Nordica Dobermann 5 Stiff

We're not going to say that the new Nordica Dobermann 5 Stiff is a real man's boot because it's clearly a real woman's boot too given the sizing available down to a 22.5, so let's just call it a re

Category 
Frontside
Last Width 
96
Flex Index 
130
Price (MSRP) 
$900.00USD

Lange RS 130 LV

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
22.5-30.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
120. 110
Cantology Compatible 
No

We've tested the Lange RS 130 LV many times before, over the years, and yet our test team never tires of it. In fact, it stands as a perennial benchmark with which our crew can re-set their expectations of what constitutes a truly great boot. It did it again this year, posting the highest total score of the men's test, across all categories and models, at a 4.91 out of 5.00 and reminding our team how well a boot can make one ski.

As much as things may change in snowsports equipment, much stays the same, and we appreciate that somethings are consistent--like the Lange RS. We imagine that at some point it will have to evolve toward something new but for now we get to appreciate that Lange knows how to leave some things alone. Almost. What was new about the RS 130 LV this year? Not much, but testers loved the revised (last year) Dual 3D World Cup liner for its slightly thicker exterior material which added just a cat hair's width of extra tightness throughout the boot. It's always an interesting experiment to feel how much effect a millimeter of material has on fit, and testers said that not only did it make it a true narrow in a world of false narrows (i.e. most are too roomy) it elevated its performance above previous years' levels by virtue of the no-delay communication of movement from body to boot to ski.

Fitwise the tightness was not a flaw but a strength, especially for a narrow boot in the Frontside category. Testers said the snugness was balanced by the well-crafted curvature of the one piece, pre-molded liner padding and simple but elegant shaping of the shell itself--it was tight as f***, one tester said, but he mentioned that the fit simultaneously avoided hot spots and pinch points. The flex feel against the leg remains the test team gold standard for the 130-flex performance level--firm but evenly distributed and progressive in flexion.

The stance angles similarly set a high bar in this category and others. The only question for testers is whether the rear spoiler stays in, comes out, or gets modified to some in-between thickness with a bootfitter's help. There's dual side cuff adjustment available for lateral alignment fine-tuning, and testers say it couldn't be placed in a better starting position for most skiers.

The RS 130 LV's performance scores (Dynamic Balance, Edge Power, Quickness & Steering) each received perfect 5's and another tester said, if you can't ski well in this boot then maybe you just can't ski.

That's all we got. We're out of superlatives when it comes to describing how the RS fits and performs. For any more, filter a new search for the RS in last year's test, or the test two years ago, or even three. Deja vu in a new blue.

Total Avg Score 
4.91
Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyurethane/polyurethane
Anatomical Fit and Initial Feel 
4.86
Dynamic Balance 
5.00
Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support 
5.00
Quickness, Steering & Feel 
5.00
Convenience, Warmth & Features 
4.71
Tech Compatible 
No

Kastle K130P

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
24.0-30.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Medium
Also in this Collection 
110
Cantology Compatible 
No

Testers who got to put the Kastle K130P through its paces at last year's test agree that the liner revisions made in its second season have made a huge and positive difference in fit, which in turn improved their entire experience with this boot. A couple testers thought this was one of the best out-of-box fits of the test--though these guys place a premium on a close fit, the tighter the better. Most testers thought the fit was certainly on the snug side of the medium width fit spectrum, and most made mention that part of the initial fit that was awesome was simply the relief they felt once they finally got the boot on their foot.

It's structural story is one of traditional thickness polyurethane without tricky, co-molded soft panels at the instep, which means it's a little work to get on (its lowest score), in traditional four-buckle overlap fashion. But this plastic story also tells a tale of serious edge driving power (its high score) and rapid fire response time from turn to turn (its second highest score). This boot rewards the skier whose first rodeo this is not and perhaps has had many other boots that were even tougher to get on but that were similarly worth it for how they skied. This is not a boot for the soft-handed, post-pandemic, remote-working, new local who thinks he might try out the skiing lifestyle. This is not an apres boot but a now boot, a ski boot. Get it on, buckle it up (with buckles, dammit), suck it up, and go skiing--testers suggested. For the right skier this could be a world class match.

The fit is close for a modern medium--in fact, it scored more closely to narrows in our test than the mediums--but that wasn't a demerit but an observation, testers reminded. It has a particularly firm, almost aggressive, fit through the lower leg shaft and up into the shin and calf, which testers actually loved. One said it felt like a foam-injected liner just for him, right out of the box. The liner is a lace-up number that can be donned prior to entry into the shell (might be the easiest way) or left in the shell for more typical entry. There are a couple pull loops on the liner and a Velcro tongue attachment, but that's about where any Gucci adornments end--it's a stripped down, elemental affair made for the job of controlling a ski and it did that with surprising command.

Testers were again impressed with the Kastle's downhill game, and those who hadn't tested it before were downright shocked that a new boot could perform at levels close to par with the best in the world (seriously, look at the other boots in the Frontside category). Testers mentioned that it's something of a throwback to a past era where boots were tough and the skiers were even tougher, but that's an exaggeration--with a little bit of bootfitting, the harsh feel on bony points could be managed, and a nice warm start to the day would get the boot on just fine. Just be sure to hang by the fire in the bar at the end of the day a while before exiting--that's real apres skiing.

Total Avg Score 
4.44
Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyurethane/polyurethane
Anatomical Fit and Initial Feel 
4.40
Dynamic Balance 
4.50
Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support 
4.70
Quickness, Steering & Feel 
4.60
Convenience, Warmth & Features 
4.00
Tech Compatible 
No

Dahu Ecorce 01X 135

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
25.0, 25.5-30.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Exoframe
Boot width profile 
Medium
Also in this Collection 
120, 110
Cantology Compatible 
No

While the Dahu boot (based in Switzerland) was released in the North American market just before the Covid pandemic, this was our first chance to test the boots and according to Dahu they are treating the 2022-23 winter season as a re-introduction of the product now that things are returning to a bit more normal program.

The Ecorce 01X in the 135 flex option is Dahu's top-shelf, flagship model, though due to the stiff flex it is not their best-selling nor most-available model for try-on at dealer locations. We tested it in the Frontside category alongside two perennial Frontside favorites in 130 and 140 flexes to see whether it would sink or swim. Our test team was at first surprised that it didn't drown, and then they were shocked that the Ecorce 01X 135 was swimming laps pretty well alongside the other benchmark models. By the end of the ten-day test period and many individual tests on the boot our test team was left shaking its collective head over how well the newcomer had held its own against the industry's best. Did it win the category? Not by a substantial margin, no, but it wasn't out of place (so long as you didn't look down) and it scored well enough to earn a silver medal. Bravo Dahu!

There's a lot to unpack when covering a brand-new model and especially so with a design as unique as this is. Let's start by not unpacking the liner from the shell--while you could unpack it (and marching around in the closely fitted, long lace system liner is an apres warrior's dream come true), it is not the easiest way to get into and out of the boot, which is hands-down one of the very best features of the Dahu system. With the liner loaded into the shell and its rearward hinging cuff locked into normal skiing position but the forward external tongue (it is a three-piece design) released forward and out of the way it's ready to suck in some foot. And it does! With the long lace system (many eyelets and lots of slack and a lace lock) completely loosened up, the slide into the boot is easier than any other boot on the market, period. Same with getting it off, release the shell's external tongue, loosen the liner's lace system and bam, you're outta there. This entry and exit protocol is the way for skiers who intend to use it like a traditional boot: get to hill, put on boot, ski, take off boot when done, leave. However, for those who want to deploy its secret apres ski weapon or enable a rapid switch from skiing to driving, the rear portion of the shell can be released as well and the liner (with foot) can be pulled out easily. Getting the liner (with foot) into the shell system is a little trickier but with some practice it's accomplished, and done so most easily while seated.

But how does it ski? Well, let's talk about how it flexes first, as that is the second most important thing about the Dahu boot--the combination of the tallish feeling liner tongue and highly tunable lacing tension there enables a well-distributed fit along the shin that oozes comfort, but in a snug and firmly cushioned way. Then, coupled with the characteristically even flex feel of the three piece shell construction the fore-aft movements in this boot are natural and comfortable in a way often not felt in more traditional designs. While the 135 flex we tested in the Frontside category offered appropriately limited range of flexion (it's a legit 135, or stronger) you still felt the liner and shell working together well. The 120 flex we tested in the All-Mountain Traditional category amplified this positive element.

It does ski quite well, according to testers who were surprised at the level of power that the Dahu generated and the stability the 135 flex offered at high speeds and on hard snow. The inner boot is mated to the shell with very close tolerances and the inner boot is not a mushy moccasin, so transmission of movement and energy was direct and accurate, testers said. The common complaints that several testers mentioned were related to stance. The out-of-box geometry is slightly more upright than the current norm, and the lateral set-up is a little softer to the inside edge than most. The fore-aft issue is easily solved with an in-box offset bushing that can be swapped onto the rear cuff which tips it into a more forward position that most testers preferred. The lateral issue is remedied with material glued to the medial aspect of the shell, essentially filling the gap between the liner and shell since there is no lateral cuff adjustment mechanism offered on the boot. Testers also notice that the boot sole runs longer than traditional boots of the same size--not by a lot, but by enough that it's noticeable when walking and will certainly require adjusting or re-mounting bindings for skiers making a boot switch but keeping their ski and binding set up as is.

What about bootfitting options, testers wondered? There aren't many fitting features outside of minor in-liner tweaks and liner heat molding. There's a possibility of a little grind or gentle stretch in certain spots, but this is not what the boot is really designed for. It's designed to fit well out of the box for the average foot shape, but it happens to fit extremely well for the typical foot's trouble spots. Testers who normally require forefoot expansion or ankle bone punches cited that the Dahu fit those areas nicely in its stock set-up. Testers' advice to customers is to be satisfied with the boot's fit as it is when considering a purchase, not a fit that could be.

Total Avg Score 
4.18
Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
Grilamid/?/Grilamid w carbon
Anatomical Fit and Initial Feel 
4.33
Dynamic Balance 
3.83
Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support 
4.33
Quickness, Steering & Feel 
3.75
Convenience, Warmth & Features 
4.67
Tech Compatible 
No

Lange RS 130 LV

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
22.5-30.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
120,110
Cantology Compatible 
No

If the Lange RS 130 LV was a stock, it would be in every savvy investor's portfolio--it performs that well, year after year after year. At least that's what our test team said about it (again) this past Spring when they put it through a variety of rigorous indoor and on-snow tests. For a Frontside performer there are few other boots that match the levels of fit, quickness and power found in the RS LV (hint: the one other model worth mentioning was also tested in the Frontside category this year). With an updated liner and new hue, the RS was just enough freshened-up to feel new but without losing any of the old fit and performance standards it has come to be known for.

Testers continue to approve of the liner revisions that improve the fit over the top of the foot, through the instep and along the shin--it just keeps getting better, they say. This is still a legit, narrow fit throughout the entire lower boot and cuff, but with enough relief over the midfoot to keep toes from going numb. The 3D milled ankle pocket construction remains one of the industry's best for an anatomical fit that's firm but without hot spots and testers relate that the heel pocket is also one of the best for performance-minded retention without sliding into tortuous tightness levels.

There are few boots that compare to the combination of anatomical fit with raw power with finely tuned agility according to our test team--they say the RS is a technical skier's boot that rewards athletic movements with ripping carves and rapid transitions on a variety of snow surfaces (though hard, smooth pistes are where this one shines most). In fact, it received a nearly perfect 4.92 (out of 5) in three testing parameters: its stance set-up, edge power and quickness.

It remains an outwardly traditional and simple design, though the internals are modern and complex--the Dual Core polyether plastic used in both shell and cuff is a marvel of plastics molding technology, utilizing a softer density plastic sandwiched between harder layers, all within the thickness of the boot's shell wall. It's not a heavy boot but neither does it strive to be a trendy, new lightweight version--this boot relies on tested materials and thicknesses that put stability and performance first and let the other minor details fall into place secondarily. Testers like regular and useful features like a lateral cuff adjustment, removable or grindable rear spoiler, removable buckles and a killer looking cam buckle power strap. And yes, the new cosmetics this year were a hit with the test team.

Total Avg Score 
4.72
Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyether/polyether
Anatomical Fit and Initial Feel 
4.58
Dynamic Balance 
4.92
Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support 
4.92
Quickness, Steering & Feel 
4.92
Convenience, Warmth & Features 
4.25
Tech Compatible 
No

Head Raptor WCR 115 W

Gender 
Women's
Sizes (MP) 
22.0, 23.5-27.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
95
Cantology Compatible 
No

The new (last year) Raptor WCR 115 W continues to stoke our testers with its newfound fit friendliness and sleeper-style flex feel that couldn't possibly load serious energy against a ski and yet it does! Our old-school original Raptor purists on the test team still say this newest version is too comfortable, especially in the roomy toebox, and yet they give it the highest scores ever on test forms. Things change, and in the case of the Raptor WCR it has changed for the better for the vast majority of testers--more progressive flex travel, more sensitivity underfoot, more room in the toes and forefoot.

The liner is also a more lovable element according to testers who say it's not the race-bred, short-fitting and firm-against-the-shin affair of yore. They also say it absolutely does not sap any power or connection to the ski in steering movements, where the Raptor WCR 115 W received its highest scores. A few testers who have chronically found themselves in between sizes were able to size down without too much trouble, gaining even quicker response and accuracy...so, something for folks to consider if they're coming from the short-fitting Raptor of years past.

Testers have unanimously loved the lateral stance set-up of the WCR, saying it's just a touch strong to the inside edge (acceptable for a Frontside model) and easily adjusted to a flatter, looser set-up with the new style (swapped offset inserts) dual cuff adjustment available. Testers offer less agreement on the fore-aft stance, with some running with the rear spoiler while others not, and with a few comments of needing some time to adjust to its unique fore-aft feel.

Testers like the understated grey as a way to separate this from the unisex white boot, and dual liner pull loops and the 40 mm Velcro power strap served their purpose without drama. Testers note that the Raptor WCR offers the slipperiest solid sole surface on the face of the planet and they remind skiers that Head makes a perfectly matched 7 mm Vibram lifter plate that's worth installing (will require toe/heel lug routing back to DIN spec by a qualified bootfitter) if not eating it in an icy parking lot is a priority.

 

Total Avg Score 
4.53
Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
PU/PU
Anatomical Fit and Initial Feel 
4.33
Dynamic Balance 
4.33
Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support 
4.67
Quickness, Steering & Feel 
4.67
Convenience, Warmth & Features 
4.67
Tech Compatible 
No
CANT SHIM OPTIONS - NONE

Head Raptor WCR 140 S

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
22.0, 22.5-30.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
140 Pro (black), 120
Cantology Compatible 
No

Our test team old guard was very skeptical of the new Raptor WCR last year at its debut boot test, given the number of years the old Raptor had dominated the Frontside field without any big structural changes to the boot. But the new shape, new polyurethane plastic and all new liner gave them an all-new reason to love the Raptor all over again. This year's sophomore year re-test offered a chance for our testers to ratchet back their enthusiasm and make amends for any fluke--but they didn't, in fact they gave the Raptor WCR 140 perfect scores across the board (with one minor exception) for a score total of 4.90 out of 5.00.

The only score category that the Raptor didn't ace was the Convenience, Warmth and Features criterion and even our most critical testers gave it perfect scores--except two, and they downgraded from a 5 for the color (apparently they're tired of white) and for the Spine Flex buckles (apparently they're really, really tired of Spine Flex). So, essentially one should consider the Raptor's a perfect score! Long live Raptor! Death to Spine Flex!

Not to rehash last year's review but this time around the comments were all quite similar. Folks are surprised (all over again) by the length and width available in the toebox and the width at the forefoot. The heel pocket is deeper to the rear but nobody notices that too much, except for the fact that it's comfortable and snug in the way expected for a 96 mm last. The liner is much softer against the foot and the leg than the short-lasted and rigid Raptor liners of yesteryear but testers assure that it's not a mushy-feeling liner. It still transmits full-gas energy to the shell and ultimately the ski but is just more comfortable in doing so--magic. One of the other most characteristic differences that testers again bring to the conversation is the flex feel--it's longer and more progressive in its feel than the full-stop brick wall Raptor of yore. At first, this increased range of travel concerns testers who invariably sense that the boot won't be as strong on edge--that assumption is quickly proven false as the boot puts a ski on edge at speed and hard snow equally as well, or better than it did before. Then with a few more runs (or days for some very stubborn testers) they begin to like and even prefer the new long-travel flex feel that enables more supple movements and fewer episodes of terrain impacts tossing the skier in the backseat.

Stance-wise there is not supposed to be any real difference from the Raptor of old but the boot board is less arch-humped and slightly lower in ramp angle, and while the lateral cuff angles feel familiar, testers still require a bit more time sorting out their fore-aft balance.

Testers like the Liquid Fit liner injection feature as an option one might employ after much use and liner pack-out but they say that if the boot is the right size there isn't much need to employ the feature, and when done, they remind users that a little goes a long way (and extracting the goo is a bit of a hassle).

 

 

Total Avg Score 
4.90
Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
PU/PU
Anatomical Fit and Initial Feel 
5.00
Dynamic Balance 
5.00
Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support 
5.00
Quickness, Steering & Feel 
5.00
Convenience, Warmth & Features 
4.40
Tech Compatible 
No
CANT SHIM OPTIONS - NONE

Salomon S/Max 130 Carbon

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
23.0-29.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
S/Max 130, $900; S/Max 120, $800; S/Max 110, $725; S/Max 100, $675
Cantology Compatible 
No
The 2020/2021 Salomon S/Max 130 Carbon is reviewed in the men's Frontside category based on tests performed Spring 2020 by the experts at America's Best Bootfitters, powered by Masterfit Media.

 

The Gist

Testers say that speed is less gateway drug and more the invitation to the party when it comes to the S/Max 130 Carbon, as it only got stronger and more connected to the arc the faster they went. They've called the fit painted-on and gapless--essentially perfect for the low-volume foot and instep. Built to absolutely crush early morning groomers, testers couldn’t get enough of the close-to-snow feel of the lower shell and directly linked attitude between lower leg and cuff. This remains a responsive, lightweight ride that puts stiff skis on edge and hammered hard snow into submission with ease--it returns unchanged outside of minor cosmetic updates this season. The ultra-quick Custom Shell HD process succeeded in mellowing minor hot spots.

The Fit

One tester said the well-distributed and firm grip on the foot and lower leg foretold of responsive skiing, and he was right about that based on its performance scores. The fit is race-room tight with a particularly snug fit on the lower leg just above the ankles where the boot tapers to wrap the leg shaft and instep area in a highly transmissive match. Testers were initially concerned about the super rigid carbon fiber Coreframe insert affecting the navicular area fit, but no such complaints came to light after testing. As a side note the Coreframe insert area is able to be traditionally heat-stretched for additional room there. Testers who found the overall fit a bit too close for comfort and underwent the new Custom Shell HD molding process came out the other side all smiles and in only 10 minutes—impressed, they were (said with a Yoda voice).

Performance

One could tell from the score spread that the boot's best attribute is its quickness and precision feel underfoot. The thin shell wall polyurethane lower boot with the carbon Coreframe insert puts the foot in close and transmissive contact with the boot and ski and the Grilamid cuff adds snap while shaving weight (only 1664 grams). This construction combination made for a highly tactile feeling boot that responded immediately to foot steering inputs and transitioned turn to turn with synaptic speed, testers agreed. The boot is not lacking in power, whatsoever, testers assured, calling it a trench laying fool and a turn-completing stomper. Regarding post-Custom Shell process performance—we had one of our testers only mold one boot for the sake of comparison with an un-molded boot and he found no appreciable difference in stiffness between the two afterward.

Cool Features

Kaprolene is the additive to polyurethane that allows for Custom Shell molding. Now in certain models within the S/Max and MTN lines the Kaprolene used is pre-mixed in precise amounts into the polyurethane itself rather than as a somewhat random additive at the time of plastic injection. This creates a more predictable and defined molding response which, when used in the thin shelled S/Max and MTN boots, drastically reduced cook times from ten minutes to only two, molding from five minutes to only three and cool-down to five minutes. Our tests showed legit results without a degradation of performance, post-molding. Salomon offers a kit for bootfitters to drill out the Oversized Pivot cuff hinge point and replace it with a lateral cuff adjustment for skiers who need more stance angle adaptability than the Custom Shell process will provide. Cantology cant shims are available for the S/Max boots but require over-plating and routing along standard race room protocols.

Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyurethane w carbon Coreframe/Grilamid/n.a.
Tech Compatible 
No

Head Raptor WCR 140 S

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
22.0-30.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
Raptor WCR 140 S Pro (diff color), Raptor WCR 120
Cantology Compatible 
No

The 2021/2022 Head Raptor WCR 140 S was tested in the men’s Frontside category by the experts at America's Best Bootfitters, powered by Masterfit.

The Gist

One of only six men’s boots to break the 4.80 score barrier (perfect score is 5.00) at this year’s test, the new Raptor WCR 140 S stunned testers (in a pleasant, non-stun-gun sort of way) with its sneaky combination of comfort and still-awesome Frontside power. Anytime a perennial favorite (old Raptor) goes under the update knife we worry that it’ll come out in a less-excellent fashion—that was not the case for this all new boot. Testers say it’s different but in all good ways. Testers gave it perfect scores for its balanced stance, edge power and quickness—not a bad debut.

The Fit

This is an ample fit in the toebox and forefoot for a 96mm, testers agreed, and conspicuously so coming from the Raptor of yore that fit shorter than most in the toebox due to an old-school internal dimension and liner construction that stuffed all the piggies together into a tiny home. Some testers wondered if the fit was too open up front for the category and last width but once they skied the boot their concerns were allayed—the boot holds the foot solidly in place with the additional comfort in the forward cab they said. The fit tension tapers tighter to the rear of the lower shell, gripping the ankles and lower leg firmly and downright immobilizing the heel. Some testers felt the heel contours were a bit too aggressive for them, so chronically loose heel folks should take note. We did do some minimal grinding on one test boot’s shell (there are some pronounced shell contours medially and laterally in the heel area) and this immediately dispatched those few testers’ heel bite complaints. The flex feel is firm against the leg, but with a bit longer range of travel and more progressive feel than with the past Raptors, which testers loved for the natural feel but also for the dynamic moves it enabled.

Performance

As strong as any Raptor progenitors but with a bit more modulated feel—easier to feather power to the edge on and off and smoother engagement of the arc at the top of the turn. Testers thought it was equally strong and quick, without a bias to either side, and felt this balance of skills occurred within a much more comfortable package. The new polyurethane plastic Head is using in the 96mm WCR is slightly different (less expensive) than that of the plug boot line up but testers felt is part of the new magic for the Raptor—a more resilient, wrapping feel that also translates to performance under foot.

Cool Features

The Raptor WCR 96mm inherits most of the design evolution that occurred with the 93mm race WCR last year—longer toebox shape, revised lower shell and cuff shapes, similar new plastic (but not quite same), new bootboard design, new upper cuff (aka canting) adjustments that use a swap-in 0.5-degree disc for a total available change of 1-degree either in or out from the stock position (which is 0.5-degree out). Testers like the 50mm Double Power Velcro power strap, two simple liner pull loops and they continue to tolerate the Spine Flex buckles. If the new flex feel seems too rangy, put in the additional spine anchor and bump it to a 150-flex.

Total Avg Score 
4.80
Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyurethane/polyurethane/n.a.
Anatomical Fit and Initial Feel 
4.67
Dynamic Balance 
5.00
Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support 
5.00
Quickness, Steering & Feel 
5.00
Convenience, Warmth & Features 
4.33
Tech Compatible 
No

Head Raptor WCR 115 W

Gender 
Women's
Sizes (MP) 
22.0-27.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
Raptor WCR 95 W
Cantology Compatible 
No

The 2021/2022 Head Raptor WCR 115 W was tested in the women’s Frontside category by the experts at America's Best Bootfitters, powered by Masterfit.

The Gist

Testers weren’t expecting the level of ease and comfort with the new Frontsider from Head, but after they were reassured that all the Raptor’s characteristic power and quickness were still in place they relaxed and enjoyed the (way too comfortable) ride! The Raptor WCR 115 W is longer and more open in the toebox than Raptor of old and suspiciously absent of hotspots, but testers said that somehow it remains just as aggressive and quick to the edge—amazing!

The Fit

One tester put it this way: “Shouldn’t it be tighter (that’s what he said)? Shouldn’t it be stiffer (that’s what she said)?” and that probably sums up the initial fit impressions our test team had of this all new 96mm solid sole, hard snow workhorse. The new mold’s toebox is about 5mm longer internally and more modern in shape (more square), and the overall shape of the lower shell is deceptively anatomical. The lack of hot spots on typical bony prominences led testers to say “it’s not tight,” but when skiing there was no negative foot movement cited as a problem. It begs the question—does tight have to hurt? Testers liked the slightly open fit at the top of the cuff—way more anatomical and less jabby than Raptors of yore, and the fit through the instep is less aggressive over the top of the foot and the adjustable Velcro tongue attachment can adjust that fit as well.

Performance

That the Raptor WCR 115 W was this year’s highest scoring Head boot (and one of the highest scoring boots of the entire test) says something, and it also received a perfect score for edge power, so we’ll take that to mean it will leave a fat trench in its wake on any surface. Head’s new polyurethane plastic being used in the WCR line-up is a bit sneaky testers say—feels a little soft and compliant but still loads tons of energy to the ski, and without any spool-up or lag time. The newly energized flex feel--a bit more travel, a bit more elastic in feel than in the past—is attributed to the new PU plastic and testers liked the shin comfort during flexion as well as the dynamic moves that a little more ankle flex enabled. There were zero comments related to any collapsing flex feel, so while the flex is progressive in feel it is not a weak link.

Cool Features

The Raptor WCR 96mm inherits most of the design evolution that occurred with the 93mm race WCR last year—longer toebox shape, revised lower shell and cuff shapes, similar new plastic (but not quite same), new bootboard design, new upper cuff (aka canting) adjustments that use a swap-in 0.5-degree disc for a total available change of 1-degree either in or out from the stock position (which is 0.5-degree out). Testers like the simple 40mm Velcro power strap, two simple liner pull loops and simple, normal buckles! And the gray color way was a hit.

Total Avg Score 
4.75
Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyurethane/polyurethane/n.a.
Anatomical Fit and Initial Feel 
4.50
Dynamic Balance 
4.75
Edge Power & Fore-Aft Support 
5.00
Quickness, Steering & Feel 
4.50
Convenience, Warmth & Features 
5.00
Tech Compatible 
No

DaleBoot ST

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
23-33
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Cabrio/3-PC
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Medium
Wide
Also in this Collection 
any width available, 92-114mm
Special Sizes 
31.0 and larger
Cantology Compatible 
No
The 2020/2021 DaleBoot ST is reviewed in the men's All-Mountain Traditional narrow, medium & wide categories based on tests at Silver Mountain Resort & Mt. Bachelor Resort by the experts at America's Best Bootfitters, powered by Masterfit Media.

The Gist

DaleBoot 2020-21 Update: New shell and liner designs are in the works for 2021 and DaleBoot also intends to retire their unique snap-on alpine soles for a better traction screw-on style that will transmit skier inputs more directly to the ski, and they’ll still offer canted options.

We tested the DaleBoot ST in the Frontside category because it's the stiffest model DaleBoot makes, and testers thought it fit right in there alongside other race-bred powerhouses. Testers liked the power-to-weight ratio the ST brings to the table—stiff and strong with a close-feeling connection to the ski and snow surface.

The Fit

The guys at DaleBoot set up our Frontside test model as a narrow last to better match the other boots in the category, and they also chose to load it with their higher density liner option for a firmer, more transmissive Frontside feel—both choices that were favored by testers who gave the painted-on, custom fit the double thumbs-up. However, the ST could be built as a medium or a wide, and with a variety of different Intuition liner styles and densities. Similarly the height of the cuff is variable—selected for the particular skier the boot will be made for. The flex feel of the ST is pretty rigid—again, DaleBoot's stiffest set-up—and that appealed to testers in the Frontside category, though for bigger, taller guys the ST is a good All-Mountain option too.

Performance

The ST's rigid cuff design allowed testers to bury the rail at high speeds and on hard snow, but did so without loss of a tactile feel for the snow. Testers liked the way the three-quarter length, adjustable bootboard supported the rear foot and set the ramp angle but left the forefoot to sit directly on the thin shell base—as close as the foot can come to ski. Very high durometer (stiff) polyether plastic is used to make the lower boot rigid but with an unusually thin shell wall. This gives the boot a feely, connected character but without being flimsy. Light and sensitive but strong on edge—a unique combination, testers agreed.

Cool Features

The three-quarter length bootboard is adjustable laterally to better support the rearfoot or provide mobility there and can be set up for use with a posted or non-posted custom insole. A large part of the DaleBoot customizing process, beyond just fit, is ensuring that the skier's stance is dialed, and their unique, snap-on canted soles are a quick and effective way to fine-tune the boot's performance.

Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyether/polyether/polyether
Tech Compatible 
No

Salomon S/Max 130 Carbon

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
23.0-29.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
S/Max 130, $900; S/Max 120, $800; S/Max 110, $725; S/Max 100, $675
Cantology Compatible 
No
The 2020/2021 Salomon S/Max 130 Carbon is reviewed in the men's Frontside category based on tests at Silver Mountain Resort & Mt. Bachelor Resort by the experts at America's Best Bootfitters, powered by Masterfit Media.

 

The Gist

Testers say that speed is less gateway drug and more the invitation to the party when it comes to the S/Max 130 Carbon, as it only got stronger and more connected to the arc the faster they went. They've called the fit painted-on and gapless--essentially perfect for the low-volume foot and instep. Built to absolutely crush early morning groomers, testers couldn’t get enough of the close-to-snow feel of the lower shell and directly linked attitude between lower leg and cuff. This remains a responsive, lightweight ride that puts stiff skis on edge and hammered hard snow into submission with ease--it returns unchanged outside of minor cosmetic updates this season. The ultra-quick Custom Shell HD process succeeded in mellowing minor hot spots.

The Fit

One tester said the well-distributed and firm grip on the foot and lower leg foretold of responsive skiing, and he was right about that based on its performance scores. The fit is race-room tight with a particularly snug fit on the lower leg just above the ankles where the boot tapers to wrap the leg shaft and instep area in a highly transmissive match. Testers were initially concerned about the super rigid carbon fiber Coreframe insert affecting the navicular area fit, but no such complaints came to light after testing. As a side note the Coreframe insert area is able to be traditionally heat-stretched for additional room there. Testers who found the overall fit a bit too close for comfort and underwent the new Custom Shell HD molding process came out the other side all smiles and in only 10 minutes—impressed, they were (said with a Yoda voice).

Performance

One could tell from the score spread that the boot's best attribute is its quickness and precision feel underfoot. The thin shell wall polyurethane lower boot with the carbon Coreframe insert puts the foot in close and transmissive contact with the boot and ski and the Grilamid cuff adds snap while shaving weight (only 1664 grams). This construction combination made for a highly tactile feeling boot that responded immediately to foot steering inputs and transitioned turn to turn with synaptic speed, testers agreed. The boot is not lacking in power, whatsoever, testers assured, calling it a trench laying fool and a turn-completing stomper. Regarding post-Custom Shell process performance—we had one of our testers only mold one boot for the sake of comparison with an un-molded boot and he found no appreciable difference in stiffness between the two afterward.

Cool Features

Kaprolene is the additive to polyurethane that allows for Custom Shell molding. Now in certain models within the S/Max and MTN lines the Kaprolene used is pre-mixed in precise amounts into the polyurethane itself rather than as a somewhat random additive at the time of plastic injection. This creates a more predictable and defined molding response which, when used in the thin shelled S/Max and MTN boots, drastically reduced cook times from ten minutes to only two, molding from five minutes to only three and cool-down to five minutes. Our tests showed legit results without a degradation of performance, post-molding. Salomon offers a kit for bootfitters to drill out the Oversized Pivot cuff hinge point and replace it with a lateral cuff adjustment for skiers who need more stance angle adaptability than the Custom Shell process will provide. Cantology cant shims are available for the S/Max boots but require over-plating and routing along standard race room protocols.

Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyurethane w carbon Coreframe/Grilamid/n.a.
Tech Compatible 
No

Head Raptor 140 RS

Gender 
Men's
Sizes (MP) 
22.0-30.5
Hike Mode 
No
Construction 
Overlap
Boot width profile 
Narrow
Also in this Collection 
Raptor 140 RS Pro (anthracite color), $825; Raptor 120 RS, $725
Cantology Compatible 
No
The 2020/2021 Head Raptor 140 RS is reviewed in the men's Frontside category based on tests at Silver Mountain Resort & Mt. Bachelor Resort by the experts at America's Best Bootfitters, powered by Masterfit Media.

The Gist

The last time we tested the Raptor 140 RS testers said it was like seeing a big arena show featuring your favorite rock band from the 70's, and they didn't play any of their new crap—they played all the killer old stuff and sounded every bit as good! The Raptor 140 RS has been, and remains, the perfect Frontside boot, say testers--so why would you change it—and they haven't over the years, save some minor cosmetics and liner tweaks (now with a Liquid Fit liner). Otherwise returning unchanged this year from last, veteran testers comment that it's lasted so long in its current form that while other boots have gone too upright, its forward cuff angle is now a welcome, refreshingly aggressive throwback. And now that many other narrow boots have begun to feel like wides, putting on a (damn, that's tight) Raptor has become a breath of fit-tension fresh air.

The Fit

The Raptor's fit remains straightforward—tight and right. Testers have always given it 1's and 2's--1 is true race boot tight--but they've also commented that there's enough shape built-in to house the common bony prominences and wider areas, but just barely. The liner is thin and dense, but padded just enough to separate bones from plastic and provide a well-wrapped and connected fit. The sense that the ski is not far from the foot is a common mention on test forms. The flex feel is a strong 130, so sure, 140 works, but the feel on the leg is accessible to good skiers—this isn't a World Cup race boot. Yes, testers mention some spots that'd need work for their particular hot spots (styloid process is a common one in the Raptor) but that's what a monoinjected polyurethane shell, cuff and a good ABB bootfitter are for. Lengthwise the Raptor 140 RS fits traditionally (i.e. not overly long), so if the other narrows seem to be growing of late, this will remind you how they’re supposed to fit.

Performance

The stance set-up is strong, meaning with a little extra oomph to the inside edge, and this, along with the beefy, solid-sole lower boot construction and a bolted cuff, creates monstrous leverage over the ski for sick-and-wrong trenching on-piste. Note that out of all its many tests two years ago, it maintained a perfect score for Edge Power and Stability. It's just as strong off-piste, but it's not forgiving of mistakes and is brutally transmissive of terrain hits back into the skeleton—so, highly skilled all-mountain skiers will be thrilled, but keep in mind a smooth surface is the Raptor's native habitat. Most testers find the fore-aft stance just right without the rear spoiler installed, which is the way the boot comes boxed. The Flex Performance tuning anchor for shell and cuff is designed to be drilled and pinned for an even stiffer flex rating—you won't need it, just make sure the one set-screw is tight and then fuggetabout it! Old school racers who've tried going wider and softer and hated it--well, come back home.

Cool Features

Testers like the Double Power Booster power strap that combines a Booster strap with a three-to-one mechanical advantage pulley for serious leg wrapping crankage and a snappy return to center. Dual-side cuff adjustment is a worthy amenity for fine-tuning edge angles, and the Spine Flex buckles wrap the radius of cuff and lower boot (and very few complaints about them from testers finally, they've pretty much given up). Not that you'll ever need it, but you could tighten up the heel and ankle pockets easily with the liner's Liquid Fit injection system.

Shell/Cuff/Tongue 
polyurethane/polyurethane/n.a.
Tech Compatible 
No

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