While visiting the Apex boot display at SIA we spent some time talking to Denny Hanson about his latest incarnations and evolution of the Apex Boot. We did an initial try on at the show to see how the boots would fit. I measure between a 26.5 and 27 on the Brannock (and ski in a 25 shell) and the boot that was brought out to me was a 27.0. Before I had a chance to question the sizing, I was told that because of the design of the “Walkable Boot”, there is no need to “down size”. I hate the term "down size", I prefer “right size” but I digress. I commented that I am usually in a 295mm BSL and there is no way ANY of my bindings would adjust enough to the 331mm that the Apex’s Open Chassis requires. Fortunately, there were no 27’s to try on and he reluctantly put my into a 26.0 (321mm) boot. As expected, the initial fit was not too different than that of a snowboard boot.
After 4 days of testing skis, I wanted to make sure that I gave these boots a fair review. I used the Head Monster 88 as my reference ski for two reasons, I was confident of the on snow feel and it is a ski that someone who is buying the Apex boot might consider, in hind site I should have used one of the Impacts or some other low 80mm frontside biased system ski. This is not a boot I would consider for myself but quite frankly for this review, that is irrelevant, it is for me to ski it and help who it is for. So, who it is for? IMHO, someone who skis up to a level 6-7 and with minimal aggressiveness and sticks primarily to the blue cruisers and maybe easy blacks when groomed. Someone who puts comfort and warmth over performance as top priority. None of this is bad, just having realistic expectations. Now to try them on snow.
Coming from my 25.5 Tecnica was like going from a sports car to a luxo sedan. Starting the turn it was wait for it…wait for it…oh wait, I am in the next turn. I found that the boot had trouble keeping up. The Dual Boa system did it’s best trying to keep my foot still but this boot just cannot come in enough to accommodate my low volume foot. Would having my custom footbed help? Sure but for a while, I just cannot see this holding up for 70-80 days a season, there is just too much to pack out. The test boot was set up with 12* of forward lean and I think upping it to 14* or even 16* could help it some. Thinking that the average skier that is considering this boot skis with an upright less aggressive stance, the two degrees could help him. I will say in the stance that I skied these boots if I was on much less of a ski or a ski that has a significant rocker it would be scary just because there is too much between you and the the binding to keep the ski engaged. Can it be skied hard? Sure, but there are better and more efficient tools for that and I had to put that much more effort into the process to keep the ski active, which does defeat the purpose.
Honestly, it is better than I thought it would be but it is not for me. I think it is a great boot for someone that again, values comfort over anything and is is just a fair weather skier or even an instructor that is spending much of his/her time with low to mid level classes and is the boots from open to close day in and day out.
For the future, I think they can evolve the boot to add more performance but there are inherent limitations. The chassis can be offered with narrower couplings and the liner could be offered in a narrower last too. But it will still be what it is, the Turducken of ski boots, a boot liner inside of walkable boot inside of an open chassis.
Shell Size Tested: 26.0
Flex rating: 110/120/130, middle flex
Ski tested with: 2016 Head Monster 88 178cm
Modifications done to boot: None
Environment & Conditions:
Location of Test: Mammoth
Number of Runs: 2
Snow Conditions: Mixed, late day corn
Demo or Own: Demo
Height/Weight: 5'11" 190lb
Ski Days/Season: 60+
Years Skiing: 35
Aggressiveness: Moderate (Finesse)
Current Boot: Tecnica Inferno 130 with Expert Booster Strap, right boot is canted 1.5* out, left boot canted 1* out. Head Lace Up liner with Instaprint footbed.
Current Quiver: Many skis, changing constantly
Home Area: Squaw & Northstar
Preferred Terrain: bumps, off-piste, trees
Foot Length (semi weighted) : L:265mm R:267mm
Footshape: I have a medium instep, strong arch and 9* dorsal range in my ankle. Calf is high and my lower leg is very skinny.