The 2021/2022 DaleBoot The Gambit was tested in the men's All-Mountain Traditional category by the experts at America's Best Bootfitters, powered by Masterfit.
The Gambit is pro skier and DaleBoot athlete Julian Carr’s signature model and it’s both a big departure and not such a big departure for DaleBoot. The Gambit replaces the former ST, the brand’s stiffest model in its range and does so with style. The Gambit looks sleek and trimmed-down with a clean, carbon fiber cosmetic on its unique heat-moldable plastic cuff and comes stock with a firm and form-fitting ZipFit lace-up liner. Of course, the custom shaped shell is built to each customer’s individual spec at the factory prior to shipping—that part of the DaleBoot game hasn’t changed. Tester takeaway—light, reactive and strong.
The lower boot, or “clog” of the DaleBoot line is the most highly customized for the customer at the onset of the boot’s build-out. The thin shell wall, rigid polyether clog is molded around one of many different lasts, or molds, selected based on the customer fit information provided by the DaleBoot partner shop via a brief spa day in a high-temperature steam bath. One of several height cuffs is selected to suit the customer’s leg length and volume, and a variety of stretches might be performed on the cuff (say, for a large calf) before the plastic form of the boot is considered complete. In the case of The Gambit, a oven-cook-moldable ZipFit liner will be formed to match both the interior of the shell as well as the skier’s anatomical shape. The Gambit’s cuff plastic is heat moldable at a lower temperature than the clog, so heat-wear-form molding can be undertaken after some initial ski time has been logged in the boot. Our testers found that the firm grip that the liner placed on the foot and leg meant that it was easier to put the liner on and lace it up first, then enter the shell. The ZipFit liner after molding was contoured but with a dense feel that softened up with wear time and warmth.
The Gambit version we tested was stiff! We’d say it was every bit of 140-flex, and maybe then some—the biggest, tallest, stoutest guys were well supported here. DaleBoot will probably soften that to a strong 130-flex for market, though softer and stiffer builds are in DaleBoot’s wheelhouse, so if a skier had a particular preference he or she could order it up. This is the evolution of the ST—yes, it’s stiff and powerful, but it’s way more lively and accurate underfoot than before. And it’s light. The combination of the thin and stiff shell wall of the lower boot with the new plastic used (secret, proprietary stuff) in the cuff made for noticeably less heft than the ST of yore. Okay, the ZipFit liner is a paperweight, but if weight savings were really your thing, you could just request a more traditional DaleBoot Intuition liner and voila, feathers.
Canted, modular soles are still a DaleBoot stance staple and for good reason—they work wonders, available in 1-, 2-, 3-degrees to either positive or negative. There is no cuff adjustment for shaft alignment (aka canting), so non-neutral skiers should plan to perform the cuff cook and mold procedure while standing on a hard, flat surface with feet at your desired hip-socket width stance (with boots parallel) to allow the cuffs to mold and match lower leg angles and dial in the lateral cuff stance. As with all DaleBoot models, both the initial custom build and subsequent fit adaptations performed at a DaleBoot partner shop are included in the price.