What About the Weight?
One big difference between ZipFit and other custom moldable liners, however, is weight. These are comparable to many stock liners:
• Stock Lange RS 130 26.5 liners with no footbeds: 498 grams
• ZipFit World Cup 26.5 no footbed, laces, or strap: 548 grams
However, other custom liners tend to shed off 100 grams from a stock liner here or there to reduce the weight of the boot. ZipFit doesn’t do this, and for one very big reason: performance.
Sven Coomer, the founder and owner of ZipFit, believes that if you reduce the weight and possibly lose hold and/or performance, you could actually be increasing how heavy a boot/ski combo feels.
My initial reaction to this was, Huh? But if you think of it like this, it may make sense: If you have movement in the boot between your foot and liner or liner and shell, the boot and ski are going to shift with relation to your foot, and you will therefore feel an impact load in addition to the actual weight of the setup. This is what ZipFit is referring to as the “heavy feeling.”
By adding a few grams and ensuring a perfect fit and no movement, the people at ZipFit are in theory actually reducing the feel of how heavy the setup is. And this matches my experience: I can feel it while skiing, and I understand why Coomer and ZipFit are not willing to budge on the performance of the material for the weight reduction. You may notice the weight while riding a slow fixed grip or touring 40 miles a day, but I’ve found the upgrade in performance to be well worth the extra weight on the lift.
I also felt that these liners stiffened my boots up slightly. I had no problems with this in terms of lateral stiffness, and liked this increase. However, given that I’m only 5’ 10” and 155 lbs. in an RS 130, I was already pushing my limits of strength to flex the boot fore-aft.
To counter this additional stiffness, I removed the two rear screws of my Langes that connect the upper and lower cuff. This brought the fore-aft stiffness back to normal. I should say that I was also using two booster straps (one for the liner, one for the shell), so there was some increased stiffness in addition to that of the ZipFit.
The laces and straps that come with the ZipFit World Cup are considered optional, should be used during the fit, but can then be discarded.
I ditched both immediately, as I didn’t see a huge use for either. And as I noted, I used an additional booster strap in place of the stock ZipFit strap. This booster strap connected to the inside of the rear cuff of the boot shell and wrapped inside the upper cuff of the boot shell in the front, around the liner. The tightness and responsiveness of this modification was also a great improvement.
Comfort / Warmth
The toe box is also very comfortable and warm. The liner has a 180-degree wrapped elastic neoprene toe box that is lined with shearling wool on the inside. This wool feels like what they use in slippers; it’s amazing, and it’s so comfortable, it doesn’t seem like it belongs in a ski boot.
The combination of the thickness and compressibility of this neoprene is definitely less than the stock Lange liner, and the ZipFits completely fixed the forefoot width issues I had with the stock liners. But there is also a gain in warmth due to the layering of the neoprene and the shearling wool and the circulation ability. It’s the best of both worlds. From top to bottom, these liners are more comfortable and warmer than my stock liners.
It’s worth noting that ZipFit makes four or five different models for different applications. These liners are designed for low- and high-volume boots, for fits with downsizing along with having options such as neoprene or leather liner. (The ZipFit website is currently undergoing a major overall, and updated technical information will be available shortly, but currently there is still a lot of great information on the World Cup and other models.)
All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the ZipFits. They set out to make the ultimate performance liner, and it is clear they have cut no corners in their attempt to accomplish this. Sven feels that they are pretty much there, which is why the design has changed very little in five years.
If you’re looking to improve the performance, comfort, and warmth of your stock liner, go buy some ZipFits. And if they seem expensive, keep in mind that they will probably last you for years. You’ll likely replace your shells several times before you replace your ZipFits.