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Review: Head RD96 Boot

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Product reviewed: Head RD96 Boot, size 25
Time used: last 2 weeks
Reviewers ability: entry-level 9/Racer
Height/Weight: 175cm (5 foot 9), 69kg (150lbs)
Similiar products tried: Sollie Course, Tecnica Icon XT
Terrain: Mostly groomers/bumps

Well, I am getting quite a few turns on my new Head RD96 boots. For those of you unfamiliar with this boot, it is the new race model that has a 96mm last (very narrow), stiff flex, and minimal adjustments-what some would call a "plug" boot (it isn't in the catalogue). I have used them mostly on early-season groomers, and some bumps. My shoe size is 8/8.5, and I am wearing the 25.0 (290mm sole)-I have 1 finger width behind my heel (my normal performance fit would be a 25-very comfortable with most boots).

First off, I am blown away at how damn good these boots are! Literally on the first 2 turns, I knew I had a winner.

I haven't even seen my bootfitter, but I am more neutral in this boot than in any I have used previously (all of which I have gotten fitted by Jim Mates of Seattle). Fore/aft, and laterally, I feel perfectly balanced-I never have to exaggerate movements to pressure the skis. I am fairly upright, but find that it fits my anatomy perfectly (all of my other boots had to be straightened somewhat, so the Head's upright stance is made for me). I am perfectly flat on the snow, and can roll to either outside or inside edge with equal ease. Same goes for pressuring the tip and tail-very slight movements are all that is needed.

This boot is very, very stiff, but oddly enough, I don't notice it. I guess since I am so neutral in the boot, I am not pushing plastic trying to achieve a neutral stance. It seems that I start at a neutral stance, and the stiffness of the plastic keeps me there. It might not be ideal for skiers making gross, exaggerated movements, but that is often a function of poor boot alignment. It makes sense that a very stiff boot is great IF the skier is in perfect alignment. This thing is so quick and responsive. Think turn, and it is happening. So quick edge to edge, and very easy to pressure the tip and tail as desired. Much more reactive than the Icon XT I owned last season (not that it isn't a great boot) but the Head takes responsiveness to another level. It is the difference between a Porsche 911 and Enzo Ferrari.

In the bumps, this boot is SOOOOO comfortable-moreso than any boot this stiff and narrow has a right to be. Head, at least for me, did the right thing in putting a well-cushioned liner in this boot. Sure, the toe box is thin on the liner, but the tounge is well-padded, and the boot is very comfortable for what it is-basically a narrow, stiff plug/race boot.

Fit wise, it is tight. I have angular feet, and a C- width, and although relatively comfortable, the boot is snug. It has loosened up somewhat, but I still get numb toes after a couple of hours. I may grind the toe box just a little (widen it up) but other than that, the fit is as tight as advertised (when you look into the boot, you can see just how narrow it is-pretty intimidating if you have wide feet).

To sum it up, this is a great boot, best I have owned. I am skiing better (as a function of the boot) than in any other I have tried. I find the boot keeps me in the correct position-since I am already neutral, and the boot is stiff, it keeps me there. Easy to ski, even in challenging terrain-the boot simply allows a direct, accurate connection to your skis-no degredation of the input signal. It is more comfortable (for me) than I had a right to expect. Power, neutrality, connection to the skis-isn't that what all boots should strive to do?

Of course, YMMV. Boot reviews depend on skier anatomy, and are much more difficult to review than skis. With that said, the Head RD96 is a winner for me! If they work for your body type and foot, pick up a pair-you won't be dissapointed (they can be hard to find-I got the last pair of 25's available here until February, or so I am told).
post #2 of 2
I got a pr last spring and it made all the difference in the world!

my skiing came to life
wow ! what a boot there will be lots of racer wanting this boot!
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