K2’s sortie into ski boots last season and met with good success. With the introduction of the Spyne for men and Spyre for women, K2 created space on a lot of boot walls. K2 ski boots are conceived, designed and built from the ground up strictly as all-mountain ski boots...they have no aspirations to get into race boots.
What makes an all mountain boot an all mountain boot one might ask. Good question.
All mountain ski boots have different requirements than race boots. Race boots are built for a fairly narrow set of circumstances: racecourses are smooth, manicured and usually on very hard snow. There is terrain to be sure but snow conditions typically remain a constant to keep the playing field level (contradiction? Could be). Race boots are dedicated to that purpose so they must have tightly focused parameters.
The requirements of all mountain skiing are quite different. One never knows to a certainty what snow conditions will be, what the topography will be over the next knoll or drop and what demands will be placed on the skier. Adaptability, versatility and a small, predictable degree of compliance are desirable characteristics along with the level of performance needed to navigate the skis through whatever uncertainty lies ahead. Ultra-precise ski boots can be detrimental for all mountain skiing.
That being said, until recently a huge majority of all mountain skiers who insist on a high performance level are skiing in race boots-many with some alterations for a wee bit of compliance. There are a number of reasons; the plastics used for race boot shells transmits the skiers energy very cleanly…this may seem a contradiction as it would infer “ultra precision” but not so. A certain amount of precision is needed for steering and control and with the glut of wide skis so many skiers favor, lateral stability is premium.
There also is the necessity for a skier to occasionally make quick moves, which, again, puts the onus on the boots to transfer input to the skis. Race boots excel at this.
Race boots are very predictable. Predictability is an asset because one must know that when a certain move is made the response is a given…regardless of terrain, snow conditions, etc.
Race boots give the skier very sharp, crisp feedback.
Given all the above, aren’t these qualities desirable in an all mountain ski boot?
The short answer is “yes”. The flip side of terrific response, however, is being bucked around because there is little or no “rebound dampening”.
“Rebound dampening”, a term borrowed from mountain biking (other sports as well), is important because race boots force the skier into a very restricted ROM at the ankles. The net effect of this is that when a boot is flexed into a turn it can be considered compressed. Once the turn is finished the energy stored comes back to the skier, i.e. rebounds.
In race boots, because of the restricted ROM and narrow design parameters, this means the skier must absorb variations in snow conditions, terrain and topography with the knees, hips, waist, torso etc., which, in instances where the terrain is not consistent and manicured, can cause the skier to look like the fan-activated-flailing-tube-guys you see at big outdoor sales.
The long answer is that, even if desirable, why wouldn’t a skier want an all-mountain ski boot that was designed as such from the ground up as long as there is no drop-off in performance?
K2 ski boots perform as advertised; there is no trade off in performance, the fit is good and the features that make them good all mountain ski boots are, like a lot of good ideas, simple and effective. They are as quick and agile as any ski boot at this level; they display good power and excellent lateral stability. There is ample horsepower balanced with just a bit of forgiveness.
First among the features of the Spyne and Spyre that distinguish K2 ski boots from others is the Energy Interlock that fixes the cuff to the lower shell. K2’s contention is that a riveted cuff vectors the forces induced by the boots’ flexing into a very confined area of the lower shell. This is what helps to create the immediacy and exactitude of typical race boots.
The Energy Interlock is a clever, simple piece of engineering that fixes the cuff to the lower (a necessity) in a way that provides high performance and because the design distributes the stresses of flexing through a greater area allowing a smooth consistent flex.
It works also because of the Powerfuse SpYne…K2’s proprietary tag for the “Y” shaped apparatus at the rear spoiler. This enhances fore/aft predictability and lateral stoutness and permits the use of somewhat softer materials throughout the rest of the shell in an attempt to make the boots easier to get into and out of.
The Energy Interlock is the connection between the upper and lower Powerfuse SpYne instead of rivets or bolts.
Given all that, K2 boots fit and ski well. The Spyne 110 and Spyre 100-the former a men’s the latter a women’s-have good stance and close fit.
The Spyne and Spyre shells have relief for usual anatomical points; ankles, navicular and 5th met. The toe box is snug but not pinched and there is good up-and-down wiggle room. Instep is in the average volume range and the heel/mid-foot is close.
K2 liners were developed in conjunction with Intuition and should be heat treated before use-they can be skied in but heating them makes the first couple days much more bearable. The liners are not the spiral wrap style but rather a conventional design with a fairly rigid upper cuff so the proximity around the lower leg remains firm.
New for K2 this season is the Pinnacle 130-essentially a Spyne/Spyre with a walk/ski mode and Tech fittings (Dynafit toe/heel) actually molded into the toe and heel lugs. The walk/ski device is incorporated into the Powerfuse SpYne so that it does not inhibit downhill skiing.
The fit and stance is similar to that of the SpYne and SpYre…think Lange LV. The Pinnacle liner is essentially the same Intuition as you’ll find in the SpYne/SpYre but for touring notches at certain flex points to allow for articulation in walk mode. The same relief points for the feets anatomy as are found in the SpYne/SpYre are also in the Pinnacle…ankles, navicular, etc.
The top strap/buckle, the Powerbuckle, is a burly power strap with a wide traditional style buckle that can be firmly secured for skiing and opened up for standing or walking without the need to readjust when snapped back down. The Powerbuckle can also be disengaged when entering or exiting the boots without loosing the correct buckle tension at the top of the boots.
I’ve skied the Pinnacle 130 on some very hard snow and on a variety of ski widths and am impressed with how well they ski…tip’em and rip’em! No weak spots anywhere-as accurate, nimble and powerful as need be.
Good shoe! Good Shoes!
Pinnacle 130 LV
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.
A revamped Hawx 2.0 will show new graphics for the upcoming ski season and some new customization features, otherwise, except for some slight changes internally they are basically the same as last seasons.
Part of the cosmetic changes are the “shark gills” on both sides of the forefoot of the shell that, in conjunction with the soles, permitted the forefoot to flex slightly. In the past these were actual open slots molded into the hard shell plastic then filled with a softer, more elastic material.
The Hawx 2.0 has the contours of the “gills” but they are more an optical treatment and have no role in forefoot flexion-still a Hawx feature but now “solely” a function of the boots soles.
The original reason for making soles flex was that it was easier to control the shorter lever of the foot than it was to control the longer lever of the body atop the skis. Atomic puts this feature in all their boots. At the elite level letting the skis flex with little or no inhibitions kept them in contact with the snow and made them faster. Anyone who watches World Cup racing has seen the dominance of Atomic race products. Results count.
The rear-foot of the Hawx 2.0 has become a bit more intimate by incorporating a slightly modified Redster heel pocket/rear-foot into the shells.
From the heel and ankle joint forward the Hawx is fairly roomy-Atomic calls them “medium fit”. This is where the metric measurements are just a small part of the overall story. The forefoot width is given at 100mm (remember it’s in the 26.5 size…bigger sizes will be wider) but the whole of the internal dimensions can accommodate a pretty beefy foot.
Atomic has upheld good anatomical shapes in all their ski boots yet initially the Hawx is a touch narrow in the toe box. However…
The Hawx 2.0 shells are now fully customizable. Termed Memoryfit, the same heating/shaping/cooling method is used as with Salomon. “Memolink” is the proprietary name for the plastic used in the Atomic heat-molded shells. Moldable from the cuff to the toe box, the process can increase the forefoot width up to an additional 6mm and accommodate other bony prominences (navicular, ankles) up to 10mm.
The Thinsulate thermo-moldable liners are new also, complementing the customization of the shells. The liners, without heat molding, feel more evenly contoured than the prior models. Once everything has been through the molding process the Hawx 2.0 provides uniform support.
The ladies Hawx 2.0 features the same technology as the men’s boots with a lowered rear spoiler and supplemental rear-foot padding in the liners.
On snow the Hawx 2.0 is a highly capable boot in all snow conditions and all-mountain skiing. There is plenty of performance in its’ genealogy, enough to satisfy the expectations of demanding skiers. The Hawx 2.0 is one amongst the wide lasted ski boots that set the paradigm for what was once mutually exclusive; wide ski boot-high performance.
Hawx 2.0 response is lively and snow feel is crisp. Underfoot feel is accurate, the thin zeppa is right on the soles of the boots. The flex of the soles, though perhaps not a compelling sales element, has the net effect of making the feel very intuitive and adds a smooth silky feel to skiing.
The Hawx balances dexterity and power with confidence at any speed or turn radius.
Footloose carries the Hawx 2.0 120, the Hawx 2.0 100 and the women’s Hawx 2.0 90 W. The numbers after the model name signify flex; i.e. Hawx 2.0 100=100 flex, Hawx 2.0 90=90 flex.
The Redster Pro series are no longer the “red”-ily identifiable red they have been (the 95mm Redster World Cup series remains red). Despite color changes they are the same powerful, exacting ski shuh one should come to expect from Atomic.
Besides color changes there are minimal differences elsewhere-the main one being that the Redster Pro shells are now Memoryfit, which allows a certain amount of shell customization without “conventional” methods...that which we do in the boot shop. We still have the option of the usual fitting methods as needed-so’s you know.
The Redster Pro has arguably the narrowest heel cup of any ski boot. Coupled to the straight-up medial wall and compact mid-foot, the Redster Pro is a precision tool…tip ‘em and rip ‘em!
The instep is medium volume-a nebulous phrase simply meaning for a prominent instep there are better boots. The 97mm forefoot is cozy yet shaped at just the right spot for the 1st metatarsal and “6th toe”. The radius of the toe box is surprising-they can rest next to one another not crushed together though vertical wiggle room is limited.
The ankle flex of the Redster-at any of the flex options-seems softer than stated at first but the range of motion is well defined. The perceived lack of resistance between the rear and front spoilers imparts suppleness at the ankles helping absorb vibration and terrain variations without upsetting balance by pushing back too forcefully. Rest assured-the Redster rocks. The suppleness does not detract in any way from the performance of the boots.
As we’ve discussed a multitude of times, shaped skis do not need the forces we had to use to engage longer, straighter skis that had nowhere near the sidecut of contemporary skis. What is needed to effectively utilize the attributes of shaped skis is very stout lateral stiffness. In order to create the edge angles that these skis perform best at, ski boots have had to “step up”. This they have done.
The Redster Pro accomplishes this in a couple ways; first and foremost-and this applies to any ski boot-the last of the shell. We will reiterate…the medial wall of the boot from heel through the mid-foot needs to be plumb.
Secondarily the Redster uses carbon around the heel- visible also as an optic treatment-extending it up through the hinge bolts and the rear cuff. This provides the lateral stiffness for engaging the skis and holding an edge. The Redster is very efficient at both.
The boots still feature flexible soles incorporated into the shells but the interchangeable flex frame that holds the zeppa is available in the Pro 130 and then only in the firm and/or medium flex.
The Redster keeps you honest, as any boot of this ilk should. The ROM at the ankles instills a small sense of forgiveness but the Redster is laser guidance for the feet.
The liners are thin (not unique to Atomic, they all are in boots at this level) so the feel for what’s surrounding the feet is very concise.
The soles flex, like the Hawx, lends a silky, languid feel to the skis and takes nothing away from the efficiency of the boots…the torsional strength is terrific.
On edge the Redster is commanding. Tipping the skis up and holding an edge requires a light touch and the Redster is adept at moving from edge to edge…as long as the skier is!
We will carry the Redster Pro 120, Redster Pro 110 and the Redster Pro 90. All the Redster’s are 97mm.
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