For some time there has been stigma attached to Lange ski boots; folks either love‘em or they hate’em. The “Lange” fit was often associated with pain-in fact certain ski boot afflictions were named by those who had skied the boots. There were reasons for this that we needn’t elaborate upon because it’s old news…and the problems have long since been resolved.
Many skiers were willing to and indeed did suffer in Lange ski boots because they skied so well in large part because Lange, from the very beginning, has made ski boots with stringent adherence to biomechanics as they do to this day.
The folks at Lange have refined their ski boots and expanded their product line.
Lange has kept up with the remarkable changes in skis the last decade-and-a-half and once again have brought to market ski boots that set a high standard for performance and fit. This they’ve done by not diverging from their original design philosophy.
Current Lange refinements include improved stance appropriate to contemporary ski shapes and widths, better liners and a more comprehensive line offering lasts to fit a wider range of feet.
In the recent past there have been two series in Lange; the RS, which have solid soles without replaceable toes and heels, and the RX, which does have replaceable toe and heel lugs. Added to that this season is the XT-Lange’s foray into the burgeoning Alpine/AT market.
A major update on the RX’s (and the RS series) is the stance. This is the most significant functional change at Lange. The changes came about for the 2011-2012 ski season and carry through.
The ramp angle through the RX and RS lineup is 4 degrees; the cuff without the spoiler wedge is 14 degrees, with 16. Why this works; at the risk of belaboring the point-current skis do not need to be forced intoturns as the longer, straighter and stiffer skis from the past did. Then the skier was obliged to put more “English” into the skis to engage them into the turn, driving way forward over the tips.
With current skis, regardless of width, we can stand more upright because the skis do so much for you with so much less effort. Flatter ramp angle underfoot allows skiers to keep their mass over the center of the skis rather than forward and the weight carried through the skeleton. Much better for the body!
In addition, the medial wall, as discussed ad infinitum in many of the reviews, is where the power needs to be…in order to tip the skis up and refine the turns as needed there must be terrific lateral stiffness. Lange ski boots have mastered this.
There is no varus to the zeppa. Varus is the angle from side-to-side, higher on the medial or inside than the lateral or outside. Until the recent past virtually all boot makers put a couple degrees of varus in the bootboards. For the most part once ski boot manufacturers understood that amajority of skiers bought footbeds for their ski boots most stopped.
The internal length of Lange shells is greater than the outer sole dimensions let on, a modification made through the Lange RX and RS series is-a move Lange made a couple years ago. In other words; I normally ski in a 27.5. I can now ski in a 26.5. This is quite different from Lange of the past, which tended to pinch the toes together and even when properly sized always felt short.
At the top of the line are the RX 130 and RX 100, both with the heredity of the raceboots but with “Ultra Grip” soles for walking.
There is no compromise in this boot; the accuracy with which the boot steers is as good as you’ll find. The replaceable toe and heel mute the feel underfoot somewhat but that’s not really an issue. The RX 130,RX 100 and RX 90 Exclusiv are 100mm forefoot width. For some of those who have steered away from Lange because they have been too narrow this is a boon. The internal volume from mid-foot forward is on the greater side of medium but not high. The ample volume is put together with Lange’s traditional mid-foot and well-contoured heel pocket.
For the “traditional” Lange fit, there is the RX 100 LV, RX 100 Exclusiv LV and the RX 80 Exclusiv LV-LV stands for Low Volume. The forefoot width in the LV boots is 97mm. This is not done with a more padded liner but is in the shell molds. At 97mm the toe box still has the extra length and a rounder toe box so they can spread out flat.
In the Lange 97mm lineup there are the RS 110 SC and the RS 90 SC…these have a traditional look about them; solid, one piece soles (no replaceable toe or heel lugs) and Lange blue. The SC is for Short Cuff…a godsend for those with the whole steer (as opposed to just a calf), shorter skiers, smaller women and strong junior skiers. They have traditional Lange performance; snappy quick on and off edge, laterally powerful and accurate.
The stance throughout the RX and RS line keeps the skier very neutral over the skis and promotes a good athletic posture, and vectors the centripetal forces involved in skiing through the skeleton.
Lange flex ratings are deceptive-in the shop they seem soft but on snow they stiffen. Both the RS 110 and RS 90 are pretty true to their numbers. They are pliant yet predictable fore and aft and have really good lateral stiffness.
Solid soles have the advantage of providing cleaner feedback and crisper feel for the edges and perhaps a small iota more efficiency edge-to-edge.
In response to the growth of crossover Alpine/ATgear and new for Lange-they are not even in the catalogue-is the XT 130 LV and XT 100 Exclusiv LV.
The XT and XT Exclusiv are 97mm at the forefoot and like the RX/RS there is ample room in the XT from mid/foot forward and traditional Lange mid- and rear-foot proximity.
The 130 flex seems soft at first, Lange tends to be, but on snow the flex becomes well defined and progressive. It is nevertheless a bit softer than the RX/RS 130 but for this application it is not a weakness- for downhill skiing the flex is more than adequate.
The thermo moldable liner is light, laces from the ankle joint up the shin and, with the pair I’ve skied on, has good retention and support. A problem initially was the toe box of the liner being really narrow…best solved by heat molding the liners with toe cups.
The walk/hike mechanism is simple and has a loop to grab so you don’t have to struggle with gloved hands to open and close it.
One thing that distinguishes the XT from others of this ilk is the way Lange has created the mechanism for balancing alpine and touring. For alpine boots to operate as AT boots without compromising both facets functionally is difficult at best…the requirements for both are not quite mutually exclusive but tough to reconcile effectively.
Inside the rear of the XT shells where the rear spoiler interacts with the throat of the lower there is a deep “V” in the molds. This is one of the places one would cut the shell to soften the flex. In the XT that “V” allows the ankles to flex fore and aft in a limited gait cycle for touring/hiking.
Through the productive mind of Thor VerDonk-noted Lange World Cup boot tuner, bon vivant and all ‘round good guy-Lange has come up with a simple, effective method of allowing the XT to flex for hiking and solidifying the flex for downhill skiing; a “V” shaped flap is riveted to the lower. When in walk/tour this flap opens up to the rear allowing the cuff to hinge freely fore and aft; for skiing, with the cuff fixed, that flap fills the “V” notch and stops the rearward flex.
Backcountry last season was virtually nonexistent, but lift serviced skiing the XT 130 was like skiing…a Lange!
The XT is not the RS but shares characteristics with the RX. The XT and XT Exclusiv have the hereditary accuracy one would expect from Lange; edge-to-edge is quick, modulating turns and tracking requiring only subtle motions. The ankle flex is fluid and the range is predictable.
The fit of the XT is similar to the RS/RX, the basic configuration the same; heel and rear foot is tenacious, decent room over the instep and,once the liner is heated and molded, the toe box is ample.
The XT Exclusiv 100 will have the expected changes for women; lower rear spoiler, better padding around the rear foot and a flex more suited to lighter weight women skiers but otherwise the XT Exclusiv 100 is all Lange.
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