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Off Piste/Freeride boots-Flex Issues!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi
I have just returned from a week in St Anton where I have been doing some off piste with Piste2Powder having an amazing three days with them. However, I am a relatively inexperienced off piste skier which really became apparent when we hiked up to some pretty steep stuff...I will be the first to admit that whilst absolutely nothing phases me on/near piste areas, happily skiing stuff like Harikiri-Mayrhofen all day long, I was really opened up experience wise on some runs!
Now, one area the guide, a local guy who is ranked amongst the very best out there, who was analysing my abilities/equipment etc had his biggest concern was my boots...Rossignol WC130's, these boots, fitted to near perfection by one of the UK's best boot fitters are absolutely devastating for charging down pistes, through slalom gates and moderate shallow off piste, they really are...however, on the steep off piste I was really struggling to get forward in them and, if anything I was actually getting bounced back off the front of the boot with the inevitable results...the guide really thinks I would benefit from dropping back to a softer 100 flex boot, preferably with walk/hike function...I can absolutely see his thinking/theory and think he's right too.
What I really want is more information opinions from the experienced off piste skiers out there...please help!!
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I went down to 110 many years ago and to me I get reasonable flex and better usability for all mountain, off piste and all day cruising. I went out with piste2powder a few years ago (with a local Austrian called Paul IIRC) and they were fine. My off piste experience is limited to guided days with some hiking but no touring / skinning, but assume more flex is better for the latter.
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@skiski16, Welcome to SnowHeads snowHead

The walk mode on Hike to Ride boots is huge benefit if any significant walking is involved, as you are dictating to the boot how you walk, rather than the other way around.

Your World Cup race replicas are as you say designed to put you in the position to go fast on smooth snow, and probably have high forward lean angle. Once you are off piste, you need to move your body weight around a lot more, so a more upright boot would probably benefit more than a much softer flex boot.

As others will tell you flex rating only really apply with a single manufacturers boot range, so if you took 3 120 flex boots from 3 manufacturers, the flex characteristics would feel different.

I'm a relatively lightweight 68kg, but I use 120 flex Atomic Waymaker FR boots off-piste without issue. Don't forget that your skis probably have more influence on how you ski off-piste, as a really stif ski for your weight will throw you around and back on your heels, a lot more than softer flex ski.
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Thank you so much for commenting on this you two...I too am a lightweight 68kg, my off piste ski is a pair of Scott 'The Ski' and at 175cm around my actual height too...on piste and moderate shallow or bumpy off piste they are bullet proof, edging remarkably easy, however start to lose it that a bit on steeper hard packed/icy pistes and yes, they do feel quite stiff for short turns in knee deep steeper terrain, so maybe it's a combination of the two...oh and my woefully inadequate off piste skills...?!
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I have had some Salomon Falcon CS boots for a while which whilst only 110 flex (I think) are set up for pistes/ice etc. I was told the same thing as you by an instructor off piste and so before this season, looked into getting some freeride boots. Went to a local shop with supposedly one of the largest ranges in the UK and tried many on. The best fit were Technica Cochise with a 130 flex! However as they are set up for that sort of skiing and so don't feel as stiff as the Salmon's. I am the same weight as you and have simialr length skis if that helps.
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Sounds like you have a set up that is designed to be skied fast and aggressively and energetically - and works well in places where you can ski so, but not in places where you have to back off and ski carefully (everyone has a point where they get scared and have to slow down).

Options:

- Get better at skiing so you can ski more aggressively in more places
- Get a more easy going set up if you want to continue pushing yourself terrain wise, and accept it'll be (to some level) a compromise doing things like charging hardpacked pistes
- Don't ski terrain you aren't comfortable skiing hard in

Probably a mix of one and two is a good idea (sounds like what you are doing/planning anyway) - not many people ski offpiste in race boots, and those who do tend to be around FWT level wink
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@skiski16, Personally, I like a stiffer boot (I have been known to run a 150 flex, although I will admit that was probably excessive).... And, anyway, as @clarky999 suggests, it's a skillz thing innit?

Really I don't think softer boots will make you ski better off piste. Being able to ski better off piste won't be harmed by stiffer boots

I weight 60kgs and have skied (other than the silly foray into the realms of silly race boots) marked 130s for more or less forever. I have had a few weeks heliskiing and tend to ski off piste when possible.

IMV.

YMMV.
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I spent a few years in Atomic Redster 130s for both piste and off piste (even short tours to get to powder), but found them a bit uncomfortable for forest skiing so at the end of last year I bought a pair of Salomon Quest Pros in a 110 flex. Disaster, I tried them for a few days and hated the soft flex (I currently have them up for sale cheap in size 26.5). I am 75kg and 175cm BTW.

This season I bought the Salomon Quest Max in a 130 flex and absolutely love them. I've done tours up to 2 hours in them and for off piste they are fantastic, the lower shell is based on a race 98mm last but if needed the entire shell is fully heat mouldable. Compared with race boots I'd say they would feel like a 110 flex but I really found the stiffer Max boot to be a great mix of performance and comfort in variable terrain.

On my 120mm skis the first softer boot tended to make me fall over in a stupid manner when doing hocky stops om piste as I was so used to being able to slam the edges down Laughing


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Tue 21-02-17 8:49; edited 2 times in total
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I went from Surefoot badged Lange 130 piste boots to Tecnica Cochise 130 and I found the flex much more "progressive" - by which I mean still stiff but it faded in a linear uniform manner whereas the Langes were on/off and mainly on! Of course it could be the liner but in any event i found much more control in variable terrain and snow. My 2 cents.
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^^ FWIW this season I went from nominally 120 felt Tecnica Cochise Pro Lights to Cochise 130 DYN - and the 130s feel quite a lot softer due to that deeper and more progressive flex. There's no wall to hit; rather they just get stiffer the deeper you flex.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Tue 21-02-17 10:08; edited 1 time in total
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Wow...so much information, thanks Everyone!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
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For me , (I'm a 90kg, agressive, off piste skier with narrow feet (97mm last) ) I like the Technica Cochise Pro 130s. They have a hiking mode which is very handy for hiking and ensures that I don't expend too much energy hobbling along in stiff non hiking boots before I ever get to the powder. They are not overly stiff at all imho and are a pretty good compromise for someone like me.

p.s. also reading your post, bear in mind that fitness & stamina play a much bigger part in off piste skiing than many people give lip service to i.e. you mention that you found yourself bouncing off your boots and being put in the back seat as a result, that could well have been down to tiring legs and simply reverting to a tired and lazy gait and posture. This is far more common than people realise imho and it is something that I am constantly trying to manage in my skiing as the day gets later, and I am getting more tired, etc.
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@horgand, Very true, but I also found myself getting more tired doing off piste in a race boot. But I too found myself getting bounced off the boot cuff a lot more, the higher forward lean angle and very stiff cuff made it a lot more difficult to remain balanced as the boot likes to be constantly driven and I just can't do that in very variable terrain. Plus landing any sort of jump or drop was damn painful.



The Technica Cochise Pro 130 were my 2nd favourite off piste boot out of those I tried. A little softer than the Max's but with a better tour/hike mode (more movement of the cuff). But I already have touring boots if I do any longer skins.
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A lot of love for the Tecnica Cochise! I too went from a horrible nasty race boot to the cochises and my skiing went straight to the next level. The older green model of the 130 particularly suited me to a tee and I very quickly gained a scary level of confidence. I'm not convinced about the new DYN model - they feel softer and the walk mode isn't as good. But a pretty great boot.
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Fergus wrote:
A lot of love for the Tecnica Cochise! I too went from a horrible nasty race boot to the cochises and my skiing went straight to the next level. The older green model of the 130 particularly suited me to a tee and I very quickly gained a scary level of confidence. I'm not convinced about the new DYN model - they feel softer and the walk mode isn't as good. But a pretty great boot.


Re. flex my comments above stand... Personally have noticed little difference in walk mode (weight is another matter, compared to the Pro Lights! Though I had the OG Cochise 120s before that) but the big BIG difference is the fit. SOOOO much snugger and more anatomical.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@clarky999, regarding the walk-mode, I am purely referring to one time my boots froze up and got stuck on 'walk'! Evil or Very Mad
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I would still say it's more of a personal preference. For going up with skins, I'm always on my touring boots. It's just so much easier then with race boots, that I'm happy to sacrifice some skiing performance when I need to climb up for few hours. But if I go for lift assisted powder skiing, or I know I will be climbing up just for a little bit, I always pick my race boots (Rossi Hero World Cup SI ZC or Atomic Redster WC 170). I might not tighten booster strap as much as on ice, but no matter what, they feel much better for skiing then any touring boot, even on super steep and exposed lines. Even in deep powder you should be aggressive and front and not backseat, so forward lean angle of race boot is not a problem. While it's true you don't need so much precise control over ski in powder as you need it on icy groomers, it's still good to have it, and with race boots, at least I have it much more then with any touring boot.
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Hello - I got the Cochise 120s and now have one weeks skiing in it. Whilst the fit around the foot is good I am alarmed and very concerned about how quickly the boot upper softened during the course of a weeks skiing - this was to the point that the entire boot was flexing heavily. Please see video below which shows this:


http://youtube.com/v/vLdkaRcon6s

At the beginning of the week I had the top buckle at middle tightness - but by the middle-end of the week the boot had softened so much I had had to move this to the furthest out position where the buckle was finger tight at best. You should also be able to see the overlap on the powerstrap.

Needless to say the performance isn't even close to what the boot should be offering when it's flexing this much. I'm keen to get some advice before going back to the shop. E.g. is this is a fit issue (although I hardly have chicken legs!) and could be fixed be drilling a new hole/tightening boot etc or is it a problem with the boot itself?

Thanks
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@crawf, the liner will pack down but that does look pretty squidgy. Could be they're just too big as it looks like there's a lot of volume over the forefoot. Where did you get them fitted & what shell gap have you got?
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Is it heresy to suggest skiing off piste in walk mode? I do this both alpine and telemark most of the time.
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ed123 wrote:
Is it heresy to suggest skiing off piste in walk mode? I do this both alpine and telemark most of the time.


Shocked

The few times I've forgotten to switch into ski mode I've instantly known something is wrong. Def do not like it myself - no rearwards support at all if you get bumped around, and no little chance of recovering if you get pushed backset. What do you like about it?
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@ed123, Shocked
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So I ski telemark mostly but also alpine. About 7 years ago I was skiing with a Swiss guide- Klaus Tscherrig. He is a man of a few words but what he says is worth listening to. He skis 120+ days a year off piste and has done for decades- he's never been in an avalanche- but also has something good to do. He does not like telescopic poles and always skis in walk mode. He says you get better flexion and feeling. I agree. I telemark in T1's and find the ski mode far too far forward. But apart from that I prefer the range of movement in walk mode. ( I have to say if I could tinker wit hthe boots to get a more upright stance I might- then my som who aslo tele's- but faster than me also has them in walk mode). Alpine I also prefer walk mode- including 'dropping in' to the Back Corries. Flexion flexion flexion. But you do need to keep your arms / upper body forward- else you are fooked.

Try it!
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@ed123, it's an opinion snowHead
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spyderjon wrote:
@crawf, the liner will pack down but that does look pretty squidgy. Could be they're just too big as it looks like there's a lot of volume over the forefoot. Where did you get them fitted & what shell gap have you got?


Thanks for the reply. I got them fitted at Snow and Rock - the shell gap is around 2cms. I've never had a boot that's flexed anything like it! I accidentally posted this in the wrong thread - apologies - so have reposted here: http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=2997226&highlight=cochise#2997226
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@crawf I bought the Technica Cochise 120 2017, in your picture back in Dec '16. I But what @spyderjon suggested might true. Too Big? Could be. I ski Jackson,Wy 50+ days/yr and other places when Jackson closes another 25+ days. I love skiing in -20 degrees F but also when its 15 degrees F & 50 degrees F. Boots ski differently at different temps. Mine do.. Ive skied for 45yrs and 54yrs old.. I'm about 6 ft 185lbs. I prefer long skis 188cm. I should ski 180cm. Ski patrol always ask me why I ski so long.. I like stability and can turn any ski(my 2 pairs 109cm & 116 underfoot). Expert, backcountry, trees, tele, real steeps(when I have too), of course Pow and still love moguls/bumps, GS, since I was 15 yrs old. Your video doesn't show anymore than how you're flexing. Do you like flex? Apparently not.. I love flex(driving the tongue) from my tele and deep mogul and GS days. You never said if you adjusted the upper buckles(by turning it clockwise) or strap during your week. Did you? What was the temp or time of year. I upgraded to Booster Strap. Best. That's why online fitting and vids are sketchy without total information.
In fairness I spent most of the best season in decades tinkering with my Technica Cochise 120 because they put me in a size too large(26.5)
Mondo I'm 26 and last 99 with medium arch(same when measured as 26.5). I should have downsized to 25.5. I tried on 10 different pairs and this fit the best. They didn't have a 25.5. No blame.. But I played with buckles up top a lot depending on temp/conditions and what I was doing/climbing etc. I didn't get the performance at times I wanted without wearing a medium sock because my heel came up(Not the way to make up for poor boot fit) But it helped me get through he season.. But I had no issues with the flex. Skiing is all about feel and what you like.. Actually one of my best days this season, the boots were in walk mode( i forgot) but another unreal day in ski mode. All similar terrain/conditions/temps. I don't do jumps/air anymore but the flex is subjective. I even replaced my liners with Intuitons but that didn't help since I and most feel my boot was just 1/2-1 size too big. If I could find a 25.5 now I'd buy it in a minute.. Good Luck..
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@ed123,
I hiked the short climb to the top of Aguille Grive in Les Arcs this season, on one of the few powder weeks. Had my Atomic Waymakers in walk mode for that. Skied half of the longish powder field the other side and everything was out of kilter, bumps were nearly toppling me all over the place. I was actually getting pretty wound up that I had actually forgotten how to ski this stuff. My brother said "What the eff is wrong with you today? You are not your usual self here." That's when I remembered the boots were in walk mode. Locked them back up and the second half of the powder field was a dream ski! Sure wouldn't be wanting to waste hiked for powder by repeating the mistake. Laughing
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Bendzee ankles, is what it's all about.
Big lads at Mach 10 will bend 150 boots but as one gets lighter and slower then softer boots are better. Unless you're on the FWT then off piste you will be putting less pressure on your boots so again softer is better. A good fitter might be able to tweek boots to soften them either changing the booster strap or removing bolts, they might also be able to cut the shell. It's not a good idea to experiment as if you don't know what you're doing the boot might end up with a range of flex greater than your Achilles' tendons, ouch.
I agree with the guide a 100 or 110 would be better.
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@TetonPow, welcome on board Cool
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I think it's my legs/technique. I use Xpro 100s, which are an middle of the road type boot, and Rev 90 skis, which are stiff at the back. But I still feel that I need to be a lot better at understanding my body, its position and its movement off-piste before my boots make a difference. I am, however, convinced by the argument that I should get a fatter pair of skis.
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