After 5 seasons with my trusty rusty and very uncomfortable Lange RX 120's I decided to see if ski boots had gotten any more or less comfortable. Enter my local go to ski shop Great Northern Cycle and Ski. I made an appointment and went in expecting to buy some new Intuition liners for my Langes. It helps to have some money and an open mind in this process.
After a foot measure and and little poking and prodding of my feet and ankles the boot fitter (Ron) came back with two pairs of boots, a pair of Atomic Hawks and Technica Mach 1's. I tried both on and also my old Lange (all with my custom foot beds) and immediately felt the difference in fit. Both the Atomic boots and Technica boots were lets say an 8 or 9 with on a scale of 1-10 10 being perfect fit without adjustments. I would rate my Langes at a 5 or 6 with lots of adjustments having been made.
At that moment I realized I was buying new boots.
I ended up trying on and wearing around the store both the Technica’s and the Atomic boots and in the end settled for the Technica’s. I really like the Atomic’s but they felt “bigger” in a way that is not desirable for a ski boot. I felt the atomics would be packed out and loose within a few week where the Technica’s were very snug in all the right places. In addition the Atomic boots are a newer construction material and had what I consider a funky flex pattern. They were significantly lighter weight than the Technica’s too. The Boot tech told me if I wanted something that skied similar to my Langes to get the Technica’s.
A note about flex ratings (for men): typical beginner boots <80 intermediate boots 80 to 110, intermediate to expert boots 120 or greater (max at 130). This is a relative stiffness scale and is not consistent across brands. A lange or technica 120 can flex like a salomon/atomic 130. Generally the nicer and more expensive boot you get the higher the flex ratting. I’ve noticed you don’t get all the nice features on a 100 Rossignol boot that you get on a their 120 flex boot. Another thing to consider is on the hill it will be 15 degrees Fahrenheit, in the store it will be 70 degrees... so plastic gets much stiffer when it’s cold and that 130 flex boot you can move in the store is going to ski like a fucking rock on the slopes. If that’s what you want that’s fine. I have a good friend who is a very good advance skier who weighs 175 lbs, skis volkl mantra’s (manly skis) and bought a 110 flex technica boot, loves them and didn’t want anything stiffer (that’s what she said).
A note about volume or last or width: Most boot manufacturers have two or three width or volume sizes within each length. Technica has a LV (low volume) MV (medium volume) and HV (high volume) size to accommodate different sizes of feet. You no longer need to make your feet fit into a boot, the boot can actually be the correct size for your foot now! I got the MV boots despite narrow feet I have a very high instep so the MV’s are more accommodating to my need for arch clearance.
Short term review: So I buy the technica’s and now I start to wear the technica’s in the office to see what issues may pop up. First I notice left foot pain and numbness. Two trips to the shop and they shaved my foot bed and the boot insert down about 2-3 mm. After 3 days on the slopes my nuroma was acting up and they did a punch at the ball of my foot, say 1.5 mm out. I’m now 10 days or so in the boots and am pretty happy with the fit. The numbness is gone and my nuroma is not being an ass hole. I also removed my old boot heaters and have been using chemical pack foot warmers on the cold days. Seems to work fine and much cheaper than new boot heaters.
In the cold the boots are every bit as stiff as my old Langes. I’m 200 lbs and I can barely flex them when it’s 10 degrees! If it was around 30-40 I’m sure I could flex them just fine. My skiing seems more precises due to (I hope) a much better fit and more comfortable feet.
I am still searching for the right buckle placement but am getting closer. One criticism is the buckle latches don’t rotate and end up at weird angles for latching closed due to my narrow calves. They still latch but the buckles on my langes rotated and had pitch in the teeth for this reason.