Intuition made the heat moldable boot liner widely available some years ago. But not content to rest on their laurels as a pioneer, Intuition then diversified their product to a variety of boot liners, all of which shared common and desirable traits: durability; astonishing conformability; exceptional quality. Now, the company continues their innovation with the ski touring specific Intuition Pro Tour Liner, a no compromise attempt to improve the lives of backcountry skiers worldwide. Highlights include lace closure, customizable tongues, customized foam for fore-aft flex as well as the warmth and light weight discerning skiers and snowboarders have come to expect from Intuition.
The Pro Tour Liner looks like Intuition’s other tongue liners (Luxury and Freeride) but with some key differences:
1. Ultralon foam mixed in with Flexalon foam
I’ve previously written here at WildSnow.com about the superior thermomolding characteristics of the Intuition Ultralon foam. In developing their tongued liners, Intuition wanted to produce liners that were easier to fit in-store and that could potentially fit well without the necessity of custom heat-molding (of course with the caveat that everyone’s foot is different). Intuition followed this same design philosophy with the Pro Tour liner but took it one step by developing a softer, more moldable foam and combining this foam (called “Flexalon”) with Ultralon foam.
Flexalon foam is located at strategic spots in the liner to aid in tourability. At the rear cuff, it allows the liner to flex rearward with less resistance than the stiffer Ultralon foam. At the toebox it aids in comfort, and is designed to help prevent toes from being bashed. Flexalon has the same insulation properties of Ultralon (so the Pro Tour liner is as warm as other Intuition liners). None of the relatively soft Flexalon foam is underfoot – so the Pro Tour liner shouldn’t pack out any quicker then other Intuition liners.
2. Customizable tongues
A self explanatory feature, this allows you to customize the feel of a backcountry skiing boot by switching between a softer or stiffer tongue. Both pairs of tongues come with the liners. The tongues attach with a velcro tab so you can remove them by hand. Side note: removing the tongue lets you dry the liner quicker — nice.
3. Speed lace system
Some people like laces on their liners. They’re handy for blister prevention, or for wearing your liners around as hut or camp booties. I’ve never liked liner laces for the simple reason that they’re one more thing to break or to mess around with. However, Intuition uses a “speed lace” system which allows you to pull on one cord and lace up the liner. It works well; there’s nothing to break. If you don’t like the laces, they’re easy to remove.
At time of writing, the Pro Tour liner was only available in a medium volume density. I found that I tightened my boot buckles (a Dynafit ZZeus and a Garmont Megaride) more when I used Intuition’s Pro Tour liner as compared to other Intuition medium volume liners. As data points, I usually use an Intuition Alpine liner (overlap design) in Garmont Megarides and an Intuition Alpine Powerwrap liner (overlap design and the stiffest Intuition liner) and an Intuition Luxury liner (tongue liner, medium stiffness flex) in my Dynafit ZZeus.
I used a size 10 Pro Tour liner in both boots trying both tongues. I did not mold the liner. My boots are size 27.0 Mondo (sz 43 or US 9).
I’ll reiterate what I said in my previous article – of course, individual preference and individual feet play an even larger role in liner selection and selecting the correct liner size. The boots in which the liners will be used, skier skill, skier size and weight, terrain skied, individual preference (ie loose fit vs tight fit) …. all these factors play a role in determining which liner will fit the bill.”. Having said that, I did not have to mold the Pro Tour liners and could use them out – of – the box without problems. Initially I had problems getting the boots tight enough in ski mode and had to adjust the tightness of the buckles. Touring with them was comfortable. I further note that I am fortunate in having generic feet that fit most boots and liners without issue. Having said that, and bearing in mind all these qualifications, for me, the Pro Tour liner was a very comfortable fit out of the box and without molding.
The Pro Tour liner certainly lived up to its billing for touring comfort. I used it in a variety of trips including steep uphills, flat glacier approaches, lots of switchbacking and kickturns. The tourability of this liner is more apparent in a softer boot like my Megaride as compared to a stiffer boot like the ZZeus. I’m one of those people who’ve loosened all their buckles and straps when touring and never had issues with letting the foot move around in a liner so can’t particularly speak to the efficacy of the lace-up system. (which purports to “alleviate undue pressure when ascending or descending”). However, my wife, who doesn’t have feet as well-behaved as myself found the lace-up liner to help in avoiding blisters and particularly enjoyed pain-free feet on a multi-day Rogers Pass trip.
I tried the Pro Tour liner with different tongues on the descent. I didn’t find much difference between the soft and stiff tongue on the Pro Tour liner with the softer Megaride. I did find that using the soft tongue in the stiffer ZZeus boot compromised the boot’s descending characteristics but that using the stiffer tongue helped somewhat. I can’t say that I specifically recommend much or draw conclusions from this other then that the stiff and soft tongues do alter the touring and downhill characteristics of a boot. Therefore, view the fact that Intuition includes two different tongues with the liners as a plus and not just as a marketing gimmick. Mix and match liners, tongues and boots and one will have many options..
(Guest blogger Lee Lau is an avid skier and outdoorsman embarking on many adventures with his loving, and sometimes concerned wife, Sharon. He has over fifteen years of experience backcountry skiing and dabbles in mountaineering. In the “off-season” he is occasionally found working in his day job as an intellectual property lawyer when he is not mountain biking. As a resident of Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Lee’s playground extends mainly to Western Canada, including South West B.C. and the Selkirks. Lee writes here.)