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.
Salomon’s Custom Shell program will have more offerings. The X-Max 120 proved the efficacy of the Custom Shell both in the technology and ski-ability. This boot does not change for the next season.
The X-Max series is 98mm and will now encompass a full line of ladies boots starting at the X-Max 90
The successors to the 100mm Impact men’s and Idol ladies boots are the X-Pro boots; the X-Pro 120, X-Pro 100 and X-Pro 90 L. The construction of the X-Pro is the same as it is for the X-Max series-the difference is in the last width and internal volume.
The X-Pro 120 and X-Pro 100 have much improved liners over the previous generation Impact liners. This provides improved fit, feel and durability.
Similarly to the X-Max 120, the X-Pro 120 on snow is powerful and very direct. And, like the X-Max 120, the X-Pro 120 is a pretty burly 120 flex.
The X-Pro 120, like its skinny sibling the X-Max 120, must be skied with confidence and authority. 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 boots are 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 really good-it’s easy to assess what’s happening underfoot.
The oversize hinge rivets, common to the X-series, are coupled to the denser shell plastic that forms the structure of the very lowest parts of the shell and the rear-foot cradle, and in theory (the rivets are merely one component contributing to the overall performance) augment the 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. 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” bearing.
The Quest 100 we will have only in the women’s boots. There is some work still to be done with the shell plastics for heavier skiers. The ladies Quest 100 L doesn’t distort as much as it does for heavier, more aggressive or demanding skiers.
The heel of the Quest 100 L is not as aggressive as it is in the X-series-reconciling the functions of an AT boot and an Alpine ski boot is difficult at best and this where the two will diverge-yet there is no lack of support for the rear-foot. The instep is roomy, forefoot width @ 100mm is sufficient-not excessive. The toe box is a bit narrow.
As was the case last season the backcountry skiing was short-lived so what skiing we did was in the man’s Quest and only for short jaunts in front country-3-5 hour out-and-backs.
Uphill was fine, the Quest is pretty light-not true AT light but not alpine heavy either. The walk/ski device is simple and easy to use…I’ve not worn mittens but in spring gloves no problem. The Biovent liners-proprietary to Salomon-allow some moisture management so they aren’t thoroughly saturated after climbing and so far durability has not been an issue.
The Quest 100 L skis pretty well. It is not super demanding but is predictable and lets the skier adapt to varying conditions and terrain.
With the introduction of the Custom Shell a couple seasons ago, Salomon was first to raise the bar in providing ski boots to specialty shops that didn’t necessarily eliminate the need for bootfitting but made the job of bootfitting easier and less time consuming.
For the 2012-2013 ski season the bar gets kicked up a couple more notches with the introduction of the X-Max 120. The X-Max 120 succeeds the Falcon/X3 and embodies the advancement of Salomon shell customization technology.
Previous Custom Shell (CS) models had panels on both the medial and lateral sides of the shells at the fore body of the boots that could be heated in a Salomon proprietary convection oven and molded to accommodate “6th toe”, bunions and whatever deformities there may be at the forefoot.
The X-Max 120 is a full Custom Shell-Salomon calls it the 360 Degree Custom Shell-but for the very lowest portion incorporating the soles. Like its predecessor, the X-Max comes out of the box @ 98mm and expands only. This is not a negative; it is common and more effective to create space for prominences than to fill in space between the feet and the shells.
The liners of the X-Max 120 are a major improvement. Better contouring and material substantially increase the comfort, longevity and feel of the boots. After some time skiing the X-Max 120 (I don’t count ski days…better than a dozen), the liner has held up well; the support and pressure distribution around the feet remains even.
The liner tongue over the instep has been an issue for several generations of Salomon…it is not so far.
Other innovations that may seem inconsequential but which have a definite role in the performance of the X-Max 120 are the oversized medial and lateral hinge rivets.
As was mentioned earlier, the lower part of the shell comprising the toe and heel lugs is not CS material. This lower shell plastic is hard and provides torsional rigidity. From the soles it wraps upward through the molded CS material diagonally from the rear of the lower around the heel. These oversized hinge rivets are fixed through this denser plastic. The net effect is that the lateral strength is tremendous both for tipping the skis up and for holding and/or modulating an edge.
The X-Max 120 is powerful; it likes to be skied with authority. The last is really good and the cuff wraps intimately to the lower leg. All this has upped the performance level considerably.
The stance is in keeping with contemporary ski shapes and geometry; neutral underfoot and the cuff starts out fairly upright and can be changed by how the skier stands in the boots for the molding process.
The boot I’ve had the pleasure to ski is rated at a 120 flex…it is a stout 120. Snow feel is excellent, feedback crisp and on the flip side subtle motions within the boot find a quick path to the skis.
The Instinct 90 CS L is the woman’s model and will remain unchanged for next season. This boot is taken from the 98mm Falcon last and has the CS panels on both the medial and lateral aspects of the forefoot.
This is a good woman’s boot; light weight, appropriate flex though on the stiff side of its given rating of 90, a good shape and a clean simple look.
The heel cup is well defined but not too aggressive, mid-foot is fairly plumb and the instep somewhere in the medium volume range.
The Instinct 90 CS L shells are basically two-piece and do not have replaceable toe and heel-wear and being slick on concrete at issue-but this augments ski engagement and edge control.
The rear spoiler has adjustment for the calf.
The Impact 100 CS and Idol 85 CS L are the workhorses of the Salomon line. Both are 100mm last and relatively high volume. Both are Custom Shell-the medial and lateral panels rather than full 360. The Impact and Idol go from 100mm to 106mm with the Custom Shell.
As high a volume as both boots are they still have good proximity to the mid- and rear-foot and close, secure heel fit.
Instep room is good though there is a consistent problem with the material (actually a lack thereof) inside the liner tongue that makes the instep seem low. It can be mitigated some by moving the 3D instep buckle back to the rear insertion so it pulls back instead of down. Otherwise there are ways to easily solve this problem.
The rear cuff and spoiler of the Impact 100 CS are fixed through a vertical spine at the back of the shells rather than the bolts behind the cuff hinges. Salomon calls it the Backbone. This makes for less shell distortion and more direct transmission to the skis.
The Idol 85 CS has no fixations for restricting flex-you get what you get…generally a flex of 85 is a good range for all but the strongest women.
Both the Impact and Idol have replaceable toe and heel and the Idol has the same adjustable spoiler as on the Instinct.
The Impact 100 CS skis really well. It’s nice having a wide lasted ski boot that not only fits this well but one that skis this well also. It has the right balance of exactitude and forgiveness. You can relax when prudent and ramp it up when needed.
The 100-flex designation is pretty true; the flex is fluid and predictable.
The shell plastic used for both the Impact and Idol is fairly light weight so moving edge-to-edge can be quick as needed and the feel for the surrounding environment is really good.
Holding an edge is the responsibility of the medial wall and mid-foot of the shells and the Impact 100 CS has the strength to accomplish that as well as to make changes in turn shape and length at will.
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