Cuff alignment on the Descendant 8 is adjusted via an allen key on the outside of the boot. It’s worth noting that the bolt that adjusts the cuff is made from a very soft metal, so it’s easy to strip out, and that this is the only fixed connection on the boot.
If you are inclined to take your gear apart and modify it, everything else on the Descendant is easily disassembled with an allen key and phillips screwdriver. However, this outside pivot is impossible to remove without drilling out the rivet.
The original Full Tilt shells adjusted forward lean via an inelegant shim that sat at the bottom of the cuff. The Descendant improves upon this with a sliding stop that’s easily adjustable.
When I first received the Descendant 8 the week before we headed to New Zealand this summer, I was skeptical. I tried them on along with my previous Full Tilt Konflicts (also an “8” flex), and found that they featured a significantly shorter cuff.
The flex also felt much softer and smoother compared to the same 8 flex tongue in the Konflicts.
I spent my first few days in New Zealand in the Descendant 8 after skiing several days in the Fischer TransAlp in tech bindings. Initially the switch felt like swapping from a squirly hard tail to a capable trail bike. The Descendant was much smoother, more supportive, consistent, and progressive than the TransAlp. Of course that’s to be expected (pretty soft AT boot vs. dedicated alpine boot), so I withheld judgement until I could get them home and ski them back-to-back with my Konflicts.
Opening Day at Grand Targhee brough 12 inches of fresh snow, and I was surprised by how much stiffer the Descendant felt on the mountain than they did in my living room. While the Konflicts flex consistently (regardless of the temperature), the transparent plastic that makes up the lower portion of the Descendant stiffens up significantly in the cold. So if you are skeptical of the Descendant’s soft flex in the shop, know that it will stiffen up for you on the hill, and especially at colder temps.
And even with the stiffer flex, the Descendant 8 is still a very smooth-flexing boot.
By the end of opening day, the mountain was a mess of chopped-up crud, and I was struggling. I chalked that up mostly to some big skis (189cm K2 Obsetheds) and the fact that I’ve only been touring for hippy pow for the past few weeks so my inbounds legs are still nowhere to be found.
My third day inbounds this season, I decided to perform an experiment. I skied the afternoon with my left foot in a Full Tilt Konflict, and my right foot in the Descendant 8. I also brought out some lighter skis and enjoyed an afternoon playing in the tracked-out crud and trying to rip groomers.
Initially I expected the Descendant to provide a much more forgiving and comfortable ride than the Konflict—after all, it felt much softer and more progressive when I tried both boots on together at my house.
However, I found exactly the opposite to be true. When I was evenly pressuring the cuff of both boots (e.g., when carving on a groomer), I could sink a little further into the flex of the Descendant, and it was very comfortable and progressive. But when skiing any kind of bumpy snow where my shins had to absorb repeated impacts, I found that my Konflict was actually giving me a smoother ride, which I attribute to the taller cuff. The shorter cuff on the Descendant made me feel like I had a weight on a hinge banging into my shin. The higher cuff on the Konflict did a better job of dissipating the impacts, and allowed me to drive the ski more aggressively in chopped up snow.
That said, the Descendant still does a fine job absorbing chop and driving skis, it just makes contact with the shin lower down, and with a few more days on the boot, I’m sure I could adjust to the lower contact point. However I’m still (presently, at least) in favor of a higher cuff—the more surface area I can spread that shin-bang-inducing impact over, the better.
The Descendant comes in three flavors: the Descendant 4, Descendant 6, and the Descendant 8. I skied the Descendant 8 with the standard-strength Booster Strap (something I use on all my inbounds boots), and would classify it as the equivalent of about a 110-flex overlap boot.
Point is, just because it’s the stiffest in the Descendant series does not mean the “8” is some crazy hard charger. On the contrary, at 6’0”, 180 lbs, there is no way I would go any softer. In fact, I’ve considered picking up the stiffer aftermarket “10 flex” tongue from Full Tilt. While the Descendant 6 could be a good choice for someone looking for a very forgiving park boot, I’ve skied a “4 flex” Full Tilt in the past, and wouldn’t recommend it for anyone my size looking to ski the whole mountain aggressively, especially when combined with the Descendant’s lower cuff height.
With the Descendant Series, Full Tilt has introduced a serious update to their line that addresses many of the issues that skiers have had in the past. While the Descendant 8’s lower cuff makes it moderately less forgiving than its predecessors, it’s still a great option for anyone with a wider foot looking for the smooth and progressive flex of a three piece boot.