First a few stats; I'm skiing a 178 Blizzard Cochise, with 25.5 Head Raptors (120). I'm 165-170#, 5'8", 30 year old male skier, I spend the majority of my days in trees, bumps and alpine bowls (when light allows), groomers tend to be limited to a morning warmup and a last run out but are still fun as well. Most of my time however, is off-piste, in bounds.
Just before Christmas I replaced the stock liner in my raptors, as it had long since packed out, with a pair of Zipfit gara liners. I've got 5 days on them so far (with no foot bed at all), and wanted to share my impressions/get some feedback from those who have far more experience than I.
- First up, I like the way they ski (I think...). They hold my ankle really well. They stiffened the 120 raptor up to a 130ish [obligatory flex ratings aren't standardized or measurable comment here - this is a feeling that they've been stiffened 10% or so..], they're responsive, and i like the feedback i can get in the boot - from my skis. Because I like the way they ski, I don't want to just cave in to the below comments
- I have to put on my boots in 2 steps now, Liner on the Foot, then Foot+Liner In the shell. Not a big deal, but annoying none the less.
- Before buckling the boot, the "throat" is WIDE open. If I didn't know better (and my friend literally asked me this on the weekend), I'd think the liners are a size larger than the boot (they're not, both 25.5). Once they're buckled, the boots do seem to close up well enough.
- Despite looking like they're closed up; they let in a lot of snow. the entire red 'toe pad' pieces were covered in packed snow after a day at Silverstar. Chunks of snow and ice are left in the boot shell when I get the boots off. Enough so that I might even be able to make a golf ball sized snowball.
- they are painful on my ankle bones (The bony, knobby balls on either side of my ankle - Malleous I think they're called?). After a day of skiing, they feel as if they've been hit square in the middle with a hammer a few times. I feel like when turning, I'm simply pressing my Malleous into a hard wall - over and over and over again, all day long. I don't feel any particular "OW that hurt!!" kind of pain, but after a whole day.... they hurt.
- My feet are cold - something I've never experienced in a ski boot before.
- Once I'm buckled in, it's not long before my feet are tingly, and then flat out fall asleep. I've been able to get them to wake up again after a few runs so far; but the first couple chairs are very unpleasant and I'm sure this is leading to my cold toes. Day 5 absolutely was better than Day 1.
- Walking in them HURTS my ankle (Malleous) bones. Note, I'm not talking hiking back to the car; I boot up inside like a civilized person, but walking anywhere; around the daylodge at lunch, up the stairs from the gondola to the lodge, etc.
- Removing my boots, damn that sucks. I have to remove the liner from the boot, with my foot still in the liner, then remove the liner; which isn't in and of itself a huge deal, however I've always had issues pulling my foot out of the Head Raptors, and the Zipfits make this worse.
A lot of reading there, sorry; I'll let it all digest for a moment....
Alright, enough time - on to the questions:
- Is it normal for the liner to look absolutely stuffed into the shell? I have verified a couple times, shell and liner are both the same size, so I'm thinking this is just a function of the liner needs some time to settle and pack a little bit... Is it normal for so much snow to be intruding?
- Cold feet - I'm already wearing thin socks, and removing the boot to change socks mid-day is not an option - the boots are simply too difficult to remove to warrant me changing socks.
- Ankle pain? Is this normal with the Zipfits? I can feel some pretty well defined indents in the inside of the liner, and even see it on the outside of the liner. Is this going to get better as they break in a bit more? I feel as if there's simply no cushion whatsoever in between those bones, and the shell of my boot.
- Sleepy Feet? Hopefully somebody will tell me here that they're still packing out, and day 6/7/8 will all be subsequently better than the last?
- Walking Ankle Pain - thoughts?
- and finally, removing the boots. Any advice? Current process is to let them warm up awhile (all 3 of my skier friends already have their boots off, and are packing to leave before I even start trying to get my boots off), then with 1 hand on the back of the shell, and the other opening 1 side of the shell, I flex my knee forward, and heel up, to try to force my ankle around the kink in the boot.
- My problem with this is (and I've always had this problem), I feel as if I don't have enough range of motion in my ankle, to really bend around the kink in the boot, and I THINK the zipfits, being stiffer than my stock foam liners, simply accentuate this issue. My ankle actually get's "trapped" in, and "bitten" by the kink, sometimes I'm able to get the boot off as I'm falling out of my chair, other times I have to stop, push my foot back in, and catch my breath a few moments before trying again.
Thanks all for your advice and feedback. Much appreciated.