Trussed with an inverted Bod Harness, dot three Camalot stuffed up each nostril. I’m told that’s the punishment for lazy bloggers. Best to avoid such discomfort, so I’ll keep getting the ski boot info out to the wild. Today, Black Diamond.
For 2012/13, Black Diamond’s overlap construction AT boots in their “Alpine Tour” series retain the same names. Quadrant, Prime, Slant and Swift sport different colors and an improved power strap. More importantly the boots yield completely reworked AT liners that in the words of one BD booster “actually make these into new boot models — with the same names.” The Freeride boots (Factor 130 & 110, Shiva) remain the same, with a few small tweaks to liners.
As most WildSnow readers know, we don’t take stock ski boot liners very seriously (poor things). We think it’s impossible to make one liner that’ll fit most people near perfect out of the box — or in many cases, even after thermo molding. (By “fit” we mean truly fit for performance skiing, not just feel good on the carpet.)
But boot companies keep trying. Perhaps because the liner that feels best in the store sells more boots, or more optimistically, because some boot experts out there actually think it is possible to make a liner that works for everyone — so they keep trying.
My question: When will one boot company make the bold step of selling liners and shells as separate items, and provide a selection of liners in, say, widths? Or stiffness? Or whatever? Yeah, let the screaming commence. But if you were Steve Jobs, what would you do about AT boot liners? You’d go the extra mile to actually do what works, period, instead of what works for some of the people. You would be bummed about aftermarket liners, and do anything to keep your product as a closed system by providing any number of options. If your approach worked, you would end up dominating over the other boot companies. Perhaps. Someday.
To be fair, the new BD liners are beautiful. They scream “quality,” with clean looking stitching, nice colors and so on. In my view lacing is part of the solution to making a “universal fit” liner, and the Boa windlass system makes laces actually work. Kudos to BD for continuing that thought. BD also designed better articulation zones so the liners yield more walk flex. The liner tongues have a plastic stiffener for the ever important down, as that little detail can make a huge difference for folks wanting more forward support.
There you go. BD continues to provide excellent value — and perhaps you’ll like the colors better. More, remember that the BD last intentionally provides a snug fit at the heel while still allowing room for the toes, a style of fitting true randonee boots that I’ve always advocated. I’m giving the Camalots back but I’ll keep the boots.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.