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Ski boots - stick or twist?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Six years ago I bought my first pair of ski boots, Atomic Hawks 90. I have skied 150-180 days on them and have become a much better skier due to experience. Probably now a strong intermediate/ advanced skier. Spend most of time on piste but like to dabble off.

My boots are incredibly comfortable put them on for first lift and donít even loosen a buckle until comatose post aprŤs. They are certainly very flexible as were only ever a 90.

I have tried lots of boots on, seriously loads, and due to foot shape - wide, small and high instep. Atomic Hawk Prime are indubitably the way to go. My question is how much to be worried about flex. Looking at getting some 120s but will I really notice the difference from current boots? Or for that matter if I went for 110?

Or, am I better off saving my money as comfortable boots are more important and any improvement to my skiing will be marginal?

Interested in your thoughts snowHead
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Go to a shop which sells the Hawx range and models and try on what they have in the latest versions and different flexes, take yours to compare and see if you get any insight.
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@Snowsartre, my general, lay, but experienced, opinion is that 90 flex is generally too soft for any adult.

However, I skied at Uni with an ex-Olympian downhiller who skied the most ridiculously soft boots, because he liked them.

Thereís no guarantee that stiffer boots will perform any better especially on ďmodernĒ skis.

But if you donít actually know exactly the sensation you want ( whereas I know exactly what I am looking for) I donít think trying different models on in shops will help.

Most decent hire shops in most decent resorts have stock of ďbetterĒ models. My inclination, were I you, would be try some stiffer boots see if they suit and once ranged in on a stiffness number, see a proper bootfitter and have a proper pair fitted. You may find that Atomics are not indubitably the way to go... you may find out they are.

I would expect that if your current boots are sooooo comfy ... they are too big as well.
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I'd go and see a decent boot fitter - they'll know what flex is best and what boot fits best. I have 130 flex as I'm a big guy. not cos I ski like a pro!! Got mine from Solutions for feet in Bicester. Well worth a 2 hr each way drive.
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I once had to ski in a pair of rental boots as I'd forgotten my own boots. Worst ever experience ever. Hardly felt connected to my skis.
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Thanks for the replies - have been to different specialist fitters and tried almost all boots available in UK. For comfort nothing has beaten the atomic prime 120. Each time I have been measured at MP 25.5 and hawks are 25.0 25.5 so not too big I donít think.

Better question might have been do stiffer boots make much difference to the recreational skier?
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Snowsartre wrote:
Better question might have been do stiffer boots make much difference to the recreational skier?


Only if you need stiffer boots. As mentioned, I'm tall and heavy, so can easily flex a 130. If you're short and light you won't be able to and it'll be too stiff. You need what's right for you, not what makes you look 'well ard' Smile Smile Smile
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My knowledge of boots is sub-zero but i prioritise boot comfort over everything else when hiring at the resort, i get boots that are slightly too big and keep the straps loosish (advice from a private instructor in Mayrhofen, she said that this would encourage me to use the edges to control the skis rather than brute muscle power - her words not mine).

ANYWAY, my point is two-fold, 1. comfy boots don't knacker your feet/ankles, and 2. Why change something so good?
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marodo2712 wrote:
My knowledge of boots is sub-zero but i prioritise boot comfort over everything else when hiring at the resort,
Boots with a higher performance level don't have to be uncomfortable, and boots suitable for beginners can hurt like hell if they are wrong for your feet.
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@rob@rar, I'll almost always pay extra at the shop for a better pair than the online deal quotes. Boot comfort is a primary requisite.
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marodo2712 wrote:
Boot comfort is a primary requisite.
Yes, the quickest way to ruin a ski holiday is to have very painful boots. But it's better to be in a pair of boots which match your performance level than it is to be in boots which are too floppy.
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As I've said, my boot knowledge is nil, BUT i find that the heal to toe fit (no sliding back and forth) is essential, after which tightness of the ankle and above is of less importance, so the first strap above the foot i keep tight enough to stop slippage, anything above that i keep loose.

Quote:

Yes, the quickest way to ruin a ski holiday is to have very painful boots.

My female half gave up skiing after day one because her poorly fitted boots ruined her shins etc.
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marodo2712 wrote:
BUT i find that the heal to toe fit (no sliding back and forth) is essential
I agree, it's important that the boot is the right shape and size for your foot. A boot which is too big won't necessarily be comfortable if your foot moves around inside the boot too much, if the pivot point doesn't match your ankle joint, if you have to crank the clips too tight to get some control, etc. I think there are two issues to consider, which sometimes get confused. Issue 1 is Fit, issue 2 is Performance Level. One does not always determine the other, but it's helpful to get both of them about right.
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 You know it makes sense.
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marodo2712 wrote:
My female half gave up skiing after day one ...
Laughing What did your male half do?

I know what you meant to say, but that's a great typo!
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Self edited.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Sat 8-09-18 23:31; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Laughing @marodo2712,
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Iím definitely in the boots shouldnít hurt camp, but many arenít. My boots get done up before first lift, and generally stay that way until I stop for the day. No they arenít too big, they were professionally fitted foamed boots.

On my last group holiday, everyone else (6 people) were unclipping on every lift, and this was an off piste group, not a group of ex-racers lapping the piste at speed.

I get the tight fit for the first week until the boot liners bed in process, but if you canít bear having them done up for more than one run the boots donít fit in my opinion.
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Quote:

If you're short and light you won't be able to and it'll be too stiff.

@martinm, I'm 5'6" and 60kgs... I use 130s but my last boots were 150s. They weren't (usually*) too stiff.

* last run of the day on a cold January at -20C they were Embarassed
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rob@rar wrote:
I once had to ski in a pair of rental boots as I'd forgotten my own boots. Worst ever experience ever. Hardly felt connected to my skis.

Me too, if my boots were lost in transit, I would seriouly consider just getting the next plane home Very Happy
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Snowsartre wrote:
Better question might have been do stiffer boots make much difference to the recreational skier?


This is a question which I have also pondered and researched, and can only answer as a lay person with "it depends".
Apparently ankle flex range has quite a bit to play in the choice, as well as weight, leg strength, personal style of skiing, stance, personal biomechanics, technical ability and whether skiing hard charging piste or bumps or.. Well, many factors which a good bootfitter will know better than I.
I certainly found much more boot control, therefore ski control, with progressively stiffer boots, but they don't always help and in some situations feel too stiff - I tend to counter this (e.g. in bumps and chop and slow skiing) by crouching a lot more and using the flex in my hips and knees, which is probably not good technique.
Stiffer boots, I think, demand better technique and stance from the skier. Maybe your way forward us to gave an instructor observe your skiing and see what they pick up on and recommend. If nothing major wrong with your skiing and you're happy with it and at a level, or still improving at a rate with which you're content then why need to change?
For comparison, I am average height and weight mature female and ski (at an idiot intermediate + level) 110 boots currently, considering Hawx 115s as next boot ( though worried a tad stiff - but the 80 is way way too soft, 95 also feels soft to me). Tried on my Salomon Max 80s the other day, felt like butter and flexed way too easily and far. But then I've got used to powering a stiffer boot... Maybe my lower legs would ache less if I went softer again (or just learned to ski better rolling eyes )
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under a new name wrote:
Quote:

If you're short and light you won't be able to and it'll be too stiff.

@martinm, I'm 5'6" and 60kgs... I use 130s but my last boots were 150s. They weren't (usually*) too stiff.

* last run of the day on a cold January at -20C they were Embarassed


Maybe you're a faster/more aggressive skier than me - I'm just regurgitating what I was told by an expert and it does make sense.
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@martinm, it defo does make sense.

Iíve skied a lot.
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I'm female, and my previous boots were 80s and way too soft but very comfortable. My ankles jarred every time I hit a bump.

My current ones are 100 and a thousand times better, I feel much better connected to the ski (I'm still crap though haha).

Mine are Atomic Carbon Waymakers, I think Atomics are good for wide feet.
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Comfort is key, whether that's a softer flexing boot or a stiffer, performance boot.

Time on snow is critical for a holiday skier so the more comfortable the boot the longer your ski day.

I'm 188cm and 95 kg and ski in Dynafit touring boots which have a felx of 95.

If I flex the boot too much, too quickly then it's over the handlebars time.

As a result I ski more laterally and subtly.
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@Mike Pow, sound advice. Subtle skiing is a joy to behold.
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If youíve skied 150 days buy the 120ís. Itís worth it just to know, if youíre skiing that many days
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I love my Hawx Ultra's best boot I've been in. I'm very sure with the 120's you can adjust them down -10 to a 110.

https://drms3v40st3o6.cloudfront.net/images/pdf/especificaciones/eng_atomic_spec_hawx1617.pdf
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I much prefer a stiffer boot, softer flexing ones just don't work for me. However, before moving up the flex rating it was very apparent to me that I was overpowering the boot, you know when something is holding you back.
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 You know it makes sense.
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I have the Hawx Ultra 110s.

A boot so comfortable, that when I returned to skiing last Year (30 years on a board), I wondered what all the ski boot comfort fuss was about. Great ski control and happy feet all day long.

My GF has the 90s. As she is just over 60kg (and 5'7"), I think they work well for her and she also finds hers very comfy.
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Ski boots are a complete nightmare. I have incredibly flat feet, with virtually no arch at all. I've tried everything including custom fitting, yet I'm yet to find anything remotely comfy.

Unbuckling the boot at lunchtime is sometimes the highlight of my day Laughing
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rutlandchris wrote:
Ski boots are a complete nightmare. I have incredibly flat feet, with virtually no arch at all. I've tried everything including custom fitting, yet I'm yet to find anything remotely comfy.

Unbuckling the boot at lunchtime is sometimes the highlight of my day Laughing

My feet are also rediculously flat, with a rediculously high instep.

When I got my own boots, the pain level was reduced but was still there, and that's just with superfeet green insoles. However, with the passage of time, some pretty regular use in the local fridge, I no longer suffer pain or cramps. Whether it was some of the foot exercises I did (I would roll my foot arch over a hard ball on the floor to try and get some blood flowing into the arches, and I would stand on the edge of a step with the ball of my foot and then lift myself up and down using my feet, again to try and exercise my foot arch muscles) or whether my foot has become 'at one' with my boot, or just the regular skiing itself has exercised my foot - I don't know, but I'm no longer suffering.
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slopemad wrote:
rutlandchris wrote:
Ski boots are a complete nightmare. I have incredibly flat feet, with virtually no arch at all. I've tried everything including custom fitting, yet I'm yet to find anything remotely comfy.

Unbuckling the boot at lunchtime is sometimes the highlight of my day Laughing

My feet are also rediculously flat, with a rediculously high instep.

When I got my own boots, the pain level was reduced but was still there, and that's just with superfeet green insoles. However, with the passage of time, some pretty regular use in the local fridge, I no longer suffer pain or cramps. Whether it was some of the foot exercises I did (I would roll my foot arch over a hard ball on the floor to try and get some blood flowing into the arches, and I would stand on the edge of a step with the ball of my foot and then lift myself up and down using my feet, again to try and exercise my foot arch muscles) or whether my foot has become 'at one' with my boot, or just the regular skiing itself has exercised my foot - I don't know, but I'm no longer suffering.


That's good to hear. I've had the boots for about 6-7 but only tend to wear them for the week I'm away. When I go the dry slope or snowdome at home I tend to try to get to grips with a snowboard.

Maybe I need to get a bit of wear in the build-up to get my feet used to them again etc.
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Ski boots are probably the trickiest and most important bit of kit to get right. Much more important than skis in fact so if you're going to blow the budget somewhere it may as well be on boot fitting. It's a huge topic much of which is way beyond what a recreational skier (like me) needs to know but what I've grasped so far is;
+ the boot HAS to be comfortable. You go skiing to have a good time, how is pain going to help?
+ the boot must hold your heel in place sufficiently so your foot doesn't slide around inside
+ the boot must allow your ankle to flex forward (how much depends on how dynamically you ski).
+ having flexed forwards it should get progressively stiffer so your shin gets enough support
+ a good boot will allow progressive adjustment of ankle flex via its flexes forwards.
If you are a beginner who skis slowly on piste you do not want a race boot that is so stiff you can't bend your ankle at all. If you are a heavy guy hucking cliffs and crashing through all manner of off-piste obstacle you want a boot that will help you through all that by giving your shin some support. Figuring out exactly where you are in between those two extremes is the challenge and its quite personal. Hope you find the right boot soon. Madeye-Smiley
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I have Hawk Ultra too. I like them because they are so lightweight, it no longer feels like I have a plaster cast on each foot. However, I think they are more suited to narrow feet. They are also bloody difficult to get on and off and make me swear a lot. Once on, they are pretty comfy. I have no idea what flex they are and I suspect that has very little relevance to someone like me.
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What @Ed_sec, said, I would add that the boot needs to stop flexing when the limit of your Achillesí tendon flex is reached.
Iím a big guy, ski off piste a lot, generally prefer softer boots but occasionally drive through my shins if that makes sense.
I have a few boots that I use but the Hawk 120 is my go to boot most days.
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@jbob agreed. And fwiw I use Scarpa Maestrale RS which are supposed to be 120 but some folk say they are softer. But I try to ski fairly neutral fore/aft where possible so Iím not trying to put too much through the front of the boot. And the boots are quite light and comfy to walk in (I.e. to the bus stop as well as when skinning)⛷
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@Ed_sec, I also have some maestrale rs which I love, I agree they are a little softer than 120. I used them so much I was wearing them out so I just use them for days with some up now.
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@jbob@jbob Know what you mean about wearing them out. My ski mode lever fell off one boot at the end of the season so theyíre in the shop at present. When I do have to renew them Iím a bit concerned by the lace up system on the new models. I have a wide forefoot and like to be able to have the first buckle or two as loose as poss while the heel holder thing keeps my foot in place. If all you have is one long lace Iím not sure how you can tailor those adjustments. Any ideas on that?
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@Ed_sec, I have the same issues, I have a bunion that has its own birthday. It is possible to have the forefoot loose with the top tight. What you can do is tie a knot (there is also a way of doubling the lace back on its self to lock it) in the lace a few lace holes up the boot then when you pull much tighter at the top the bottom remains the same. Doesnít work with a boa system.

https://www.mountainwarehouse.com/expert-advice/how-to-lace-walking-boots
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The Boot drives the Ski..... So it depends on how hard you want to push on... By the sounds of it you and many others just want a nice relaxing enjoyable ski holiday. Not brake any records or advance to far. In which case stay as you are.. why rock the boot.
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