Hoji Pro Ski Touring Boot — Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 27, 2019      

This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry.

Object at hand, 2018-2019 Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour ski boot.

Object at hand, 2018-2019 Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour ski boot.

“I design out of laziness. I want a ski boot that doesn’t require pulling my pants up and struggling with latches and buckles,” says Fritz Barthel as he stands on one leg like a ballet dancer (or, a stork?), hands free, and kicks down the lean-lock lever of his Hoji Pro boot. He smiles and says “Nice,” then glides a few meters away to check our descent route, leaving me enjoying the view of my unbuckled (insert brand-model here) ski boots.

As I found during my past year of testing the Hoji Pro, Barthel’s ideal can be realized.

Whoops, I almost forgot the eponymous Hoji, who designed the boot in partnership with Fritz. His goal was a touring boot that skied down better than most touring boots. Best of all worlds? The easily operated boot that’s light and skis downhill okay? In that we still have a winner.

I submit to the lasting obsession many of you readers have.

I submit to the lasting obsession many of you readers have. It’s possible to measure last width using the heat-molded liner, which usually matches the inside of the boot. Left, Hoji liner from my 27.5 measures 102 millimeters, while the TLT-6 liner to right, also 27.5, measures 98 millimeters and is noticeably lower volume.

First, fit. Dynafit claims Hoji has a 103.5 millimeter last. I’ll testify that the boot is indeed on the wide side — but only at the metatarsal. The heel pocket width is average to tight, and the instep is low. I’m a skinny-heeled guy with a skiing problem, and the Hoji holds my heels down like a little troll grabbing my calcaneus with his horny hands. Being fully weaponized with my heat gun and boot press, I forced the troll back to his lair. The wide toe box is fine for me. But those of you who like a boot that pinches your foot might need a careful evaluation as to whether Hoji is your destiny. Operative point: Most skiers will not need punches in the forefoot area — you might not need that $200.00 boot fitting contract.

I've got an average to high instep, and had to open up the shell throat to accommodate.

I’ve got an average to high instep. Trimming a few millimeters of plastic from the sides of the opening did the trick.

(I still maintain that a clamp-like feel can be achieved through boot fitting techniques, but doing so can be a time waster. More, other boot fitters claim doing so never gets the results of using a narrower shell. Take that as you will.)

Let’s get to the gripes so I can move on to more goodness.

Worst thing has to be the power strap. It’s just, well, old school. The same strap I found innovative several years ago is now a fiddly effing fiddle that belies the overall convenience of the Hoji design philosophy. Why? Simply because the thing is too short, and too hard to thread and un-thread. The strap has a cap on the end that catches in the buckle when you need full release, and makes it hard to thread when you’re gearing up. Even before I cut the cap off, the strap was too short for a good grip, two more centimeters would be good — that after shedding the infernal end-cap. Overall impression: The power strap is perhaps the exception that proves the rule. That rule being that everything else with this boot is cutting-edge — except for one more feature that’s nothing less than weird. That being the “Speed Nose” toe shape.

You can call something “Speed” until you your vocal chords fail, and it doesn’t make it so. Yes, Virginia, the Speed Nose does move the tech fittings a few millimeters aft. Makes ergonomic sense. But “sense” doesn’t necessarily translate to real life. The theory is greater than the effect. And the Speed schnoz itself? Travel and forget your crampons; borrow some you can easily fit? Not gonna happen. Depend on binding with “locator” feature at the toe that’s configured for a standard DIN shaped toe? Not gonna help. Kick steps in hard snow? Not the same. Hire skis with a toe-wing type binding? Nope. Sadly, next season’s Hoji Pro will continue with the Spreed Nose (that is not a typo). Saving grace is the Hoji Free model will go back to the conventional toe, so you can consider that shoe if the weird toe is a deal breaker. One thing I’ll give the Spreed Nose: It does look distinctive, it gets people thinking I’ve taken up snowboarding.

(To be fair, Dynafit sells a crampon, the Cramp-In, specifically for the Speed Nose boots. The Cramp-In is light and interesting in how it attaches to a hook you screw to your boot sole. But I’m not convinced it’s a versatile or reliable solution. Likewise, Dynafit at one time sold an adapter that ostensibly worked with regular “automatic” crampons, but this product appears to be discontinued — I don’t see it in their 2019-2020 product workbook.)

With that off my chest I’d better close with the positive, otherwise Hoji will make me huck a cliff.

Once you figure out your Hoji Pro adjustments, you truly can start the day with your buckles in one position, and switch between up and down modes with one motion. In the case of descent, you kick the lean-lock lever down (as Fritz demonstrated at the start of this article). For the climb, pull the lever up with your hand.

I found the down-kick easy to learn, but it requires leaving your pants tucked behind the upward oriented lever so it’s exposed. That looks odd and can be the precursor to your cuff riding high and letting snow in. (Perhaps Dynafit will design pants that work with this?) Grabbing the lever with your hand and pulling for uphill mode is intuitive — similar to most other boots with an external lean lock. I found the lever difficult to grab with gloves, it could use a bigger lip or perhaps a cord grip-loop.

Before you get too starry eyed about the “one motion,” know that achieving satisfactory feel during both uphill and down requires a fitted boot. Otherwise you’ll probably be tweaking a few buckle settings and your power strap as you change modes. Likewise, I found that long-flat tours still asked for a loosened upper buckle and power strap.

It’s worth mentioning the improved position of the Hoji instep buckle. Many skiers have found the middle (instep) buckle of most Dynafit boots to be slightly forward of the optimal position. Hoji brings it back to the ergonomic position, as close to your instep as possible.

Hoji has Dynafit’s Master Step tech fittings. That’s important regarding the heel fitting, as it’s stronger than the original style. While I prefer the original style toe fittings, or Quick Step In (which the Hoji Free version of this boot will have), that’s just me, so ignore and let’s call this all a plus.

I’ve not abused the Hoji, but I’ve used them enough to ID any obvious durability problems. No cracks, no cuff pivot wear, buckles have not snapped. Pass.

Lastly, and most importantly, this boot skis beautifully. The Hoji Lock system does what it promises: a firm “locked” feel with little to none of the odious cuff bulge many other boots present. And yes, it does have a somewhat “progressive” flex. Though not the perfected feel of a well designed overlap cuff boot, you’ll like it.

I never have one go-to boot during a season, that’s my job. But if any member of my scaffo harem is the favorite, Hoji is it.

(For those of you who care about weight, my Hojis with foot beds and mods weigh 1,536 grams each. I’d like them to be closer to the one kilo ideal, but they work for my messed up feet, so I’ll shut up.)

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Comments

17 Responses to “Hoji Pro Ski Touring Boot — Review”

  1. josh March 27th, 2019 10:56 am

    I’ve skied 50-60 days on these boots this season, so I can speak to the durability issues, and I generally agree with the points you make above with one additional gripe: because of my calf size / powerstrap tightness, the plastic bit that connects the cable to the powerstrap gets stuck on the shell when switching into ski mode. A bit of carving and smoothing with the dremel solved this. In terms of durability, the fabric section on the boot tongue began to tear off after about 20 days. It doesn’t seem to affect the boot in terms of snow getting in, so not the end of the world. Other than that, these boots have held up quite well (in line with other boots I’ve used). The thin sole has started to wear fairly quickly this spring now that I’m walking on rocks more frequently. Overall, definitely the best “compromise” boot I’ve used — these ski really, really well and they also go uphill really well.

  2. XXX_er March 27th, 2019 11:41 am

    Shop guys have told me the Hoji fit a lot of people well but the speed nose was incompatible with ski/binding setups they had sold customers last year

    The customers could not afford to buy a new skis/binding as well as a new boot, maybe those customers will come back to buy the hoji free next year if they didn’t already buy something else

  3. Rolf March 27th, 2019 1:16 pm

    We have seen the Dynafit crampon adapter fail a couple of times. Very dangerous and I am therefore not surprised they discontinued it.

  4. Brian March 27th, 2019 7:26 pm

    The only downside of my Hojis has been that the tightness of fit in ski mode is proportional to the force required on the lever to switch modes. Maybe I just need to hit the gym more often. Other than that, excellent “compromise” boot.

  5. Mac March 27th, 2019 10:40 pm

    Not too sure why there is all the hate about the speed nose. Does every ski tourer and ski mountaineer use automatic crampons – well certainly not in NZ in my experience. I’ve been climbing about twenty years and have only ever used semi-automatic crampons when climbing and more recently in the backcountry on skis. While I could see kicking steps might be ever so less efficient with the speed nose, that could only ever be the most trivial of quibbles.
    To sum up, could I suggest that some people just need to get over their prejudices and buy a pair of semi-automatic crampons (I recommend the Petzl Irvis Hybrid), and save your automatics for that grade III, 4 alpine route.

  6. XXX_er March 27th, 2019 10:58 pm

    A speed nose on the tlt7 was an ok idea cuz they would be used with minimalist tech bindings on touring skis

    but put the speed nose on a freeride boot and look at all the bindings in the freeride genre that the speed nose is not compatible with … the shift, the kingpin, ALL frame bindings ?

    If speed nose is the greatest thing since sliced bread why is the Hojj free going to come next year without the speed nose ?

    Dynafit would sell more boots if they fired the speed nose guy

  7. Filippo March 28th, 2019 8:08 am

    XXX_er “Dynafit would sell more boots if they fired the speed nose guy” make a lot of sense ! However I am under the impression that the Dynafit boss should fire himself ! Or he could get out again the mounain of $ required to remake the full set of shell molds.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 March 28th, 2019 9:22 am

    Mac, you mind saving pejoratives such as “hate” and “prejudice” for things that are probably more deserving than a blogger’s opinion about a ski boot toe? Overstating your position just dilutes it. Thanks, Lou

  9. AWenk March 29th, 2019 4:40 am

    On the crampon compatibility. Compatibility is a function of both the boot and the crampon; most notably how the systems and shape of each interface. I’ve seen some very bad interfacing with fully automatic crampons and ski boots with traditional toe welts. So it’s very misleading and in some cases dangerous to assume that a ski boot with a toe welt is going to work well with any fully automatic crampon. The speed nose fits very well in a variety of crampons. Petzl irvis fil flex, and grivel ski tour are examples of excellent compatibility. The fit is good and solid enough for, in my opinion, alpine climbs and perhaps even grade 4 ice. But if that’s the kind of performance what you’re aiming for with you ski boots maybe you should be looking at a pair from mammut… they make climbing boots. The point is that crampon compatibility shouldn’t be a deal breaker. It takes the correct interface between crampon and boot no matter what the toe shape of the boot is.

  10. Marek March 29th, 2019 4:48 am

    Hi Lou! Any chance you will review the newest Dynafit’s creation – pintech? This would be soooo interesting. On the internet there is almost no information about it, while it’s available in stores since this fall and I saw quite a few racers rocking on them. Another “speed nose” idea or truly revolutionary idea?

  11. Lee Bartlett March 29th, 2019 5:39 pm

    HI Lou,
    I am having the same problems with the power strap on the Hoji I just purchased last month. Any suggestions on long term fixes for the power strap issue besides trimming off the cap would be appreciated.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 March 29th, 2019 5:47 pm

    Lee, I’m not sure. Normally I’d just say replace the strap with an aftermarket, or one from another ski boot. But as you know the strap is attached to a cable. Let’s both look at it and discuss. Meanwhile, how is the Speed Nose (smile)? Lou

  13. Chris March 29th, 2019 9:35 pm

    I’ve got 50-60 days on this boot. They’ve been the best fit and function of anything I’ve had to date. The only thing that has shown any sign of wear is the tongue fabric has separated from the plastic for the top 1-2″. I hot glued it back and re-stitched but have found the best preventive measure is to put some gorilla tape across the front of it. I don’t find the power strap fiddly at all and have more than ample length- just stitch right through the cap a triangular tip on the end of it and cut off the excess. It threads much easier. Once I thread it for the day, I never unthread it until taking it off- different legs for different folks. One thing not mentioned is that the cuff lock appears that it will not loosen up with time, like many other boots I’ve had. It is preloaded and looks like it might also be adjustable by turning the jamb nut in the mechanism if it did show any signs of wear. As mentioned above, crampon fit is important whether the boot has a toe welt or not. I’ve seen poor fits with automatic crampons on welted toes because the BSL is just between the macro adjustment of the crampon. For the Pro Tour I like the Camp 470 semi automatic with a solid aluminum bar between the toe and heel, better than the Petzel Leapord FL or Irvis Hybrid which have a Dynema cord that can stretch out and is subject to rock damage. The Dynafit Cramp In crampon also looks pretty slick. I hope to test both this spring when crampon season starts.

  14. Stokes March 30th, 2019 6:14 pm

    Hey Lou,

    Could you crack the calipers out and measure the heal ledge please? I am wondering how much shorter (narrower?) it is than a general DIN heel ledge. The Hoji’s fit me amazing, but not being able to use kingpins in them is a bit of a deal breaker. Don’t want to go up in weight to the Hoji Free boots.

    I haven’t found much concrete online about using the Tour in kingpins, so if I have the numbers I can make my own mind up.

    Cheers

  15. Dabe March 31st, 2019 7:57 am

    Stokes, preliminary info on Free is ~100g heavier than Pro Tour. Seems like splitting hairs for use in a heavy binding like the Kingpin

  16. Lou Dawson 2 March 31st, 2019 9:44 am

    Lee, it’s simple to replace the power strap on the non-cable side with a longer chunk of webbing. This can be cut to a point, then mashed-melted on the end so it’s easy to insert in the buckle and remove. I’ll do it and post it up in a few days. Lou

  17. Stokes March 31st, 2019 5:39 pm

    Dave, cheers for that. I didn’t realize it was so close. Worth looking into for sure but don’t need the stiffest boots for my shorter spring skis, I think the pro tour looks a good middle ground for skiing my 95mm 176cm skis all the way through to my 185 110 skis with kingpins. The Hoji Free might be too much boot for the smaller skis in the quiver.





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