This post is pretty funny. It was a draft that I accidentally published a few days ago. So I took it down by advancing the date, but wasn’t thinking and just advanced it a few days, so it published again this morning! It’s the post that won’t go away! I guess the Logos is speaking to me (“it’s gear review season Louuuuuuu, get on the case!”, so I guess I’ll just publish it and expand upon the subject this weekend.
We’re using three or four brands of boots on Denali. Eight guys, different feet to fit, different brands fit different feet. You know the drill. SCARPA will be well represented, as will Garmont. We might have a pair or two of Black Diamond in there as well, since they’re in their sophomore year with bugs worked out. I’ll be in a pair of Dynafit ZZero “Green Machines,” which fit me well and yield a nice combination of stiffness, tourability, and light weight.
Present Dynafit ZZero, 27.5, sole length 306 (my performance fit, but too small if it got cold up there on the big one).
Choice one: Size 28 shell, 316 mm sole length, another centimeter of room.
Choice two: size 29, 326 mm sole length, two centimeters over original.
So, the deal is that I’ve got skinny ankles and skinny lower legs (actually, I’m all skinny, even my ears, but that’s another subject.) To get a good fit in most ski boots, I go with a smaller shell and punch out the toes. That way I get good ankle snugness without resorting to endless boot fitting tricks. But the weather up on Denali can get super cold in the summit regions. You might luck out and get balmy conditions, but with your feet you have to be prepared for the worst. Frostbite can damage your peds for life.
If you’re a non-skiing climber, you can just carry overboots as insurance. But using overboots with AT ski boots is a hassle. For one, you have to remove them to get into your skis (or else modify them). And overboots involve more messing around with crampons as well. So in my opinion the best ski boot strategy is to just fit them with plenty of volume, make sure they’re not too tight in the toe area, and fill the volume with wool socks, a vapor barrier liner, and a nice puffed out thermo-form liner. If this is all done correctly and you have average feet, they should be safe for below zero temperatures provided we’re dressed warmly, eating correctly, and healthy.
At any rate, Dynafit sent me a selection of boots for fit checking. On first try, it looks like the 326 is WAY too big to fit. But the 316 is still a bit narrow in the ball of the foot. So I’ve got some work to do. I’ll either stay with the 316 and do some punching, or resign myself to a winter of fitting toil and make the 326 work. It’ll probably be the 316.
BTW, key with this sort of fitting is how the shell fits your foot _without_ the liner. What I’m looking for is something like a 2 1/2 finger fit, meaning one can place the thickness of 2 1/2 fingers behind their heel with bare foot in the shell. But more, I’m looking at insulation space on either side of my forefoot when it’s in there without the liner. To get an accurate read on that, I throw a couple of generic footbeds in there to raise my foot up a bit so it’s the same as if I was inside a liner with footbed. What I’m seeing is that insulation space is limited, so I’ll have to be careful.