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Soft Boots -- Longer Term Evalation - Page 2

post #31 of 50
Racers need stiffer boots than regular people because they must transmit much more force to their skis than we are even capable of. Even if I had the technique and reflexes to make a world cup turn, I still couldn't do it because I'm not strong enough. Stiffer boots, stiffer skis, stiffer binding springs.
Porc
post #32 of 50
Having skied and been out of (web)touch this week there´s always the immense labor of reading new posts and trying to contribute to some of them.

My belated .02 on softboots as addition to what has already been said:


(i) an important task of ski boots is to stabilize the skier, i.e. to give him fore-aft support

The faster you ski the bigger the forces which threaten to throw you out of balance. Sure, the better the skier the better his balance and the less he has to depend on the cuff and tongue to stabilize him. OTOH, skiing fast on something less ideal than flawless corduroy you sometimes need the support. (Ever run into a hole or a rut on a warm summer day when the boots get really soft? Ever seen the racers with their boots buried in snow before the race to stiffen them up?)


(ii) There were tests run by a renowned lab in Germany for one of their ski magazines. The results clearly showed that the beginner boots with low flex indexes generally have poor flex patterns with lack of resistence from the beginning of the pressure applied. Their flex begins with almost zero values - „a hole“, the report says – and the leg has to travel some before reaching some relevant resistance=support. The mag even has some color curves showing the patterns of boots tested plus some ideal curve for a corresponding type of boot.


(iii) The problem of most skiers (including some lower level racers) on steep pitches is their tendency to backseat or, to put it more precisely, the lack of courage to get forward properly. You can´t expect them to do so if their boots don´t give them the security necessary.

Lower level skier don´t usually ski steeps and when they do they mostly skid a traverse. To carve a turn on an advanced black slope you need to be forward and you need a boot inviting you to do so. (Another reason the racer needs a stiff boot.)


(iv) The shell material. Softer thinner plastics, even leather or fabric seems an excellent „comfortable“ idea. We know that for most recreational skier it´s not an issue but a standard plastic shell can be customized relatively easily. OTOH, how would you gring a half-textile boot? Just to hope that the boot with a softer (but still pretty hard) shell material will not pinch is ridiculous.

A softboot is hardly customizable. You have to depend on the initial fit (and, yes, on some limited liner modifications) and on the liner compensating for all critical points. Nor very tempting for a serious higher-level skier...


(v) It has been mentioned by bootfitters that the dirsiflexion is a very important factor in deciding whether a skier needs a stiffer or softer boot. If so this might influence the individual preferences of „softies“.


(vi) Do we have to pressure the ski tip? IMHO yes and no.

NO: shaped skis carve a turn when on edge. No excessive tip pressure is necessary and you don´t feel the need if you stay on well groomed slopes and on reasonable pitches. It´s the great carving liberation: stay approximately centered, just tip the ski and get the turn. Up to a certain level carving a decent turn is almost a cinch irrespective of the precision of the (reasonable!) pressure distribution.

YES: skiing steep slopes and hard stuff, as in a racecourse, you really need tip pressure ENOUGH to really start the turn carving. NOT ENOUGH means some sort of punishment.
post #33 of 50
I think it's almost impossible at this stage to generalize about "soft boots" in the first place, until you more clearly define what you're referring to. If what you mean by soft boots is, as checkracer suggests, a device where the shell material is non-standard "soft" (either softer plastics or "textiles"), then you need to specify -- because all soft boots are not created equal. I use superb boots (Salomon Ellipse 9.0's) which have been called soft by some reviewers and not soft by others. The whole "rise and fall" of soft boots thing has been grossly overstated, IMO. Many aspects of soft boots (textured, thinner plastics, for instance) have quietly become institutionalized in boot design. To risk a pun, soft boots have surely left a small but real footprint in boot design history -- things will never be quite the same, even if speed laces, etc. eventually disappear.
post #34 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
I think it's almost impossible at this stage to generalize about "soft boots" in the first place, until you more clearly define what you're referring to...
To risk a pun, soft boots have surely left a small but real footprint in boot design history -- things will never be quite the same, even if speed laces, etc. eventually disappear.
There has never been a definition of "softboots". Strictly speaking, the only real softboot is that of Rossignol because they let the name patented. The label "soft" was used rather wildly by the industry and media. Some of the manufacturers contributed to the confusion in the desire to "sell" the concept accordingly and dramatically.
Under "normal" circumstances there would have been evolution resulting in stabilization of the term and the corresponding boots. Here, unfortunately, the softs practically disappeared before they could establish themselves.

I think you´re right saying that they had some impact on traditional "hard" boots although the latter would have gone through the changes aiming at more comfort, handling and softer forward flex anyway, maybe just not so fast.

To comment on some of the earlier posts, I don´t think softboots didn´t succeed because they were "different". The percentage of skiers using high performance top boots and "ideollogically" refusing anything not resembling race boots is relatively small.
The majority is often unhappy in uncomfortable, heavy and clumsy boots not resembling anything they know (sure, ski boots are no boots and "the boots are NOT made for walking", if you remember the old Nancy Sinatra´s song).
A lot of people would be eager to use something more user friendly, lighter, more walkable, warmer, etc. etc. - but the softboots simply didn´t live up to the high expectations based on suggestive promises.
post #35 of 50
My final boot-buying visit was 4-hours long. I was considering the Rossi soft boots, but I went with Lange Banshee 110's mainly because they were more comfortable top wear.
Yes, I said Langes were more comfortable - to wear...nothing is more painful than getting in and out of them, though!

I haven't had them properly fitted yet, though - which makes me wonder: What happens to a soft boot's comfort advantage when they are fitted?
post #36 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
I think it's almost impossible at this stage to generalize about "soft boots" in the first place, until you more clearly define what you're referring to. If what you mean by soft boots is, as checkracer suggests, a device where the shell material is non-standard "soft" (either softer plastics or "textiles"), then you need to specify -- because all soft boots are not created equal. I use superb boots (Salomon Ellipse 9.0's) which have been called soft by some reviewers and not soft by others. The whole "rise and fall" of soft boots thing has been grossly overstated, IMO. Many aspects of soft boots (textured, thinner plastics, for instance) have quietly become institutionalized in boot design. To risk a pun, soft boots have surely left a small but real footprint in boot design history -- things will never be quite the same, even if speed laces, etc. eventually disappear.
The only real difference I noticed with the "SoftBoot" class was a lack of buckles over the top of the foot.
What do "textured, thinner plastics" have to do with a SoftBoot? Do you mean the shell was made softer, too?! I can't see the point in that, but I'm no engineer.
ALSO: Does shell material really "soften" on warm days and "stiffen" on cold?
I've never noticed this...but doesn't this mean that skiers in much colder climates necessarily have better control, if stiff=control, generally speaking?
post #37 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldSchool
The only real difference I noticed with the "SoftBoot" class was a lack of buckles over the top of the foot.
What do "textured, thinner plastics" have to do with a SoftBoot? Do you mean the shell was made softer, too?! I can't see the point in that, but I'm no engineer.
ALSO: Does shell material really "soften" on warm days and "stiffen" on cold?
I've never noticed this...but doesn't this mean that skiers in much colder climates necessarily have better control, if stiff=control, generally speaking?
All these questions more or less make my point: it's hard to generalize about what defines the "soft boot." You need to talk specific brands/models. As far as "textured" plastics, I mean the same thing that checkracer calls "textiles," if I understand him correctly: most of these fabrics are some form of polymerization-produced material. The neat thing about the various softies was some of the real experimentation they revved up. An example is the acetal resin material by Dupont used on Nordica's now-defunct Smartech series. The Smartech is the the textbook example of a boot praised by reviews when it was introduced and then trashed by the same magazines a year later. Crazy! They are excellent boots and can be bought for a song now. On the warm/cold issue, no question, temperature affects almost ALL shells' rigidity.
post #38 of 50
OldSchool,

The “Softboot” class that we are referring to are boots that actually do not have most of the traditional hard plastic shell. The exterior of the boots are some sort of synthetic material, similar in construction and feel to a snowboard boot. Then this soft material is reinforced by hard plastic in some places. It actually looks like a regular boot with some of the shell cut away.

Here is a photo so everyone is on the same page here:
http://www.breakthroughonskis.com/Im...ot-closeup.jpg

In the photo the black areas are hard plastic, like a traditional boot, but he grey areas are soft material like a snowboard boot. For what it’s worth, I’ve already offered my opinion on how they perform, and largely agree with Checkracer’s post above.

Also, the shell material does really harden and soften on warm and cold days. For a painful test of this, leave your boots in the car overnight before you go skiing. Then feel the pain when you put them on the next day - Ouch! On second thought, maybe you should just take our word for it.
post #39 of 50
In an article on boot fitting on Ski-review.com, the author opined that many skiers, of all levels, wear boots that are too stiff for them. Any opinions on that notion?
post #40 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor
In an article on boot fitting on Ski-review.com, the author opined that many skiers, of all levels, wear boots that are too stiff for them. Any opinions on that notion?
I suppose it´s http://www.ski-review.com/content/view/125/34/.

The bootfitters should say and confirm or deny this.

FWIW I suspect that almost all skiers renting old rear-entry boots are getting boots which are too stiff with insufficient ankle flexion.

Another quotation I found interesting:

"Thankfully, most boots have done away with this "forward lean" adjustment,..."
post #41 of 50
Sailor,

That is a pretty good article offering advice that (at least in my experience) is generally accepted. Their hypothesis that many skiers are in boots that are too stiff is probably correct. My opinion is that a lot of this has to do with marketing. People want to be in what is perceived to be the “best” equipment. Generally that draws people towards boots that are intended for expert level skiers, despite what their own ability level may be. Since expert level boots are stiffer than “non-expert” level boots, many skiers have purchased boots that are too stiff. Once they realize this mistake, they would rather spend $100 on a bootfitter to have them softened (by cutting, removing rivets, etc) than spend another $700 on a new, softer pair of boots.

Now to bring this back to the Softboot conversation: Most people will agree that for every skier there is a boot with appropriate flex. In addition to boots that have the correct flex, the range of boots available on the market contains some boots that will be too stiff for the prospective buyer, and others that are too soft. Softboots like the Rossi Soft are the absolute softest flexing boots available. The flex pattern is so far on the soft side of the range that those boots are no more appropriate for the general skiing population than super-stiff racing boots are. Since the Softboots were only appropriate for a small proportion of skier, they needed to have a relatively high price to be profitable. This business model failed because beginner level and very light skiers for whom the flex pattern was appropriate did not wish to pay that price for a boot they would soon progress beyond, and Softboots disappeared from the market.

That said, you do hear a lot more about boots being too stiff rather than too soft because buying boots that are above a persons ability/weight/strength level is a much more common mistake than purchasing boots that aren’t enough for a skier. The key in all of this is to objectively evaluate how good a skier you are, how heavy you are and how strong you are relative to other skiers. These three factors will let you know how stiff a boot you should be getting. Once you determine the appropriate flex, then try on a bunch of brands in that range to find the boot that fits you best.
post #42 of 50
I'm really late here...
Ghost wrote
Quote:
To me skiing with soft boots is like driving a car while only connected to the steering wheel with rubber bands. Or driving a car with soft springs and shocks compared to one with stiff shocks and springs and tight-ratio steering, the Grisswald wally-wagon (National Lampoon's vacation) versus the camaro. A skilled (notice I didn't say good) driver in the wally-wagon can beat a two-bit driver in a porsche down a twisty road, but I'm sure he would do better in the porsche with a little practice.
Interesting analogy. Not untrue, but to be nuanced : For decades a sport car was supposed to have a stiff suspension, heavy steering, heavy brakes... to have more control. Now, look at WRC rally cars : Power steering (actualy very light steering), power brakes, and rather soft (but carefully tuned) suspension, quite comfortable by all accounts. The camaro example is actualy an outdated one !

And, for the record, I like my boot in between, not too soft (or I feel a lack of control), not too stiff (or it hurts...) !

BTW, does somebody remember the Nava Ski System http://www.roberts.ezpublishing.com/sski/nava.htm
in the 80's ? It had no forward support at all.
A friend of mine (really good skier) had tested it on the Tignes glacier, a mid 80's summer. And found it surprisingly good I remember. He said he needed to really adjust his technique to the system, but that he felt it could cope with any conditions.
Nonetheless, the system had been a complete flop.
Who tried it ?
post #43 of 50
I only now it from Italian ski magazines of that time.

Is there any connection between the system und present-day Nava skis?
(http://www.navaski.com)
post #44 of 50
Quote:
Is there any connection between the system und present-day Nava skis?
(edited)
There is. The maker of Nava ski system was also a motorcycle gear maker. I owned a full face Nava in those days (early 80's). They were quite popular in France at that time. Now they seem to be out of most markets, and certainly impossible to find in France. But they're still active in Italy.
http://www.navahelmets.com/
post #45 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldSchool
ALSO: Does shell material really "soften" on warm days and "stiffen" on cold?
I've never noticed this...but doesn't this mean that skiers in much colder climates necessarily have better control, if stiff=control, generally speaking?
They sure do. Trying to get my old Koflach Comp 911s to give me back my feet after skiing at -20F was harder than getting a pit bull to let go of a bone. They turned to stone at that temperature.

I think my new softer (Crossmax 10) boots are better for just about everything, except instantly avoiding that rock/stump you just saw in front of you at warp 10. Since I no longer ski at warp 10, I don't anticipate any problems.
post #46 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
They sure do. Trying to get my old Koflach Comp 911s to give me back my feet after skiing at -20F was harder than getting a pit bull to let go of a bone. They turned to stone at that temperature.

I think my new softer (Crossmax 10) boots are better for just about everything, except instantly avoiding that rock/stump you just saw in front of you at warp 10. Since I no longer ski at warp 10, I don't anticipate any problems.
It would be nice if the manufacturers could come up with a flex system that isn't dependent on the stiffness of the plastic, which we know varies. Mel Dalebout addresses it in his boots, and my old Salomon Force 9's tried to address it. They were still affected by the cold, but flex was adjustable on the slope. LewBob
post #47 of 50
Even if this is old. Snowboard racers use very, very hard boots. Softboots used for freestyle competitions have stiffer tongues than any available on the open market, professional soft boardercross equipment is impossible to get if you are outside the worldcup.
Racers close their buckles so tight, that nearly no blood enters anymore.
I have talked with Sigi Grabner bout this and he uses different boots for races and training. His training boots are softer as he cannot be in his race boots when closed longer than 3 min, as no blood enters anymore. Many Raceboarders who have used Burton boots over the last years will need to change soon. (as Burton stopped production 5 years ago, and stock is not really available any more, and plastic gets old). One will see if the newer boots are softer or harder. It seems that they become even harder. There is no more development at the moment.
Softboots for Snowboarders have been becoming harder since they exist.

Do you know if any park skiers really use soft boots? This is the only market where I could see real use. (except hiking maybe, but many patrollers in Austria now use the newest UPZ snowboardhardboots, with skiing interface, and many crampons that fit well). I have not seen a single skier in softies going above 20m+ tables. So are they any pros using softies?
If not it seems that softies are only a marketing gag.
post #48 of 50
Shaped skis work best if you let the ski do most of the work, and it happens if your tip your downhill ski on edge, it will carve. But most people can't wait to set up for the new turn and skid their tails - I'm also guilty of this. People who tried rental boots want them too big (also a fault of people buying ski boots). It's best if you go down a size from your regular shoe size.

Pressing the shin to the tongue of the boot used to be way it was, but for shaped skis you need to roll your ankle and bend your knee to get the same result. Even for me, I put less pressure on the tongue of the boot when skiing shaped skis. My stance has widened, and I pay more attention to carving almost everything, except for big bumps, the steeps, and above-two-feet of powder. When skiiing deep powder, it helps to bank your turns like a waterskier...
post #49 of 50
soft boot = less shin bang which = better for freestyling

thats what ive heard anyway
post #50 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by extremecarver
This is the only market where I could see real use. (except hiking maybe, but many patrollers in Austria now use the newest UPZ snowboardhardboots, with skiing interface, and many crampons that fit well).
http://www.upzboots.com/

Hunh. How much do they weigh compared to a randonee boot? What's the deal behind the asymmetrical fit.

I also see some Atomic E9s on Ebay. How do these compare to the Salomon Verse and Rossi Soft?
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