2013-2014 / 2014-2015 Salomon X Pro 120
Stated Flex Rating: 120 (can be increased to 130)
Available Sizes: 24.5 – 31.0
Stated Last Width: 100-106mm
Size Tested: 25.5 / 296mm Boot Sole Length
Blister’s Measured Weight per Boot (with stock liners and custom instaprint footbeds):
1984 grams & 1975 grams
Days Tested: ~60
My only objectives for a ski boot review are to (1) properly locate the boot and (2) help you decide whether you ought to head to the best bootfitter in your area to see whether the boot is, in fact, a good match for you. That’s really it.
And it just so happens that, for me, the heat-moldable, 360° Custom Shell Salomon X Pro 120 has proven to be a very good match, and has probably delivered the greatest combination of performance + fit + versatility + forgiveness + comfort of any boot I have ever worn.
360° Custom Shell
The black sections of both the upper and the lower of the shell of the X Pro 120 are heat moldable and customizable, and the results have been great.
There are two ways to complete the molding process:
a) The shells are placed in a convection oven for 15 minutes, and are heated at 220 degrees F. You then put the boots on for 10-20 minutes (depending on the cooling process) and allow them to cool. Once the shells are cool, you then put the liners on heat stacks for about eight minutes.
After the liners are up to temperature, place the insole in the liners and insert the liners into the shells. Place toecaps over the toes and put the boots on. Allow another 10 minutes to cool.
Then take the boots off and remove the toecaps. You’re done, and you’re ready to go ski right now, you don’t have to wait.
b) You can also reverse the process and heat mold the liners first, then the shells.
Caveat: Those Foam Boot Boards
One important thing to note: the boot boards of the X Pro 120 are made of foam, and they should be removed before heating the boots. If they are left in while the shells are cooked, they become extremely malleable and will likely deform when you slip your foot and liner into the boot.
But if you do remove them, then the process is straightfoward and is capable of producing an excellent fit.
Sizing the X Pro 120 / My Feet
The customary selling point of the X Pro 120 is that it’s a terrific option for people who have very wide feet, because the shells will stretch to accommodate. I don’t have particularly wide feet, but I’ve still been able to get an outstanding fit out of the X Pro 120.
My left foot is 27cm long, my right foot is 27.5cm long, and here’s how The Boot Doctors’ Charlie Bradley assessed my feet: C-width, narrow heel. High arch / High instep (on a scale of 1-10, Charlie called it an 8 or 9). Fairly stable, solid platform. Prominent melili. A bit of pronation. A good amount of ankle range of motion (aka, “dorsiflexion”).
According to the charts, I ought to be in a size 27.5 boot, but I have always dropped down to a size 26.5 to get more of a “performance” fit rather than a “comfort” fit. And in the case of the Salomon X Pro 120, I dropped down to a 25.5. Why?
The X Pro 120 is a 100mm-lasted boot. Salomon’s ~97mm-lasted, Custom Shell boot is called the X Max 120. While the X Max 120 would be the more appropriate last for me, Salomon boots tend to run big—both in terms of length and volume. According to Charlie, most people who buy a Salomon boot in their measured size end up getting extra padding put into the boot to suck up volume.
Again, I generally wear ~97/98mm lasted, low volumes boots, and have most recently been in the 26.5 Atomic Redster Pro, 26.5 Nordica Patron Pro, and 26.5 K2 Pinnacle 130. So to achieve a similarly snug fit, I ended up dropping down two sizes, not just one size.
I’m not pushing you do the same, but one of the very best features about the X Pro 120’s moldable shell is that it gives you the ability to begin with a very small boot, then expand the shell to contour to your foot and provide a very snug, comfortable, performance fit.
The shell of the X Pro 120 can only expand, so the idea here—if what you’re after is a high performance fit—is to basically approach the heat moldable shell as if it was a plug race boot: it is relatively easy to create more space in a boot, but it is very difficult to make smaller a boot that is too big.
To be clear, before heat molding these shells, my 25.5s were intolerably tight to stand in for more than a few minutes. (Before molding, I had a shell fit of 1cm on the left foot, .5cm on the right foot.)
After baking them, however, the shells expanded where they needed to, leaving me with a very snug heel fit—it’s the most snug heel / best heel retention of any boot I’ve ever skied. (If I wear a sock that is even slightly thicker than my Smartwool ultra-thin Ph.D socks, my heels will feel sore by the end of the day. In my book, this is perfect.)
The overall fit is tight but perfect, and I have a very secure fit around the instep. I typically don’t even bother to buckle the lower two buckles of the shoe, because the fit is already so snug.
Due to a bony prominence (cunieform exostosis) I have on both insteps, I did, however, need to go back and reheat the boots with a pad over my instep to create more space. It worked, leaving me with a highly customized, performance fit.
The X Pro 120s ski flat; they do not feel either over-edged or under-edged, and I feel very balanced in the boot. Forward lean, ramp, and canting are all a good fit for me.
Hiking / Bootpacking
I have hiked pretty much every single day I’ve skied in these boots—whether up and over the knife ridges of Canterbury, New Zealand, or on multiple laps a day up Taos’ Kachina Peak or West Basin—and there is no question that I prefer to hike in a grippier, softer-plastic sole than a slicker, hard-plastic race sole (a la the Atomic Redster Pro or Nordica Patron Pro).
Another nice feature is that the X Pro 120s have replaceable soles.
Furthermore, the X Pro 120’s are comparatively light, coming in about ~250 grams lighter per boot than the Nordica Patron Pros (measured weight of the Nordica Patron Pro, 26.5 / 306mm BSL: 2224 and 2215 grams with stock footbeds.)
Firm, Bumped Up Terrain and Variable Conditions
There is also no question that the X Pro 120’s are a softer-flexing boot than the 130-rated Redster Pro and Patron Pro, and I have found them to be more forgiving at speed in variable conditions and terrain.
Part of this has to do with the fact that the X Pro 120 is a more upright boot than either the Redster or Patron Pro. When we were down in New Zealand, Leith Kerr at Gnomes Alpine Sports in Darfield did a stance analysis for me, which revealed that I tend to weight the balls of my feet far more than my heels—by a distribution of about 80% to 20%.
Given this, a more upright boot tends to work well for me, while those who have a lot of range of motion in their ankle joints can better tolerate boots with more forward lean.
The flex of the boots is easy to access at the top—easier than the Patron Pro, and much easier than the Redster Pro—but I never feel that I’m blowing through the flex of the X Pro 120, or feel like the front of the boot is collapsing on me.
The X Pro 120 is not as laterally stiff as the Patron Pro or Redster Pro, and the energy transfer of the latter two boots is outstanding, giving them the clear advantage in terms of powerful, high-angle carving performance.
Still, when I’m not A/B/C-ing the three boots, I do not find the performance of the X Pro 120 to be lacking, it just isn’t mindblowing like the Patron and Redster. Going back to this summer in New Zealand and throughout this winter, I’ve driven plenty of big, stiff skis in these boots on groomers, in off-piste, variable conditions, and when heli skiing down very big, very fast lines.
And I hate to say it because I think the Redster Pro and Patron Pro are excellent boots, but I’m pretty much at the point where I personally would give the X Pro 120 the nod everywhere else on the mountain.