The 2019/2020 Salomon S/Max 120 was tested in the men's All-Mountain Traditional narrow category at Silver Mountain Resort by the experts at America's Best Bootfitters, powered by Masterfit.
A liner revision unlocked the S/Max 120’s magic for testers this year, who put it on par with big brother S/Max 130 Carbon’s scores. Its balance, power and agility were merged in lock-step with tied scores for those categories. Testers praised its shrink-wrapped fit for the low-volume foot as well as its hyper-aware feel for the snow and immediate edge response that snapped to attention in all manner of terrain. Testers said minor fit issues disappeared with new, faster Custom Shell HD molding.
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.
“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
“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 had a bothersome pinch point low on the shin, above the ankle—hoping that Custom Shell HD molding will make it vanish.” -- Mark Elling
“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