Eric Freson (5’10”, 170 lbs / 178 cm, 77 kg): It’s been a great winter so far… for testing boots like the K130p. Which is a kind way to say I have been spending more time on piste than I might otherwise choose to. But, testing totally new gear is always interesting and exciting. You have no idea what to expect, and it’s been great to get up to speed with the Kastle K130P LV.
[Editor’s Note: Eric wrote this on January 11th, before the storm that dropped 40”+ of snow. Maybe we need to have him test more products like the K130P…]
Let’s hit on fit, first. As always, go to someone who knows what they are doing to figure out the type of boot that best fits your foot. My foot would generally be described as fairly low-volume, small ankle and average heel, high instep, and average forefoot. Generally, I get along pretty well right out of the box with most boots. And it’s been pretty close in this instance.
Some initial impressions about the K130P LV fit. The lower, as evidenced by the stated 97 mm last, is indeed a low-volume fit. Wide feet need not apply here (at least without notable bootwork). If this was my personal boot, I would spend a bit of time in the liner-molding process to make a bit more room in the 6th toe area of my forefoot, as I’m currently right on the borderline of being uncomfortable. I have had plenty of support for my arch from the stock insoles, and the forefoot area of the boot is snug without collapsing my arch. Ankle movement can be a struggle for me in some boots, but it feels secure with minimal movement here, with the actual heel bone itself again bordering on needing more room. The throat of the boot feels very tight, so ankle lift is almost non-existent.
The biggest area of this boot’s fit I have struggled with a bit so far has been too much room in the boot’s upper cuff. The lower shell is easily classified as low volume, but the cuff has enough room to make me feel self-conscious about the size of my calves. And normally I feel pretty confident about the size of my calves. Joking aside, the K130P LV does not have what I would describe as an LV cuff, and I have found myself maxing out my top two buckles straight from the get-go. I’ll end up drilling out the secondary holes and moving the buckles, and that will likely resolve the issue, but my point here is that there seems to be a disconnect between the general fit type of the upper cuff and the lower shell of this boot. What that means for you totally depends on the shape of your legs from the knee down and ankle up. We’ll have more to say there once we test it with the cuff’s buckles moved outward.
The liner of the K130P LV is impressive. Their “K_Fit” technology really just means that your bootfitter is probably going to like you a bit more, since there are strategic areas of Velcro on the liner to make it easy to add pads when adjusting fit. The liners have laces (win in my book), there are aggressive spoilers included (win), and the boot’s dense, quality-feeling liner makes for a precise and performance feel once my foot is in the boot. It’s a relatively thin liner, which translates to great energy transmission and allows for great on-snow feel. The tradeoff I’ve noticed is that these boots are on the colder side of the spectrum, generally speaking.
So far, I have found the flex pattern of the K130P LV to be relatively easy to engage off the top, with a fairly progressive ramp-up about halfway into the forward flex of the boot. This has meant that, on snow, I haven’t found myself wishing for more sensitivity or responsiveness when traveling at slower speeds, since the boots are (relatively) easy to flex into initially. The flipside to this is that, once the pitch steepens or speed increases on piste, there is a supportive ramp-up and it remains very supportive as the speeds, loads, and forces increase.
When reaching the end of the boots’ forward travel, it hasn’t felt like the boot is “hitting a wall,” which has been appreciated on a few mistimed mogul transfers. But the real test will come once the T bars open [Editor’s Note: they just did!], and the violent compressions and hard impacts begin in earnest. I don’t yet have enough days to say, but I will be paying attention to the flex pattern relative to varying temps, since it has so far seemed like the boot flex has been perceptibly different when testing on the warmest vs coldest days of the year. Buy too soon to say for sure.
The L130P LV’s downhill performance has been impressive so far. Its power strap is- powerful, and I have found the boot’s accessible initial flex, slow rebound, damp ride quality, and generally muted feel on snow to make for a very enjoyable boot on piste. I talked a bit about it above, but the difference between the upper and lower of the K130P LV is noticeable. The K_Blend lower’s plastic feels powerful, damp, and very stiff. It feels like a race boot. It transfers energy like a race boot. The upper TPU cuff feels like what you know and expect in regard to feel from a performance “all-mountain” or “generalist” ski boot. The difference between the two has been noticeable not because the upper is bad, but because the lower feels (comparatively) that different in its characteristics and quality.
When it comes to alpine boots, I tend to prioritize on-snow feel, quick but controlled rebound, and a more progressive flex. The K130P LV has felt like an amalgamation of those traits. Its lower is a damp powerhouse with little in the way of feel or flex but its power / energy transfer is excellent. Meanwhile, its upper offers the faster rebound and progressive flex I enjoy in a boot that I will be using off piste.
The biggest hurdle with the K130P LV so far has been getting them on, and off. I have never thought about using a boot horn before, but I ordered one from Amazon the other day, with this boot in mind. As mentioned above, the K_Blend lower shell of this boot is dense, strong, and thick. Its lower also has a very tight throat. My ankles have good flexion and I’m not opposed to using my upper body to get my foot into a boot, but this boot is very hard to put on. Great heel retention once you get it on my foot … but I am honestly not sure if I could get this boot on my foot if the plastic were cold, or my sock was wet. It’s an honest challenge.
Last but not least, I really like the color. It nearly matches my jacket!
We’re aiming to have Jonathan test this boot once he gets the all-clear from his doctor, so stay tuned for updates.