The Salomon Custom Shell lineup now has a well-proven track record. The expansion last season of Custom Shell into the 100 mm X-Pro series has validated the worth of the technology and this addition complements their 98 mm siblings.
All the Salomon ski boots you’ll find at Footloose are Custom Shell.
The 98 mm X-Max is essentially unchanged. We’ll have the X-Max 120 and 100 in the men’s boot and the X-Max 90 L.
The X-Max is a complete boot: fit and performance at equal measure. The basic simplicity of the X-Max belies the technology, the simplicity harkens back to the minimalism of race boots-bells and whistles do not a boot make!
Out-of-the-box fit is as good as any boot. Volume is middling, the forefoot (@ 98mm in the 26.5) is snug; toe box has good radius and up’n’down room, instep falls into the medium volume range, the medial mid-foot is plumb and heel well shaped. This is all subject to adaptation via the Custom Shell, which works as advertised.
The process is simple and not very time consuming-15 minutes of cooking, 15 minutes on the feet and they can be skied shortly thereafter.
For fit areas of concern like the “sixth” toe, navicular, instep, ankles etc., it is common practice to pad them so there is extra relief once the customization is done. Salomon shells expand only-they do not “shrink”-the molding is quite effective.
The X-Max 120 is stronger than the 120 flex rating implies, it could easily be 5-10 points higher. The same applies for the X-Max 100. Though a stout 120, the flex is progressive and has a well-defined fore/aft range. The stance is in keeping with the necessities of current ski shapes, widths and profiles, fairly flat ramp (4 degrees) and upright cuff. Laterally the X-Max 120 is a powerhouse and can be handled equally with finesse and power. Changes in trajectory and altering turn radius and shape requires only a deft touch.
Feel is sharp, sensing the underfoot environment and the feedback from the skis makes for enhanced proprioception and proactive involvement.
The X-Max 100 exhibits the same character as the 120 but has a more playful demeanor. It has terrific edge-to-edge and a supple ankle.
The ladies X-Max 90 have the same temperament as the stiffer men’s boots-ski it with confidence. The X-Max 90 L has an adjustable rear spoiler that can accommodate lower calf muscles and commensurate scalloping of the liners.
Similarly to the X-Max 120, the X-Pro 120 on snow is powerful and very direct. Again, like the X-Max 120, the X-Pro 120 is a pretty stout 120 flex.
The X-Pro 120, like its narrower counterpart, likes to be skied confidently. The X-Pro 100 and X-Max 100 have a more forgiving nature but the softer ankle flex in no way detracts from the high performance level.
The X-Pro is positive and quick edge-to-edge when conditions demand shorter turns and is completely reliable and predictable when the time comes to open it up a bit. Snow feel is excellent- what’s happening underfoot is easy to assess.
The oversize X-series hinge rivets coupled to the denser shell plastic that forms the structure of the rear-foot cradle and the very lowest parts of the shell substantially augment lateral stiffness.
The last of the X-Pro shells is where the true performance lies-like any good ski boot-the mid-foot is plumb with a relief for the navicular and the heel pocket is deep and well defined. The cuff wraps well around the lower leg. The cuff is fairly upright but can be altered to a small degree by molding the Custom Shell with the skier standing straighter or more forward as the skier likes. The X-Max 90 L and X-Pro 90 L have a lower and adjustable rear spoiler for the athletic calf.
The stance is in keeping with the requirements of current ski shapes, geometry and widths; minimal ramp angle and no varus underfoot help maintain an athletic, “stacked” weight bearing.