K2 Ski Boots Will Only Be Sold in Physical Stores

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 18, 2013      
K2 Pinnacle ski boot, one of the best "beef boots" out there.

K2 Pinnacle ski boot, one of the best "beef boots" out there.

“To ensure proper fitting, K2 boots are only available through expertly trained K2 boot fitters at physical retail outlets.” That’s how a recent press release from K2 states the case.

Back in November of 2012 K2 announced their new line of tech compatible beef boots. We hoped at the time that in starting from scratch with an entirely new ski touring boot, they’d throw convention out the window and come up with something disruptive for backcountry skiers. While the K2 boots gave great attention to details such as mounting the tech fittings in the shell body instead of on a potentially wobbly swap sole, they’re basically conventional alpine boots that tour. In other words, if you’re looking for a beefy boot be sure to check them out.

But how will you do that?

As the PR states (see below), you won’t be able to just know your size and order online. You’ll have to walk into a brick-and-morter store and make a deal.

In a perfect world that sounds workable. But in the real world it sounds a bit silly. For example, who’s to say the store employees are the “experts” that K2’s policy assumes they are. Or, what if the brick-mortar store has an online store as well? And what if you rock the same K2 boots year after year and just need a replacement pair?

Looking at this from the other side, we’ve long been advocates of boot makers taking a more radical approach to how their boots are merchandised. For example, we’ve mentioned the idea of all shells and liners being sold separately. What is more, we are huge advocates of boot fitting — to the point of recommending that most boots should be sold with the involvement of a boot fitter from the moment they come out of the box for your first try-on. With those ideas in mind, K2’s policy sounds good.

Will K2’s policy work? Comments are on!

Press release follows, lightly condensed:

K2 Ski Boots Sold Exclusively at Brick and Mortar Retail Locations
K2 supports specialty retail by committing to in-store sales

Seattle, Wash. (Dec. 16, 2013) – K2 Skis‘ award-winning lineup of all-mountain and freeride boots are now on sale at specialty ski and outdoor shops across the country. To ensure proper fitting, K2 boots are only available through expertly trained K2 boot fitters at physical retail outlets.

“When purchasing a new ski boot proper fit is the single most important thing,” said Mike Gutt, K2’s Global Marketing Director. “Having expert shop employees making sure the shell is sized right and the fitting process is done correctly is key to making the boots fit and perform at the highest level.”

When K2 began designing its innovative line of ski boots hours were spent getting feedback from boot fitters from across the globe. Design engineers were very interested to hear what worked well in existing ski boots and more importantly, what could be improved. This feedback led to a ski boot that can easily be broken down in minutes with the use of just a couple allen wrenches for customizations that are a normal part of a boot fitters day.


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43 Responses to “K2 Ski Boots Will Only Be Sold in Physical Stores”

  1. Chris December 18th, 2013 7:27 am
  2. Pow town December 18th, 2013 7:50 am

    Great policy and marketing idea. Though with a quick google search you’ll find they don’t seem to care or believe about it at all.

  3. Greg Louie December 18th, 2013 8:36 am

    If you complete the online buying process at REI, they give you a message that the boots must be picked up at a store, they won’t ship directly to you. Presumably at that time a bootfitter will check the fit, cook the liners, etc.

    Not perfect, but it’s not a bad approach to helping ensure the fit and function of the boot is appropriate for the skier, and the numbers produced were fairly conservative this year – several sizes of the Pinnacle 130 are sold out already.

  4. Tuck December 18th, 2013 8:43 am

    Tough call. I wouldn’t buy a ski boot online unless I was familiar with the sizing of the boot. Meaning, if I had tried it on… For a new line of boots, that’s pretty insurmountable.

    The shops don’t want people trying on the boots and then buying them online, obviously.

    I don’t see how K2 has a choice, really. They’ve got to encourage the shops to pick up the line for it to succeed.

    The good old chicken-and-egg problem for K2.

    I’m sure that once the line gets established they’ll relax the online ban. Probably when clearance time comes around at the end of the season.

  5. Lou Dawson December 18th, 2013 8:45 am

    I know some brick-morter retailers that are probably dancing in the street about this. I’d say it’s a positive effort to solve a big problem. But I can suggest a better solution that could perhaps happen some day: They could go ahead and let etailers sell the boots, but that could be done with the agreement that the boots would be shipped to a qualified/certified boot fitter for pickup and fit check. That would allow etailers to still sell the boots, but solve the hombrew “wow they fit great today look at the online deal I got” syndrome, wherein yes they fit great today because they’re one size too large and will feel terrible after you’ve skied them for 3 days and wallowed out the liner.

    More, brick-morter shops who are also etailers can sell the boots online, as Greg alludes to above, by only doing so if the customer is willing to pick up the boots at the physical store location. In those cases or even REI, I’d imagine it won’t be that tough for a repeat/trusted customer to negotiate a deal on the phone that involves the boots being shipped to the store by K2, then being re-shipped to the customer who does their own boot fitting or perhaps is simply replacing a worn out boot with the same model/size.


  6. Tom Gos December 18th, 2013 9:45 am

    As an experienced boot buyer I often prefer ordering boots online so that I can initially spend more time in them – I can wear them around the house for an hour or more to really see how they feel. I feel that this way I can be more confident that I’ve made the best choice with respect to model and size. Then I can get them into a specialty boot fitter for the real work. So often when I go to a “brick and mortar” ski store to try on boots I feel like the salesperson is mostly interested in making a sale as quick as possible and then moving on the next customer. It just feels awkward to spend two hours in a shop seat getting to know several different pairs of boots before making a decision.

  7. Lou Dawson December 18th, 2013 9:50 am

    Tom, indeed, reality strikes! Retailers and manufacturers sometimes seem to live in dream land… There is a reason etailers exist. And it has not helped that many brick/morter shops got complacent over the years and many did not do a good job selling/servicing high tech touring gear. Which led many shoppers to think that they might as well buy online and DIY with everything from boot fitting to binding mounts.

  8. Charlie December 18th, 2013 11:28 am


    Boot fit is really important. Good fit makes happy skiers. Happy skiers like whatever boots they’re wearing. If happy skiers like their well-fitted K2 boots, they’re more likely to recommend them, and they’re more likely to repeat the fitting process with a new pair of K2s at their now-trusted shop.

    It’s a delicate long game, but it’s not necessarily a bad play for K2. It does cost K2 a large swath of potential market at first, but that’s not so bad. If K2 establishes a strong local niche and brand, they can build from there. Local shops will love the ability to retain price control.

    The “expert” boot-fitters had better be good.

  9. Brian December 18th, 2013 11:59 am

    Might have something to do with this being a limited first release of the boot. I do think their stated rationale is bogus, though. I don’t think they’re checking with every shop to make sure their fitters are up to K2’s supposed standard.

  10. Rob December 18th, 2013 3:50 pm

    “Beef Boot 130 flex” seems like such a crowded marketplace these days I’m not sure it really matters if they can be bought online or not. I don’t see hoards of people panicking about a store near them not stocking them and thus the boots not being available. So you can’t buy this well choose from one of the many others. Even Lange makes one now.

    Had this been a lightweight offering with all the skiability they talk about that may have changed things. There is still lots of room for more options in the Scarpa Maestrale RS, Dynafit Mercury/One or La Sportiva Spectre weight realm.

    People will buy this boot because they want to start touring, then after a year they will realise it’s complete overkill for virtually all human powered backcountry skiing. Then they will try and sell them and you’ll see a marketplace littered with these things… all available from sellers online. It’s like buying Marker Dukes… only to want Dynafit a year later.

  11. Rob December 18th, 2013 4:22 pm

    Just to add a little more…. The idea of this boot having tech fittings makes it more appealing compared to other “beef boots” is a red herring. Anyone that is looking at lightening their set up with tech bindings is also going to look at the extra kilo (or more) per foot they are carrying around with these K2 Pinnacle things.

    This on its own could make it potentially the most regrettable ski boot purchase on the market. Online retailers rejoice… you won’t have to worry about anyone hating you for selling them this boot!

  12. XXX_er December 18th, 2013 7:17 pm

    mec is probably the largest out door dealer in Canada and they are only selling these boots thru selected stores

  13. coastranger December 18th, 2013 9:21 pm

    Robs opinions are off the mark. First off lets start with what the topic is about. Buying the boot from a shop. Good for K2 to stick with their design and wanting to achieve a good fit by a bootfitter. They do have a heat moldable liner and with proper fitting, a heated liner molded to ones foot can be night and day difference in fit and performance. Second i dont believe that beefy boots are out of place in human powered skiing. This category tends to catch a bad rap against lightweight boots. I feel it is all in the person hiking and skiing in them. I have lots of friends that tour in non tech set ups with heavy boots and can keep up and put in lots of miles touring. Not overkill if the dude in the heavy setup is crushing on the uphill and downhill. This boot does not have a rockered sole. It will fit in alpine bindings and is tech binding compatible. K2 design now gives the skier the option to have 1 boot for different bindings and the ability to tour with a tech binding. I dont feel that someone is going to buy this boot because they are considering to start touring. This boot is for the skier that wants the option to ski in alpine bindings and also ski in a tech binding. This boot is for someone who may tour alot or may tour very little. This boot is for someone who may travel and want the option to tour and only take 1 pair of boots. I have skied the boot many days now and it skis very well and the walk mode is just O.K.
    I dont feel K2 had in mind for it to be specifically for touring. But its nice that they give one the option. I have super lightweight touring boots that will not fit in an alpine binding and they fit the bill for what they are designed for, lightweight touring and mountaineering.
    I am glad that boot designers are finally starting to bridge the gap and work towards an all around boot. The most regrettable boot on the market is just a bad statement. If you have a a traditional alpine boot why not have it tech compatible. Makes great sense if you own alpine bindings and tech bindings even if you have another pair of lighter, tech specific touring boots. Just my two cents.

  14. Skian December 18th, 2013 9:42 pm

    I salute K2 for this call.

  15. Wookie December 19th, 2013 1:16 am

    This has almost nothing to do with a desire to achieve a good fit, and almost everything to do with trying to keep margins on the boot high.
    K2 tried very hard for years to keep all their gear offline. They correctly recognized that internet searches would result in aggressive discounting of the merch. You can easily buy most ski gear at or very near their wholesale price today online.
    This is not true for soft goods – which is why everybody is getting into that game.

    I’m kind of surprized that this crowd is believeing the hype!

    Mind you – i dont blame K2 for trying to do this. It makes good sense for their channel and for their business.

  16. David B December 19th, 2013 4:26 am

    Wookie is on the money but it goes deeper.

    This is about $$$$$ and the global market. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    This is about protecting their bricks & mortar suppliers around the globe. Hopefully not too little too late.

    What has happened, is that major US online stores have been heavily discounting hardware for years which has impacted heavily on bricks & mortar retailers outside of the US. It’s become cheaper to buy online through the US and ship to far flung parts of the world, than to buy in your own country, be it Europe, Sth America, NZ, Australia or Japan. The retailers have been revolting for years because the major hardware providers have been supporting the e-tailers and barstardising the global market.

    They expect bricks & mortar retailers to support them in these countries yet they dump stock via the big e-tailers and under cut the bricks & mortar grass roots service oriented stores and think nothing of it.

    Their global distributors have been fighting the major brands for years about this. People walk into a ski shop try on the boots, then walk out and order online. How is that supporting the industry. It’s killing it. The amount of people I have seen walk into an on mountain boot fitter and say “can you please fix these boots. I bought them online and they don’t fit”. REALLY!

    What started this (hopefully genuine attempt to support the bricks & mortar retailers) was the way the small manufacturers like DPS structured their distributor sales contracts, preventing online discounting, so that they could support the retailers and drive business back into the stores. Yes their sales were initially on-line but once they had developed a robust revenue stream They implemented their ballsy retail contracts and it worked. They supported the retailers and the retailers appreciated the support.

    Companies like DPS now direct online shoppers through to their bricks & mortar retailers. Remember folks if we lose the retailers they are gone forever and the cheap online deals will go with them. Only thing missing will be the service, the boot fitters and the ski tuners etc.

    Whilst I would love to believe the big boys have suddenly developed a conscience, I’m afraid it’s due to the realisation that their sales are being heavily affected by the small manufacturers and their global wholesale networks were giving them ultimatums. Support us or we walk. The loaded gun approach. The major manufacturers need to be seen to be doing the right thing. Hopefully they have the bottle to see it through.

  17. Lou Dawson December 19th, 2013 8:00 am

    Mail order discounting has been an issue since before Al invented the internet. In my opinion it does get rather bogus when people are trying on boots in a shop then ordering online and stuff like that. But etailers have a place in that the global market for goods is shifting over to a situation where most goods are incredibly cheap to make, so they can be deep discounted and someone can still make a profit. I’m not saying I like the fact that China is now the world’s largest producer of CO2 and that much of the reason for that is they make nearly all the goods for western Europe and North America, and thus we own the CO2 they make. But reality strikes.

    What I think is happening is a long-term re-invention of retailing. Goods that require little in the way of dealer support will most certainly be sold as commodities online. But things like ski boots might indeed receive a stricter control of where customers can obtain, as k2 is doing.

    But. Main thing is I don’t like the way the K2 policy is top down. It seems like the brain trust at these companies could figure out some disincentives to online buying that would bump up the percentage of folks who’d buy at stores. Without a blanket ban on online sales.

    Meanwhile, so what a boot fitter gets a person coming in who has etailer boots that don’t fit? Standard of any service or retail business is you want potential customers walking into the door. Once that poor soul with size 27 feet and size 29 boots is standing there talking to you about how comfortable his boots were the first hour he skied them, then it was bad from there on, it’s your own sales skills and reputation that’ll turn that into business or disappointment. Really, ditto for retailers. if a person walks in and starts fitting boots, that’s potential sale no matter what plans that person has when they walked in the door. I actually get tired of brick-mortar retailers whine and cheese party about this. Get some good employees, train them in sales, figure out some strategy to deal with the obvious try-but-don’t-buy person, and get it on!

  18. JQ December 19th, 2013 8:36 am

    The playing field needs to get more level. Sales tax is coming to all on line purchases I think. This is good for local counties and is actually the law now. We are all supposed to pay sales tax on untaxed purchases now, but no one does (except accountants). Service needs to get better and cheaper at ski shops. Profit margins on boots (etc) apparently are too high. If the price difference was less more folks would use the local shops. There are great, smart folks at local shops. Problem is that their prices are high since the rest of the world is on sale all the time.

  19. Brian H December 19th, 2013 9:04 am

    The human (salesperson) component is the hardest. Retail sales hardly pays so few people make it their main gig. If the store is as diversified as most outdoor stores are, getting people trained up on every new widget when they work only part time is next to impossible.

  20. Skian December 19th, 2013 9:04 am

    I tell people every day, ” I am not a brand trade restrictor, I am a brand integrity enforcer. I wear a fireman’s hat half my day and a sales hat the other half, unless its a powder day of course.

    Brand integrity and how and who you let people handle your product is just as important a job as selling it yourself.

    E-tail and retail can live in harmony, you just have to make it a priority with the product you represent.

    Personally I feel retailers should give discounts on fitting product if you buy it there. I feel walk off the street prices should have high cost’s and work for supporting local community should be rewarded. Anti trust laws are tricky, it can bite you if you say the wrong thing.

    Ethical e-tail has it’s place in the market, the policing of the policies and the tricky situation of collusion can leave you broke in court as a manufacture. It’s a slippery slope.

    If you want the best price on fitting, buy local. If you can’t get it local, buy from a quality e-tailer. Some of the top ones are establishing affiliates who can handle the fitting you need. Search out, but don’t be a douchebag and take up a shops time if your not going to spend the dime. Or at least walk in with a 12 pack and let them know your just here for a quick fit.

  21. Skian December 19th, 2013 9:27 am

    One of the best blogs I ever read here was one a few seasons ago on the best boot fitters in America…I bet it has not changed much…LIke to see that thread revived annually. Lou?

  22. Mike Marolt December 19th, 2013 10:19 am

    They must have used the marketing agency that came up with “un-crowded by design”. haha.

  23. JCoates December 19th, 2013 10:52 am

    Rob, I was going to go off on a tirade and then realized you said exactly what I was thinking. Well said.

  24. Skian December 19th, 2013 11:10 am

    Just curious Lou, this has tech inserts, but does it have a DIN sole for accredited use in alpine gear?

  25. Brian December 19th, 2013 11:11 am

    “This boot is for someone who may travel and want the option to tour and only take 1 pair of boots.”
    This is exactly why I bought the Pinnacle. Plus the added benefit of not having to swap tech and DIN soles. I’m surprised no one has simply added tech fittings to a regular alpine boot before this. Someday we won’t have to make compromises between alpine and touring gear, but we’re not there yet IMHO.

  26. Skian December 19th, 2013 11:15 am

    The reason that no one has done this before I believe is that tech sole is outside of the parameters for a DIN ISO sole. I could be wrong, hence the reason for clarification question above.

  27. Charlie December 19th, 2013 12:29 pm

    @Skian: K2’s advertising copy claims “replaceable DIN outsole”


    The outsole photo doesn’t look like it’s designed with AT bindings in mind, but rather alpine.

    Mike Hattrup makes an explicit statement regarding alpine binding compatibility here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8sjwPq5TZo

  28. Ben W December 19th, 2013 12:59 pm

    “If you complete the online buying process at REI, they give you a message that the boots must be picked up at a store, they won’t ship directly to you. Presumably at that time a bootfitter will check the fit, cook the liners, etc.”

    Qualified bootfitters are REI stores? Hah! I’m sure there are a few, but it’s certainly nort common.

  29. Andrew December 19th, 2013 2:35 pm

    Of course, if you buy the boots at REI, you’ll get your annual refund on them, which is like getting a 10% discount. And, I’m sure if it is a crappy snow year they’ll be dumping these things at massive discounts.

  30. Lou Dawson December 19th, 2013 3:29 pm

    Skian, I evaluated the how the DIN/ISO ski boot standards accommodated tech fittings some time ago. My recollection is that it was a rumor of problems with no basis in fact… but i could be wrong. My opinion is you don’t see tech fittings in alpine boots for a couple of reasons. First, they add cost. Second, the number of people who really need that is infinitesimal in comparison to the total market. Lou

  31. Lou Dawson December 19th, 2013 4:06 pm

    One thing I don’t understand. Say a store buys a bunch of K2 boots, and ends the season with overstock. This policy means they just stick those boots in a back room and wait till fall to try and sell them? Or does K2 make terms to buy unsold inventory back from the retailers to keep it off etail? Anyone know? ‘best, Lou

  32. Brian December 19th, 2013 4:35 pm

    It was strange to see this on Bent Gate’s website without the ability to add it to my cart and purchase. I had to call to confirm that they actually had the boot in stock. I think this is confusing for customers.

  33. Tyler December 19th, 2013 4:48 pm

    K2 actually took their VP of sales and some engineers and designers on tour to give very in depth clinics. In the Denver area there was a 4 hour clinic with break out sessions directed at varying aspects of the boot (e.g. detailed discussion of liner construction and molding). This is why, I assume, they refer to “expert” boot fitters.

    Can’t speak to their limited release online. I bet that will change in the near future.

  34. Skian December 19th, 2013 6:22 pm

    Lou, stores can sell product at whatever price they want, they just can’t advertise pricing below MAP. Once the customer has engaged in a transaction a manufacture cannot have a conversation. Anti-trust laws are very challenging to work around this subject. Check the Sherman act or the Clayton act. These are the root of anti trust law in the states.

    If a shop chooses to go against and agreement, well thats a conversation on distribution next year. Nothing happens fast when someone challenges the system.

    Happy reading.

  35. Drew Tabke December 19th, 2013 6:57 pm

    Worth mentioning the K2 boot line covers something like six models, only two of which have AT features. I think all fall under this “in-store only” rule, even the entry-level alpine boot.

    I think it’s a great move by K2, as I believe specialty stores are indispensable knowledge centers, and without reciprocal support from the industry they won’t survive, and we will all end up buying our boots off Amazon.

  36. Erik Erikson December 20th, 2013 1:04 am

    Funny thing is: In europe obviously you CAN order K2 boots online. For example a german site http://www.sport-conrad.com/page/product-detail/__/shop/prod/31026

  37. Pow town December 20th, 2013 8:58 am

    Once again it is a great marketable policy. There are a lot of ways around it. Case in point Bent Gate and others have them on their site, but instead of point and click, you go old school and do the call and ship thing. Don’t kid yourself, K2 is all about selling this boot line they just invested millions into. This policy was put into place to encourage distribution in their first year sell in. It will change over time. Think about it if you were a retailer and K2 came knocking wanting you to spend money on an unproven product wouldn’t you want protection from competition in order to do so.

  38. Mark Worley December 20th, 2013 9:14 am

    Swappable soles are destined to go away. I recently had a customer who had one fail. No replacements can be found. A fine tech-compatible boot is now a freeheel freakshow.

  39. Andrew December 20th, 2013 5:39 pm

    Drew Tabke – that’s an interesting comment about the boots. In other words, most of the models of this boot (4 out of 6) are full-on alpine boots. The other two models just have different soles and/or tech fittings. Is this really a backcountry boot, or does the emperor have new clothes?

  40. Todd Frank December 20th, 2013 10:49 pm

    Lou etal.
    As a boot fitter and shop owner for the last 30 years I have watched you bash hard on shops and all the things we collectively don’t do well. Yeah an expert on fitting like yourself for the last 40+ years doesn’t really have much in common with a kid who is just learning the ropes of fitting so of course we all are greedy and trying to rip off all the core skiers around.

    Believe it or not most shops that sell boots for backcountry skiing even ones like my shop of 40 years are in a fight for survival. The world has changed and we are ALL trying our best to adapt and yes we bitch about the inequity of system and how etailing really stands on the back of lots of good solid retailers.

    Retailers who do a great job and work hard to pay kids more than minimum wage. i suspect you have never had to make payroll for a staff of 30 so telling me about how we are charging too much for what we do rings a bit hollow. Consumers on the other hand are just trying to get the best deal they can and who can blame them, right. Our desired response when a customer comes in and wants us to spend hours working on a boot they bought wrong online is to first suggest they take all the money they saved buying it online and stuff it in the boots to see if that helps the fit. I cannot even come close to charging what it takes to cover the time lost fitting boots bought online that take away my key bootfitters from working to sell the boots we own. Hell my mechanic charges 65 an hour and there are 200 of them in town. Good Boot fitters all all the shops here number on one hand but folks resist paying even 60 bucks to mold and fit the boots they saved by buying online. We honestly scratch our heads

    We are after 40 years in business on the cusp of dropping all skis except DPS, no one comes in asking for skis from anyone else. Last season over 70% of the skis my 3 shop guys mounted were bought on line or on pro deal so the decision about us remaining in the ski business is really not ours to make. the consumer is making that decision. REI sets the market price for mounts and while I charge more We surely don’t get enough to spend the hours trying to figure out where to mount skis made in the garage.

    As for the K2 boot I did not buy it because they sold it to all the alpine retailers in the Market I am in. In fact we dropped all K2 product because in the end folks come to us for special products that A. they cannot find in other outlets and B. actually work and make sense.
    The K2 line is having an Identity Crisis with regard to its place in the growing BC segment. You cannot sell Dicks, Et AL every product you make and expect small specialty stores to have any interest in carrying them. This is an attempt to recognize that all we really do in specialty is to lend credibility to the products people read about online or see on a web site. I have had exactly ZERO folks ask us about the K2 boot this year, and i have 4 pair of really nice K2 skis on my rack at 50% off and they are not moving.

    I applaud K2’s attempt to do something it is more than Scarpa, BD and Dynafit are doing to attempt to insure the mix of retailers is healthy. While most of the manufactures are getting a handle on web business that hurts the brand by inappropriate pricing that affects every single retailer both B/M and Etail, they have mostly picked up the lost business through direct channels and Pro programs that are at best a total joke. I had 7 local wildland firefighters bring in new Scarpa Freedoms they the got through pro motive BEFORE I got my preseason and they paid the same thing I did. Not ski professionals mind you but firefighters…. How many Emails have you gotten for friends and families pro deals from other vendors this fall???

    So yeah it is legit to recognize that shops are not perfect and we all have a variety of employees who are learning the ropes but as the market changes folks who are just learning about BC gear will have a hard time understanding what a good fit is by reading about it on your site.
    Hope everyone has a great Holiday season and Please all toss some Jerky to Ullr so he may have our backs.

  41. Greg Louie December 21st, 2013 5:28 pm

    Andrew, the Pinnacle boots are essentially alpine boots with a decent walk mode and tech fittings stuck into ISO 5355 soles. They’ve made no attempt (so far) to lighten the weight or cater to full time self-powered skiers. In other words, it depends on how you define “backcountry,” but I know some young strong skiers who are planning on using it as a quiver-of-one this season (I’m not one of them).

  42. Jason D December 21st, 2013 10:46 pm

    This is a fascinating discussion that is more pertinent to my life than most skiing issues.

    Many things in this thread have been spot on. Ironically, the brick and mortar ski shop that I work for is going out of business. I have certainly helped folks try on boots that they have then opted to go buy online. One even had the shrewdness to tell me so after working with him for an hour and a half. I guess this decision was too late for us. While I understand why people would buy a ski boot online, and I think that’s perfectly acceptable for someone that knows what they are doing and has access to a good boot fitter, the majority of customers that I work with don’t have the desire or time for that process. On average I’d guess they ski 10-20 days a season (riding lifts) and won’t replace their boots for many years. A knowledgeable salesperson/boot fitter is pretty crucial to helping them get into a boot that will work well for them in the long term (not just being comfy in the store) and when shops go out of business, customers lose that resource. In cities where there will always be a big enough market to support a dedicated boot fitter this won’t be an issue.

    On the subject of the boots themselves:
    We sell the Pinnacle 110 and (no walk mode) SpYne 110, and I think it’s an excellent boot that does almost everything right for it’s intended market, but it is definitely too heavy to be a dedicated touring boot for most people. It is, however, an excellent boot for lift assisted skiing and making it easy to disassemble is a huge step in the right direction. I’m no engineer, but I’m sure that it could be made *much* lighter with different plastic and a lighter liner.

    One thing that no one has yet mentioned yet is that it is already perfectly set up for the CAST system:
    Obviously not a big deal for most Wildsnow readers, but for those who like it beefy, this is an awesome option.

  43. Skian December 22nd, 2013 6:40 pm

    @todd, your perplexity is that of many retailers in NA in the last 10 years. As I have said I saute K2 for this call in every way. I will also divulge, I spent 13 years working with the brand and the current management are those I worked in the trenches with.

    This is a fine product and by K2 supporting its bricks should be one that has retailers of the brand rejoicing with hands in the air. I no longer work with the brand but when I see these men and women I always raise a pint as this family of few is the ski arm of a much bigger beast than when I walked in the halls.

    I don’t feel this latest strategy is anything than one of pure support for you and all other quality specialty retailers in this country by this small still strong inner core of the brand that you once held close to your wall.

    As for the pro, bro and HO programs well, you nailed it on the head. but nothing changes in the short term. I run a small program that is desired from the core within the backcountry market. I have this crew up in arms with my personal program as I provide these discounts only to those who work on snow on my gear. Otherwise if your a local hero be an asset to my specialty retailers. If they feel you’re a local asset your an asset to me and my brand. Currently you have to have an AMGA/UIAGM pin, Avalanche safety educator or in training to acquire this or a forecaster on snow. Thats pretty much it. Pretty clean program. As for Patrollers, there are pro and there are no. A true glycerin sniffer or full time patroller who’s mountain or patrol director says they can work on my gear would also qualify but not a volunteer National Patroller. Of course, K2 has a much bigger web than I and therefore a bigger demographic.

    Retailers need to search out those brands that don’t just give lip service about proform and product sales integrity. There are those small brands out there for you, your just not going to get the big marketing budget that helps push the consumer into you door.

    Keep up the good fight, search out brands that support you and you will succeed again in ski hardgoods.

    On defense of this Wildsnow blog I have followed for many years. Lou has always been a supporter of strong specialty. He is vocal when it is just iMO and always provided consumer’s in this demographic with quality fixes from the depths of his shop for use in frozen garages and sheds across the world. Do I agree with Lou all the time? Well that is a deep search within these walls. But I always respect his opinion, and at times we agree to disagree.

    I hope your skis are fast and the tours are long….Lets bring in ski season with a bang….Skian

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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