The test team's majority opinion states that the all new S/Max 120 knocked it out of the park with a shrink-wrapped fit for the low-volume foot as well as for a hyper-aware feel for the snow and immediate edge response in all manner of terrain. Not every tester had a foot and leg perfectly suited for the S/Max (skinny foot and long, slender leg) and so those guys dove into the new Custom Shell HD molding process, which works better and in half the time than before, we confirmed.
Testers used a preponderance of 2's to score the fit of the S/Max 120, meaning evenly snug but not race boot plug tight. Testers felt that the even grip on the foot and lower leg was similar to that of the S/Max 130 Carbon, but slightly relaxed due to a softer liner and a bit more flexible shell. The S/Max 120 will appeal to a broad spectrum of skiers, so long as they're on the low volume end of the shape spectrum. Testers with wide forefeet, high insteps and big calf muscles were not dialed right off the rack in this one—some opted to custom mold the S/Max 120 and were pleasantly surprised with how well the new, faster system worked to even out the fit kinks.
Our lighter weight testers preferred this one over the much stiffer feeling S/Max 130 Carbon, and as one might expect, several of our testers who loved the S/Max 130 Carbon found this softer brother lacking in power and support by comparison. The general attitude on snow, however, is the same—agile precision and rapid response to foot steering paired with power on edge (for most). The polyurethane lower boot with a fiberglass Coreframe is paired with a polyurethane cuff on the S/Max 120. One tester suggested that heavier-handed skiers bump up to the S/Max 130 or S/Max 130 Carbon for their stiffer plastics and beefed up Coreframe inserts.
Kaprolene is the additive to polyurethane that allows for Custom Shell molding. New this year 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. This year 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 boot protocols.
“A true narrow fit. It's uniform and nice—a snug hug. Great for narrow foot dudes around 160 lbs--any heavier go to the130 flex. This boot skied like a frontside boot should--clean, precise and aggressive. Salomon has figured something out with the S/Max.” -- Kevin Gabriel
“I'm really pleasantly surprised at the difference in fit of this boot over previous models of the X Max line. The overall fit is so anatomical and consistent in its grip on the foot—great feeling connection to the cuff. The stability of this lightweight boot is unbelievable and the leverage of the cuff is indescribable—it skis like a 130! Salomon hit it out of the park with this one!” -- Charlie Bradley
“Good initial fit. Solid with no offensive points—firmly contained midfoot and forefoot. Maintains a balanced position for all mountain play. Connects easily when driven.” -- Bob Gleason
“Fits more closely than its predecessor X Max but with a better inside ankle pocket--a good thing! The smooth fitting liner offers good heel hold and interfaces with the shell nicely.” -- Marc Stewart
“Forefoot width crushed me, the calf fit crushed me, but the rest of the fit I found vague. All the edge turnover comes from the top of the boot cuff.” -- Jim Schaffner
“I had a bothersome pinch point low on the shin, above the ankle—hoping that Custom Shell HD molding will make it vanish.” -- Mark Elling