2019-2020 Full Tilt Descendant 8
Available Sizes: 23.5 – 30.5
Size Tested: 26.5
Stated BSL (26.5): 301mm
Stated Flex: 8
Stated Last: 102mm
Blister’s Measured Weight:
- shells, no liners: 1673 & 1681 grams
- stock liners, no footbeds: 226 & 227 grams
- shells + stock liners: 1899 & 1908 grams
Days Tested: 9
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 Descendent 8, which was not changed for 16/17, 17/18, 18/19, or 19/20, apart from graphics.]
If you’ve been skiing for a while, then Full Tilt boots should look familiar since they’ve always just been rebranded Raichle Flexons, with incremental changes and graphics updates.
Always, that is, until now.
The Descendant is the first boot Full Tilt has designed from the ground up, and while the Descendant sticks close to its classic three-piece roots, this isn’t your grandpa’s ski boot. It has several performance updates and a new shell that caters to wider feet.
The Descendant comes in 4, 6, and 8 flex variations, the shells are identical other than graphics, and the tongues can be swapped among models to change the flex. I’ll go into more depth about those flex patterns below.
In the park skiing community for the last few years, any response to the question, “What boot should I get?” has come in the form of what has practically become a running joke: “Just buy Full Tilts!” Their boots are so ubiquitous that they almost seem to be part of a required uniform for park skiers.
Of course, you shouldn’t “Just buy Full Tilts!” because everyone’s foot is different, and going into the boot buying process with your heart set on a particular model—any model—simply because it was reviewed well or it is popular among your friends is a terrible idea.
Go to the best bootfitter you can find, go through the process, and if Full Tilts work for you, then great.
That said, I can offer some baselines as far as how the new Descendant 8’s fit, especially when compared to Full Tilt’s traditional shell fit.
The Descendant has a stated last of 102 mm, while every other Full Tilt boot has a stated 99mm last.
The toe box is definitely roomier than that of the Konflicts. It is wider and rounder, and doesn’t taper to as much of a point. I appreciate this since I have pretty wide forefeet.
I also have very high arches, and after heat molding the liners at Gnomes Alpine Sports LINK, the boots fit well around my instep and forefoot.
Unfortunately, although I have a reasonably wide forefoot, I have very knobby ankles and skinny heels and calves, so I found the boot to be very roomy in the heel pocket and around my lower calves.
That meant that I had more wiggle room than I would like around my shins and ankles, and heel hold was not optimal. But remember: my feet are not your feet. Take your feet to a bootfitter, and ask him or her to put you into the boots that work best for you.
The new Descendant series is less of a radical departure from the classic Raichle design, and more of a natural evolution. It seems that Full Tilt’s designers saw many of the issues with the original boots and tried to address them with the Descendant.
While the Descendant doesn’t entirely do away with the cable system found on other Full Tilt boots, it does improve upon it. The Descendant’s hybrid buckle-cable system is much more durable and easier to use that the previous system.
Over the course of two years, I have broken 5 buckles off of my Full Tilt Konflicts. The levers that hold the cables in place are prone to opening, catching on something, and snapping, and the lower toe cables are even less durable.
The Descendant uses traditional ski boot buckles that lock into shorter cables that run across the tongue. These buckles are much more durable and easier to adjust precisely than the sliding levers Full Tilt previously used.
The location of the middle buckle has also been tweaked. Instead of running across the tongue and locking into the lower portion of the boot in a notch of the cuff, the buckle now runs from the pivot between lower and cuff, at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Hypothetically, this should help with heel hold, although I personally didn’t notice a discernable difference.
While several Full Tilt models have had a replaceable rubber sole in the past, the Descendant features a more complete, and well thought out sole. The toe and heel blocks are made of a stiffer rubber than previous FT soles, and should resist wear and tear better. On the flip side, they don’t provide as much traction as a softer sole. I found them to be just a little grippier than a full plastic sole, but I personally prioritize longevity / durability over traction on an inbounds boot like this anyway.
The Descendant 8 uses Intuition’s Powerwrap Pro liner, and I’m a huge fan of Powerwraps. I’ve found them to be warm and extremely comfortable. I’m currently running Intuition Powerwraps in all my boots, and have yet to ski a stock liner that I like better.
NEXT: Adjustments, Performance, Etc.