New boots!

Rate this Entry
By the end of last year I was cursing my boots and suffering my third consecutive year of black toenail. On my last trip I believe I had half a dozen sessions with fitters trying to make the pain stop and it was during one of these sessions that I was told that my feet were just about perfect for the Fischer Soma last. I also had the chance to try on the new Dalbello KR2 which is an update of the boot I've been in for the past five years or so and said updates pleased me very much.

So the decision was made that this year I'll be in some new boots! I'm so excited.

I'm sure just about everyone is familiar with the 'revolutionary' new Fischer Vacuum line. If you've missed the volumes that have been written about it since its introduction last year, it's shell is made from a new kind of plastic that become pliable and moldable at about 170*F. Much like the familiar moldable liners, they put them in a special oven and heat 'em up then they put 'em on your feet then put inflatable bags over the whole shebang. When they inflate the bags the now malleable plastic molds to the shape of your foot. Presto, perfect fit, right?

It's pretty common to have hurdles to clear when getting fit into new boots. My hurdles are high arch, high instep and a left foot that's 12mm longer than my right. The first two problems and their solutions seem to be familiar to boot fitters but the divergence in foot size has proven to be a bit tougher. The last time I was fitted into new boots the left boot was absolutely perfect from day one but the right one was problematic from the start and deemed a no go after about ten days. I ended up buying a second pair of the same boots one mondo size smaller. Not what I'd call a perfect solution but I've made it work for a few years. It's extra fun demoing skis. The variety of looks I get from techs when they ask for my BSL and I tell them '325 on the right, 335 on the left' is amusing.

So yep, new boots this year and not only am I hoping to get the perfect fit, I'd really like to get it from one pair of boots.

Now, I've chosen to buy my last few pair of boots in the mountains rather than at home in Michigan as it's when I'm solving right away. There is a very good ski shop here in my hometown and I know at least two skiers who can put me to shame who swear by the fitter there, Rob. When I found out that this shop is now carrying the new Fischer Vacuum as well as the KR2 I made an appointment.

One of the benefits of the vacuum process is that you don't need a super tight shell fit (say 15mm or less) to achieve a nice, tight fitting boot and this is what I was hoping to take advantage of to fit my funky feet. Yeah, funky feet.... Left is 294mm and the right is 282mm.

In the fitter's chair, a variety of Fischers in 28 and 29 layed out in front of me, I was initially dizzied by the array of options. After a thorough interview we decided that the RC4 130 would be the correct boot for me and they had it in a 28 but not a 29. Another option, the Ranger, was present in both mondos. The shell fitting began and it was quickly determined that in the size 28 RC4 my right foot had a perfect 12mm shell fit but the left on had a 0mm fit. In the 29 Rangers my left foot had about 14mm to play in but my right foot was well over 25mm. Swimming.

So, the vacuum thing is a new technology in ski boots and this fitter had done about six before I walked in the door. He didn't feel he had explored the limits of how far this boot would stretch and I told him I was willing to be a guinea pig so into the oven went the little 130s. My aftermarket liners of choice, Intuition Power Wraps went into a separate oven at the same time.

In an effort to create some space in the toe box (perhaps this would be more accurately stated as in an effort to create a toe box) I put a specially made hard plastic guard (kinda like a mouth guard) over my toes, a thick toe cap over that then my thin ski sock over all of it. I'm not quite sure how my foot ever got into that boot but I think my toes were mostly perpendicular to the rest of my foot. A second fitter had to be called away from his client to help get the buckles to interface with each other. It wasn't the worst pain I've ever felt but it was considerable. The worst part was when I had to get from the fitting chair to the molding machine which was six feet away. Bearing weight on that foot was out of the question so I had do a couple of hops in a brand new, tightly fitting ski boot. Not fun.

For the molding process itself, a decision has to be made regarding pressure. Many peeps have described the fifteen minutes of pain that must be endured as the pressure is applied and I sure wasn't looking forward to it. However, when we decided that the appropriate pressure would be 300psi, I assumed my stance and gritted my teeth. Once pumped up, I was surprised at the sensations. My right foot was feeling all that pressure and it was a bit intense but I sure wouldn't call it pain. My left foot, on the other hand, had been in considerable pain before the pressure was applied. When the bag inflated, I felt the pressure of my foot against the boot totally redistributed and the pain went away! I was encouraged.

Well, when the bags were deflated all that pain came back and when I was finally able to take that boot off, oi! Anyone familiar with nipple clamps? It was a whole new level of intense.

The moment of truth came when I took off the padding and stuffed my left foot back into the boot. Well, first I'll tell you that the right boot was pure buttah. It was locked in place and comfy as an Ugg. When I put on the left one there was no doubt for even a second. This boot was a no go. We had gone beyond the capability of this plastic to adapt.

The new KR2 has a much roomier toe box than the Krypton so it looks like with a whole bunch of work I should be able to get into a pair of 28s and that is my prime option at the moment. However, there is some question about the differently shaped last in the Fischer Ranger vs. The RC4 so a RC4 130 has been ordered in a 29. I'll do a shell fit in that to see if there's any chance. Wish me luck!

Submit "New boots!" to Digg Submit "New boots!" to Submit "New boots!" to StumbleUpon Submit "New boots!" to Google


  1. Jamt's Avatar
    Did you have to pay for the Fischer boots that you couldn't use?
  2. Freaq's Avatar
    No. Going in I figured I'd have to commit before doing the molding. When I stated that my assumption was such, the fitter told me that since it was such an extreme case he was willing to try the molding/stretching without a commitment. He felt it wouldn't be a problem to find a customer willing to buy it even after one mold.

    He told me that the official word it five molds before the plastic starts to degrade but his experience with the demo boots leads him to believe that the degradation would be minimal for many more molds after that,
  3. Bushido Princess's Avatar
    Freaq, I feel for you! Good luck and keep us posted. It's great to hear about your experience with the molding.