Gear Report – 2011/12 Boots Preview

by Don Portman

February 15, 2011 – Although there are no major changes in top-end race boots, there is a trickle-down effect with many lower-priced boots gaining features, fit and performance that until now were found only in the most-expensive race boots.

Rossignol’s X10 Skate and Classic boots look almost identical to the super-performing X-ium boots. X10 Skate boots feature a nylon cuff and heel counter instead of carbon fibre and the buckle is plastic rather than metal. Otherwise, the boot has the same outer cover and sole and is almost as light as the X-ium.

Rossignol’s next step down, the X8 series, is all-new, good-looking and lighter than last year’s X7 series. The best value is the X6 combi boot, which has a thermo-moldable inner boot, a free-hinging cuff and a high integral gaiter for only $160 [US].

Salomon’s S-Lab series gets a slight cosmetic change. The popular RS Carbon and the Vitane Carbon Skate (women’s last) are now all seamless construction throughout the boot body (the part most likely to contact snow) and the boots feature an updated S-Lab cuff. Still trickling down, the Active 8 and Vitane 8 skate have a new cuff and an adjustable heel strap for better fit and performance.

Salomon and Atomic introduce the new SNS Pilot Sport outsole: a lightweight, soft flexing sole that is not slippery and is easy to walk on. The sole shows up on Salomon’s Active and Vitane Pilot Combi boots and Active 8 and Vitane 8 Classic boots.

Look for the Pilot Sport sole on Atomic’s Team Classic, Aina Team Classic (women’s last) and the Sport Pursuit. People with wide feet will particularly like the Team Classic with its 106mm width. Sharing a wide last are the redesigned Mover 30 and Ashera 30 Classic boots in Atomic’s “leisure” series. The Sport Pro Classic replaces last season’s Sport Classic and now has the RS17 sole that puts the contact bar 17mm back from the toe.

Alpina’s popular T20 series has been redesigned. The T20 Plus and Plus Eve (women’s model) have a plastic articulating cuff. All T20’s have Thinsulate insulation, T4 touring sole, speed lacing, plastic heel counter and a zippered lace cover.

Off-track Boots
Not heavy-duty tele, not in track zooming, “Off Track Cruising” is Fischer’s category of skis and boots designed for easy skiing off the groomed. Two new boots fit this grouping: the Offtrack 5 and the Offtrack 3. The 5 is a super-lightweight, nylon-cuffed boot designed to fit a regular NNN binding. It features a wool lining, a tough nylon outer and an integrated gaiter. The 3 is available in either NNN or NNN BC soles. It shares the wool lining, nylon outer and integrated gaiter of the 5, but loses the nylon cuff.

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