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Why stiff boots can be bad.

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to share my experiences with ski boots.

While many say the best thing they have done to improve their skiing experience is get allingment and footbeds, my best improvement came when I got not footbeds and things, but boots that were not too stiff and suitable for my level.

I believe many may get boots that are just too stiff. This does not apply to the expert skiers here obiosuly, but I think folks like me who are not in the upper advanced or expert category would benefit from choosing a boot that is softer.

Story: I dumped my old rear entry boots a year ago and Penn's Sport and Ski Shop in PA told me I wanted a stiff boot like 110 rating because with the new skis and technique you need stiffness to get the most of it. I was told anything lower is for women and raw beginners and I would 'grow' out of them quickly. Wrong !!!! I knew nothing and I think the sales folks knew even less becasuse I just could not handle these boots.

I was constantly fearfull as the boots would get twitchy and any little bump would jar me around.

Middle of last year I tried on Atomic B-80 and B-90. I could not tell the difference in flex between those 2 in the shop but it was night and day compared to my 110 rated boots ! I went with the B80 and couldnt be happier. The B80 is a nice wide boot as well that accomodates my wide and big feet.

I could then ski calmly and in control, without having to worry about too much twitchy behavior and one foot doing something the other isn't, or skiing sideways after hitting a bump or mogul.

Many will say I am just an intermediate and say I dont know what I am talking about. My opinion on this matter is, many skiers like myself or even some more advanced, have fallen prey to testosterone and marketing/sales pitches and go for the high end stiff boots with the label 'Pro' because it is something to be seen in rather than benefit from.

Trust me - you will look a lot more 'cool' if people see you skiing in composure and you do not look like you are constantly in fear for your life because you are afraid to turn because the boots are stiff. You may not think this untl you try on a softer boot for your level ! It is night and day and makes things so much easier and more fun !

I compare stiff boots to riding in a Corvette. It is fast and quick, but any bump or rough spot in the road gives you a jolt due to the stiff suspension. The steering although quick also is twitchy to a high degree. I prefer the Sedan. It still will go fast and will turn, just not as precisely. After all I am not signing up for the olympics to race in the slalom.

Anyways, I think softer boots for many in the intermediate to lower avanced range might add to their experience. I would bet 80% in my category are in too stiff boots and this is holding them back ! Too stiff a boot could possibly ruin the experience of skiing altogether as it is no fun if you are in fear of your life because your ski boots are too twitchy and any little deviation or stance change causes the skis to do something you might not want.

Some I think get stiff boots because the 'good' skiers and racers they look up to are wearing boots with a 100,000,000,000 flex and they don't want to think they are in soft 'girly men' boots and they want to be considered a 'good' skier.

To those like me - try softer boots..you might be surprised ! Also, I think some might ride skis that are too stiff as well, but thats another story.

So to people who would look down on me and scoff at me in my girly man boots and skis...All I can say is I will be smiling to much to notice, while some wannabes are scraping along in boots and skis too stiff just so they can look imrpessive !.
post #2 of 28
Well said Paul. People need equipment that is appropriate for their level & aspirations. That is why manufacturers have different models.

I don't agree with the salesman who said that the new equipment requires stiffer boots. Lateral siffness perhaps, but overall softer is fine especally in softer conditions.

Glad you figured out what works for you!
JF
post #3 of 28
Thanks for the perspective. It's sometimes a little work for us who are used to wanting our commands obeyed immediately and precisely to the letter to understand what a newer skier is going through. I have children that are just learning to ski. Intermediate boots are made specifically for intermediate skiers like you and them.

The car suspension is a good analogy. How stiff you want your springs and shocks set up depends on how much force you need to have going through it to make it compress, and that depends on what terrain, what turns, and what speed you going to be going.
post #4 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulR View Post
This does not apply to the expert skiers here obiosuly, but I think folks like me who are not in the upper advanced or expert category would benefit from choosing a boot that is softer.
I think this applies to lighter weight expert skiers as well....
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Thanks for the perspective. It's sometimes a little work for us who are used to wanting our commands obeyed immediately and precisely to the letter to understand what a newer skier is going through. I have children that are just learning to ski. Intermediate boots are made specifically for intermediate skiers like you and them.

The car suspension is a good analogy. How stiff you want your springs and shocks set up depends on how much force you need to have going through it to make it compress, and that depends on what terrain, what turns, and what speed you going to be going.
Yes I can see how many here like stiff gear because they are much more advanced and like speed and precision ect..

For others though I would say watch out what you wish for ! If you are not ready for that level of control the only thing you get is having you and your gear splattered all over the snow with racer-like precision!

To me, that level of control was downright intimidating - I kept thinking if I dont do something perfectly or put a little bit of weight where it doesnt belong I will go splat ! And I did too a couple times when I hesitated and sure enough, one foot went one way and the other another! I found you really have to be deliberate, precise, and concentrating, or a stiff boot will eat you allive.

This worked fine for a couple runs until I want to relax and just enjoy the scenery. Othwerise it just was too much work and can be tiring. I find the same thing with stiff skis. You have to constantly pay attention to everything.

I think if you are not going to really be skiing at higher speeds a stiff boot might be a liability as well.

I just ordered last years RX6 fischer skis and these should go well with my Atomic B80 boots from last year. I should be set for quite a while I think.
post #6 of 28
I've talked to several examiners who feel that a lot of instructors who are candidates for L II or L III suffer from skiing boots too stiff for them. Some have even gone so far as to say that they think that some candidates who failed "might" have had the skiing ability to pass if their boots were better matched to their size and ability.

I inferred from the conversations that they were talking about boots that were way too stiff. A little bit stiff is probably not as big a deal.

There is no substitute for demo'ing gear.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by philsthrills View Post
I've talked to several examiners who feel that a lot of instructors who are candidates for L II or L III suffer from skiing boots too stiff for them. Some have even gone so far as to say that they think that some candidates who failed "might" have had the skiing ability to pass if their boots were better matched to their size and ability.

I inferred from the conversations that they were talking about boots that were way too stiff. A little bit stiff is probably not as big a deal.

There is no substitute for demo'ing gear.

Thank you all for responding to my post. I really thought I was going to get attacked by those with more experience.

I would like to demo boots but I dont know if anyone lets you. Are there shops that let you do this? The best thing I ever did was go with B-80 boots. They beat my old boots and also anything I have tried since.

I know what you mean about being just a little too stiff is OK. For me though the difference between a Atomic B-80 flexed boot and the 110 Technica boot I was in was extreme IMO ! It was night and day, One felt like my foot was always cast in concrete, the other like a firm but pliable pair of boots.

If anything it increases your confidence to try new things ! You dont have to always worry about your boots getting the better of you or what happens if I hit an unexpected bump and my fillings and dental work get jarred lose.
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by philsthrills View Post
There is no substitute for demo'ing gear.
Don't know of any place that demos boots. Not saying they don't exist just not as easy to find as a ski demo.
post #9 of 28
I've got a few ski days under my belt, and I use the B90's. Outside of high level racing, boots much stiffer than that hinder performance. I pull out my older boots and they were all way stiffer than people use now. If anything, improvements in skis have made softer boots a better choice. It doesn't do much good to have a stiff boot that you can't flex, or fatigue after only a few hours.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PRAGMATICSKIER View Post
Don't know of any place that demos boots. Not saying they don't exist just not as easy to find as a ski demo.
Plus boots are super sensitive to fit. I don't think it would be easy to find sample of great-fitting boots that would allow for easy comparison between models.
post #11 of 28
forward lean can be destructive too. Too much of that and there is no room to absorb terrain features. Combine both (too stiff and too much lean) and you'll have quite the handicap.

Been there. .
post #12 of 28
The only time I've seen boots "demoed" is at industry events. It makes sense to an extent in that context, but definitely not in a consumer context. There are differences in the way well fit and selected boots ski, but they are typically minor. Thowing out-of-the-box boots on and skiing on them for a few runs is a pretty meaningless comparison.

The OP doesn't need a demo, he needs an empathetic bootfitter (as opposed to some flatland salesman) who has preferably seen him ski. At a shop I worked at a customer looking for boots brought in video of his skiing once...I thought that was the smartest darned thing I'd ever seen. (heck, lots of people don't even bring socks.)
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
The only time I've seen boots "demoed" is at industry events. It makes sense to an extent in that context, but definitely not in a consumer context. There are differences in the way well fit and selected boots ski, but they are typically minor. Thowing out-of-the-box boots on and skiing on them for a few runs is a pretty meaningless comparison.

The OP doesn't need a demo, he needs an empathetic bootfitter (as opposed to some flatland salesman) who has preferably seen him ski. At a shop I worked at a customer looking for boots brought in video of his skiing once...I thought that was the smartest darned thing I'd ever seen. (heck, lots of people don't even bring socks.)
Ski shops here are run mainly by college kids unfortunately. They just try to get you to buy the most expensive things, regardless if you really can use it correctly.

I believe they try to trick customers to think more expensive and 'pro' model = you will ski better than with cheaper gear. "You don't want to buy those chaper $350 boots with flex 80 - you want the $600 110 flex Technicas !"
post #14 of 28
Hey, I'm a college kid, I'm offended.

/not really.
//I worked for a shop where the owner decided a commission was a lousy way to provide good customer service. I made less money, but I agreed one hundred percent. I'd rather sling rentals than work commission in a ski shop.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
Hey, I'm a college kid, I'm offended.

/not really.
//I worked for a shop where the owner decided a commission was a lousy way to provide good customer service. I made less money, but I agreed one hundred percent. I'd rather sling rentals than work commission in a ski shop.
Sorry, I didnt mean it that way. Let me rephrase it. College kids from PA who probably know less about the gear than the customers !
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
The only time I've seen boots "demoed" is at industry events. It makes sense to an extent in that context, but definitely not in a consumer context. There are differences in the way well fit and selected boots ski, but they are typically minor. Thowing out-of-the-box boots on and skiing on them for a few runs is a pretty meaningless comparison.

The OP doesn't need a demo, he needs an empathetic bootfitter (as opposed to some flatland salesman) who has preferably seen him ski. At a shop I worked at a customer looking for boots brought in video of his skiing once...I thought that was the smartest darned thing I'd ever seen. (heck, lots of people don't even bring socks.)
Yeah, but that only tells the bootfitter what kind of boot the skier needs - stiff vs. soft.. Nothing else But I see the point if the buyer is not trustworthy - he could say he was an expert but really suck..
post #17 of 28
The skiing vid is definitely over the top and not necessary, but I thought it was a really cool act of good faith.

You can usually tell if someone is BSing you...the harder ones are the people (not to generalize, but often women) who downplay their talents. Flex is at least as much a biomechanical thing as a skill thing anyways so it really isn't that big of a deal, but it is cool to have customers who are forthright.
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
I think this applies to lighter weight expert skiers as well....
You're absolutely right. Lately, several manufacturers are coming out with lines of soft race boots, particularly for the strong junior skiers skiing at the expert level. Of course, there are people that argue that stiff boots can be appropriate for junior skiers if they are strong/heavy enough.
post #19 of 28
IMHO, a snug, properly fit and comforable boot that doesn't cut off circulation, makes up for a lot of performance variables. I've seen a lot of people go from one bad fitting boot to a higher level bad fitting boot and not ski much better. (I've been to the "Hot" boot fitting shop in SB only to have then screw-up my orthotics, grind on the shell and end up w/ a worse boot than when I went in)

My solution was when I got the Intuition thermofit liners, the best $200 I spent in 30 years sking. I ended up w/ a low advance level boot that did everthing I wanted, was comfortable and Warm(as long as I dried the insides every nite), I would buckle-up inthe a.m. and not unbuckel till the end of the day. This was my solution, yours may vary.

The point is, I feel it's really the fit more than the level/stiffnes of a boot. We seem to get carried away with the hardware, at the expense of the "mind-ware":
post #20 of 28
I'm a firm believer in soft boots too - or rather, soft in the fore-aft direction only. I've been skiing on Flexons for at least 15 years now (which is the reason I found these forums in the first place). Mrs A has always been skeptical and tended to follow the herd. Lately she has been on some Salomon advanced ladies boots (I forget which model). To my eyes they are very stiff but, in reality, they are probably quite normal. Then, last year, I managed to find her some unused Flexon Pros on eBay for next to nothing. Somehow she got the liners moulded for free at Lockwoods and then took both pairs with her on holiday. The first day was a bit of an experiment with the new boots. By the end she still wasn't certain of them but liked them enough to give them another try the next day. Meantime the rest of us could already see a huge improvement in her skiing. Her stance was much more natural and her movements were more flowing. Suffice to say that she has never worn her Salomons again and absolutely loves her Flexons now.

How much is due to the Flexon and how much to the Thermoflex liner is hard to say. I certainly won't give up either of mine in a hurry.

However IMHO, the Flexon is not so good off-piste where the snow is soft and uneven. At 40 or even 60mph on piste, where the snow is hard, soft boots can react much quicker than the human frame to changes in gradient. On the other hand, in soft, uneven snow, when you want the skis to keep pointing in the same direction and not flap about, firmer boots are at an advantage. I guess that Flexons with a selection of tounges is the answer - Il Moro is it?
post #21 of 28
There was a good thread about this a while ago, interesting pros and cons about boot flex, what it does to foot/ankle movements during the carve. Some specialists here don't think softer is better for intermediates. I'm agnostic.
post #22 of 28
It's funny, I posted a similar notion titled, o "better skiers" always prefer stiffer boots? And I was rather surprised at the responses, most seemed to acknowledge that ... yes they do. My original post was:

"I recently visited a well recommended bootfitter, he suggested my current boots may be too stiff for me and I am thinking ... perhaps he is right. I have never skied many boots and therefore am a neophite when evaluating different flexes, BUT, my preconceived notion is that "better skiers" always prefer stiffer boots. In no way am I suggesting I'm a better skier - that is not the point - more precisely - I'm asking about the accuracy of my "preconceived notion"."
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
There was a good thread about this a while ago, interesting pros and cons about boot flex, what it does to foot/ankle movements during the carve. Some specialists here don't think softer is better for intermediates. I'm agnostic.
REPENT THE END IS NEAR

You don't soft for the sake of soft. Often the discussion of stiffness seems to be of slight differences one way or the other. I think once you're in the ballpark of the level of boot it's really the fit rather than incerments of stiffness that makes the difference.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
I think this applies to lighter weight expert skiers as well....
That's what I thought too until I tried dropping down a notch or two. I found that I was over skiing the boots and didn't have near the responsiveness I am like. I weight 155 and my latest boots are Lange WC 130s. I couldn't find 120s my size so I "settled" on those. I was afraid they would be way too stiff but they have been great.
post #25 of 28
Softer boots are scary. When the skis jump around in high speed the least one needs is a boot that yield. Feels like skiing in too large boots.
Also, are there any practical use for any other lean than max forward?

Maybe the "too hard" shells are simply not leaning forward enough?
post #26 of 28
I can't even read that.

but seriously... forward lean is not nearly as important today as it was 10 or 20 years ago. Skis today are wwaaaay easier to simply stand on and turn.
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl R View Post
Softer boots are scary. When the skis jump around in high speed the least one needs is a boot that yield. Feels like skiing in too large boots.
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai View Post
I can't even read that.
Scarily, I actually understood most of what he said. Too soft of boots do feel like boots that are too big. You lose significant edge control and turns just feel sloppy. Reaction time is decreased, precision is decreased, and top end speeds feel downright dangerous.

My everyday boot is a Dobie 150, which I moved up to after splitting the front cuff out of a Salomon Course. I also have a pair of Head S12 boots for relaxing in when I am out on the snow with friends who do not ski well or doing some kind of coaching. They are the same size as the Dobies, but far from being as laterally stiff. The forward flex is so soft that they actually become uncomfortable to ski in after awhile because you are so far forward in them. The middle two buckles also hit each other when I flex them (the lower buckle is pretty bent and gouged from this happening). When I first got them I also broke the parts that hold the rear screws in so I had to get those replaced... the boot hasn't been right since though.

This year My two boots will be my Dobie 150's for relaxing in, and a Fischer SOMA WC 150 for when I want to push it a little harder on groomers. Both the SOMA and the Dobie will likely have their ramp or flex adjusted so they are slightly more upright. I may still bum around in the Heads from time to time but I have come to realize that I can't really do any serious skiing in them [about as serious as it gets with the Heads].

So, like any ski equipment, stiff boots serve a purpose for the right user. If you're not that user that doesn't make the product bad, it just makes that product not for you. I usually find that anything softer and higher volume than a Dobie 130 Pro is useless for high end skiing (for me). That is not to say that all other boots are crap, but that I usually do not enjoy skiing in boots that have a lower performance envelope than that. That said, a ski boot is about fit. With all of the recent advancements in boot fitting flex has become a non-issue. I have seen people take boots that start out as stiff as a Dobermann 150 and soften them down the the equivalent of a Nordica 100 flex or less... so if you start with a stiff boot that fits well, it is quite easy to get it to the right flex for you.

Later

GREG
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post

So, like any ski equipment, stiff boots serve a purpose for the right user. If you're not that user that doesn't make the product bad, it just makes that product not for you. I usually find that anything softer and higher volume than a Dobie 130 Pro is useless for high end skiing (for me). That is not to say that all other boots are crap, but that I usually do not enjoy skiing in boots that have a lower performance envelope than that. That said, a ski boot is about fit. With all of the recent advancements in boot fitting flex has become a non-issue. I have seen people take boots that start out as stiff as a Dobermann 150 and soften them down the the equivalent of a Nordica 100 flex or less... so if you start with a stiff boot that fits well, it is quite easy to get it to the right flex for you.

Later

GREG
Well said.

I grew up on traditionally stiff race boots, but decided to venture into a fairly soft flexing Falcon 10 (100 flex in 25) due to it's lovely fit. It did feel soft in it's for/aft flex at first, but I'm amazed at my new-found accuracy.
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