2014-2015 Dodge Ski Boot
Stated Flex: 130
Stated Last Width: 97mm
Available Sizes: 23.5-29
Size Tested: 27.5 / 316mm Boot Sole Length
Reviewer’s Foot: Measured Size 29
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley
Days Tested: 5
When I was first contacted about reviewing a pair of Dodge boots, I was pretty excited. Dodge makes carbon fiber ski boots, and their stated goal is simple: “make the best boot possible.”
I had seen Dodge boots a few times before, and I have a friend here in Taos who has been happily skiing them for over a year now.
(My friend likes to race, spends a lot of time on groomers, and is no stranger to the steeps, but also uses a conformable foam injected liner.)
I was looking forward to seeing how my experience with the boot compared to his.
Fit Process and Sizing
When ordering a Dodge Boot, you don’t just select one size and go; there is a slightly more involved process. First, Dodge sent me a print out of the boot’s shell shape, or last. This was pretty much just a sheet of paper with the outlines of the lasts for sizes 23.5 to 29. I was asked to trace each foot on the printout, then took pictures of my feet from the front and the sides.
Finally, I filled out a questionnaire that asked about my boot size, skiing ability, and what boot I currently ski in. All of this information gets emailed back to Dodge, and they build the boot specifically for you.
When the boot arrived and I first opened the box, other people didn’t really know what to make of them. They look quite different from most other boots. The shiny carbon fiber has quite the ‘wow’ factor.
Two years ago, I tried on a pair of Dodge boots at a review test in Bend, Oregon. I struggled (unsuccessfully) for about five minutes trying to get the boot. I was hoping this would not be the case this time around, given that this pair was built for my foot.
The Dodge boot has more of an open throat design than a traditional overlap shell. I say that it’s not “exactly” a traditional overlap, because there is little-to-no overlap above the foot, and the boot opens up more in front of the ankle. Because of this design, my usual technique of using the boot’s tongue to spread the shell open sideways doesn’t really work.
I found that following the instructions that come with the boots is the key to getting your foot in this beast. I also learned that you should avoid pulling too hard on the tongue, as it attaches to the boot with velcro, and will come right out.
Another interesting thing to note about the boot’s design is the “bulge” on the back of the cuff. Since the carbon shell is so stiff and doesn’t open to allow the instep (top of the foot) to move forward and into the boot when putting it on, this hollow space in the back allows the heel to move rearward until the instep is low enough to slide the foot in. The heel can then settle down into the heel cup. Although it looks a little odd, the bulge doesn’t really affect the fit.
Overall, the fit is surprisingly roomy in the forefoot, while the heel and ankle hold is solid.
The Dodge boot is also pretty long for a size 27 (I actually measure 29), which I suspect is because the carbon fiber shell is so thin. The liner is actually marked 28.5. Out of curiousity, I measured the the interior of the shell from toe to heel, and found it to be about 29cm. The boot sole length measures 316mm. I double checked these lengths with a more precise measuring device in the Boot Doctors, and found my measurements to be correct.
First Impressions on Snow
For my first runs in the Dodge Boots, I choose to ski on my Dynastar Cham 107s. It was earlier in the season, and a lot of the groomers were pretty firm. Since my Cham 107s hadn’t been tuned since last season, I was curious to see what kind of lateral rigidity and power the boots had. As I rode up Chair 2, I was a little concerned about the extra room in the boot’s forefoot.
The first thing I noticed as I glided down Honeysuckle was how balanced the Dodge boots felt. I could easily roll the skis simultaneously edge to edge. As I started gaining speed and my turns became longer and more dynamic, the boot’s lateral power became more apparent. Even though my skis hadn’t been tuned in a long time, I had no problem holding an edge on the firm groomers. Even the harder, icier, man-made snow wasn’t an issue.
At this point, the speeds I was reaching were a little unnerving and the undulating terrain due to lower snow levels didn’t help. As I threw my skis sideways to scrub speed, I felt a bobble at the top of the boot’s cuff. It wasn’t that the cuff was loose, but there was an instability that was disconcerting. As I reached the bottom of Chair 4, my lower leg muscle (peroneus longus) was beginning to ache. This can happen when that muscle/tendon group gets overworked, often from compensating for the lack of fit tension around the forefoot.
While skiing, I will often lift my toes up into the top of the boot to help flex my ankle properly. When doing this, the roominess in the boot became very apparent, and was still causing my lower leg to ache. I adjusted a bit and found it worked better to ski a little more flat footed. Even though I continued to feel the bobble in the cuff when scrubbing speed, I am very pleased with the Dodge boot’s lateral rigidity and the pressure I can apply to the edge of the ski.
I decided to try replacing the Dodge stock liner with the liner from my Lange RX 130 boots. The Dodge stock liner appears quite thin and weak. The Dodge boot felt way more connected after swapping out the liners. The Lange liners have a much stiffer and more anatomically-shaped heel pocket, as well as a closer fit around my forefoot. Skiing the same runs I did earlier, I felt more stability at the top of the cuff, and a more snug fit in the forefoot.
Some More Terrain and Comparisons
My next time out, I decided to do some more direct comparisons. I brought the Dodge boots and my Lange RX 130 boots, as well as my Zipfit liners, and headed to the bottom of Chair 4, where I can find a nice variety of terrain.
I took my first run in the Dodge boots so that I could get familiar again with how they feel. As I experienced initially, I was happy with the boots’ quickness and excellent edge hold. I also appreciated that I didn’t have to “actively” flex the boot to get things to happen—basically sitting on the tongue is enough pressure to initiate turns.
Rather than take some more laps on the groomers, I headed over to the moguled-up Papa Bear. Here, I found the inflexibility of the carbon fiber shell to be an issue. Since the boot doesn’t bend, it takes a lot of work to stay forward, and the shock from the terrain coming into the boot was throwing me into the backseat. With more varied terrain, I’d prefer having a little more flex in the boot to absorb some of that shock so that my body doesn’t have to. Through the bumps, the roominess in the forefoot became even more apparent as my skis deflected to one side or the other uncontrollably; it wasn’t that fun.
So I decided to switch things up a bit, and did the same run in my Lange RX 130 boots with my Zipfit liners. In the Lange boots, I didn’t experience any of the same issues I was feeling in the Dodge boots, and all of my movements were transferred to the skis smoothly and effectively.
I then wanted to try the Zipfit liners in the Dodge shell, so after swapping them in, I skied the same bumped-up run. Everything I felt in the stock liner was exacerbated when wearing the Zipfit; although the Zipfit liner locks in the heel and ankle, it is even more roomy in the forefoot. Since that didn’t really work, I then put my Lange liner back in the Dodge shell and the Zipfit back in my Lange shell, and took a run with my Lange on one foot and the Dodge on the other….
This lap provided a direct comparison and reinforced everything I had experienced so far: the Dodge boot skis great on groomers, but I just don’t want it on my feet when skiing any sort of bumped-up, rough terrain. The carbon fiber shell does not wrap the foot the way a polyurethane shell does. Instead, the boot relies on the fit of the liner, and I found the stock liner to be too thin and weak. I suspect that the best way to get a complete, consistent fit all around the foot would be to ski the Dodge with a foam injected liner.
If you’re looking for a boot to rip corduroy, then the carbon fiber Dodge Ski Boots would probably work really well for you. However, if you spend more of your time off piste in narrow chutes, bumps, and trees, I’d recommend sticking to your favorite polyurethane shell.