Ski and boot manufacturers’ big message this year is versatility, writes Technical Editor Chris Exall.
Unless you are in the USA this season, you probably won’t be able to buy the new wonder ski product the Zay boot, but it represents a significant development in ski boot design.
Rather than using buckles to close the lower shell, Zay wraps the foot in cables which allow the shell to envelop the foot evenly. The boot has a range of other refinements including a bespoke plastic which is almost unaffected by cold. That means that the boot’s performance is consistent and it’s possible to take them off at the end of a minus- 40F day.
Ski boots are not fun to walk in and climbing is even less welcoming. As more of us hike to earn their turns, and escape lift and piste crowds, a cuff release is no longer a luxury. Rosignol’s Alltrack 130 [£360] is a high-performance cross-mountain ski boot with a lightweight shell. It comes close to the performance of a soft race boot, but with a climb mode and a sticky rubber sole to grip as you ascend.
For ladies there’s a 110 version with cuff geometry tailored to a female calf [£345]. It’s a great match with Rossignol’s lightweight Experience 88 ski [£575 with binding] which is as at home on the groomed as in the deep. A 17m sidecut let’s you cut deep trenches on the piste, but the chubby 88mm waist combined with a progressive rocker keeps it afloat in anything from champagne powder to mashed potato.
Rossi’s sister company Lange uses it’s classic lower shell configuration in the XC120, [£340] with a an anatomically formed lower matched with a cuff which uses Lange’s proprietary V lock to allow the spoiler to hinge backwards for climbing. It also uses sticky vibram type soles, but retains compatibility with traditional alpine bindings.
The X Drive 8 FS is best value at £550 with binding. It’s lightweight but stable and with a moderate amount of rocker it has a smooth GS feel that you can enjoy all day and everywhere.
If you want something different, the BBr 8.0 £550 with z12 binding has a unique shape and is the most lively and nimble family of the BBR family and its unique shape means it flies across cut up snow like a waterski.