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.
Dalbello is making small improvements to their entire lineup…large ones are not needed!
Contour 4, a proprietary term for the anatomical shaping of their ski boot shells, applies throughout the product line-this “foot mapping” provides small contours in the shell molds for the base and head of the 5th metatarsal, navicular and inside ankle.
One significant and persistent problem is being addressed; entry and exit of the Strike, Scorpion’s new moniker, even for experienced skiers, can be challenging. Dalbello has done to the Scorpion/Strike shell what has been done to the Viper…a softer plastic at the throat and at the top of the instep allows easier opening.
The KR 2 (Krypton 2) is the updated and refined successor the original Krypton. Included in this series are the KR2 Pro, KR2 Rampage and the KR2 Chakra.
The KR 2 is reconfigured and re-lasted from the 1st generation Krypton yet still maintains the character and feel of the 3-piece Cabrio design. The last of the lower shell is dramatically different than its predecessor and is reminiscent of the Scorpion/Strike with the same Contour 4 foot mapping and on-snow power.
Compared to the gen 1 Krypton, the heel and mid-foot is narrower, instep volume is medium, forefoot width is in the snug low-to-medium volume and the toe box roomy with more up-and-down space than the original Krypton shells.
On snow the KR2 has heaps more power and precision than the gen 1 Krypton while maintaining the same Cabrio feel and fluid range of motion at the ankles. The shell around the feet is so much more precise that the subtlest motions within are crisply transmitted and feedback is very accurate.
The shaft of the boot is relatively high on the lower leg so there are some inhibitions on the use of the everter’s (a set of muscles at the outer part of the lower leg that contribute to foot steering). This is an issue only for those who like to use more eversion inside the boots.
The lateral stiffness of the KR 2 is terrific. Given the prevalence of wide-waisted skis, at least in the western states, this is important because of the leverage needed to initiate turns and hold an edge.
The Scorpion becomes the Strike for 2013-2014; the ladies will become the Truth. We will have the Strike in a 120 flex as opposed to the burly 130. This 120 flex rating opens up the saleable range for the Strike, the Scorpion 130 could well have been sold as a 150. The Truth still carries a 105 flex; in this boot it seems a more realistic rating.
With the Strike/Truth there is a subtle but significant change; similar to the Viper, Dalbello has put softer shell plastic from the instep buckle up the throat where the instep of the foot gets lacerated during entry and exit. Not a new concept to be sure but a welcome one in this series.
The predecessor to the Strike and Truth introduced the Contour 4, spots in the shell molds for the points of the foot discussed earlier; base and head of the 5th metatarsal, navicular and medial ankle.
Both the Strike and Truth have arguably the narrowest heel pockets of any boots. The medial wall is vertical with one of the relief points for the navicular; the lateral mid-foot is very close and has a relief for the base of the 5th metatarsal.
The forefoot is cozy (98mm); one of the Contour 4 relief sites eases a common pressure point at the head of the 5th. The toe box has plenty of wiggle room.
Dalbello utilizes an offset to their shells, they are not considered any more “abducted” than the norm; the shell is positioned more laterally in relation to the toe and heel sole lugs that hold the boots onto the skis. This places the feet more directly over the inside edges of the skis. The net effect is outright precision…no slacking off allowed.
Whatever terminology you choose, both the Strike and the Truth are remarkably efficient. The immediacy imparted by the medial wall instills confidence
In the 100mm category is the Viper Surge 120 and the ladies Mantis at an 85 flex.
These boots offer a good balance of fit and stance; the forefoot complements an anatomically shaped toe box, the instep height is medium volume. The mid-foot becomes more vertical and the heel pocket is well defined.
Calling it Contour 4, Dalbello has spent a lot of time mapping the feet. Is foot mapping something new? Yes and no; ski boot designers must have a complete understanding of the biomechanics of the lower extremity, the biophysics and dynamics of skiing. Going deeper, there are bootfitting problems that occur at all levels of the sport, with all levels of skier.
Dalbello has taken the knowledge of related biomechanics that has accrued over the millennia and combined it with the understanding of the problems that have plagued skiers since the first Laplander strapped long skinny wooden billets to their feet to go from place to place.
From this information they mapped out four points of the foot that present persistent problems and made accommodations within the shell molds. These problem areas are well known to bootfitters and although the mapping in the Dalbello shells may not correspond to the points on your feet (though with the thousands of feet that were measured they have it pretty darn close) at least someone is thinking about problems from our side of things (bootfitters) and putting that thinking into their product at the manufacturing side.
Concerning the trend toward abduction, Dalbello moves the whole foot to the lateral-or outside. Called Medial Power Transmission (MPT), functionally what this does is place the medial aspect of the feet directly over the inside edge of the ski. It is not abduction though in fact all ski boots have a certain degree built in. MPT is a deliberate utility of the medial pillar of the boot shell to efficiently transmit energy through the more supportive medial wall of the shell.
Because a vast majority of ski boots are built with much more vertical medial walls, the net effect of Medial Power Transmission is like that of a skate rail; immediate and very precise engagement and excellent capability for modulating turns.
The Scorpion SR 130, Scorpion SF 130, Scorpion SF 110, Scorpion SF 105 W and the Scorpion 90 are fine examples of Dalbellos commitment to creating product based on what is best for the athlete. All are at 98mm forefoot width, feature Contour 4 foot mapping and Medial Power Transmission.
Aside from all that, the Scorpion skis extremely well.
In the Scorpion series the SR stands for Scorpion Race, the SF for Scorpion Freeride. The difference is the SR boots have a one piece sole whereas the SF boots have replaceable toe and heel. The freeride boots have softer liners and anti-shock bootboards along with more contemporary cosmetic treatments.
The Scorpion is more medium volume than it looks from the exterior. The heel is one of the most defined and close fitting of any ski boot and is coupled to a commensurate mid-foot…back to that vertical medial wall…and there you’ll find a Contour 4 relief spot in the shell for the navicular.
The lateral aspect of the mid-foot is equally close and where you’ll see (perhaps feel is more accurate) the shell contouring for the base of the 5TH metatarsal. Instep volume is adequate and the throat of the shell accommodating the girth around the ankle joint from where it bends at the front to the back of the heel has good room.
The forefoot is surprisingly generous-the Contour 4 point for the head of the 5TH contributes to the feel. The toe box leaves good wiggle room and lets the great toe start the turn.
The rear spoiler is really solid, it is a bit abrupt until you get used to it…getting explosively ejected out of turns at first is disconcerting. Staying within the boots range and making more subtle moves (dorsi-flexing) internally at the finish of the turn accomplishes a lot.
Both the Scorpion SF 130 and SR 130 are real 130’s…stout 130’s. The SF 130 has a softer feel because of the softer liner and shock absorbing zeppa. The SR 130 comes with an additional bootboard that lowers the ramp angle-a different fore/aft balance that needs to be tried to find the right stance for a particular skier.
The Scorpion SF 110 is produced from the same molds as the SF 130 with softer shell material giving it a more of a congenial nature. As with the stiffer 130’s, the SF 110 is a fairly burly 110 flex.
The ladies Scorpion SF 105 W is for strong experienced women skiers. There is lots of precision throughout the Scorpion series making them pretty demanding. The Scorpion last is good for women…a generalization but one that applies…the typical model for women’s feet have reasonable forefoot width, high arch and instep and narrow heel. The Scorpion fits the bill.
We carry the Scorpion SR 90 as we have in the past. It is the junior race boot but the 90 flex and the Scorpion fit work really well for smaller, lighter women and it has all the attributes of the stiffer boots.
New at Footloose last season was the Viper Surge 120 and the Mantis 10. The Viper replaced the Proton and the Mantis replaces the Electra. Both the Viper and the Mantis fit into the 100mm category-probably the broadest segment of the market. The width of the Mantis is given at 99mm but the shells are from the same molds as the Viper.
The Viper is a good 120 flex, the Mantis flex is rated at 100 putting it at a higher performance level for women. The range of motion is clearly defined and has a nice progressive feel.
Both boots feature Contour 4 and have a similar mid- and rear-foot to the Scorpion…not exactly but still very close.
The 100mm forefoot width is ample, the instep room is really good and the toe box lets the toes spread flat.
Snow feel is excellent in both the Viper and Mantis, precision and control are not as exacting as would be in the Scorpion-a plus actually-however both are very substantial high performance ski boots.
Good fit, predictable skiing characteristics and replaceable toe and heel make the Viper and Mantis very good work boots for instructors and patrollers.
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