Being a law student sometimes pressed for sanity and always pressed for time, I occasionally find myself approaching time off with a bizarre sense of efficiency. When I arrived in Carbondale in December, I hurried to get acclimated and go skiing. While I didn’t fare so well with the former, the Black Diamond Swift ski boot got me out in the mountains quickly and painlessly.
I should preface this by saying I have a deep appreciation for these boots after uphilling in my alpine boots during the 2011-2012 season. The memory of my battered feet and labored breathing as my skinning partner chatted away in a new lightweight boot was fresh in my mind.
Coming off a fall of marathon training, I was confident in my conditioning if not the state of my feet. The Black Diamond Swift assuaged by concerns as it quickly became clear we could easily break each other in. I experienced minimal heel lift and the threat of only one blister after four days of hiking. I have narrow, high-volume feet and the Swift 102mm forefoot and 73mm heel last fit relatively well. It’s hard to say, without putting more time in these boots, whether the heel lift would require some after-market tweaking.
Usually fickle with my shoe sizing, I wore a 27 in these boots (I’ve traditionally worn a 27.5). We punched out the toe-box of the thermo moldable Efficient Fit AT Liner Light with a few semi-painful moments in toe caps until the fit was nigh perfect.
By far the highlight of the Black Diamond Swift was their performance. These full-on backcountry skiing boots feature a Triax Pivot frame and overlap construction that allow the cuff to pivot smoothly and comfortably while ascending. The articulated liner meant, at the very least, that I didn’t notice any incompatibility with the movement of the shell. The Swift were responsive and stable on the descent, both on trail and in the backcountry, and I found myself forgetting I was in AT boots at all (except of course when I forgot to turn the walk feature off…).
Aside from minor heel slippage, I had some issues with toes falling asleep while hiking, though the cause of that problem evaded me. Also, while the Swift three buckles and power strap held their own on the downhill, I had some trouble with stuck buckles when attempting to make adjustments. Particularly, I struggled with the catches meant to secure a semi-open buckle—maybe that means they were just doing their job!
Overall, the Swift were an excellent union of mobility and performance. Most importantly, the Swift got me out in the backcountry snow without a messy or painful transition, making it a great boot for the girl whose heart (if not always her body) is out in the mountains.
Shop for Black Diamond’s Swift: Backcountry.com.
(WildSnow.com guest blogger Jess Portmess is weeks away from finishing law school. Having grown up in New York and Vermont, she’ll soon be chasing snow covered peaks, endless trails, and a legal career in the West.)