Skier: 5’10”, 155 lbs.
Skier Type (as described by BLISTER’s editor-in-chief): Idiotic; Doesn’t Turn; Lucky to be alive; Goes mach-looney either till he’s back at the lift or he’s blown up in spectacular fashion; A bit of of a living legend at Taos Ski Valley, which is saying something….
Foot: Size 10.5 street shoe, narrow width, medium instep, normal foot, low-volume lower calf
My regular ski boots: Lange RS 130, size 26.5, Last 97 mm
Conditions tested in: Powder, Crud, Hardpack, Spring Corn
Test Duration: 75 Days
I started skiing when I was two years old. After an eight-year experiment with snowboarding, I jumped into a set of Lange comp 120 boots with custom foot beds ten years ago, and never looked back. I’ve since gone through about 10-12 pairs of comp 120s, and now ski in the Lange RS 130.
I rarely thought about custom liners beyond a few conversations with boot fitters and friends, because I have always been very satisfied with the Lange’s performance. They are considered some of the best stock liners in the industry, and the boot gave me everything I needed when considering ski performance.
My boots were also fairly comfortable, though this was a distant second when it came to what I was looking for in a boot.
They were also cold, but I didn’t care; that was an even more distant third requirement.
Typically, I will pad my ankle bones for a little additional heel lock, but that is about as customized as I’ve gone. Although I have tried on many boots, I have found nothing that fits as well right out of the box. (I do have a fairly skinny but otherwise normal foot with very few abnormalities in bone structure) Therefore, I haven’t skied anything else since I was about 11 years old, 4’10”, and 105 lbs.
My attention turned to other liners at the beginning of this season after I decided to downsize my shell to a 26.5. I started out in a 26.5 ten years ago but lost toenails every season, so for the last five or six years I have been riding a 27.5. My right foot is fine in a 26.5, measuring 27.5 on the slider, however my left foot measures a 28 and was the problematic one in a 26.5 shell.
So I decided to try grinding almost a half centimeter out of a 26.5 shell to make it closer to a 27.0. This resulted in a month of pain and a lot of time at The Boot Doctors, which was well worth it for the performance gain, but also led to the discussion of other liners.
I have always been hesitant to try another liner, as I was concerned about a performance loss. But my thoughts changed about a month later with the first run on my ZipFits. Everything was improved, from fit to performance and comfort.
Run one on these liners was one of the more memorable runs of my year, simply because of this liner. I won’t forget it. I sit here in August and still remember the first four turns into Pollux at Taos that day. The conditions were hard pack bumps, but it was not the snow conditions that made this memorable. I can’t completely explain what happened, but it was the quickest and most in control (to those of you who know me, that alone is one helluva testament) I had ever skied the top portion of Pollux, and that sensation and feeling didn’t end until I exited onto the groomer at the bottom with a smile on my face.
So what happened? The performance of the boot was obviously much improved over the Lange stock liner, but why?
The big reason is that there was absolutely zero movement in the heel pocket, shin, or forefoot. The connectivity to and control of the ski that this gave me was outstanding. Through the rest of the season, I rarely even buckled my lower two buckles, this was how well these liners fit and performed.
A lot of this had to do with the materials and the fit process…