Given how impressed I was with the Tecnica Cochise AT boot (see my Cochise review), I have been very excited to check out Tecnica’s Bodacious shape, with its 98mm last and 130 flex (vs. the Cochise’s 100mm last and 120 flex).
When I first tried on the Bodacious lower last with my perfectly broken in Intuition Power Wraps, I felt that the fit was pretty nice out of the box, but it wasn’t perfect. I was going to need punches and / or grinding on both of my feet at the following places for perfect fit: the 5th met-head, 1st cuneiform, the cuboid, and 5th proximal phalanges.
I also did not feel that the shell was close enough (i.e., I would need additional padding / Bontex) at the front fold of my ankle and on top of the 4th and 5th metatarsals.
I had heard of folks doing experiments with the new Tecnica Triax plastic in various ovens (Salomon, Thermoflex and Fisher Vacuum) and getting pretty nice amounts of shell movement both in and out (a la the Fisher Vacuum boot), but I was haunted by visions of melted plastic and a wasted $700 boot, since the boot ovens are slightly more difficult to control and achieve uniform heat.
I wanted more control over the temperature and fitting procedure, and I wanted to be able to do it in my own home, with readily available tools, by myself.
So I decided to try using the old method of “steaming” a boot shell, since boiling water will NEVER be more than 212F / 100C.
It should be noted that some older boots had issues with their soles twisting during this process, and were often steamed in the ALSOP boot trees to keep them straight.
I decided to forego this, since the internal of the shell has so much shaping to it, and plastic has evolved significantly over the past 20 years. However, your mileage may vary, so PLEASE be aware that if you choose to follow this method, there is the potential to twist the shell.
I used a similar method as described on the Zipfit website.
Prior to putting the boot into the boiling pot of water, I pulled the boot board (or zepa) from the lower, which is critical, since it could deform otherwise. I then padded up the bone protrusions on my foot that I wished to “punch” with foam, put an Intuition toe-cap on to ensure that I did not shrink the toe-box, slid a sock over this mess, then put my foot into the liner. Next, I wrapped the liner / lower leg with a garbage bag, since I planned to submerge the boot in ice water to lock-in the shape….
Once the boot was suitably warm (it smelled a tiny bit like a chlorinated pool once fully steamed), I made sure to have gloves on (those buckles are 212 degrees Fahrenheit, after all) put the zepa back in, slid my foot/liner/garbage bag into the shell, and then buckled the boot literally as hard as the buckles would go.
Then, I quickly went outside to a bucket of ice water, and submerged the boot completely. I stood there for about 10 minutes, until the plastic and metal was cold to the touch.
Next, I let the liners dry—a little water seeped in and got the liners a little wet. After a couple hours, I slid the boots on to test my handiwork.
The results were pretty spectacular.
The boot literally fits like a glove, and I don’t think that I need to do any additional fitting to the shell. It feels like I did about four hours of shell-work on the boot, but in a matter of 30 minutes, without power tools, and at home, in my kitchen.
I was able to get a more snug fit on the front fold of my ankle, and now do not need to use fitting foam there.
A heads up, though: the amount of force I put on the upper buckle to achieve this fit did deform the upper cuff slightly under the buckle, but not in any way that would affect the skiing performance of the shell. Still, please be aware.
I was able to get the same movement inward in the shell, pulling the shell closer at the 4th and 5th metatarsals. I no longer feel the need to add padding at either of the locations.
This experiment also produced great results pushing the boot out a little bit. I no longer feel any need in puching the shell out at any of the above refenced locations. I cannot say if this method would achieve 5mm of shell movement if you are downsized in the boot, but i can say it provived 1-2mm in movement very well for me.
They now feel nicely supported with no hot spots or cramping.
24 hours later, the shell had fully maintained its new shape.
I am obviously very excited about the results, and am doubly excited I was able to get such good results in my kitchen. If someone wanted to dial in their Cochise or Bodacious, or any other Tecnica shell using the shared Triax plastic material, I would suggest starting with this procedure prior to getting aggressive with the punch.