The ZipFit GARA and World Cup liners share a padded leather upper on top of a rigid plastic cuff. The Grand Prix and Classic liners forego the leather upper cuff and simply expose the rigid plastic. The leather upper provides better contact and feel between the liner to the shell while skiing. This is a subtle but real difference. Other than the price being slightly higher ($15 or so) on the leather versions, I cannot think of why one might not want the leather upper.
All ZipFit liners feature a neoprene toe box that is backed internally with wool shearling. This toe box stretches to your foot’s shape and allows your toes and feet to splay into their natural position. There is no structure to impede your foot’s natural shape, like conventional liners do, and this could be felt on-snow as added balance, power, and control over the skis. The toe b0x construction also removes any stitch lines that are typical in conventional liners and often create pressure points on toes and feet. And the neoprene toe box itself is lower profile that any other liner I have used, which is certainly nice, since there is no gain in performance when compression is added in front of the ball of your foot.
The low-profile and natural splay also mean the toe box is very warm because blood circulation isn’t impeded. The neoprene breathes and wicks well, so on very warm days my toes did not wet-out like they tend to on more traditional and Intuition-style liners. Frankly, I think all liners from this day forward should have the same toe-box construction, because it’s just better. At least in my opinion, the neoprene toe box concept is functional perfection.
AT Boots and Touring
I have tried the ZipFit liners in my Tecnica Cochise boots as well, skiing them inbounds as well as in the backcountry. The ZipFit added a notable amount of performance to the Cochise inbounds by boosting stiffness, responsiveness, and connection to the shell, compared to the Intuition liner I typically use in the Cochise.
However, the ZipFit liner was never built or intended to walk around in with a ROM cuff, so the liner does not bend at the ankle. When I take a stride, the liner levers my foot deeper into the toe box. Not particularly comfortable, but not horrendous. If I was in a more spacious shell (say 1.5cm+ shell fit), this would not be an issue, but in my downsized Cochise 26.5 boots (0.75mm shell fit), this is not really an option for more than short 45-minute yo-yo laps.
The ZipFit liner is 340 grams heavier than the same sized Intuition Pro Tour liners (270 g). Not bad, really, given the performance gain. I intend to continue skiing the ZipFit liners when I need to use my Cochise boots inbounds, and stick with the Pro Tour liners when earning my turns.
I have skied the ZipFit liners for 35 days so far this season, so it is too early to make any meaningful comments about long-term durability. The only “negative” I have seen is some minor wear on the heel of both boots, where the seam of the sole has pulled slightly away from the body of the boot, as pictured. This is a super minor gripe; I just trimmed the excess material and sealed it with Seam-Grip. No big deal 25 days later.
I can say that I have seen plenty of folks put an absolutely absurd numbers of days on their ZipFit liners. My good friend Taylor is a boot fitter at Superior Ski at the base of Snowbird and has claimed 1,200 days on his pair (10 years, 120+ days per season). He just shoots some new OMFit cork in occasionally. I also know that Sven Coomer, the brains behind the ZipFit operation, shows his personal pair of ZipFits at each SIA, and his current tally is at ~750 days.
As a comparison, my history with stock alpine liners is that they are packed to the point of ankle slop at about 25-30 days, and that with an Intuition liner I typically get about 100 days before the liner has broken down to the point of being sloppy in the ankle and heel. Do the math here, and ZipFits begin to look like a remarkable value.
The ZipFit liners are a unique piece of ski gear. They are built for a rare blend of durability, performance, and comfort that I have not experienced with any other liner. The neoprene toe box truly sets the standard for fit and performance, and the OMFit cork material easily and readily customizes to your foot and liner—and will continue to do so if and when you switch shells.
When it comes to liners, I had grown accustomed to accepting a brutal compromise: performance or comfort, choose one.
So far, the ZipFit GARA has managed to provide both.