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The "New" Soft Boots: Rad, or just a Fad ?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Let the "discussion" begin !
post #2 of 22
my thoughts...
Perhaps the start of something.

Maybe complex polymers will be used to create softer feeling boots that still maintain their integrity when put under pressure. It's too early in the development of soft boots to see where they will end up.

As an aside, if they allow more people to take up the sport and enjoy it, then all the better. Hands up who remembers their first day getting into a pair of rear entry boots that were uncomfortable, still a bit damp from the previous renter, and just not what you expected of a glamourous ski holiday?
If rental boots were more comfortable, I think you'd have more people coming back for a second trip, and then they start to spend money on their own equipment. (OK, maybe this is just a European thing)

post #3 of 22
Checking out some pictures in a magazine, it sure looked like Tanner Hall (x-games winner, absolutely ridiculous new-schooler) was wearing the Rossi soft boots.
Yeah, him and my Grandmother.
post #4 of 22
The future of boots for 90% of skiers is the soft boot. Seriously. I have skied the Rossi, Solomon and Dolomite soft boots. The Solomon soft boot is a great rental boot for newbies and mellow groomer types. The Rossi offers a bit more perfomance, and yes I have seen Tanner Hall hucking with it. The Dolomite DC 100 is the best yet. It's fit is very versatile. The buckles actually seem to change the fit, not just close the boot. I skied the DC 100 all over Chair 3 at Mammoth. I never got it dialed for high speeds, but found it to be great for short and medium turns on the groomed, and quite apt in the bumps. It was of course very comfortable. I think most skiers would find a boot like this to offer plenty of performance, and the comfort they have always wanted. Here is a comparison to early shape skis. If the Rossi and Salomon soft boots are the Elan SCX, than the Dolomite is the Head Cyber 24. I plan on seeing just how far the DC100 can go this season.

Last spring I went to the Alps, and skied Chamonix, Zermatt, Saas Fee, Etc. At every area, I saw tons of people using alpine touring gear for everyday skiing. Of course, the Alps have tons of easy acces touring, especially when combined with lifts, but I think many people just like the fit and walking ability of a softer boot, with a rockered vibram sole and a walk mode. In Europe, where there the liability laws are not as crazy as in the US, it is probably easier for shops to sell AT gear for everyday use. I know most US shops have to sell gear like Diamirs, and Silvrettas as non releasable. This is a shame, as these systems work well; the boots are super comfy, and ski surprisingly well. Last season, I spent many of the busiest days on the hill in my Randonee boots. I led morning clinics in them, spent hours running around the lodge, and kid's building, and even went bumping in them. The worked great. These days, skiing a short wide shape ski, a softer boot works super well. You don't have to load up the front of the ski anymore, you can just tip them over, and stay centered. Softer boots do this very well. Try one, you may be pleasantly surprised.
post #5 of 22
I think that soft boots are great if youre looking for something to offer a mid range of performance and a lot of comfort. I doubt you will ever see them being used in race courses, or even being used by people who like to rip high speed carves on the groomed. I do have one question about them though... Are they safe for beginner skiers who are not strong skiers yet?? My thoughts are based on the fact that they may not have very strong legs and in particular ankles... This could lead to serious fatigue and injury couldnt it... if they arent strong enough to hold their ankles on their own (in other words not gaining a lot of support from the boot). I dont know if it makes much sense but soft boots have always scared me for that reason (and you cant put an much energy into the ski with them). If i were an instructor i would deffinitly look into getting a pair for when i was teaching beacuse of the comfort they offer and the ease that they must be able to generate slower and shorter turns.

Also how is lateral support in these boots??

[ August 23, 2002, 08:06 PM: Message edited by: Heluvaskier ]
post #6 of 22
I have no problem doing fast hand dragging carves in my ski touring boots (ok, I have stiffened them slightly with Raichle Flexon tongues).

Sure, if I wanted to spend a day running gates I would rather have my Technica Icons, but for anything else the latter boots are retired (especially in the bumps - flexible boots are sooo much nicer in bumps).

I am a firm believer that there are far more skiers in boots too stiff for them than vice versa.
post #7 of 22
Somewhere else in this forum this discussion has already happened, Tanner Hall does use the soft boot. A number of high level (really high level) skier around Banff/Calgary have switched to soft boots for every thing including Masters racing.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Q? for the waxman: Are these mostly backcountry/off piste skiers that have converted to the soft boot, and what seems to be the boot of choice ?

post #9 of 22
Yeah, we'll probably see more of those soft boots.

I guess the debate is performance. If the boots are soft fore aft, but stiff laterally, what's the big deal? Seems to me, that the boots should perform well.

Besides. If soft boots make it so that fewer have to stand around, cluttering up the hill diddle with their boots, which really annoys me, then great.

But I'm not changing. My boots are wonderful.

post #10 of 22
Wink, most of the back country crew still uses conventional overlaps(carrying an overloaded pack can overload all but the biggest/widest skis and stiffest boots). The park pipe/flippy dippy guys are skiing Rossi softs because of the construction(Laterally very stiff, not as deformation of the lower shell when flexed forward compared to traditional boots, and a urethane layer that bonds the soft part of the boot to the hard outer shell that doubles as shock absorber when you land the 45 ft mctwist mute indy dinner roll grab switch). Where the boot is very noticeable is on ex racers and ski pros who are on snow 4-5-6 days a week these are the same people who poo-pooed shape skis as crutches and cheater skis when they first came out and who most people thought would be the last to switch from race boots. On a personal note I skied flexon comps(4 pairs) for 13 years til I was 25(35 now) and find the Rossi soft to ski almost the same(skis the same, the fit is different with a lot more volume but I,ve had to modify every boot liner to fit my super low volume ankle/heel any way. As long as I dont have to grind the shell I'm happy guy)
post #11 of 22
With a lifetime of ski experience, my advice to all is get soft boots and stay in the halfpipe and under the lift. Leave the rest of skiing for those who want it bad enough that they're not whining about how comfy their boots are, or whether their ski is flexing perfect, or what color their topsheet is. It's about skiing, not wasting money on marketing gimicks. Maybe if enough people realize this, the ski companies will start engineering technology thats useful, not just what sells.
post #12 of 22
From what I've read, these new soft boots probably will be developed further and become the boots of choice. For now, my regular plastic boots fit REALLY SNUG, which I like, they flex just enough for me, they work, and I don't know what else I'd want from a boot. So I'm gonna hold.
post #13 of 22
Good call oboe, i was curious if anyone had answers to my questions about the soft boots... how safe are they for less advanced skiers, and how laterally stiff are they compared to a race boot. If i ever get the cance id like to try them out but unfortunatly being able to demo a boot is not something that comes my way very often. For now i love my race boots and they do everything that i need them to do, along with being very comfortable after a few seasons of use. Does anyone thing that we will see the plastic shelled boots disappear?? Also i didnt think that the boots were being marketed as an expert ski boot unless they were being used in the park or for hucking cliffs...
oh well...
post #14 of 22
I would think that it's important that they be matched with softer all mtn skis rather than stiffer race skis or hypercarvers. Thoughts?
post #15 of 22
Hey folks, sorry I didn't see this message earlier, I must have missed it...

anyway, I was told I was one of the first people in the US to get my hands on a pair of retail Kneissl Rail softboots when I bought them for skiboarding, with intent to use "real" boots for "real skiing".

Well, one trip I forgot my regular boots and broke one of my skiboards in a nasty fall. I didn't really wanna rent boots(you know how THAT goes...), so I tried the Rails on the skis I rented......quite frankly, I loved 'em. My only complaints so far, in all honesty, is that the heel plates are too soft a composition of plastic, and I'll have to replace them probably every two seasons from walking in them, but that's really no big deal.

The other complaint? THey're almost TOO warm. When my skimates were bitching about their toes being cold? I was bitching about my feet sweating like mofos. At the end of the day, I'd take off the boots(in no big hurry...), and veritable CLOUDS of steam would come out...

Granted, I'm not a pro skiier by any stretch, but sunup to sundown skiing left my feet feeling pretty darned good, and I don't have any control problems....I _highly_ endorse them!

post #16 of 22
Originally posted by Heluvaskier:
Good call oboe, i was curious if anyone had answers to my questions about theR0 safe are they for less advanced skiers, and how laterally stiff are they compared to a race boot.
Well, I consider myself a rather advanced skiier, but far from pro, so I'll give you the opinion of a friend who I let do a few runs in them, who'd been skiing for about 6 seasons.

I sat on the deck outside the lodge for 45 minutes with an icepack on my knee(had a disagreement with a halfpipe lip) while my friend strapped on my boots and went to try 'em. When he got back, his first words were, and I quote:

"Holy shit. How much were they, and where can I get 'em?"

He loved 'em. He's the kind of guy who loves the feeling of skiing, but hates the pain that can come with it. He didn't have any complaints about them not being stiff enough, but did mention "they're a little toasty tho, eh?"

As for lateral support? I've never actually used a race boot, but I imagine some might find them laterally a bit soft, but in all honesty, there was nothing I tried to do and couldn't, in fact, I skiied better on the softies than I did my hardboots, to the point where I'm not sure where the hardboots -are- in my house, but I know the Rails are sitting in my closet, on the top shelf
post #17 of 22
For what it's worth, while I haven't tried any of the new "soft" boots, a lot of Master racers in the East are getting away from all out race boots and switching to much softer all mountain boots. Many, myself included, are actually getting faster times through the course now. Softer boots seem to work better with today's shorter and softer flexing skis, and as a bonus are warmer and more comfortable. Although the boots are softer, the are still laterally stiff, and have no problem holding an edge on ice.
post #18 of 22
Some of you might know how "attached" I am to my Raichles... . These boots have intrigued me. I think that they are an idea in the making, just as the SCX was the forerunner of todays shapes...there is no reason to have a (forward) stiff boot any more, lateral stiffness is all that matters now. If these boots can do it as well as the "big boys" and if they can make skiing better and more enjoyable for the masses, power to them. I will be trying them at some point and I plan on getting them for my son, who is light weight and has trouble flexing the adult boot he is now in.
post #19 of 22
How about transmitting your turn power to the ski by using forward flex... When i want to get a better hold or have a faster more aggressive turn i drive into the front of my boot (and in turn the bottom) to jet through the turn. How does this work with a soft boot - do you have to push down instead of foreward?? Will this end up making a damp turn more like a PSIA turn instead of a race turn??
post #20 of 22
Originally posted by Heluvaskier:
How about transmitting your turn power to the ski by using forward flex... When i want to get a better hold or have a faster more aggressive turn i drive into the front of my boot (and in turn the bottom) to jet through the turn. How does this work with a soft boot - do you have to push down instead of foreward?? Will this end up making a damp turn more like a PSIA turn instead of a race turn??
In the case of my Rails, they derive their name from a metal rail along the side of the boot that helps transfer pressure effectively. I did a shoulder-to-the-ground carve that scared me, I was like "ok, this is kinda wierd...", but it still held the edge, no problem
post #21 of 22
Greg, the type of boots that I'm talking about are still very high performance, just a step down from the race boots. As I'm sure you are aware of, most racers have always perfered a slighly softer boot for faster events (wide open GS, Super G, Downhill). As speed increases, overly stiff boots become too reactive and can't absorb the terrain. What's interesting now is that the new shorter, softer (front to back) race skis allow you to carve turns in tight GS and slalom couses that are more similar to the type of turns found in wide open GS and Super G. In the past, slalom turns were a lot of hard edge sets and skids, but now it is possible to carve from turn to turn even in a tight course. Because of this, many racers are starting to question the need for super stiff, super reactive, and super uncomfortable race boots.

[ August 25, 2002, 08:18 AM: Message edited by: TJ ]
post #22 of 22
Have been away skiing & working lots, leaving little time for forums. Noticed this thread & thought I would add to it as a followup to one I started some months ago asking about opinions on soft boots & ankle problems (for hubby).

Well anyway - he got Rossi Soft 1 & loves them. He has done a lot more skiing this season than expected becasue of the boots being so kind to his ankles. The lateral support is good & the soft tongue has been great. Until a few days ago he had done what was advised by the boot fitter & not tightened the buckles up very tight. But then he got on a stiffer, wider ski the other day & tightened the buckles up the tightest he's had them & got sore ankles. So back to the "slipper" setting.

As others have said, the boots are warm & dry (even in our slush). Only real complaint he's had
is he's booting out doing carve turns at times & it knocks the lower buckles undone.

He's a convert - now I have to get myself a pair!
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