45 year skier
Level 9 - so I have been told by instructers
Ski Quiver (active): All Blizzard - Supersport, Titan Cronus, Argos
Ski Boot Quiver (inactive): Tecnica Alu, Tecnica XT17, Dalbello Krypton Pro
I almost hesitate to write a boot review. They are so much more personal than skis. And more important. People go in early or quit altogether because of ill-fitting or poorly selected boots.The same is rarely said about a similarly afflicted ski. Many I know have spent too much time, money and misery only to be disappointed in the end. And so I offer this review simply as a source of information on a boot that works for me, and the reasons why.
My immediate past boots was the Krypton Pro, a highly regarded and fine boot, no doubt. I got the one with the regular liner which I immediately replaced with an Intuition Powerwrap. Great liner. Bad size, and that killed the boot for me. The shell was a 26.5 for my 9.5-10 dogs. Shell fit was appx 15mm. Got the size 8 Intuition from my local shop. The fitting went fine, except I got excruciating toe crunch on the slopes. So cooked it again, this time with the hard toe cap. Major pain in the fitting proccess was misery poorly spent. Still too short. I took things into my own hands. And with a hair dryer and screw driver I still could not get enough length out of it.
Went out to Vail for the first time and had Greg Hoffman's shop put the power vise to it. Still too short and miserable when I put it on. Took the joy out of the trip. I finished the season with these. I tried the stock liner which, with the neoprene toe box, was comfortable but made for a very sloppy fit. Clearly, the Intuition liner filled up the volume in what was really an ill-fitting shell even though the "shell fit" length was right.
My shop was great. It replace the short Intuitions with a size 9. The length was perfect, but that was it. The liner had too much volume for the shell. The effect was to make the boot too small and I could not even buckle them. Moral of the Intuition story: if they are too short when you put them on outside the boot, do not buy them. You, like me, are between their size points. Unless you are prepared to cut the toe box out, you are going to be unhappy.
The Ski-Depot is not so far from me so I stopped by. They had a pair of last year's Doberman Pro 130's for a fine price. I did the shell fit. The 26.5 gave me about 10-12mm heel - excellent. Light shell contact in the fore- foot. This 98mm last was a "comfort fit" for me. I could have gone with the 95mm Doberman WC but no real reason to.
Tried the boots on with the stock liner. Ahhhh! Reminded me of that blood pressure cuff fit of my old Tecnica XT 17's. Feels like someone is grabbing your entire foot - but in a gently meancing sort of way. The Doberman liner was OK but not great, especially in the heel department.
A word about my feet. They are of the chicken variety. Bony and low volume. though medium width. Same with the ankles and shins. And this is the kind of foot I think this boot was made for. If you have fat feet, tread lightly.
So I bought them, and then played with liners. No way would the Intuitions fit in those shells. I ended up using an old pair of Doberman leather lace-up liners that I used with the Tecnica plugs. Perfect. Rock solid heel and hind foot hold and comfortable fore-foot. Maybe even a bit too much room (perhaps the 95mm shell would have been better). Slapped the old Booster Strap on them and took them out for a spin in mid December.
What a great ride! Like nothing on your feet. The Krypts felt positively gawmy compared to these ski sneakers. What impressed me the most was was the immediate transmission of energy from leg to ski. And I could feel the snow underfoot. I did not get this kind of feedback with the Krypts, perhaps because of the insulating qualities of the Intuition liners which damp down vibrations. Another lesson learned. The Dobermans proved to be a boot that appreciates nuanced skiing - a perfect match for the Bliz Supersport and my technical approach to the sport.
As the morning wore on, my quads began to fail - and fail miserably. OK, it was my first day out, but I have never had quad cramps before and not after skiing easy. And this never happened when I was in the Dabello's. I chalked it up to first day fatigue. But then it happend on the second, and third and fourth days. Perhaps, I thought, it was a stance thing - that I was getting in the back seat. But that is an issue I had resolved long ago. A coach who took video of me this summer reviewed it and confirmed no stance issues. So there had to be some geometric disagreement between me and the boot - and I was using my quads to compensate.
Last Saturday I made arrangements to go to a boot guy who fitted me with Aline footbeds this year. I thought the shims in the heel my have created some sort of ramp angle issue. But that morning, before heading over there, I discovered in my magic bag of tricks an old pair of Insta Print shims - the kind that take up volume between the liner tongue and the shin. I cinched up the Booster Strap between the shell and the tongue, which eliminated the gap between the shin and liner. And I took a run. And it eliminated 90% of the quad fatigue. Brought the boots over to Lionel at Happy Tunes (Carrabassett Valley'Sugarloaf) and he put a 3mm plate under the toe.
Skied for the next three days completely free of quad fatigue.
And so now I have what I consider to be the Holy Grail of skiing - a pair of boots that performs and are a pleasure to wear. If you have feet on the chicken variety and want a boot that can bring home the goods, this is the one to try. But keep in mind that getting the boot dialed in is a process even if you have a great fit. And remember: its all about the boots.