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Ski Boots with Heat Moldable Plastic Shells

Heat molding is no longer just for ski boot liners!

In recent years, technology has advanced the plastics being used in ski boot shell construction. So much so, that now there is the possibility to completely reshape a boot to suit the unique shape of your foot with heat moldable plastic.

Traditionally, reshaping of a ski boot would require a boot fitter with the necessary skills and equipment to manually stretch and punch the shape into the boot.

Now it can be done with these certain moldable ski boots quite easily. The process is done by heating the plastic shell in a convection oven until it becomes warm and malleable. (usually 10mins at 80*C) You then stand in the boot until its cools down and sets to the shape of your foot.

There are a few brands that currently offer this technology in their ski boots. Let's take a look at them:

Salomon

First on the scene with this technology was Salomon with their patented Kaprolene "Custom Shell". This Kaprolene is injected into certain areas of the shell. It began just in the forefoot and now has evolved to surrounding the whole foot and ankle area. Even some on the top of the cuff for molding for big calf muscles 

Custom Shell is available in these Boots: 

Xpro                                                                   

Xmax                                                                 

Quest Pro                                                         

Quest Max                                                         

 

Atomic 

Atomic has developed Memory Fit, which is a very similar concept and system to Salomon's. They have stepped it up a notch by featuring this Memory Fit in their super high performance race boot line. It is featured in these boots:

Redster FIS                                                             

Redster Pro                                                            

Hawx                                                                       

Hawx Magna                                                          

 

Head

Form Fit is Heads latest technology. They include this in their new line of Freeski boots- The Hammer and The Thrasher which are a 3 piece design. Also the All Mtn. series with the Vector.

Vector                                                                    

Hammer                                                                

Thrasher                                                                

Fischer

Fischers moldable boots have been around for several years now with their Vacuum Fit boot offerings. This "Vacu Plast" offers a highly customisable fitting option by heating the boot shell and then using vacuum to reshape and adjust the shell to suit your needs. Nearly every aspect of these boots are moldable including setting the forward lean.

Offering a boad range of vacuum boot offerings with everything from their Race, high performance carve, all mtn and even touring boots.

RC4 Race                                                   

RC4 Performance                                                                               

Progressor                                                             

Cruzar                                                            

(And More)

Trinity                                                          

Zephyr                                                          

Hybrid                                                           

Transalp                                                        

Ranger                                                         

C-Line                                                           

 

So these boots are all great options for skiers looking for a customized fit. Although they are very moldable, it is not a one size fits all. The appropriate boot shell and size will still need to be selected and then molded to suit.

Also a fantastic option for those with some irregularities to their feet.

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The Best Ski Boots for Narrow Feet. Period!

If you are someone that has narrow feet and struggles to find ski boots that secure your heel, lock in your forefoot or support your skinny legs, here is a rundown on the 6 best narrow lasted all mtn ski boots.

Now traditionally you may have been forced to wear a cold stiff narrow race boot to get the right fit.

But if your not a ski racer, ski boots have made great advancements for getting a nice comfortable fit for even the narrowest of feet. The boots in this list have been chosen as they combine narrow last widths, while still providing great performance. These are the best narrow boots for you to grow with and progress your skiing. There are also the same models available in women's ski boots.

The first thing you want to make sure is that you actually do have a narrow foot. It will be helpful for you to know your foot length, width, instep height and shape. Watch these two videos to be entirely clear on your feets dimensions and how they relate to the size of a ski boot.

Measure your feet for ski boots                         

Ski boot sizing                                                        

 

Then we can look at which boots will be best to suit your feet.

 

Nordica GPX  

A new boot from nordica in 2016, it has an exceptional amount of foot hold. A 98mm last which is fairly straight down the medial side and the stance and geometry of a race boot. This boot has an amazing liner featuring some of Nordicas new "cork fit" material to give a fantastic heel hold while also providing warmth buy being insulated with Primaloft. Incredible narrow ski boot!

Lange RX (lv)  

Langes 98mm (LV- low volume) offering the RX has been a staple of the last couple of years for narrow feet. It is based from the mold of the most winning race boot (the RS) but has a softer liner, shock absorbing zeppa and more forgiving plastic for flex. This boot is an incredible choice for the all mtn skier that needs a snug boot and upright stance. 

Salomon X-max  

Versatile! This narrow boot option can be great for anyone that has a skinny heel or leg but wider forefoot. Or someone that may have lumps and bumps on their foot. Why? The custom shell process allows this boot to mold to the shape of the foot without manually stretching. (Just by heating in an oven!) It stands on its own as a great 98mm narrow boot, but with this extra level of easily adapting to many types and shapes of narrow feet it is a phenomenon. 

Rossignol Allspeed Elite  

A lightweight, race inspired, powerful ski boot. This offering from provides a great narrow fit. A good option for those with a prominent big toe due to the toebox shape. It features a low profile liner insulated with Thinsulate and gives a feeling of closeness to the foot for great feel and response. With a large booster style power strap and mono injected boot shell, this boot is a weapon.

Atomic Redster Pro  

Narrow, low instep height, Stacked with Features!! This boot from Atomic is essentially just like their race boot FIS line. It has a carbon spine, 2 boot boards, double power strap, Memory fit moldable plastic and the ability to rotate the cuff. This boot lets you customize nearly every aspect to suit whatever style of skiing you will be doing! Also with a Thinsulate liner it is a great comfortable and powerful narrow boot option.

Full Tilt Classic  

For the Park and Freeskiers, The Classic from full tilt is just that. The classic 99mm shell is an awesome narrow last and tapered toebox. This year they have swapped the liner to a tongued Intuition rather than the wrap liner. This improves the fit for narrow feet and gives a bit faster power transfer. Easily the best narrow option in the 3 piece market and has the ability to alter the setup quickly and easily!

 

 Now the key to finding the right boot for you is to also match the shape and size of your foot to the boot. Be sure to watch the video series on Ski Boot Shell fitting Here

 Also make sure you get your copy of Patriots - Ski Boot Buying Guide.

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5 Best ski boots for wide feet (2017)

 

 If you are someone that has wide feet and struggles to find ski boots that are comfortable, here is a rundown on the 5 best wide lasted ski boots.

Now these boots have been chosen as they combine wide last widths, while still providing great performance. There are other wide boots available in the beginner to intermediate category but these are the best wide boots for you to grow with and progress your skiing. There are also the same models available in women's boots.

The first thing you want to make sure is that you actually do have a wide foot. It will be helpful for you to know your foot length, width, instep height and shape. Watch these two videos to be entirely clear on your feets dimensions and how they relate to the size of a ski boot.

Measure your feet for ski boots                         

Ski boot sizing                                                        

 

WATCH THIS:

 

Then we can look at which boots will be best to suit your wide feet.

1. Tecnica Ten.2 HVL  

  

Firstly we can look at the boot with the widest last on the market. That is the Tecnica Ten 2 HVL. It is available in two flexes (100,120) and has whopping 106mm last. A feature of Quick Instep MAX allows great height over the instep and ease of entry. For big and wide feet it may well be the best option for instant comfort.

  

Next option for wide feet is the Hawx Magna. A generous fit in volume, this boot has a fantastic anatomical last shape and liner specially designed for wide feet. Even though only listed at 102mm last, the beauty of this boot is that it features Atomic's Memory Fit. This allows the boot to expand further in width after heating the plastic for 5 mins at 117 degrees. A great combination of performance and adaptability.

3. Head Advant Edge  

 

A serious contender in this wide fit category the Advant Edge from Head. It is another solid skiing, well fitting customisable ski boot. Featuring Form Fit technology, this boot can also be heat molded to gain more space if required. It begins with a high volume 2100cc /102mm last and can expand easily. Stacked with features this is a well thought out, great option to try on.

4. Dalbello Blender/Boss  

 

This boot although only being a 103 last boot has its benefit with its volume and shape for wider feet. It is also the best wide fitting option if you are looking for a cabrio design 3 piece boot. Available with either a stock or intuition liner, it is a great boot for wider footed freeskiers.

5. Salomon X-Pro/ Quest Pro

 

So these boots start with a mid fitting type last, the great thing for wide feet is the outstanding ability to mold to fit wider feet with the Custom Shell plastic (Kaprolene). Starting at a 100mm last with 10 mins of heating this boots expands out up to a 106mm last. I have seen great results with getting this boot to fit extremely wide feet and has a generous instep height aswell. Great for anyone with a narrower heel but wider forefoot only.

 

(BONUS)- Atomic LF (livefit)   

As an extra option is the Atomic Live fit. And this is a boot that can instantly adapt to your extra wide feet. Truly a fantastic choice for a comfort boot. This boot has been scaled back this year and why it has been bumped from the list. It now tops out at a 100 flex option as the top of this line.(previously had a 130 flex) Which is still great for the intermediate skier, yet may leave more aggressive or heavier skiers searching for more.

The biggest trait of this boot is the live fit zones on either side of the forefoot. This allows the wider forefoot to fit in the boot without being compressed. The first and fifth metatarsal will expand into this rubberised live fit zone.
With a last of 104 plus live fit and a square toe box, this is an amazing boot for wide feet. Also there is a flat shim in the base that can be easily removed for an extra 2mm of height.

 

 

 

With all these boots in mind, it is best to check your feet within the ski boots shells to make sure the size of length and width will work for you.

(See how to shell fit here)

Even with these wider boots, some people will still require their boots to be stretched in order to fit their extremely wide feet.

*This post has been updated to stay relevant for the current year of ski boot releases. (11/30/2016)

Want to learn how to make your ski boots comfortable?

                           Click here.

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How far away are we from 3D printed ski boots?

 

With technology expanding at an exponential rate, it seems that it is only an inevitability that manufacturing will be greatly disrupted. One thing that interests me in this field is the potential to get a completely custom ski boot printed out for you at home.

Ski boots have been relatively unchanged in shapes for a long while. This is due to the fact that producing a plastic injection mold for ski boot shells and cuffs is expensive. The brands want to make the money back on their investment and usually run a single mold for years whilst changing some features on the boot, rather than creating a new shape.

This is where additive manufacturing might be able to dramatically change the landscape of how ski boots are both produced and designed. Already 3d printing is used in the manufacture of prototypes before moving into the higher cost mold tooling. It seems the only thing holding printed boots back from existing right now is being able to print with high performance plastics. As soon as this becomes available, I think it will allow a whole wave of new design possibilities. Also the ability to build a boot around a foot scan.

I am not the only one who is thinking this way about the future of ski boots. At the recent ISPO in Germany a 3d printed prototype ski boot was displayed made from a laser sintering process using a material called Windform SP. Designed by Austrian Franz Egger, the boot seems to be also working with some original stance geometry. The boot certainly looks the part but it is hard to say if the material will perform on snow with a good flex or withstand the elements. 

Check out the boot here:---- https://www.3printr.com/easystand-first-3d-printed-ski-boot-5527493/

 

It is a great step forward however and I am excited to see how it progresses. It really is only the beginning and I plan to not only follow this subject in depth, but also be involved. As 3d printers become cheaper, they will surely be a household item to produce your own parts for nearly everything you need. Currently nearly every city will have a 3d printer somewhere for which you can send your files in to  be produced for a fairly low cost.

Within 5-10 years I think we can expect to be printing at home and viewing this in a whole different light. Will the current boot makers lead the charge? Or will designers and bootfitters be faster to adopt this?  We can only wait and see.

Here is a peek at some of the 3d printing I have been doing to develop a new type of ski boot.  :)

 

 

 

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