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Where did all the cool boot gadgets go?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone. I am getting back into skiing after an extended snowboarding induced hiatus. My last pair of ski boots were front entry four buckle Nordica 981s. Those boots had some cool gadgets on them. There was a wind up crank on the back that went around the ankle to get good heel hold, an adjustment at the top rear of the boot to keep contact with your calve so you could put better pressure on the tail of the ski, and there was forward lean adjustment.

 

Looking at some of these modern boots, where did all of the cool gadgets go? All the ski shops guys say is that the liners are better so it produces a better fit. Well, back in the day there were heat moldable and even foam injected liners. Heck, I remember Lange had heatable boots. And yes, that was the week AFTER the wheel was invented.

 

Anyway, I was suprised as it doesn't seem like much advancement has occurred in boot design over the years. Maybe less is more, but when you compare the quantum leaps in ski design over the same period, ski boot designers must have been on an extended snowboarding hiatus with me instead of coming up with more exciting and useful innovations. What do you think?

post #2 of 5

I'm not anywhere near an expert on boots, and will be really interested to hear what the experts say, but would venture to guess:

 

a) even if they really worked, a lot of people had no need for many of these bells and whistles, and probably didn't understand how to use them anyway.

 

b) there were durability issues - many of these bells and whistles didn't stand up to regular use

 

c) their utility did not justify the added cost

 

I think the advances in boot technology are "under the hood" things like fit (shapes that more closely approximate a real person's foot), liners, and shell materials.

 

post #3 of 5


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Booya View Post

Hi everyone. I am getting back into skiing after an extended snowboarding induced hiatus. My last pair of ski boots were front entry four buckle Nordica 981s. Those boots had some cool gadgets on them. There was a wind up crank on the back that went around the ankle to get good heel hold, an adjustment at the top rear of the boot to keep contact with your calve so you could put better pressure on the tail of the ski, and there was forward lean adjustment.

 

 

Spoilers are still supplied with boots, they are just called 'spoilers' instead of 'forward lean adjustments'  and don't have a screw back into the cuff of the boot.     Forward lean is something the  bootfitter should figure out anyway, instead of having the customer crank the spoiler forward and open a gap between the back of the leg and the boot cuff.  

 

The crank on the back merely made the space around the Achilles tendon tighter.   Great way to get blisters, especially if the height of the tendon squeeze doesn't actually match your leg. 

 

"Oh, did you just get heel lifts, or a new foot bed?  Well, the "heel hold" is now in completely the wrong spot, but wait, we can give you an equivalent feel with $1 of glue on rubber"

 

Looking at some of these modern boots, where did all of the cool gadgets go? All the ski shops guys say is that the liners and boot shapes and buckle placement are better so it produces a better fit.

 

 

Well, back in the day there were heat moldable and even foam injected liners.

 

Still available.

 

Heck, I remember Lange had heatable boots. And yes, that was the week AFTER the wheel was invented.

 

Heatable inserts are still available (and they are reliable now). Liners with built-in heaters ... un-needed.

 

Anyway, I was suprised as it doesn't seem like much advancement has occurred in boot design over the years.

 

Shapes are completely different, and look like your foot instead of like your bathtub.   Take a look at the front to back sizing of your Nordicas.   If they are size 26 inside, they will probably be something like 312mm BSL.    Size 26 boots are something ~305 mm BSL now.  - more efficient use of space and plastic with fewer gaps and less room.  Kludges like the heel hold screw: obsolete.

 

Plastics are completely different, the ways of using them are completely different.    Google 'dual injection' to see one advance since your old Nordicas were on market.

 

As an example of feauture changes, your old Nordicas didn't even have properly working power straps - they were simply straps that went around  the circumference of the boot liner and the leg, without ever pulling on the boot shell.    New Nordicas have Booster sections built into properly working power straps, straps that pass forward pressure from the leg to the spine of the boot. 

 

Maybe less is more, but when you compare the quantum leaps in ski design over the same period, ski boot designers must have been on an extended snowboarding hiatus with me instead of coming up with more exciting and useful innovations. What do you think?

 

I think that all those user adjustments sold on old boots were there to impress magazine readers and to make more sales through pure "featureitis".


EDIT: sorry for the "editorial" feel of the comments; I'm still trying to figure out how to do in-line point-by-point answers on the new forums.   And, welcome.

 


Edited by comprex - 9/28/10 at 1:17pm
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi Comprex,

 

I agree with you that the velcro strap on those old Nordicas was useless, LOL. I liked the ankle cable though and never had any durability issues. But if they've figured out how to do that top strap up correctly then you wouldn't need that old school spoiler adjustment on the old boots.

 

I saw another new innovation when I tried on a pair of Atomic boots and they have cutaway sections on the bottom section of the boot to aid in flexing and I was able to flex the boot better (although that model was too soft for me).

 

Also manufacturers now have flex numbers for boots which is new. Too bad those numbers aren't standardized in the industry as the flex feel of these boots can vary substantially depending on which manufacturer's boot you are trying on.

post #5 of 5


Booya, you'll find a lot of interesting features like that still.     Frex,  Garmont Shaman/G1/G2 have sole flex ribbing.   

 

Other goofy features you might have missed during your time on the darkside:  Fischer Somatec boots used to have a built-in shoe horn thingy to help you get into the boot (they also skewed the clog to the outside).  Dolomites used to have 2 tongues per liner.   Any number of rec boots would have pivot-away cuff closure to help get in/out.   Salomons had cutouts to help "flex" the lower boot when pressuring the outer edge of the ski.   Dalbello had a boot you could cant with nothing but Allen wrenches: http://www.harbskisystems.com/archives/bootsgs.htm .     Lange had a rear-cuff breakaway to help save ACLs.  Atomics had both the skewed clog and a Titanium or carbon leaf spring under the boot, along with a rubber O-ring doohicky to help control flex rebound.   

 

 

Current boot porn for ya:

 

http://dodgeskiboots.com/boot_images.htm

 

http://www.apexsportsgroup.com/

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Booya View Post
I saw another new innovation when I tried on a pair of Atomic boots and they have cutaway sections on the bottom section of the boot to aid in flexing and I was able to flex the boot better (although that model was too soft for me).

 

Also manufacturers now have flex numbers for boots which is new. Too bad those numbers aren't standardized in the industry as the flex feel of these boots can vary substantially depending on which manufacturer's boot you are trying on.


Edited by comprex - 9/28/10 at 5:26pm
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