The X Max 130 is designed to be a race boot, and the non-replaceable, hard plastic soles makes sense for ski racing. Many of you will already know whether you prefer replaceable rubber soles to plastic integrated soles, and that’s fine. But if you haven’t formed an opinion yet, there are are some things to consider if you’re looking for a boot to spend some time in the backcountry / sidecountry.
There are an increasing number of boots on the market that promise something akin to race boot performance with more backcountry- / freeride-oriented features like rubbers soles. The X Max 130 is the first boot I’ve skied in a few years that doesn’t have some kind of rubber on the soles, and I noticed it quite a few times.
While the rubber is a nice convenience for lift-served skiing to add a little traction while indoors or in the parking lot, it makes a bigger difference while mechanized skiing in the backcountry. I love having the rubber for clambering around on helicopter skids or on rocky landings. They are also great for riding snowmachines, where the rubber provides significantly more security on the running boards. In addition, I notice that rubber-soled boots accumulate less snow when constantly moving from warm to cold environments, and that it’s much easier to kick snow off of rubber soles.
So if rubber / replaceable soles are a must-have for you, you might check out Jonathan Ellsworth’s review of the Salomon X Pro 120, or take a look at Salomon’s X Pro 130. (Both the X Pro 120 and 130 have a slightly wider last than the X Max 130.)
Heli guiding, especially when working with film crews, often involves a lot of time spent waiting, watching, and doing snow study work. Warm boots can make a big difference during a long day out.
In this sense, the X Max 130 was about average compared to other alpine boots I’ve used. The Intuition liners were probably partly responsible for this. I do think that the rubber soles of my AT boots and the Cochise Pro provide a little extra insulation when not clicked into my skis.
I had no issues with snow or water coming into the shells of my X Max 130s, and never put any kind of tape on them.
I’ve skied the X Max 130 in just about every condition (from super cold days of dry powder, to late-spring slop) and on a big variety of skis. There has never been a time where I felt like the flex was not adequate for me, even at over 200 lbs dressed-to-ski, plus a 15-35 lb pack. There are times when I definitely push pretty deep into the forward flex of a boot, and I found the X Max 130 always to be supportive enough for skiing fast on any type of ski.
Regarding forward flex, I’ve compared the X Max 130 to the 15/16 Cochise Pro 130, the Salomon Quest Max BC 120, and the Dynafit Vulcan in some of my previous reviews. Of these, the X Max 130 has the stiffest forward flex when comparing all of the boots with the same type of Intuition Powerwrap liner.
The X Max 130 is only a little stiffer than the Cochise Pro, which I only noticed when skiing the two boots back to back on the same ski (which I did several times this winter).
The X Max 130 has a significantly stiffer forward flex than the Quest Max BC 120 and the Vulcan, and is dramatically stiffer than the Vulcan in terms of rearward flex.
At all temperatures tested, the X Max 130 has a smooth flex that ramps up nicely as I flexed deeper into the boot. Of the boots tested, it also feels like the boot that provides the most rebound when railing hard snow on my Salomon Enduro XT’s.
In terms of lateral stiffness, the X Max 130 is, again, the stiffest of the boots I’ve used in recent memory. I never felt like the boot was flexing laterally, whether edging high-angle turns on firm snow with 85mm-underfoot skis, or arcing at high speeds through deep chop on mid-fat or powder skis.
I spend much of my year seeking soft snow on big skis, and the nuances of edge angles and precise, hard-snow turns are often far from my mind. But the last two winters left us with much less snow in Alaska than usual, and a lot of my days riding lifts at Alyeska Resort involved my skinniest skis and relatively hard snow.
After a few days swapping back and forth between the X Max 130 and my Cochise Pro, I spent most of the season skiing Alyeska on the X Max 130. I’m not sure if it’s the replaceable sole blocks, the overall flex of the boot, or the fit but the Cochise Pro never felt as precise and sensitive as the X Max 130 when arcing in firm conditions.
While the X Max 130 was designed as a race boot, it is a solid performer for off-piste conditions with all manner of ski shapes and snow conditions. It offers more precision than the hybrid AT / alpine boots I’ve used, and was my favorite boot in memory for on-piste skiing.
If you’re looking for a solid all-around alpine boot with a higher volume ankle and heel, it should be high on your list of boots to check out.