Of course we're smiling behind these masks!

Special Ops: Boot Test Team April 2021 Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

This year's ABB Boot Test was accomplished with the help of an agile, experienced team of veteran boot testers who were willing to don masks and spread out in physically-distanced fashion in our mountain-top test center at Mt. Bachelor to stuff their feet into 65 brand new boot models of all varieties. Without brand liaisons in attendance this season and without the typical after-testing social activities, this was an all-business sort of affair but that didn't dissuade these dedicated gear junkies from showing up. We utilized our Bend, Oregon home team to large extent but we had travel-in testers from Colorado, New Mexico and California bolstering our ranks.

What should your first thought be if you have tricky feet and a history of painful boots? Find a better bootfitter, duh! (do that here).
What should your second thought be? Maybe try a DaleBoot! It's the only truly custom-built boot on the market (we think), and it's been updated in recent years with high tech plastics and modern stance angles. There are lots of ways to customize a ski boot, but only one way to start from scratch, like a custom-shaped surfboard for your feet. The process begins with a DaleBoot dealer taking essential measurements and tracings of the skier's feet.

The world may not be changed forever but it certainly is for the near future, and as skiers we’re all wondering how participation in our sport will be altered in the coming season. We bootfitter types (like you) wish this virus would simply disappear but in the case that it doesn’t we’re already changing how we do things as it relates to selling boots and working on them. We’re optimistic that what we do will still be essential and possible and safe, and we know for a fact that getting in-person time with a skilled bootfitter is still the only way to buy the right boot and get it dialed--but here are some things to think about when strategizing your return to boot world.

Our late March Boot Test scheduled at Silver Mountain Resort in Idaho is typically attended by testers from around the country and by boot brand liaison teams, often comprised of boot design engineers, many of whom are from Europe. It became apparent that the boot test as we knew it was going to be different when boot companies began banning international travel due to Covid-19 concerns in early March. It only got more dire when the Italian government locked-down the entire region of Veneto, where the towns Montebelluna, Asolo and Treviso all reside—homes to Dalbello, Full Tilt, Head, Lange, Nordica, Rossignol, Roxa, Scarpa and Tecnica.

Each year boots continue to get lighter and we think we can point the finger at the success of lightweight skis in the Alpine market as the primary trend driver—that and the fact that while most of us can't manage to shed a few pounds of our own, we can and do appreciate shaving mere ounces off the gear we haul around. Less fatigue, heightened quickness, fewer pounds to schlep—sure we can get on board, so long as these boots still perform! Our tests at Silver Mountain Resort in northern Idaho have shown that the lightweights can more than hold their own with established category stalwarts.

Yup, there’s a new plug in town and we ain’t talkin’ about a plodding horse or old timer’s tobaccy—it’s a new World Cup race boot from Head, the Raptor WCR which replaces the venerable but long-in-the-tooth B-series boots. If you’re not clear where the narrowest lasted, lace-up liner then cram into shell race boot gets its nickname from, it’s because the narrowest internal mold a boot company uses on their true race boots is referred to as the “plug.” Often, more consumer market narrow boots may be based off that plug but with more anatomical curves added to the internal mold to make them initially more comfortable and saleable.

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