Family owned and run, Dalbello has been around for longer than most know. They made ski boots for a number of manufacturers but once they started promoting their own brand, Dalbello carved a pretty nice niche for themselves. Being family owned has the benefit of being more agile when a running change has to be made and Dalbello is very responsive to market shifts.
Dalbello created some buzz several years ago with the introduction of the Scorpion-a 2 piece, 4 buckle, very high performance race type boot. The Scorpion remains after enduring an identity crisis as the Strike.
With the Krypton, Dalbello has refined the “Cabrio”-a three-piece shell similar to the Raichle Flexon for those who remember-bringing high performance and contemporary functionality to a shell design that has shown resilience. The original Krypton, a favorite of Glenn Plake (a former Flexon guy also) who had a major role in the design, has become the more sophisticated Krypton KR2 with a lower hinge point, refined last and Contour 4.
Also significant is that the Cabrio shells are constructed with very stiff material so that shell distortion is minimal. The open throat, external shell tongue, medial and lateral flanges extending from the envelope around the feet up to just short of the upper cuff, all play a role in making the Krypton smooth, powerful, versatile and stable.
Another feature unique to the Krypton is the three-buckle setup: one at the top, one over the instep and one at the ankle joint.
The middle of the three buckles at the ankles-given the tag “Dynalink”-is one of the most important facets of the Cabrio design. It pulls back against the anterior of the ankles at a 45-degree angle. It is all too easy to over use this buckle because it is very effective at drawing the heels back into the pocket.
The Dynalink buckle is fixed to the lower shell, not the upper cuff. Fixed to the lower through a slot in the outer, upper cuff, the Dynalink buckle allows the tension to remain constant when flexing.
Dalbello has been studious about their shell designs, the outcome being what they term “Contour 4”. Contour 4 foot mapping uses data from multiple measurements of multiple feet to situate certain traditionally problematic areas for the feet in the shell. The ankles, navicular and 1st and 5th metatarsals have pre-formed spaces in all of their shell molds.
Dalbello, in collaboration with Intuition, have developed the “ID” (Intuition Dalbello) liner bringing the quality, performance and longevity up to a very high level. There are two different styles of ID liner; the spiral wrap that Intuition first came out with and a “conventional” style with a tongue. It depends on the boot as to which liner style is used. In the cabrio the spiral wrap is typical and in the 4-buckle the more common type with a tongue. Both work well and there is no difference in quality.
The ID liners are lightweight, warm and can be molded several times. You’ll see the ID liners mostly in the Cabrio shells. For those that ski perhaps 30 days or better a season, the only issue with this type of liner has been durability however this has become less problematic as they’ve developed. For those who do not ski that much the attributes of the ID liners are a boon and longevity less of a concern.
KR Rampage 110
A classic, all-mountain/freeride ski boot in the tradition of many notable big mountain skiers.
The Krypton KR Rampage has a unique range of motion that has a voracious appetite for terrain. The 3-piece Cabrio concept allows for a free ranging ankle flex without sacrificing any lateral stiffness. This freedom through the range has a unique feel-different than any traditional two-piece, four buckle boot. For those not used to having the range of motion the Krypton offers, it is predictable and can easily be modified.
The shaft of the upper cuff is quite tall. This contributes to the feeling of freedom at the ankles because the skier has a mechanical advantage over the boots…taller cuff-better leverage.
One of the attributes of the Krypton series in general is the ease with which it can be modified functionally. The Kryptons come out of the box with a set of flex limiters that can be installed quickly into the rear of the shell lower in two positions depending on how much limitation is wanted.
Limiting the flex range is not the same as stiffening a boot. Stiffening boots increases the resistance between the rear spoiler and front of the cuff. Limiting the range allows the freedom of flex but stops it at a specific point. An important distinction.
Not only is changing the functional aspects of Krypton shells simple, they also are really easy to work on. The shells come apart with 4 screws so reaching into hard-to-access spots is straightforward.
The entire Krypton series are designed with supple ankles and unless one has spent time in similar ski boots it is easy to be taken aback the first couple of runs. As has been mentioned, the shaft of the KR Rampage is higher than just about any other boot on the market and this contributes to the suppleness of the ankle flex…again by virtue of having a mechanical advantage.
In addition to the height, the proximity of the shaft to the lower leg makes it ideal for those with long legs, skinny legs or both.
An interesting byproduct of the cuff height of the KR 2-even going back to the Raichle Flexon and first gen Krypton-is that it inhibits true foot steering.
This occurs (and this is not a negative, it’s just a difference) because the shaft of the boot is tall enough as it encircles the calf and lower leg to inhibit the functions of the Peroneus Longus and Brevis-the primary muscles that evert the feet (rotate the bottoms of the feet outward). The Krypton needs to be skied with the leg long.
The fit of the KR 2 Krypton has been refined from the first gen. The last width for the Krypton series is given as 98mm, which is accurate enough. The heel is narrow and the mid-foot close. The instep is borderline medium/low and the toe box radius is adequate…a vague term indicating that someone with a paddle for a foot very likely will not be happy in a Krypton…wiggle room up-and-down is good.
The KR Rampage is popular for all-mountain skiers because the range of ankle flex provides adaptability-a crucial trait, as anyone that skis primarily off piste must continually adjust to varying terrain and snow conditions.
It is a fact that a huge segment of skiers are riding skis that are considerably wider than anything most would have thought possible no more than a few years ago. This requires tremendous lateral stiffness from the ski boots. The KR Rampage meets those terms admirably.
Lupo ID 130
The Lupo is a Krypton 2 with a walk/ski device. It has the same fit as the Rampage and the ID liner but the Lupo comes in at a 130 flex. A 130 rating may seem stiff for an all-mountain ski boot with a walk/ski mode but it still has the customary open flex the series is known for. Naturally there is more resistance yet the essential character is unchanged.
The Lupo’s 3-piece Cabrio shell design is ideal for the addition of a walk/ski device without compromising on-snow performance. The open throat at both the front and rear of the shell lower allows this as well as reducing shell distortion when in operational flex.
The ID liner is also ideal for this application as they are typically lightweight and warm.
To reinforce something we stated last season-and this applies to all ski boots in this category-the Lupo is an alpine ski boot with a walk/ski device. They are not Alpine Touring boots…period. For short duration front-country/side-country, off-piste interludes from the resort, fine. For multi-day excursions in the backcountry, the close fit necessary for alpine skiing, the weight and bulk of this style of boot is ill suited.
On piste the Lupo is a very solid and predictable performer. The 130 flex requires authority. There are no flex limiters provided for the Lupo but Dalbello provides a second set of shell tongues-probably the softer ones, which take mere minutes to swap out.
Notice that there have been no references to Mafiosi carrying shotguns or salivating, savage quadrupeds.
The Panterra is a heavy ski boot and one of the walk/ski genre that can easily satisfy the needs of really strong skiers…a powerful beast.
Weight alone makes the Panterra strictly a front country/side country boot. It has an ID liner but this does little to diminish the heft.
An interesting idea incorporated into the Panterra is the VVF…“Variable Volume Fit”. The VVF adjusts the forefoot width from 102 mm to 100 mm by adjusting the buckle over the forefoot. As it is tightened it wraps the shell around the forefoot reducing the width and volume. Once adjusted it can be left as is. It works well. Despite the appearance of this fourth buckle, the Panterra is a cabrio shell.
The adjustable forefoot width is really the fundamental difference between the Panterra and the Krypton; the mid-foot and heel are perhaps not as intimate but nevertheless the fit doesn’t stray far from its sylph-like sibling.
On snow the weight matters little so the Panterra exhibits the same efficiency you will find in the KR’s. In fact the sturdy construction lends a damp, muted feel to the boot.
Lateral stability is terrific; there are a couple layers of pretty stout plastic buttressing the medial shaft of the boots. There is plenty of power here, finesse also. The Panterra maintains the ankle fluidity typical of the cabrio shells-the 120 flex does provide some resistance yet there is the languid fore/aft feel one expects from this style of ski boot.
There is a flex adjustment screw on the rear cuff of the Panterra; it’s either one way or another…no incremental points in between. With the flex fully limited the 120 becomes quite a bit firmer…130-ish…and the range very confined.
Kryzma and Chakra
The Kryzma and Chakra are part of the KR 2 line for women. We are excited about these two boots because, O.M.-effin’-G, they go down to a real 21.5! Hallelujah! I hope other ski boot makers follow suit.
It’s not only size that makes these two boots a welcome addition in the women’s collection, the fit is really good also.
The Kryzma we stock primarily as a pro boot because, at a 115 flex, the Kryzma is demanding. For strong, technically proficient women the Kryzma has a great balance of fit and function. That’s not to say it is to be sold only to pro skiers-there are plenty of strong lady skiers with small feet that have had to compromise by being in boots too big. Anyone in this category will have access to the Kryzma.
There is good women’s fit with both the Kryzma and Chakra-the shells are from the same molds; the flex, liners, power straps and possibly the buckle materials are the only differences. The heel cup is well contoured and deep; the medial wall is plumb, instep height is adequate-like the Rampage a high arch and instep should look further, and the toe box has good wiggle room. All of the cabrio style boots- any Dalbello ski boot really-has Contour 4, accommodating the anklebones, naviculars and the base and head of the 5th metatarsals.
The flex rating of 95 adds versatility and a more playful demeanor to the Chakra. The liner is a bit plusher out-of-the-box but otherwise the Chakra has Krypton lineage.
The 2-piece, 4-buckle Viper 120 has become one of the ranks of truly high performance 100 mm ski boots that has helped shape the category.
The Viper has a good anatomical shape to the forefoot; ample toe radius and sufficient wiggle room, 1st to 5th metatarsal width is snug-smooth, even pressure throughout. The instep height is a bit lower than some of the others in this group-call it medium volume.
What distinguishes the Viper (similar to many boots in this class, as we’ve commented on) are mid-foot and heel proximity.
This is really important from a couple different perspectives; from the skier’s point of view, this proximity focuses their input directly through the boots to the skis.
To reinforce a prior statement, with the prevalence of wider skis on the mountain, the responsibility on the ski boots to provide the means to accomplish this is terrific. Mechanical efficiency is key; the Viper is well up to the task.
From the perspective of bootfitting, the immediacy of the mid-foot and heel ensures the stability and support needed for controlling the skis without the plethora of ills that would exist otherwise. Plus, if there are fit issues to address, the rear-mid-foot closeness provides enough stability to assure that, once addressed, accommodations made for bony prominences will not be nullified by the mobility that would be induced by more commodious contouring.
The Viper 120 furnishes a good fitting “platform” off-the-shelf.
The Viper has poise, versatility and more-than-sufficient power. The range of motion (henceforth referred to as ROM) is fluid and well defined. The Viper will handle all conditions and any terrain with aplomb. It knows no speed limit-long or medium high-speed turns need minimal input and holding an edge once set requires nothing more than standing balanced in the boot. Yet at slow speeds, shorter turns the Viper’s dexterity is noteworthy.
The Truth is taken directly from the Scorpion (last seasons Strike) mold. You won’t see the Scorpion on our shelves this season-you will see the lady’s Truth 105.
The heel cup and the mid-foot contours of the ladies Truth 105 rival that of the Atomic Redster…very intimate.
From mid-foot forward there is sufficient instep height-not high volume but fairly generous. The 98mm forefoot width transitions into a relatively (in ski boots everything is relative) spacious toe box.
There is power in the Truth (how many things are parading through your fertile mind at this statement?). This with a balanced stance and incisive touch crisply transmit energy and feedback. The 105 flex seems accurate enough…flex ratings are a story for another time…and it feels progressive with a firm, confined ROM that gives a little push-back at full flex. The Truth needs an adept skier at the controls.