Foam-injected ski boot liners: the test

Getting the boots foamed

Getting the boots foamed

In a recent blog I talked about the process of having custom ski boot liners fitted at Surefoot here in London. The boots felt great, no pressure points, no cranking the buckles to try and hold my foot securely in the boot. But… this has happened before, and I’ve found myself back at the boot-fitter a few days later for shell punch here or there to deal with undesirable pressure points.

Would this be the case with the Surefoot Contoura X3 liner too? Only one way to find out…

I got to put the new set-up (my old Lange RX 130 boots with the new X3 liner) to the test on a recent weekend trip to Obergurgl, at the top of the Oetztal Valley in the Austrian Tirol.

One thing that I’d noticed when buckling my boots in the store was that I didn’t need to do them as tightly. I’ve so often been told that it shouldn’t be necessary to use more than the pressure of two fingers to close a boot buckle, however in the past I’ve frequently reverted to brute strength to get the sort of control I wanted. Sure, this approach meant that I felt I had a great connection with my boots, but I was constantly bucking and unbuckling the lower buckles. By all accounts not what the majority of skiers do, at least not with the same frequency.

Taking the new liners off piste in Obergurgl

Taking the new liners off piste in Obergurgl

As with any piece of new kit, there was a bit of an adjustment period. The first few runs my feet did ache, and I found myself fiddling with the micro-adjusts on my buckles, to accommodate the new liners. I began to get my ‘ski legs’ back though, and soon found myself ‘acclimatising’ to the new liner.

Perhaps the biggest thing to get used to was actually having more room in the toe-box. After years of clamping down the bottom buckles I had to get used to actually having some wiggle room up front. The idea behind this is that your toes need room to move, and if the boot is doing its job of keeping the heel, ankle and forefoot in place, you shouldn’t need to crush your tootsies. The fit around the ankle area was superb, with no pressure points, and the foam-injection around the heel area felt like it gave me great precision and control.

I hadn’t anticipated that the custom liner would integrate so well with the ski boot shell, but the increased responsiveness was noticeable. Carving turns down wide empty pistes, moving edge-to-edge it felt like my movements were transmitted more directly to the edge of the ski. I’m definitely looking forward to playing around with these new liners on some high-performance skis instead of off-piste skis to really feel the difference now!

I was happy with the performance of the boots and I’m excited to try them out in different conditions and with different skis, but equally as pleasing as skiing in the new liners was taking them off at the end of the day. In the past I’ve removed my boots at the end of a ski day and felt the burn in pressure points and old bone spurs, and simply dealt with my feet feeling a little cramped and crushed, but the X3 liners seem to have put an end to that. That doesn’t mean I’ll be dancing in my ski boots on table-tops at apres any time soon… but I hope in the winters ahead my feet will thank me for making the change!

Chris Taine
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