Fischer has increased their offerings in the Vacuum series. The Fischer Vacuum boots have been very successful and next season they will have Vacuum boots that start off with wider lasts and broader flex ranges.
Fischer also brings new molding technology they call “Comfort Fit” which customizes the shell at the rear-foot and heel. We will be able to use the Comfort Fit with the current Fischer Vacuum set up with compression socks specific to this.
Aside from Vacuum Fit, Fischer is unique because of the Soma Stance; wherein the feet are placed in a more “duck footed” position over the skis. The Soma stance is derived from the fact that in general we all stand with the feet pointed outward. This stance built into the Fischer ski boots enhances turn initiation and completion.
There have been other ski boots with abducted shells-in fact all boots have some degree of abduction to them as boot makers from long ago recognized that a huge majority of us bipeds walked this way.
The biggest difference between Fischers’ abducted setup and all others is that the boot is abducted from the tibial axis rather than from the rear of the heel. This places the big toe right over the inside edge of the ski and more importantly the heel is also much more directly over the inside edge as well. The feel is very intuitive.
The “Vacu-Plast” has some notable characteristics. The molding capability is most obvious but there are two byproducts of this plastic that make the Fischer Vacuum series more compelling; the first is that the material is considerably lighter than any other…just pick one up, it’s really apparent. The other is that the flex remains constant regardless of outside temperature. Most if not all ski boots become bricks in cold weather or high top Keds when it gets warm.
The RC4 130 Vacuum and 110 Vacuum and the Trinity 110 L start at 98 mm and can expand a full centimeter. Both can accommodate lower volume feet as well-the vacuum process squeezes the shells against the feet-we pad the bony prominences for the process so there are no undue pressure points.
As stated the Fischer abduction setup is very intuitive. They start turns early and one can exert subtle pressures to modulate the turn throughout. Edge hold is terrific and simply requires the skier to maintain a balanced position. Turn finish can be as powerful or as buttery as one likes.
The Ranger 12 and Hybrid 10 L start at a fairly generous 102 mm and the same applies for the amount they can be manipulated. Because of the nature of the Vac-Plast, the volume as well as the width changes with the process. These boots are softer than their flex ratings would have you believe-they are not “soft” but the Ranger 12 is supposed to be a 120 flex but skis much more like a 100-110. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just a comment.
Both these boots have a Walk/Ski lever at the rear of the boot and replaceable hiking style toe and heel.
The Zephyr 9 L is non-vacuum for now. It is higher volume similar to the Hybrid 10 Vacuum. As with a vast majority of current ski boots, high volume does not mean a bucket all over. The Zephyr 9 and Hybrid 10 both have really sound shell construction; the medial mid-foot and heel are proximal to the foot and the heel pocket is well defined. Obviously the Hybrid, being a Vacuum shell, has the full custom shell molding capability but because it starts as a relatively high volume boot, low volume feet are not likely to fine themselves in the Hybrid or Zephyr.
In 30+ years of fitting ski boots the Fischer Vacuum represents one of the few times that a product has been introduced that is truly a game changer.
I have lots of days since late January 2011 on a pair of Fischer RC4 Pro 130 Vacuum boots.
From the beginning they were a perfect fit. I have done only two things to the boot after it was molded; added 5mm lifters after planing the soles to the degree I like and after 10 days give-or-take of skiing I’ve replaced the stock liners with a Zip Fit Gara.
I’ve believed in Fischer ski boots since the introduction of the Ti 9000 “Frankenboot” which, despite being way over-engineered, really heavy and very difficult to get into and out of, performed well. Fischer shells have since become much more refined and the offering more comprehensive and they ski really well.
There is a significant difference between other boots that are ab-ducted. First-ski boots have been ab-ducted to a degree since they were hand lasted of leather. Boot makers, like shoe makers, have long understood that an overwhelming majority of bipedal creatures (us) walk ab-ducted.
From its inception SomaTec has been Fischers tag for their boot project; Soma means “the body as distinct from the mind” and defines Fischer’s attitude toward human physiology, biomechanics and the body’s interrelationship with skiing. Their product line reflects that.
Fischer has been developing the Vacuum boot since 2004. The original intent was to create shell plastics that wouldn’t respond to temperature changes, which by in large they’ve accomplished.
As a by-product Fischer found their proprietary Vacu-Plast shell material had great molding capacity and it can be accomplished quickly and at a reasonable cost.
In the interests of accuracy, Fischer does not use a true vacuum to form the shells…they use what amounts to an air cast, compression type set up. The fine folks at Fischer-Erik Anderson and Matt Berkowitz, at the behest of my buddy Silver Chesak, set me up in a pair at SIA in January of 2010.
The process is simple and not all that time consuming. The shells are heated to the appropriate temperature, the feet, footbeds and lace-up liners are put into the shells, the buckles fastened lightly and then the skier is placed on the Fischer Vacuum Station that has been pre-set to stance width and forward lean. A freezer pack is wrapped around the boots and then the “Vacuum” compression jacket gets wrapped over that.
Once on the stand, up to three bars (1 bar=14.5+ psi) of air pressure is pumped into the compression jacket squeezing the shell around the feet. The force of the compression is akin to foam injection but not as intense.
After a prescribed time the skier steps off the stand, the boots pulled off and allowed to set for 12 hours so the plastic can re-crystallize.
After the molding process I pulled my liners out and ran my hand around inside the shell to see what had been translated. I typically have to carve three spots in both shells of any boot I ski on. The Fischers had perfect mold impressions of those spots.
As stated, I’ve not done anything but replace the liners with Zip Fit Gara’s and installed 5mm lifters after planing the soles. From the start they fit like a second skin.
Fischer claims that there are few limitations to the volume of foot that can be molded this way. The last of the Vacuum 130, Vacuum 110 and Vacuum Trinity out of the box is 93mm and can be molded up to 103mm; the RC4 Vacuum Pro 150 and RC4 Vacuum Pro 130 starts out at a slim 91mm and can be molded to feet up to 99mm. If necessary the molding process can be done several times if necessary.
We’ve successfully put some pretty burly feet into the 93mm shells.
For the ‘12-’13 season there are more options in the Fischer Vacuum shells; higher volume, wider flex ranges and etc.
Fischer ski boots are very efficient, entering turns earlier than boots not so abducted, timing at both the top of the turn and at turn release are a bit different than that of more “conventional” boots and muscles fire differently. Any trepidation I’ve had in the recent past about putting anyone in Fischer boots because of the abduction has been assuaged by good sales, few complaints and fewer returns.
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