are well-machined and finished. And in the event that you forget the name of your boots, they are decaled in no fewer than seven visible places. The liner is a splendid piece of work. Fine leather and stout stitching makes it look more like my bespoke-like Zipfits than the garden variety Nordica liner. The lining is not plush but has a soft covering and strikes a nice balance between form and function. Clearly, the liner, unlike most, was not an afterthought.
So, in the "looks" department, to my eye, Lange designed a very good-looking boot with unconventional traits. Their conventional blue RS poses little risk. This one has a more love it or leave it quality.
Fit: I admit that I have been smitten by a shena punim only to find that the fit was not right. I am talking boots now, of course. Determining if the Lange's were simply a pretty face with naught behind it was the next step in the vetting process. The shell fit. So I yanked the liner out and put my bony, chicken-like dawgs inside. But before doing this I found a magic marker which happened to be 15mm in diameter, smack in the middle of the range I was looking for. I am a 9.5-10 US in street shoe and have been in 26.5 mondo boots (8 US) for several years. So there was a good chance these would work, and they did. The marker fit very tightly between my heel and the heel curve in the shell. I would estimate a 12mm fit. I popped the liner back in with my Aline footbeds, put on my favorite Hot Chilis Ultrathin socks and slipped into the boots for the first time. I confess, I really wanted these boots to work. Just as I do all the gear I buy. But as I put the second boot on, I flashed back to a time 47 years ago when I was being fitted for a beautiful pair of Koflach leather "buckle boots," my first without laces. And it did not matter how they fit. They were mine. But my dear uncle who saw that got-to-have-it look on my face warned me not to be Cinderella and to be honest when asked how they felt. Truth is, they felt great. And so did the Lange's. I walked around the house with them, a journey made safer on slick tile surfaces by the blue rubber sole inserts. A very nice touch. No pressure points or hot spots. Just that wonderful blood-pressure cuff feeling of a boot hugging every part of the foot equally. Fact is my foot is pretty average - mid width in forefoot but narrow in the heel. And low volume, which made the 97mm forefoot perfect. They actually felt better in the toe box than the Dobermans which are 1 mm wider. The Booster strap cinched the liner and eliminated the gap between the tongue and my chicken shins. All in all, a great fit. But then, I was equally enthusiastic with the Nordica's for the same reason.
Slope-side: I have six solid days in these boots in a variety of conditions. I have skied them in boot-top powder on a pair of Soul 7's, in packed powder on Kaslte MX 78's and on boiler plate (the official Maine state snow surface) on a pair of svelt Hart Phoenix carvers (106/66/101). First of all, I can happily report that the fit remains sublime. For me, forgetting or just not bothering to take boots off at lunch is the final proof of a proper fit. And I have thus far have had fully booted lunches. The boots do not have a plug feel, like the Dobermans. But that is not to say they are not equally responsive or precise. They are, in every respect. They just deliver the goods in a more civilized package. I have skied in sub-zero temps that would have made my toes feels like mini frozen hot dogs - pigs in a Doberman blanket, if you will. Perhaps it is the more accommodating toe-box, or full leather liner, or both.
These are stiff boots. But I find the flex to be very progressive, and not so granite-like in frigid weather. Bottom line is that I have given up nothing in performance by going to a boot that pampers just enough that you do not think yourself a sissy.
The big issue for me, and sole reason for my boot search, was geometric. Again, after much futzing with the Dobermans, I still struggled to maintain a relaxed and upright stance, Ultimately, I was not successful. It took me a few days out to determine if the Lange's would offer a solution, or if I was just blaming a technique foible on gear that can not defend itself. It does take a bit of time to adjust to new gear, and it was the third day out that something interesting happened. I was on the MX78's, which are brilliant skis, in part because they make plain what they like and what they do not, and in no uncertain terms. I had my usual VIST set-up, with the 4mm plates under the toe pieces which were mounted forward of the line. As I initiated turns in my usual way, I found the skis reacted differently, and not in a good way. The tips seemed to wander, a phenomenon I have never experienced on the Kastles. So I popped the toes off and removed the plastic shims, which took 4mm out of the delta (?) angle. Made a few more turns and - bingo! Those skis never felt more solid or under foot. And as the day progressed I had the sensation that my stance was more upright - and naturally, without prompting. And my chronically fatigued quads thought, "maybe there is something to that lower ramp/upright stance thing." I certainly felt less taxed and more comfortably centered. Note, I had already removed the rear boot spoilers to maximize the vertical stance.
Every day in these boots reveals the sensation that my body mechanics are changing. I have played with the position of the bindings (fore and aft) to find a new sweet spot. And it seems to be behind where it was when I was in the Dobermans, for reasons I cannot explain. No matter how I may perceive the difference, the proof of it all comes from my wife, an observant woman who, thankfully, knows nothing about and cares even less about ski-speak. She validated what I was experiencing, commenting that I was "not crouched over" as I came down the hill, and that my turns were "elegant." I can own all that. But more important, that is precisely what it feels like. And it is good.
I am 47 years away from that first sweet Koflach "Cinderella" moment. And I confess that it is still too easy for me to be either too deferential or accusative, believing my gear is either none of the problem or all of it. Some measures are quantifiable - boots cause pain or they do not. But how they perform, and change you as as skier for better or worse, is far more subtle, individual and, ultimately, fundamental. Too often we are encouraged to believe that the serious skier who wants to squeeze all the performance he or she can from a boot must choose between plugs or slippers. It is a line that we have been fed by a ski industry juggernaut which may have believed it as well. For reasons best left to others who know such things, that same industry now seems to be capable of producing gear that feels great and works great. For me, these Lange's do all of that and in a color scheme that makes me look, well, just plain fabulous.
Edited by deliberate1 - 2/15/14 at 7:29pm