Tag Archives: bootfitter’s notes

Scarpa Freedom SL Backcountry Ski Boot Review

At the Start Haus we don’t bring in new boots lightly, and when we bring in a new brand, we do it after serious testing and consideration.

This year we brought in Scarpa, specifically for their new Freedom SL. The Scarpa Freedom SL (also available in a women’s boot), in our opinion, strikes a great balance between tourability and skiability, perhaps better than almost anything else on the market.


Their are backcountry boots that are stiffer for the downhill, there are boots that are lighter for the uphill – but if you want something that will perform in the skin track on the way up, then feel close to your alpine boot on the down, the Scarpa Freedom SL is worth serious consideration.

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Bootfitter’s Notes: Lange RX 90W Women’s Ski Boot Review

One of the questions we get a lot in the boot room is, “what is your most comfortable boot”, or “what is your best boot?” The answer to these questions is an infuriating, “that depends entirely on your foot.”  What’s good for the goose may not always in fact be good for the gander, if you have a wide foot a narrow boot is obviously not going to be comfortable and vice versa.

LBC2230_RX 90 W_018

However, one boot we have extraordinary luck with for the intermediate or advanced woman skier is the Lange RX 90W. The Lange RX 90W is 100mm wide at the forefoot, and has a medium instep height. If you truly have an average foot shape the RX 90W is one of the most successful boots we have in the category.

The RX 90W has a superb liner which does a great job of combining comfort and performance, meaning the liner skis well and isn’t lumpy or obtrusive.  Usually when a manufacturer makes a comfortable liner it is too soft to ski well, and many a high end “good skiing” liner is uncomfortable for the advanced skier let alone the intermediate.

No doubt the Lange RX 90W had become the benchmark medium fit women’s boot in the industry, sell-through is always strong and 2014-15 numbers don’t appear to be any different than the last several years the boot has been around.

The skiability of the RX 90W is very, very good. The heel shape and instep fit quite well and make for a responsive sharp skiing boot that both experienced testers and first time boot buyers love. The 90 flex is progressive and snappy and matches up nicely with a wide range of skiers from the cautious intermediate to the aggressive advanced all-mountain skier.

These attributes have made the Lange RX 90W a no-brainer as a try on for the medium fit category intermediate or advanced lady looking for a quality boot that blends comfort and performance.

Bootfitter’s Notes: Bootfitting for the Backcountry

Several years ago out in the Mount Rose backcountry I had my first day of real backcountry skiing in Tahoe.

At the time the Marker Duke was introducing a new generation of skier to the backcountry, and I was part of the new class.

For that first excursion I was using my regular Lange alpine boots clicked into the Duke, I was relatively comfortable in an incredibly heavy set up, and having the time of my life. My friend and partner that day had Dynafit bindings on backcountry skis and some super lightweight touring boots.

Watching him come down 30+ inches of fairly damp pineapple express snow, one thing was obvious, the boots weren’t a great fit.

Start Haus Owner Jim Schaffner skinning up Hidden Peak on Tahoe's west shore.

Start Haus Owner Jim Schaffner skinning up Hidden Peak on Tahoe’s west shore.

Normally a very aggressive skier, he struggled to find the sweet spot in his boots to drive the ski through the snow. With downsized Lange boots custom fit for me, by me, I was not having the same problem.  However, going uphill was a different matter; with no releasable cuff I got fatigued much more quickly than I would when I got my first pair of touring boots.

I am pleased to say touring boots have improved about 100 percent since that day; companies like Scarpa and Dynafit are building backcountry ski boots with a much more precise fit than ever before, perhaps a trickle down from the major manufacturers getting in the touring game.

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Bootfitter’s Notes: Lange XT 130 Ski Boot

The Lange XT 130 LV is a high-end expert ski boot with a great snug fit and a hike/ski function that releases the cuff.


Now on its second year, the XT has proven itself as a workhorse boot, and is an excellent choice for those who’ve been skiing performance fit boots or race boots and shudder at the thought of going to a mushy roomy alpine touring boot.

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Bootfitter’s Notes: Correctly Sizing Ski Boots

Occasionally we get a skier who is completely turned around on how best to find a great fitting pair of ski boots.

ST bootfitter plumb bob

Often this person has skied a boot too big, through no malicious means – perhaps they were in a hurry, or there was a great sale, or the salesperson was relatively new to bootfitting, or didn’t have the time to invest in selecting the proper shell and inform you how it is supposed to fit.

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Bootfitter’s Notes: Boot Buying Basics

A question we get a lot at the Start Haus, both in-store and online, is “What’s the best way to find new ski boots?”

ST bootfitter plumb bob

There are a lot of ways to go about it, including the “shotgun” method of just trying on everything in sight. We don’t like that approach, however, because there are generally 3 to 4 boots – at the most – that will provide the best fit. Trying on 10 is often counterproductive to finding the best one. Finding out what those few “ideal” boots are is our job.

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Bootfitter’s Notes: 2015 K2 Pinnacle Ski Boot Review

The K2 Pinnacle saw great success last year and has become a top-notch boot for all-mountain backcountry skiers.


Ski boot manufacturing is actually not new to K2; they had a line of boots in the 70’s, that saw mediocre success, and nearly a decade ago K2 launched the Full Tilt brand using the old Raichle Flexon boot molds. Through this manufacturing process K2 set up relationships with the Italian boot manufacturers, buckle providers, plastic sources, and liner manufacturers, setting up K2 to branch into boots and the market was primed.

K2 spent a significant amount of R&D setting the boots up right, 3-D printing and CAD software allowed engineers to have working samples in a day, test the product, make some tweaks, and have new designs. Much of what they were doing wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago.

K2 did their homework, and I’m pleased to say we’re ecstatic with the product. If you’re looking for one boot to work for you at the ski area and touring it’s hard to beat the K2 Pinnacle. I ski the 130 flex version, if you’re looking for a softer flexing boot the Pinnacle is also offered in 110 in the unisex model and the ladies Minaret in 100 flex. The Pinnacle has three last widths; 97mm, 100mm, and 102 mm. The ladies Minaret at present is only offered in the medium fit 100mm last. The 130 flex is progressive and for me, just right, not too stiff and not too soft, and fit is phenomenal. The low volume version hugs my narrow foot, has an excellent heel pocket and navicular wall.

K2 boots come stock with an Intuition custom liner. The liners come specially made from Intuition with a tongue like an alpine liner, but have closed-cell Ultralon foam on the outer portion of the liner and a comfortable open-cell foam near the foot doing a good job of blending comfort and performance.

The skiability of the K2 Pinnacle is off the charts. Of all the hike-mode “adventure series” (as it was called in the Ski Magazine boot test) the K2 had the best piste performance with some stout competition. The K2 Spyne lock hike/tour mechanism transfers energy with almost no loss in performance, and is a fabulous boot for the ripping skier or bigger guy who wants a releasable cuff either for touring or walking through the parking lot. It’s hard to over-emphasize just how good the Pinnacle skis; simply put the boot absolutely rips.

Bootfitter’s Notes: Injection Foam Liners

Foam liners are a performance upgrade to stock liners that are 100% custom fit to the athlete’s foot.

In this video we take you through the foaming process the Start Haus way.

Our owner and head boot fitting guru Jim Schaffner shows the proper steps for a successful foaming method from foot preparation to foam injection start to finish.

Foam liners are a solution for saving a shell that doesn’t have too much wear but has a liner that is packed out, or for those with truly low volume feet that need the boot tighter, like Alexis whose feet star in this video.

Foam liners last quite a bit longer than a stock liner and ski terrifically from a performance stand point. The kits we use at the Start Haus are firm enough for a great skiing experience and creates a nice tight environment, but is not so stiff it’s painful or lumpy.

If you have a number of painful bony spots on your feet foam can be a great solution as well. We would start by punching out the boot in those spots and in the foam injection process the liner conforms to both the shell and the foot, holding the foot in place and allowing the bony spot to relax into the punch.

Bootfitter’s Notes: K2 Minaret 100 Women’s Boot

The K2 Minaret 100 is a new women’s backcountry ski boot, based on the new-last-year K2 Pinnacle design, which has been a testers’ favorite at Start Haus in the beefy backcountry boot category.


Our testers got into the Minaret at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon for the America’s Best Bootfitters annual boot test, and were similarly impressed with the women’s iteration. K2 spent a lot of time on boot fit when re-entering the boot world, and it shows – the lower in particular has a lot of anatomic shape that worked well for our testers.

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Bootfitter’s Notes: Intuition Liners (Video)

At Start Haus we get a significant amount of people every season coming in hoping to buy a new liner for their ski boot. There are many custom liners on the market and strong opinions for and against each of them, the most successful of which is the Intuition heat-moldable brand. In this short Boot Fitter’s Notes we’ll examine the Intuition liners a bit more closely.

The Intuition has been around for several decades and is the preferred liner for telemark, alpine touring boots, snowboard boots, and are used as an upgrade for many alpine ski boots. Intuition offers several versions of it’s liner from ski touring specific with a free moving flex-zone in the back for articulation, to tongued “Race” liners. At Start Haus we’ve tried many of the liners and find for our money the Alpine Power Wrap is the best of the bunch.

The Intuition Alpine Power Wrap is a wrap design liner made of their densest closed-cell Ultralon foam. This foam is quite dense and firm, and has almost no anatomical shape out of the package; therefore if you try it on before hand (which we don’t recommend) it won’t feel good. Once Properly molded to your feet and boot, the difference is staggering.

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