ZipFit GARA Liner

ZipFit GARA, Blister Gear ReviewZipFit GARA Liner

Skier: 6’2”, 205 lbs., athletic, technically proficient, fast and fluid skier.

Foot: Size 10.5/11 street shoe (278mm actual length); C+ width (105mm width, weighted); high instep; low-volume heel, ankle, and lower calf.

Size of Liner tested: 27.5

Weight of liner: 610 g (stock Lange liner 555 g)

My regular ski boots: 27.5 Lange RX LV; 26.5 Tecnica Cochise Pro Light

Duration of test: ~35 days.

MSRP: $409

Initial Setup

I have been skiing the ZipFit GARA liners just about every inbounds day this season, and on a couple of touring missions as well.

I selected the GARA liner because it is the lowest-volume liner that ZipFit builds. My initial intention was to review the liner in my pair of Head Raptor RD 95mm plug boots, which are very low volume, to say the least.

Unfortunately, a bone spur has really started to act up, which will now require surgery over the off-season. I cannot punch any more space in the Raptor to relieve the pain, and thus have gone to the far more relaxed-fitting Lange RX LV boot.

This switch into the much higher-volume boot has meant that, off the shelf, I am in the wrong liner. The GARA liner is lower volume than I need in the Lange RX LVs, most notably in the ankle pocket and tongue—an issue I easily addressed and explain below. If I had it to do all over and knew I would be skiing the Lange RXs, I would likely have selected the ZipFit World Cup (20% more OMFit padding) or Grand Prix (30% more OMFit padding) liner.

OMFit Liner Padding

The “OneMinuteFit,” or “OMFit,” padding is basically a suspension of cork in some soft viscous gunk. This is, for lack of a better description, a more fluid version of a Birkenstock Sandal. OMFit material can be warmed up to slightly above room temperature (say, 85 degrees Fahrenheit) at which point the material becomes easy to flow and readily contours to your foot and shell. Once the OMFit cork cools to room temperature or below, the padding firms and retains its shape.

To fit the liner, you need to get it warm (about 30 seconds in the microwave) and wear your boots (walk around your house for a while). Then just warm up the liner with the floorboard heater of your vehicle on the way to the mountain, and the liners break in and mold very effectively. I would say about 15 hours of ski time was all my pair took to fully break in.

The OMFit padding provides a nice blend of firmness for high-performance responsiveness, but offers enough cushioning to keep your feet from getting bruised. I have nothing but compliments to extend in this regard.

One of the most ingenious things about the ZipFit liners is that you can easily add and remove the OMFit padding to customize the liner’s volume to whatever boot you might next be in. So in my case, I shot a couple sticks of OMFit into my liners around the ankles and tongue to take up a bit more volume, and bang—good to go in the higher-volume boot.

Lace-Up Liners

The ZipFit liner is built around the traditional “inner boot” concept, meaning the liner is designed to be put on first, laced tight, and then inserted into the shell.

ZipFit GARA, Blister Gear Review
ZipFit GARA Liner

All true “plug” race boots still spec a “lace-up” liner, but modern consumer-level boots have gone away from the lace-up liner with a consolation of convenience and easier off-the-shelf fitting, but with performance, sadly, being the cost.

I find the “lace-up” method to be much more effective and easy to get into low-volume ski boots than the more traditional “slide your foot into the liner that’s already inside the shell” program. This applies equally to all lace-up liners I have used in the past (Head Raptor leather lace-ups, Intuition Pro-Tour & Dreamliner, Nordica Dobermann, etc.).

The ZipFit liner itself does not require using it as an inner-boot—you can easily remove the laces, slide the ZipFit into your boot, and go ski it like a normal liner—but there is performance and comfort to be gained from the inner-boot concept, so I would suggest to at least try it as such prior to abandoning the idea.

I did, however, elect to remove the stock laces and the included lace slide-lock mechanism from the GARA in favor of more traditional laces from an old pair of hiking boots. I found the slide-lock put some additional pressure on my shin, so I went ahead and removed it. The stock laces didn’t tie and hold quite as well as normal laces since they are coated and a little more slippery, so I just swapped them out.

Once the liner is laced tight, it functions somewhat like an ankle brace in that the liner pulls even support across your ankle and lower leg, and serves to support the joint. This means you are more inclined to buckle the boot only tight enough to pull closure around the liner, rather than to the point of pulling compression and locking your ankle into place.

Having the liner laced up tight also adds a small level of stiffness to the boot. I would estimate that the ZipFit liner adds about 10 points of stiffness compared to a stock plastic reinforced liner (such as the stock Lange liner), and about 20 points of stiffness compared to an Intuition tongue-style liner that is only foam. By closing the liner with the laces, you are removing free-play in the system, and it shows on-slope: you will see more snap and response out of your skis.


29 comments on “ZipFit GARA Liner”

  1. Thanks for the awesome review! Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been skiing in Zips since 2003, and probably put upwards of 750 days on my first pair. I recently went down a shell size (time to go race fit and lose a few toenails, just for good measure), and just put a pair of the Gara in my Lange RS130 (BSL 296 mm). I couldn’t be happier. They’re incredibly comfortable right out of the box, and given my experience with my first pair of Zips, they’ll only get better over time. So, in short, I confirm your appraisal on performance, comfort, and durability. Given all of these factors, I firmly consider Zips to be a better investment than Intuitions.

  2. Great review Marshal. I’ve just received my first pair of Zipfits and was wondering if you could help me locate the bladder opening to inject more omfit? I have found the one at the top of the tongue and can access that but I really need to take up more volume around the heel. I’ve found two openings either side of the tongue at the base of the shin/top of the ankle but all that seems to be there are two black tabs of fabric similar to those at the top of the tongue but it’s almost as if they are stuck together. There doesn’t seem to be any access to where the compound should be. Should I try and separate the fabric? I guess I’m missing something really simple but I don’t want to risk doing any damage. Many thanks, Ben.

    • hey ben!

      those tabs on the sides of the ankles at the laces are indeed the buddies you need to add more cork. I had to use a razor blade to open the pockets, as they were kinda stuck together.

      hope that helps?

  3. Perfect, thanks!
    Getting them open is the tricky bit, I too had to resort to a blade!

    Cork injected, shells in the oven now. Thanks again!

  4. “And the neoprene toe box itself is lower profile that any other liner I have used […]” Marshal, I did not find this to be the case. Is there any molding required here? I tried on a pair of zipfits at my local shop with my <5mm shell fit alpine boots. The Intuition HD Race liners I have in there felt far superior in terms of volume. The liners have only been skied maybe 5 days, so they're not even fully packed out yet.

    I found a pair of zipfits for cheap, but if they don't work, they don't work. Curious if there's anything I'm missing before passing on a great deal. I've never heard of anyone else complaining that the neoprene toebox is too high volume…

  5. Marshall,
    I am interested to hear more about the differences between the Gara and World Cup and what you would recommend for a 98mm last Nordica (Patron Pro) for someone looking to take up volume in the heel?

    Quick background. I am the same size and weight as you and would similary describe my skiing. My feet are also a similar shape (high instep, wider foot than you, similar skinny ankle) and I am about a size smaller (10 sneaker and most shoes, 9.5 formal dress shoe). My left foot is also a cm shorter. I have skied 26 shells most of my skiing career, tried a 25 and even after a former WC boot fitter was done and the boot board was paper thin with no more shell material left to grind and punch the fit, especially the right foot, was still intolerable. However, the heel hold was amazing. In an effort to get something close to that kind of hold in a 26 shell I recently picked up a Nordica Foam lace up liner. That may be the ticket but I honestly haven’t even gotten to ski them yet. My search has been so long and frustrating that I am always thinking about what my next move will be, and the ZipFit might be next if the Dobie foam fails me. Should I try the World Cup if the Dobie foam liner still doesn’t give me the heel hold I want? My thought is that the liner design and size in general may take up more space then the lace up Dobermann? One thing I do want to be cautious of if I go the ZipFit route eventually is to maximize heel hold without buying a liner that is too bulky up front and on top because my widish foot and high instep don’t leave me much room for that.

    Thanks for your great review and I look forward to your reply.

  6. Marshal – now that you are in SLC – any recommendations on a place in SLC for Zipfits? I couldnt get a WC line in my patron pro’s but bet the Gara would work with maybe some extra cork in the tongue.

    • hey rik-

      i would suggest brent amsbury (park city ski boot) or taylor et al (superior boot @ snowbird) for your zip fitting needs.
      that said, you can remove some cork junk from the WC liners if you want less liner volume in your existing liners.

  7. Hey Marshall, I have a pair of pre wool in the toe box zip fits. They can be a little cold at times, do you know if they can be retro fitted with wool.

    • hey mike, i know its wool bonded to the neoprene. no idea the process or how successful if you DIY, but perhaps an email to sven at zipfit could help. great guy, great guy.

  8. Marshal and Joe –

    I’m currently in the Lange 130 XT LV and have used them pretty happily for a couple of seasons now. I’ve got a long (I run size 29.5 in these), narrow, flat foot and of all the boots I’ve ever owned, these have worked the best. However, in these boots (as with all others that have preceded them), I have to do up my second and third buckles really tight to feel properly locked in while skiing (so much so that I regularly have to undo them when I get to the lift to allow circulation back into my feet and have had riveted buckles rip out of or break on previous boots) and am wondering if a Zip Fit liner might improve this?

    I’m messaging both of you because I think my Lange XTs have the same liner as Joe’s Lange RSs but the store in Calgary that sells these only carries the Gara liner reviewed by Marshal.

    Please let me know if you think these might help or if you have any other suggestions for improving performance from my boots.

    Thank you!


    • Hey ANDREW, the GARA, World Cup and Grand Prix are all essentially the same liner, just with more and more cork material. You can of course add cork to any zipfit as well. So, a GARA is fine, but it will be too low volume off the rack for a lange boot. If the fitter is willing to add more cork for no charge you will be in great shape. I would recommend the Grand Prix to start with as the base line. It’s super easy to add or remove cork to fine tune fit, so don’t sweat the details, but the refill cart for more cork is sort of expensive, so IMO, it’s best to start with a little more cork than a minimal amount, again unless the dealer will shoot the GARA with more as needed.

      Rad liners though. Can’t imagine skiing inbounds in anything else…

      • Thanks for responding so quickly, Marshal. I will look into the cork fill situation here and through the zipfit website. Am I reading correctly that you think zipfits could be a solution to the issue I described, as long as I can get my hands on sufficient cork fill (makes sense, just checking)? Please let me know.

        Thank you,


        • any liner that is too thin in the ankle requires over tightened 2nd and 3rd buckles. zipfit is a great solution for that, as the material does not really pack out as much as break in… and unlike other liners, you can always shoot more cork in if you need/want, so you replace the liner once the liner is worn to the point of tearing or falling apart, not just once the padding has broken down.

            • Hi Marshal / Blister Folk – Happy New Year! Looking for some more help with my boot situation: my B-width, non-arch having / flat and 29.5 length feet are not locked down when my Lange XT 130 LVs are fully done-up (even with custom orthotics). This is quite annoying, especially when I’m looking to be precise or skiing fast. I’ve now determined that there’s nowhere convenient to buy ZipFits here in Calgary, unfortunately (the only place that sells them – in Canada – is out of my size / probably isn’t getting more this year and doesn’t have the cork injection kit in any event). I can probably order a pair online but I’m concerned that I won’t be able to customize the cork volume as needed and that this might not be a solution (would be a waste of money / time in that case). I am now debating going the plug race boot route (i.e. starting with a really low volume shell and punching as needed) instead. There aren’t a lot of places to buy race boots here, especially not off the shelf, but at least if I go this route, I can get whatever shop I buy them from to work on them until they fit (and I would be adding volume to the boot vs. taking it away in this scenario, which I hear is the preferable way to go). I’m wondering if anyone (especially the ex-racers) has thoughts on this approach?

              The Lange / Rossi ZBs look like a good option but interested in views on this topic as well.

              Any help would be much appreciated (as always)!

              Thank you,


              • In general, your approach is correct: it’s (generally) easier to make a small boot larger than a large boot smaller. The problem with Lange boots is that the heel volume doesn’t change much as the last decreases in width. The forefoot changes substantially, but the heel stays the same. So I’d recommend a plug boot with a narrow heel (i.e., not a Lange!). There are plenty of options, even some off-the-shelf/non-plug options can be much lower volume than the Lange XT LV, like the Head Raptor 130 or the Dalbello Scorpion 130.

  9. So after hunting all over the place for a month to find race boots, I realized a couple of things: 1) some companies don’t even make them in my size and 2) when they do, they’re generally not stocked anywhere and therefore are only available via custom, prepaid order; sure there are other low volume (97mm lasted) boots that are easier to come by than race (~92mm lasted) boots, but I actually found the fit of those boots to be less suited to my foot than my Lange XT 130 LVs. All of this pushed me back towards tracking down a pair of Zipfit liners which, long story short, I did (a pair of Garas with leather lining through the forefoot). I’ve had some time in them now and yeah, wow, they’re awesome – feels like I have full control, all the time (very confidence inspiring). Very comfortable too. Great recommendation, as always, Blister!

  10. Hi all,

    Thought Id provide feedback on my recently purchased Zipfit Garas.
    I have skied three years in my Full Tilt Level 1 boots, unfortunately only 20 days a year due to living 3000 km from nearest ski field. Instead of skiing in Australia, I head to Japan chasing deep powder snow each year, not to mention enjoying the amazing Japanese hospitality!
    Each year in my Full Tilts, I lost both big toe nails, due to although shells fitting correctly, my big toes are longer than any others on my feet.
    I avoided jumping or anything that would put pressure on my bruised toes, taking a lot of fun out of skiing… I love BC and side country and this was becoming difficult due to foot pain, especially big toes.
    Eventually after a heel lift, toe punch, my intuition liners became a fraction more comfortable, yet still very painful when wearing boots, especially if performance snug.

    Then the greatest thing ever happened… a boot fitter put me into a pair Zipfit Garas! All I can say is my skiing completely changed! I had firm fitting performance feeling boots that were so comfortable, I could wear them to the bar at the end of the day.
    Beforehand I was begging myself to take them off by lunchtime.
    I can not describe just how much these have personally improved my skiing performance!
    I started skiing faster, more in control, jumping with more confidence (no toe bang on landing), attacking trickier side country slopes, hiking back country (short 45 min walks only thus far, but felt great).
    The only thing that they need now, is a little more filling in a couple of spots, after a few days use.
    My toes and feet are very happy indeed.
    Thank you Sven!

    Just a quick question to other Svenfit/ Zipfit users, are you using the same size Zipfits (marked on side of Zipfit liners), as your internal ski boot shell measures?


    • Hi bob,

      Best bet is a bootfitter who stocks zipfit.

      I just bought a super old pair of zips at a ski swap for $50, cut all the cork out, and shoot it in with a tube and dowel from Home Depot.


      • Good idea Marshall!

        Strange that Sven posts videos of how to inject the cork at home, but doesn’t sell the Spotfit kit online. I bet they could sell a bunch if they upgraded their website. Great liners though.

  11. This thread looks a little old, but I noticed that someone said they cannot be purchased in Calgary. Just thought I would let anyone know who might wonder, you can get ZipFit liners at Lou’s Performance Skiing Centre.

    • That was me – I tracked them down at Lou’s and, as much as it’s possible for ski boots to do this, they changed my life! I’ve had exactly zero bad ski days since. Thanks Blister! Thanks Lou!


  12. How does the Gara work where a boot/liner combination (Lange RS130) is a little tight over the instep? Is the Gara sole or instep material a little thinner than the stock liner, or just the areas with OMFit material?

  13. I am very interested in the ZipFit Tour liner. How well does it actually tour and is the downhill performance (heel hold) affected by the softer point in the cuff?

    Do you guys have any experience with it (or plan on reviewing it)?

  14. Hey good comments and info on Zipfit liners. I have two pairs of World Cup liners. They are great! I would to be able spot fit some additional cork. Has anyone found a place to purchase the Omni fit kits online?

  15. Hi.
    After 18 years of patroling in Strolz liners and many failed attempts on foaming new injection liners (several pairs if Strolz, Sida’s and Surefoot liners) The last one with both foam canisters blown open in the process, and severe issue with foam displacement I have now given up the quick way and are well into the more time consuming process of “skiing in” a pair of Sidewinders. However I need more compound.
    Where do I find the best deal?

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