If you’ve got time to wade through my wee tale of Scott boots, here’s a view from the other side of the pond. I was at University in the mid/late 70s and was part of the ski team – a solid team member I guess, but never a star. In Scotland, the ‘aspirational’ gear was all European, so we were all skiing Atomics, Rossignols, Fischers, Kneissels, Blizzards etc, and the Omeglass had just come out and the Uni bought us a new pair each J. Boots-wise, most of the guys I skied with were on Caber Alfas, a nice boot with a well-made flo-fit leather liner.
When I left Uni in ’79 I wasn’t going to continue ski-racing solo – I wasn’t good enough, but I did want something ‘special’. I’d been buying a lot of US ski-comics which were full of cool folks pulling of stunning moves wearing Scott boots, The Ski and Spademan bindings. Given I could muster a helicopter (to the left only, and only off small ramps), I lusted after this gear. And as if by some divine plan, the local ski shop got in a couple of pairs of Scott boots, and advertised they could get hold of The Ski.
I never warmed to the Spademans, so in ’79 spent one of my early pay checks – yup, a whole month’s salary - on a pair of Scott Superhot boots, The Ski Magic and Look 77Rs. The Scotts were hugely expensive here, twice the price of anything else in the shop, and looking at what you got for the money it wasn’t a great deal. By any measure, these things were a rip-off (in the UK at least), and I only ever saw one other pair (a pair of Superlights) on Scottish snow. But I so wanted to be the US-geared cool dude I parted with the cash; I would have bought these things irrespective of how they felt or how much they cost.
The first impression in the store was how light they were. But the weird thing is they were also stiff. For as long as I skied them it was always strange to be in a light stiff boot – you felt the stiffness and expected them to be ‘normally’ heavy, or you felt the weight and expected them to be soft, but they weren’t (or at least could be set up that way).
OK, on to the boot itself. The ‘foot’ part always reminded me of a clog. It was solid plastic with no give whatsoever. The footbed was plastic with optionally some shims under the heel to raise it, and it was covered in a thin sheet of expanded polyurethane (I think that’s what it is). This is the fairly solid shiny-surfaced plastic foam, not the blown stuff ceiling-tiles are made of. This was the same material the ‘liner’ was made of. The ‘liner’ was only in the foot/clog section and was a bit of foam shaped like a slipper without the sole. There was no fabric cover – just a single layer of hard foam.
The concept was pretty sound – with your foot solidly encased there was no way you could add pressure points with over tightening. The trick was then to make sure that the foot/clog bit exactly matched the shape of your foot, and therein lay the first challenge. But the good news was that it was a DIY job. You could give more space to your foot by taking the liner out and shaving off some material from the outside with a razor blade. By chance or planning, the grey colour of the liner changed as you cut through it, so the outside of the liner kind of looked like the contour lines on a map as you shaved bits away.
Basically you went skiing and it hurt like hell. At the end of the day you’d take the liner out and you could see where it was getting squashed-down. You than shaved some material off the outside, and skied some more and repeated. It took some time but you did end up, eventually, with a pain free foot but that was an exact fit in the boot with no give whatsoever.
Then on to the cuff section. There was no ‘liner’ there either, just a layer of neoprene [wetsuit] foam glued directly onto the shell. This never needed any adjustment, for me at least. But a neat trick of the fitting was that as the cuff clamped around your foot it pushed two tabs in the ‘foot’ liner over your heel – these things had great heel hold-down! The tongue was rubber and kind of ‘floated’ attached to the foot.
There was absolutely no flex in the shell itself – the flex came from the tongue moving forward within the cuff. The ‘clip’ on the front of the cuff didn’t therefore make much difference to the tightness of the boot (remember, your foot is locked in a solid shell), but closed up the front of the shell making it harder for the tongue to push through and so stiffened the boot. The Superhot also had a power-strap affair that could be moved up and down the boot to further stiffen it.
The cuff locked into the foot section with tabs engaging with one of a series of slots so you could choose the amount of forward lean (every time you clipped-up the boot). The bolts between the cuff and ‘shoe’ were also eccentric to allow for canting.
What you ended up with was a real-well-fitting boot, very light, with adjustable flex, adjustable ‘stop’ on how far it flexes, adjustable forward lean, and canting. And at the time it came out it looked cool too! I found the boot skied really well – I never had any issues with its performance although I never pushed it as hard as the cool dudes I saw in the US ski comics.
Downsides? It was cold as hell, and there was nothing you could do about it. You fitted-up the boot with thin socks, and as there was no adjustment you couldn’t ever have anything between your foot and the cold/snow other than a thin sock, 1-2mm of hard foam and a hard plastic shell. Fine in late seasons or sunny days, but on cold days I think I was only hours-away from frostbite!
And although the foot section was solid and thus watertight, there was no seal between the gap for the tongue and the foot. If you were in temperatures/snow conditions where snow on your boot wouldn’t melt then you were dry. If the snow on your boot would melt (e.g.late season slush) then you got wet feet.
I’d skied on the Scotts and The Ski for a number of seasons until a trip to Italy when I had a hard landing on what I thought was soft snow. In fact it covered some rocks and I punched a hole on the bottom of The Ski, tearing out an edge and exposing the core. My The Ski are now nailed up on my garage wall as souvenirs. But I had to get a replacement pair of boards and there wasn’t much choice in the resort [Bormio], so I ended up with a pair of Atomic Arc Carbon Bionics in 203.
The mix of a Scott boot and a 203 Atomic might seem strange, but the boot drove them just fine and I put in another season with this strange mix, for by now I’d given up any thoughts of freestyle and bumps and was just in to faaaast cruising.
Eventually I got a crack on the cuff of one boot; in truth not enough to stop skiing on them, but the weird looks I was by now getting made a change inevitable. I went into the ski shop with my Scotts and with one on one foot tried everything else on in the store to get something that felt the same on the other foot in terms of stiffness/flex/lean. Surprisingly, with the way I had the Scotts set up, a Lange ZR (in Orange of course) felt almost identical, except for being loads heavier and just feeling generally more clumsy. But that was my switch to Langes, and brand loyalty for over 20 years before a switch to Salamon, but that’s a different story.
As to Scott brand loyalty, I also bought a set of Scott poles at about the same time in 1979 or so, and I’m still using them. And maybe 3 years ago when I was looking for an all-mountain do-anything flat ski to replace my Volkl AC4s I bought a pair of Scott Aztec Pros, and they have been quite superb; astonishingly capable in all conditions. And I’ve just bought a pair of Scott Missions ready to roll for this season.
I loved the Superhots so much I couldn’t face throwing them out or selling them, so they’re back in their original box in the attic. I remember they came with a little leaflet with a cartoon skier explaining the benefits – I recall on one section they said they were warm! I’m not sure if I’ve still got the leaflet and I haven’t opened the box since I put them away, but one day I’ll maybe dig them out and try them on again.