Ski boots haven't changed much in the last 15 to 20 years. Material quality and anatomical fit have been slightly improved, as well as post-purchase customization options (like an upgraded moldable liner) and a new GripWalk sole. And in the meantime, Backcountry/Touring Boots Category has made some big advances, mainstream alpine ski boots haven't made much progress and most models still have four buckles to adjust the fit of the boot.
That's about to change this year, with new lines of boots from Atomic, Salomon, Fischer, and K2 featuring BOA's new H+i1 fit system, which replaces the bottom two buckles with dials. A few people had the chance to try out a pre-release version of the new boots last ski season, and now they're on sale and available to the public.
The BOA dial/cable fit system has been incorporated into snowboard boots since 2001. As a skier, I've always envied boarders who can tighten or loosen their boots with just a few turns of the dial. They are usually more comfortable and much easier than ski boots. Go inside (the soft looking one anyway). One would think that BOA would have found a way to incorporate snowboard technology into ski boots sooner, but the dial/cable system has proven difficult to implement satisfactorily for skiers from both a design and performance standpoint. (Despite their similarities, skiing and snowboarding are completely different disciplines.)
I tried on a few pairs Ski boots with BOA: of Atomic Hawks Ultra 130 XTD BOA and Salomon S/Pro Supra BOA 130. These are men's boots, but there are women's versions as well, and a few different flex options. The 130 in the name refers to the firmness of the boot, and this is the stiffest and usually the most expensive model. a-line (BOA-equipped boots start at about $600). Advanced skiers tend to want stiffer boots, but it also depends on personal preference, skiing style, and factors such as weight and height. Rental he boots tend to tap out at around 90 flex, which is not stiff enough for most expert he skiers.
more even wrap
The first thing I noticed when wearing the boots was that they were a little more difficult to wear than a typical ski boot with two buckles on the bottom. Pull the dial up to fully release the cable, then push the cable in and turn it counterclockwise to tighten. You can also loosen the cable without lifting the dial (just turn it clockwise). Getting your foot into the boot is a bit difficult, as the extra part at the bottom doesn't open when you release both buckles.
Once you put your foot in, the boot feels a little different than a traditional ski boot with two buckles on the bottom (I regularly use the older version of the Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 boots, so I'm not sure what to compare). was easy). BOA boots wrap your feet a little differently. It wraps more evenly (the buckle puts constant pressure on the top of the foot) and provides the same snug feeling throughout the foot. And you can adjust the fit more precisely. BOA says its system reduces peak pressure on the top of the foot by 13%.
To be clear, these are not a huge difference compared to non-BOA boots. But when it comes to ski boots, subtle differences in fit can make a big difference (in a good way). And importantly, the convenience of using a dial system. Many skiers, at least those who experience some discomfort in their boots, prefer to undo the first lower buckle, or sometimes both lower buckles, before getting on the lift, and re-tighten them before skiing down. While it's a pain to re-buckle, especially when it's very cold and snowing heavily, it's obviously easier to reach in and turn the dial to tighten (or loosen) the boots. The dial is larger than many of his BOA dials out there (also found on cycling, hiking, and golf shoes), and I had no problem turning it with gloves on.
Test on the slopes
When I first wrote this article, I had tried the boots but had never skied with them. In January, I finally had the opportunity to spend four days turning in the shoes in Jackson Hole, and I was generally impressed with the experience. BOA says there should be a slight improvement in responsiveness and power transfer during turns, but most people will appreciate the difference in fit and the ability to more precisely adjust the boot's snugness around the foot. I think you will be more aware and appreciate the differences.
At one point I had a problem with losing feeling in my right big toe. It could have been the frost, yes it was very cold, but it's possible that I was a little too snug (no pain, I might add) and cut off some of the circulation. There is also gender. After a warm-up break at the lodge, I dialed back the tightening a bit and it helped.
As you would expect from a high-end boot like the Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 XTD BOA (also available in 105 and 120 flex versions), the store you buy the boots from will custom fit the boots to your foot. Or, if you buy online, you can take them to a boot shop and pay to get a custom fit (the imitation liner and memory-fit shell can be molded to your foot). Salomon's model is a little cheaper in price, but the liner is also moldable, and many people buy an upgraded footbed or a custom footbed that costs about the same as the boot itself. And some Jackson Hole boot experts recommended that if you're really serious about the perfect fit, you should ditch the $500 stock boot liner. ZipFit boot liner. Admittedly, getting a comfortable ski boot fit can be an expensive proposition.
As a side note, I was a little surprised at how the ski community (at least Jackson Hole) embraced the new technology. At the boot shop, one of the technicians said he was skeptical about the new BOA ski boots at first, but has grown to love them. Others, including several ski patrollers, said they were fans of the new technology. BOA boots were sold out at most stores.
back to the future
In the 1980s, boot manufacturers such as Salomon created rear entry models such as: SX60 This reduces the number of latches to one buckle. It was a somewhat short-lived fad, but Nordica and Atomic introduced new rear-entry models in his 2019, and you can still find several different rear-entry models on the market today. Nordica HF series. The modernized rear entry design makes getting in and out of the boot easier, but you won't get the performance you get from a BOA-equipped boot.
A few years ago, more boot manufacturers started incorporating heating elements into their boots (I tried the K2 with a heating option), but that technology upgrade hasn't caught on yet, and ski heaters are It has been said that its functionality is inferior. Socks are best instead of heated boots. lens We made the best heated socks (costing around $175).
BOA-equipped ski boots are a little more expensive than non-BOA boots. I was wondering about the warranty on the system and what to do if the dial breaks or gets damaged. BOA told me that the fit system is warranted for the life of the product, and that they have repair kits and replacement parts available at ski shops across the country if needed, “at no cost to the customer.” Customers can also access new parts through her BOA warranty team using BOAfit.com.
The big question, of course, is whether we'll ever see a completely buckle-free BOA-powered system with dials on both the bottom and top of the boot.
“BOA started alpine skiing by integrating the BOA Fit System in place of the bottom two buckles. “The reason for this is that we have identified a number of factors that may be causing the problem,'' a BOA spokesperson told me. . “Innovations are underway within our product line to boots and extending into new categories of alpine ski boots to further improve fit and performance. “We cannot comment on the project within” until the brand partner is on the market. ”
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 12, 2023 and has since been updated to include remarks regarding the boot's testing in Jackson Hole in January 2024.