The Future of Lange & the New XT3 Ski Boot (Ep.83)



TOPICS & TIMES:

  • What is “dual core” technology? (4:30)
  • Elasticity & ski boot weight (9:27)
  • Which boots are the hardest to develop? (13:53)
  • Heat moldable shells (15:53)
  • Elasticity / “Suspension” (17:30)
  • Lange XT (1st Gen.) (18:45)
  • Lange XT Freetour (2nd Gen.) (19:50)
  • Lange XT3 (New 3rd Gen.) (22:43)
  • What’s next for Lange? (34:13)
  • 3D printed boots? (38:50)
We talk to Lange’s Global Brand Director, Thor Verdonk, about Lange’s use of “dual core” technology; why “ski boots should be alive”; the brand-new, 3rd generation, Lange “XT3”; heat-moldable shells; 3d printed boots; the future of Lange; and more.
Lange Global Brand Director, Thor Verdonk, goes on Blister's GEAR:30 podcast to discuss his background designing ski boots, the new Lange XT3 boot; and much more
Lange XT3 130 LV
Lange Global Brand Director, Thor Verdonk, goes on Blister's GEAR:30 podcast to discuss his background designing ski boots, the new Lange XT3 boot; and much more
Lange XT3 Boot (photo by Colin Wiseman)

30 comments on “The Future of Lange & the New XT3 Ski Boot (Ep.83)”

  1. I know Tor and respect his knowledge but his assessment of Grilamid as being similar to polyolefin (or polypropylene) is way off. Grilamid is highly reactive, durable, light weight, and is the least effected by temperature of all materials currently used in ski boots. It is the pinnacle of materials. Grilamid’s reactivity is probably why Tor is down on it (and defensive about the light weight) because it is probably too reactive for an overlap construction (all Lange boots). Overlap boots get their rebound and shock absorption from the shell distorting in a controlled manner. Therefore, having a Grilamid shell that is tasked to provide the rebound and damping can result in a nervous boot. PU or PE is probably better for overlap boots. No doubt. However, a 3-Piece Cabrio design derives its rebound and shock absorption mechanically via the polyamide tongue and lower shell “wings”. So, Grilamid actually works extremely well. AND you get to have an extremely light and responsive boot. Read the Blister review on the ROXA R3 130 TI. You’ll never look back

    • Grilamid is one of the least durable plastics, especially when looking at the lugs when used in a traditional alpine binding (and kingpins). Atomic, Lange, and Tecnica have all abandoned it for this reason. Look at the lugs of these boots when used with a non-pin binding, they are completely torn up.

      • I work for a ski boot company. We have thousands of alpine boots with shells made of 100% Grilamid out there in the world and have no problems with durability. I am aware of one of the brands you mention that had durability issues and it has been my understanding that it was a mold issue NOT Grilamid that caused their breakage. I am also of the understanding that these brands were using a blended material. Not 100% Grilamid. Tor’s explanation of why Lange moved away from GM makes perfect sense to me. Overlap boots require a more elastic material because that is where the boot’s life comes from. Cabrio boots are designed differently and therefore do not require that the shell have controlled distortion to achieve rebound. As I said, I have a great deal of respect for Tor and am not here to argue about his Lange story. My point is that I have heard two Blister Podcasts where product managers have said Grilamid does not work for ski boots. THAT is categorically false. It just didn’t work for THEIR ski boots… I just want to set the record straight.

        • OK, let’s start by being honest about what we’re talking about. Grilamid is simply a trademarked brand name for a blend (of 4 chain lengths IIRC) of nylon-12 polymers.

          I’ve designed with Nylon-12, and as with all materials it has strengths and weaknesses. It’s been around for a while, it isn’t magical, and it certainly isn’t “the pinnacle of materials” (and IMO anyone who would make that last claim brings their own knowledge into question. There isn’t a single “pinnacle” material any more than there’s a single ideal ski or boot).

          One thing that is very true is that Nylon has very good temperature stability. Another is that it has good long-term wear characteristics, which is why we use it quite a lot in gears.

          Thor didn’t say they’d “given up” on Grilamid, he simply said (at 10:30 or so) that lightweight designs and materials aren’t without compromise relative to traditional PU overlap shells. The XT Free (2nd gen) clog is definitely Grilamid (the cuff isn’t), and I’m pretty sure that he said that the XT3 is Grilamid as well. The other thing he said was that they’d discovered that you have to design boots specifically for Grilamid as it requires thinner walls and other optimizations, and that limits your ability to share a design/mold across multiple market segments (13:30). As an engineer I might fault him for wasting time on an obvious point, but he’s not wrong.

          w.r.t. “mold issues causing breakage”, Nylon is pretty difficult to mold due to gassing, moisture, etc. In this case the existence of such issues and of limitations on part geometry to avoid them is likely a direct consequence of the material choice. Like I said, it has strengths and weaknesses.

          Finally, cabrio boots bring their own compromises. One notable problem is that the clog can bulge around the ankles when deeply flexed. Anti-bulge inserts as in the ROXA are one way of combatting that, but they tend to come at the cost of stiffer initial flex (and Cy Whitling noted exactly that in the review you cite). The cuff stops in the Hoji are another, with tradeoffs of their own. Nothing is perfect in every respect.

          Kudos on the high cuff and included Intuition wrap liner in the ROXA by the way. Nice boots!

  2. Did Thor mention the weight of the new XT3?? The conversation was a little disjointed on the spec’s of the new boot. He did talk about a 1700 gram versus a 1900 gram boot. Not sure if that projects to the XT3 or not. Basically it sounds like it might be a little heavier than the XT2 boot due to the plastic, and Thor might have been reluctant to say that. Still, for a 50/50 boot (Thor didn’t want to “embrace” the Blister “customer use” classifications) that walks really well and skis down really well, is weight all that critical as long as its significantly lighter than an alpine boot. If you want to go on long tours, this is not your boot. The new boot in development will be.

    I bought an Atomic Hawk XTD 130 which tours really well and for me can do long tours (which I don’t actually do much off). I ski a Lange RS as an Alpine boot. I use the XTD as a 50/50 boot a fair amount. I really like the XTD in general. The more I ski the XTD inbounds, the more I am noticing how much better the Lange skis versus the XTD. I think a lot of it is the liner, and I plan to try the Lange liner in the XTD boot to see how that skis. I am considering an aftermarket liner for inbounds days. My point being I can understand where Thor is coming from on the new Lange XT3 and it sounds like it will make a great “side country” boot. I would put myself in that category if I am being realistic.

    • Just weighed our pair (size 26.5). Here are the weights:

      – liners: 368 & 368 g
      – Shells: 1410 & 1407 g
      – Insoles: 19 & 19 g
      – Shells + Liners (no insoles): 1778 & 1775 g

    • That’s a wonderful boot to tour in but I dislike how it skis. I blame the liner. Intuition aftermarket should help a lot, and is actually lighter than the stock foam.

  3. Thank you for great podcast. I am slightly confused with different material naming nomenclature. Can someone please help explaining what dalbello irfran is? They used it in my ax 120. My feet chose them but I use aftermarket liner:sidas crt-awesone!Additionally there are no reviews of their latest air boot! I was tempted to buy but will wait for v.2.0

    • IRFRAN is a new(ish) polypropylene. Historically polypropylene has been used mostly in lower end and junior boots because it is less expensive than PU. The only “performance” argument is that PP is lighter than PU. Otherwise it gets very stiff in the cold and is susceptible to abrasion damage. I can’t explain why companies would use PP in their higher end boots but there are a few companies that have allowed it to migrate upward into their collections. Cost cutting is probably the most likely reason. That all being said, IRFRAN is an improved polypropylene so hopefully you will get the performance you expect from your new boots.

      • I can’t comment on the AX120 as I’ve never used it.

        Some crossover overlap boots (notably the Lange XT second-gen) use polyolefin in the cuff, probably to safe some weight. By its very nature the cuff isn’t as critically sensitive to either cold-stiffening or abrasion as the clog (provided that abrasion in the hinge is appropriately managed), so as an engineer I think that the specific application makes some sense.

        I do think that it’s a little bit unseemly for an industry insider to be “throwing shade” at competitors as you seem to be doing in a few places in this thread. Speaking only for myself, when somebody feels the need to do that it makes me question the quality of *their* product

  4. I don’t suppose they will take XT3 to 30.5?

    Lange and my feet get on well but XT 1 & 2 are for normal sized folks.

    Jonathan, I like your idea of dedicated inbound and touring gear, but the appeal of a walk mode and travel weight limits make this sort of boot very appealing for mainly inbound with the odd hike and a walk to the car park or hanging with the kids on the magic carpet and getting runs in when grandad or wife are looking after them.

  5. @MATT TITUS, thank you! it is true, it was mentioned that GM was not the best to to make boots in general.
    Atomic not using GM? Very curious to find out about different plastics used in ski boots production.

    • We have the “LV” version which has a stated last width of 97 mm, and there will also be a “MV” version available with a stated last width of 100 mm (same as the XT Free models).

    • There’s a wide range of requirements and preference when it comes to forward lean, and thankfully there are products to match.

      Matt was right that elite racers generally set up their boots with lean angles close to the limits of their dorsiflexion. There are however two other things that are equally true: First, very few people can ski that way all day, day in and day out. Second, most people aren’t ripping trenches in injected ice on FIS racing skis, and can get away with a more relaxed stance and “centered” skiing style.

      Thor was being interviewed about the XT3, and I understood him as arguing that boots like the XT3 are most often used by people in that second group, and that the boot is optimized accordingly. Lange’s race boots are as steep as others, so Thor and co clearly understand Matt’s perspective as well. Similarly, Atomic’s AT boots are more upright than the Redster, so both brands clearly recognize the differing requirements here.

      FWIW I have the XT Free 2nd gen and I use a spoiler in that boot. When I first used them without (on Fischer 107 Tis, which are admittedly unforgiving of backseat skiing) I felt like I was fighting for the center.

      • As I should have acknowledged there are a wide range of opinions on lean even within AT.

        On a related note: When Hoji finally got to do “his” boot (the Hoji Free – he’s stated that the original Hoji was constrained to be more uphill-oriented) he promptly tweaked the shaft angle and added a riveted-in spoiler, taking the lean all the way from 11 to 17 deg. It’s not just racers that like to be in a steeper boot.

  6. To say that Grilamid is a “good” or “bad” material for boots is skirting a central issue – it’s pretty much an essential component of a sub-1400 gram boot that skis reasonably well, even if Lange isn’t currently interested in this category.

    It’s untrue that Atomic and Tecnica have abandoned Grilamid, it’s still used in boots where a primary goal is light weight, i.e. Backland and XTD models for Atomic and Zero G models for Tecnica. For “crossover” and alpine models which realistically will spend much of their life in alpine bindings, they’ve gone to PU and PE. I don’t think many people who’ve skied both types of plastic for any length of time will argue that Grilamid is any match for PU/PE in terms of progressive flex and smoothness, but they certainly are lighter.

    As for durability, it’s not accurate to lump all Grilamid compounds together – if you look at EMS Grivory’s catalog, they have many Grilamid options available, not counting custom compounds. Some of them hold up very well in alpine bindings, some don’t.

    Kudos to Thor for bucking the “authenticity” trend and arguing for Langes that don’t leak.

  7. Comparing 200g of boot weight to 2-3 AAs in your pocket is flat out wrong. Google puts an alkaline AA at 23 g, so that’s more like 9 batteries x 2 boots = 18 batteries…that you have to move every time you take a step. That being said, I agree with Tor’s position on PU / PE over Grilamid. Grilamid is hingey and rigid. I’m stoked to check out this boot.

    Worth noting that they disclosed plans to produce a fully rockered touring boot closer to 1.4 kg. That will be something to look for.

  8. Sounds like you guys are already testing. What’s yoru target for a review. Are you testing the 130 or the 140 or both? Currently rocking the old white xt130 and very very intrigued.

  9. Will the women’s XT3 110 LV boot have the same liner as the men’s XT3 130 LV? The current years XT women’s 110 LV boot has a terrible liner and not the same as the men’s XT 130 LV. Meaning there is really no heel pocket / hold. Just soft foam around the ankles which pack out quickly.

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