Bring Your Steak Knives for the Beef – Salomon and Atomic Tech Boots

Post by blogger | February 13, 2013      

Atomic enters the tech boot market with the Waymaker line for 2013-14. Featured is the Carbon Waymaker 110 with Intuition liners. 1779 grams $699.

Atomic enters the tech boot market with the Waymaker, available 2013-14. Image is the Carbon Waymaker 110 with Intuition liners. 'Live Fit' zone is visible on side of lower shell, said to expand a bit if your foot needs a wider last. That sounds iffy for a ski touring fit but we're willing to give it a try. 1779 grams $699.

In the works for a number of years, Atomic enters the freeride beef touring boot market and Salomon re-enters the tech boot market.

Unless you’ve been in a snow cave 24/7 for the past few years, you know that Salomon had problems with their first foray into the tech fitting jungle. We’re figuring this new effort will probably be beefy and functional due to lessons learned. In all, by providing a tech fitting option with their excellent boots, they’re going to be worth considering if you’re shopping. Stay tuned as we’ll be sure to evaluate all tech fittings as they come here in the flesh.

According to the latest by Atomic at ISPO, “In the booming freeride/touring boots category, the revolutionary Waymaker Tour 110 ski boot has been recognized. The judges’ favorite is an ultra-direct performance boot on the downhill and a flexible lightweight boot on the ascent, setting new standards in backcountry touring. Not only is it a winner with the ISPO judges, it’s also a favorite with freeride pro Daron Rahlves.” All Atomic boots feature a 101mm last as well as their “Live Fit” scafo (hip espresso-fueled Italian word for the lower boot shell) which can add significant width to the toe box due to an area that expands a bit if your foot needs more room.

Top left clockwise- Purple Waymaker Carbon 100, 1937 grams $599 - White Waymaker Tour 100, 2087 grams $549 - Green and Black Waymaker Carbon 110, $649 - Yellow Waymaker 90, 2087 grams $499

Top left clockwise - Purple Waymaker Carbon 100, 1937 grams $599 - White Waymaker Tour 100, 2087 grams $549 - Green and Black Waymaker Carbon 110, $649 - Yellow Waymaker 90, 2087 grams $499

Each boot in the line (there are 7 that have tech swappable soles!) features 4 degree ramp angle and 35 degree range of cuff motion fore and aft. We’re not clear on exactly how the cuff articulation will compare to the modern crop of fully articulating ski touring shoes, but we’re confident that for beef boots these offerings all have a decent walk mode.

Atomic opted to forge their own tech fittings for 13/14.

Atomic opted to forge their own tech fittings for 2013/14. Jury is out on how they perform, we'll evaluate ASAP

All boots feature three buckles with an extendable walk/tour extension on the upper buckles. The lower oversized buckle is almost 2 inches wide!

All boots feature three buckles with an extendable walk/tour extension on the upper buckles. The lower oversized buckle is almost 2 inches wide!

Driven by Atomic athletes Sage Chris Benchetler, and Daron Rahlves the Waymaker Carbon PU 130 is the beefiest in the lineup - 2142 grams- $699

Driven by Atomic athletes Sage, Chris Benchetler, and Daron Rahlves, the Waymaker Carbon PU 130 is the beefiest in the lineup - 2142 grams $699

Salomon also gets back into the tech boot market with the Quest BC 120.

2013/14 Salomon Quest 120, 3 buckle tech boot.

2013/14 Salomon Quest 120, 3 buckle tech boot.

Construction features:
-98mm last
-30 degrees 15 forward 15 back
-1800 grams at 26.5 size
-Features a magnesium backbone.

As with Atomic, Salomon chose to forge their own tech fittings. Note: I was assured these were 10X stronger then their last model a few years back.

Like Atomic, Salomon chose to forge their own tech fittings. Note: I was assured these were 10X stronger than their last model a few years back.

The Quest  120 features a magnesium walk mode similar to many of the other current freeride tech boot offerings.

The Quest 120 features a magnesium walk mode similar to other freeride tech boot offerings.

The Quest 120 also features a swappable Vibram-inspired sole that can be used with Salomon's proprietary WTR binding system.

The Quest 120 has a swappable Vibram-inspired sole that can be used with Salomon's proprietary WTR binding system.

An Intuition inspired thermomodable liner comes standard with the Quest 120.

An Intuition inspired thermomodable liner comes standard with the Quest 120.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


63 Responses to “Bring Your Steak Knives for the Beef – Salomon and Atomic Tech Boots”

  1. dave downing February 13th, 2013 10:19 am

    I was skeptical about the Live Fit when buying a new pair of boots this season, but after a 1/2 season on some Atomic Alpine boots with the Live Fit, i’m sold. I’d buy a pair for AT use in a heartbeat (based on fit alone). It saved me from having to do any boot fitting this year as the Live Fit covered the only zone i have to punch out. If you have a 6th toe, check them out.

  2. Lou Dawson February 13th, 2013 10:23 am

    Dave, thanks so much for your take. I was hoping someone would chime in who’s actually used the system. If it works for AT, that is very cool, even revolutionary. Lou

  3. bryan February 13th, 2013 11:09 am

    Note to manufacturers:

    The backcountry skiing marketplace is now at the point where educated buyers will avoid a purchase because you choose not to license Dynafit tech inserts. Dynafit inserts cost you what – 10% off the bottom line?

    That’s worth it if your sales go up 15% because of the decision to pay more for the right fittings.

    After dealing with poorly designed Technica inserts on the best AT boot I’ve ever skied (cochise), I’m willing to give up that downhill performance for Dynafit inserts IF I have to.

    End rant.

  4. Lou Dawson February 13th, 2013 11:21 am

    Bryan, good point. I’m wondering how Salewa/Dynafit is doing on their effort to “certify” other insert makers. We need that so bad. Otherwise, yeah, the boot makers should just buy their inserts from Dynafit, no matter what kind of angst that causes at the espresso machine in Montebelluna.

  5. dave downing February 13th, 2013 11:45 am

    Lou, i see the Live Fit system working best for AT. A little bit of give when driving your foot forward while walking and climbing, especially on a big climb, sounds…well…comfortable. I know, ski boots shouldn’t be comfortable, but it’s a nice thought, isn’t it 😉

    I was more worried about the down than the up, and so far it’s not been a concern.

  6. Omekim February 13th, 2013 11:55 am

    Are the new Quest soles swappable onto the current Quest boots? I.e. can I get the new Tech fitting soles onto my current Quest boots?

  7. Dimitri February 13th, 2013 12:23 pm

    Im skeptical, all this talk of beef might just be superficial big flappy straps and go fast buckles. lets hope this isn’t just the manufactures just horsing us around (sorry, could not resist).

  8. Lou Dawson February 13th, 2013 12:48 pm

    Dimitri, they are “horsing around” in a sense, as there is as yet no real market for this stuff. It is a “potential” market that takes shoppers who would otherwise buy an alpine boot. I’m not saying folks such as Frank are not potential customers, just that there are so few guys like him compared to the alpine boot market, no way the existing backcountry skiing market can support this many beef boots being made and retailed every year.

    The idea is that a lot of alpine skiers will buy these boots if they ski just as well as their alpine boots, only they get a rubber sole, walk mode, perhaps some sole rocker if their bindings will work with it, and they can uphill on the boot if they happen to not be riding cable.

    Another factor is that it takes some skiing chops to switch from a beefy alpine boot to an average weight or lighter ski touring boot. Some skier have the chops, but many don’t. Thus, again, a lot of potential backcountry skiers are stuck with riding cable because the backcountry gear is just so odd and difficult for them.

    Backcountry boots just like alpine boots take care of most of this problem, since the skis are already there if you want. Only thing left is the bindings being a bit weird for people, but something like a Duke takes care of that obstacle as well.

    In other words, an alpine ski shop can now sell an alpine skiing customer a setup that is no compromise on the piste, but they can at least sort of tour with depending on their tolerance for weight.

    More, they can look good on the ski lift and in the bar.

  9. Lou Dawson February 13th, 2013 12:55 pm

    Some of you might be wondering just how much we’ll be covering the cinder block boot category. We’ll try to keep you up to speed on most new stuff, but no way we’ll review it all. We’ll review select beef boots with following criteria:

    – Attention to weight
    – Tech fittings that work correctly
    – Plenty of cuff articulation
    – Overall comfort in touring mode

    Beyond that, we’ll keep up our coverage of the mid weight touring boots we know and love so well. For example, the Dynafit TLT6 on the horizon may prove to be one of the best boots ever.


  10. Dimitri February 13th, 2013 12:56 pm

    “More, they can look good on the ski lift and in the bar.”

    indeed, you see a lot of this. there is a reason the WSJ selected the vulcan as the must have ski gear this season.

    a quote “cutting-edge ski accessories that will help you look terrific, and talented”

  11. David February 13th, 2013 2:02 pm

    With these, I have the choice of “ride or hike” rather than “ski or walk”

    I guess that clearly shows the market these guys are trying to open up…

  12. dmr February 13th, 2013 3:23 pm

    Everyone seems to be referring to these boots as too heavy, but if I read correctly, the Atomic boot weighs 1800 grams per boot at 26.5, isn’t that what the Skookum weighs?

    In other words it appears that we have alpine-level performance boots at weights of AT boots that were “as good as it gets but still a compromise in stiffness and downhill performance” just 3 short years ago.

    I have an alpine race boot and a great alpine setup for the resort, so I’ll be moving to as light as I can afford/fit for my next pair of AT boots (I currently ski on said Skookums), but on paper if I was making the choice between 1800 grams of Dynafit/Scarpa/Garmont (now Scott) per foot and 1800 grams of Atomic or Salomon, that latter two win hands down.

    Well that is unless the Atomic and Salomon boots tour like crap.

  13. Dave Field February 13th, 2013 4:17 pm

    whats all this about pooly designed technica inserts? First I’ve heard of potential issues regarding technica and dynafit compatability.

  14. Lou Dawson February 13th, 2013 4:40 pm

    Been happening since other outfits have tried to make their own inserts. They seem simple, but the toe inserts have some subtle angles and metallurgy. Many people don’t even understand how they’re supposed to work, nor how strong they need to be.

    I’ve heard that Tecnica fixed all that before it became a big deal. Wish I would have caught it, but due to timing of samples I did not.

  15. Dan February 13th, 2013 4:44 pm

    The primary problem with the new super-beef touring boots is that they are about 20 years too late for me. Thank the stars for TLT5s, et. al.

  16. Lou Dawson February 13th, 2013 5:00 pm

    Dan, ditto, I do ok on the light stuff though sometimes I ask too much of it, like never using the TLT5 tongues. That comes back to bite me for sure, like when it gets steep and difficult. It’s all about goals and style of skiing. Plenty of people in the world have large smiles while using medium to light weight touring gear. On the other hand, I’ll agree there are folks who can legitimately use the heavy stuff — though they could probably go a lot lighter with just a small adjustment in technique and expectations. Lou

  17. Tom Gos February 13th, 2013 7:53 pm

    Lou, please elaborate on the Salomon WTR binding tease.

  18. David B February 13th, 2013 8:04 pm

    Compromise is the word.

    We have always been asked to compromise one for the other uphill peformance versus downhill performance. The only way around this was to carry both set ups, one resort and one backcountry.

    A lot of people just can’t justify that expense. Particularly if they don’t live at the foot of the mountain and can only get to ski on annual holidays.

    The way I see it, these new “beef” boots will take a considerable chunk of the market. It seems everyone wants to venture beyond the ropes now, be it side country or genuine backcountry touring.The jibbers are taking their game backcountry and it’s where the ski media is focusing.

    Boot manufacturers are now starting to wake up and say, hey, you don’t have to compromise anymore. we’ll give you light competent touring capabilities with bomber downhill. It’s a no brainer.

    It’s inevitable, the touring boot manufacturers are moving to the middle and so to are the alpine boot manufacturers.

    Happy days. Just sit back and watch it evolve. Look how far they have come just in the last two seasons.

  19. John Gloor February 13th, 2013 8:25 pm

    That Carbon Atomic boot looks great! I am glad to see them put two buckles and a power strap on the upper cuff and only one buckle on the lower cuff. I don’t get what makers are thinking when they put two buckles on the lower shell and one and a strap on the upper cuff. For a guy my size(6′-4″ 235 lbs), the heaviest of these boots is proportionally lighter than just about any boot you weight weenies are on.

  20. Colin February 13th, 2013 9:56 pm

    “Like Atomic, Salomon chose to forge their own tech fittings. Note: I was assured these were 10X stronger than their last model a few years back.”

    They damn well better be. I’d like to hope they don’t maim anybody else.

    Sorry, Lou. I’m still upset about that incident.

    Excited about the new boot crop.

  21. Joe Risi February 13th, 2013 10:22 pm

    @colin I really hope they are as well!!!

  22. Verbier61 February 14th, 2013 2:23 am

    I’ve seen (and in many cases walked) at ISPO all the new AT/sidecountry boots. This atomic has imvho too much volume, and the walk is not at the level of the best competitors. Said that, it’s great to have new kids on the block.

  23. Pablo February 14th, 2013 3:58 am

    Ok, I have the Waymaker Tour 110 since two weeks and I skied they twice.
    First impressions:

    Weight: they feel light, lot lighter than my BD Factors.I did not weight they but They feel the weigt

    Stifness: Very Stiff not as stiff as the Factors 130, but near.Lateral stifness is nice, for me better than Factors.

    Comfort: they are very comfortable, maybe too much. Mine is a preproduction so maybe some changes in this area. The shell mold is made with the less touring models in mind as the shell is perfect to fit the thicker alpine liners so, when they put the thinner Intuition liner in the more touring models, there’s too much room in the foot area. I have regular feets and even closing the buckle to the max there’s too much room.
    I think they will change the position of buckle for the intuitions liner versions.
    Even this mistake, the heel is well placed and locked, I haven’n any issue with that area.

    Liner: Intuition, garantie of good performance, warm and lightness.

    Cuff articulation: In walk mode they have more range than Lange XT and similar to Factors, thats only a feeling so i would say they walk/skin correctly.

    Cuff blocking is very easy and efective as it’s a really blobkage.

    Tech fittings: I cant say if they are stronger or not as I’m a 70kg skier, but I sikied hard on resort hardpack and they work fine. I ass landed once and the realese was normal, like dynafit.
    steping in to my Verticals was easy, the fittings have a nice rounded edge around the hole so the binding pins slide easy even if you’re not aligning perfectly your toes. I did’nt notice any play or dificult realising it by hand so I can say the seem to work properly.

    I’m going to change the instep buckle position to close a little more the boot. I think with this change they can become my all-to-do-sidecountry-resort boot.
    For touring my choice is TLT5 but I found that Waymaker Tour 110 is a good option as a polivalent beefy boot.

    (apologies for my limited english)

  24. Lou Dawson February 14th, 2013 5:30 am

    Thanks Pablo.

  25. Lou Dawson February 14th, 2013 6:16 am

    One thing I find interesting about this beef boot trend is, today’s skis are about 100 times easier to ski on than the planks of say, 1982. Why, then, do we need bigger stiffer boots?

    That’s somewhat rhetorical, as I do know that certain styles of skiing require big everything. But still, how many people really need boots this big and heavy to enjoy backcountry skiing these days, on a fully rockered, +100 mm width highly engineered platform of fun?

    The next couple of years will be interesting.

  26. Lou Dawson February 14th, 2013 6:50 am

    Guys, check out what was available in tech compatible beef boots just three years ago. What a change!

  27. Pablo February 14th, 2013 7:39 am

    Good reflexión Lou.
    I think the same since I first skied my TLT5p’s.
    I think this trend is because of lots of people looking to the sidecountry from the skilift and thinking…why not?… thats a big market to conquer and that people are used to use beef boots on resort slopes…


  28. Lou Dawson February 14th, 2013 7:57 am

    Pablo, yes, as I’ve written before but worth continuing to discuss: The major players are seeing this as a potential market, as are the small guys like Dynafit and Scarpa. In a few years we’ll know the answer. Meanwhile, with this many boots coming out, good prices will be easy to find and the products will keep improving at a rapid pace. Lou

  29. brad February 14th, 2013 8:17 am

    “… today’s skis are about 100 times easier to ski on than the planks of say, 1982. Why, then, do we need bigger stiffer boots?”

    ‘Cuz us ‘Murcans are a lot fatter now than in 1982!! 🙂

    But I’m also in the same situation as Mr. John Gloor, us Clydesdales are hard on gear. True lightweight gear is almost never an option for me. Either the performance is not there for me, or it breaks.

  30. XXX_er February 14th, 2013 9:54 am

    “”” We’ll review select beef boots with following criteria:

    – Attention to weight
    – Tech fittings that work correctly
    – Plenty of cuff articulation
    – Overall comfort in touring mode
    GOOD plan^^ !

    If Scarpa can source intuitiion liners quickstep fitting and still make the Maestrale as cheap or cheaper than everyone else, still make a $ I assume … WHY can’t everyone else?

    My 5 yr old 4 buckle Garmont with the swapable soles was chosen TO compromise, it weighs 340 gr per boot more than the same size Mercury, ROM on the Mercury is vastly superior, the 3 buckle Mercury has way more power and control in spite of not looking beef

    I would say do not compromise too much if at all cuz IMO wildsnow is about the cutting edge of touring gear … NOT compromise

    has no where near the ROM or the perofrmance of my new Mercury think wildsnow is much about compromise

  31. Lou Dawson February 14th, 2013 10:15 am

    XXXer, we will not compromise, but we’ve got plenty of room for covering a good selection of the bigger boots — been doing that for years. I’m totally aware of the amazing number of people (millions) who are fine with light to medium weight touring gear. That’s why Dynafit, for example, is successful these days and just did a 50 million euro year. And, yeah, that’s why we are successful as well, we’ve kept our focus on our passion, we don’t chase after the latest trends till they match up with that.

  32. XXX_er February 14th, 2013 10:50 am

    Its nice if you don’t have to but no harm in a little compromise and its good to know exactly what/how much the compromise is in comparison to the state of the art

    delete that garbled last sentence of my last post and this sentance if you like

  33. Andy February 14th, 2013 12:51 pm

    “Need” is the wrong word. You don’t “need” fat skis or ProShell or whatever either. I find beefier boots (Factors, until this weekend) more fun to SKI on most winter tours that the slippers (TLT5s) I use in the spring/summer for volcanos. YMMV. I find it mystifying that so many people seem to take almost personal offense at the expansion of stiffer boot offerings, or even fatter skis. I ski to have fun, not make some aesthetic point. Not interested in the bigger, heavier stuff? Don’t click on the posts, which clearly communicate the subject. Enjoy your three-pin skinny skis. I’m grateful that this site covers all kinds of touring gear and news.

  34. Lou Dawson February 14th, 2013 12:56 pm

    My only need is my loin cloth made of aspen bark, everything else is a want (grin).

  35. Andy February 14th, 2013 1:42 pm

    Real seal skins are WAY more durable than all this synthetic stuff 😉

  36. David B February 14th, 2013 5:09 pm

    Another 2 cents worth.

    While I enjoy the uphill, the truth of the matter (for me) is, as always has been, I just love skiing down mountains. The better feel and connection I have with my skis the more enjoyable I find the experience. In one run I might come across a range of different conditions and angles and that is where the stiffer boot and binding without play come into their own.

    I like skiing in a stiff boot.

    OK there, I’ve said it.

  37. Lou Dawson February 14th, 2013 6:51 pm

    David, that is one of the exact justifications I used to hear all the time from telemarkers in leather slipper boots. Amazing how things change (grin). Lou

  38. john nobil February 14th, 2013 9:43 pm

    Give us carbon! Atomic, Salomon, etc. Don’t really see the need for beef boots in powder anyways. Powder skiing involves so much weighting/unweighting, heavy boots just dampen the ability to react quickly, and edging is a subtle issue. Would love to hear what a big mtn skier says after testing out, say, a Vulcan, and yes i know the price is exorbitant, but once you try it you’ll never (willingly) go back! What the market really needs is for the BIG ski corps to finally commit to producing carbon fiber BEEF to force some much needed downward price pressure on the market leaders like Dynafit. Believe me, a few layers of carbon fiber in a cuff just does not cost that much when you already have the mold ready. Its a very small amount of the material and a little bit more labour. This is marketing more than being a market leader, and Its really all about profit (lots). Dinosaur boots are just that: slow, heavy, 100million yr old oozing petroleum. (ex: carbon bikes: now, you can get a badass full carbon frame for LESS than 1/2 what was typical only 5 yrs ago). Ski boot industry, you’re only 15yrs behind… give us our much overdue carbon beef!

  39. Andy February 14th, 2013 11:35 pm

    The Vulcan (carbon) is only 10 grams lighter than the non-carbon Mercury. The TLT5P isn’t dramatically lighter than the M, so carbon isn’t miraculously making even Dynafit’s boots lighter within it’s own line. Also, weight is just one variable in skiing performance. To say that heavier boots are less quick in powder defies my experience. Sure you might be able to more easily pick your feet up, but why are you doing that? It’s in the skin track where the weight is most noticeable. No argument there.

  40. Pablo February 15th, 2013 7:05 am

    Andy you can use Carbon for two different purposes:
    -To mantain stifness with less weight as used in racing boots like or ALien
    -To increas stifness with same weight as used in Vulcan or TLT5.

    When Dynafit put carbon on TLT5p is not to make a lighter boot but to make a way stiffer boot than a TLT5m

  41. Lou Dawson February 15th, 2013 7:22 am

    But Pablo, carbon does make boots “lighter” by virtue of the fact that making that same boot as stiff with nylon plastic (Pebax, Grilamid) would weigh more than the equivalent stiffness of boot that uses a good amount of carbon or at least fiber reinforced plastic (some of the carbon stuff is fake and actually fiberglass). In other words, TLT5P and TLT5M are not the same boot. They weigh about the same, but one is stiffer and therefor it is a “lighter” boot. The carbon of the TLT5P cuff is noticeably stiff, and combined with the ingenious way the cuff anchors to the shell in downhill mode, they are an amazing boot in terms of performance vs weight. Even more amazing will be the TLT6 without the metatarsal flex damping things. That shoe will be a screamer.

  42. Pablo February 15th, 2013 10:26 am

    “that shoe will be a screamer”
    +1 I totally agree!


  43. Scooter February 15th, 2013 11:18 am

    As Lou mentioned most of the carbon in ski boots is really carbon like fiberglass. Carbon = increase in price, thus smaller user market, thus not really important to big guys like Amer group. (Salomon, Atomic). just my opinion… hopefully the future will prove me wrong.

  44. Daniel Dunn February 15th, 2013 9:08 pm

    I’m really interested in hearing what you guys think of the Tecnica Cochise 120 and Lange XT 130. I skied them both at SIA and really enjoyed them, as did I enjoy the Salomons described here. All three boots ski frontside aggressive terrain really well.
    thanks as always Lou!

  45. charlie February 15th, 2013 11:25 pm

    I have been skiing on a pair of Atomic Waymaker 130 demo boots for the last couple days. I have a very difficult time finding boots that fit me properly. I have high instep, a high arch and a very short, wide foot. These are the most comfortable boots I have ever skied in. With some footbed volume tweaks and a booster strap these will be the best boots ever. I’ll buy two pair for when the first pair wears out. Not the stiffest boots, not the lightest boots, but super-comfortable and very capable all around. I have tried on/skied in a ton of boots and I am impressed with this offering.

  46. marcin February 16th, 2013 4:28 am

    Ditto on Tom’s request. Could you elaborate on the Salomon WFR binding tease?

  47. onenerdykid February 17th, 2013 10:30 am

    Hi everyone,

    My name is Matt Manser, and I am the Product Manager of Alpine Boots for Atomic. Joe will provide some more information on the Atomic boots and our technologies shortly, along with some clarification on some of the points in the preview. So, please stay tuned for an update.

    Until then, I will address the question of WTR since that is still open. It’s helpful to think of the grip pad first, then the binding. WTR (Walk To Ride) is a grip pad profile that is rockered for easy walking, has an AFD to help provide a safe release, and is dual hardness for better traction. It will be available in a tech insert version and a non-tech insert version. The benefit of WTR over a normal DIN grip pad is that it is easier to walk in. The benefit of WTR over a full rubber grip pad is that it provides a safer release.

    Because of its rockered profile, a WTR grip pad is taller than a standard DIN grip pad and will therefore require bindings that have an adjustable toe height. Currently the only bindings that have been certified by the T.U.V. in Munich to work with WTR grip pads are Tracker/Guardian 13 & 16, STH2 13 & 16, FFG Team 14 & 16, STH Driver 12 14 16, and licensed versions of each. The T.U.V. have not certified other bindings at this point.

    Hopefully that clears up what WTR means and what it is compatible with.


  48. Lou Dawson February 17th, 2013 10:43 am

    Matt, thanks for chiming in. To what standard is TUV working this? Your own standard supplied to TUV or something DIN/ISO? Would be good to be clear on that, since when you start mentioning TUV there tends to be an assumption that “certification” is to some kind of industry wide or legal standard. More, it would be good to clarify if other companies have chosen to attempt certification by TUV of their bindings to (your?) WTR standard, and if doing so is an industry wide requirement, or voluntary. WTR looks like a good thing, but better if it’s clarified rather than possibly appearing as some kind of new DIN/ISO standard rather than simply your own “standard” that you have TUV test your products for. Thanks, Lou

  49. onenerdykid February 17th, 2013 10:53 am

    Hi Lou, good point. The T.U.V. have certified the WTR profile for the ISO 5355 Alpine norm but only within those bindings I mentioned and their licensed versions. That would then include bindings like Scott and Look’s version of the Tracker/Guardian.

    To my knowledge, Rossignol is the only other boot brand that has WTR grip pads for the 2013/14 year. I am not sure if Scott is working on a WTR grip pad.

  50. Lou Dawson February 17th, 2013 10:56 am

    Matt, that’s still unclear, is WTR an industry-wide and government recognized norm, or not? Yes or no?

  51. onenerdykid February 18th, 2013 9:28 am

    Hi Lou, I need to correct my previous statement about the ISO: WTR is in accordance with ISO 9523. I think I was too caught up in celebrating our World Championship success here in Austria 😉 My apologies

    To your specific question, WTR is not an industry-wide technology, just as when Dynafit launched the Tech Insert it was not an industry-wide technology. What the TUV does is act as a certification and testing facility to make sure that certain products fall within certain safety norms. So, what the TUV has done here is certify our claims that WTR grip pads walk easier and offer no compromise on safety when used with WTR compatible bindings.

    Look and Scott are official licensees of the binding technology, and Rossignol is an official licensee of the grip pad technology. If other brands are going to join us is something I cannot comment on at this time, as I hope you understand.

  52. Lou Dawson February 18th, 2013 10:34 am

    Ok, everyone, to add my own clarification.

    Atomic came up with a boot sole design they call WTR, recommended only for bindings they certify as compatible. Essentially, a WTR sole has the standard touring boot sole shape so it conforms to the legal DIN/ISO norm 9523, with (in my observation) a bit of extra effort to design a binding interface “AFD” area in the toe and heel. Norm 9523 requires a binding interface area , but probably not to the extent that WTR goes to.

    In terms of rocker and sole shape, the standard norm DIN/ISO 9523 defines that, and only small deviations are allowed. Thus, most of the WTR is simply a 9523 boot sole.

    TUV is a testing company. You can hire them to test to anything you want. You can hire them to test to a legal norm, or your own. For example, you could hire TUV to test a block of wood, if you gave them your own supplied standard for that block of wood. Involving TUV in any aspect of ski gear manufacture means little, it simply means they were hired to test something.

    It sounds like Atomic had their boots tested by TUV for the legal industry DIN/ISO touring boot sole shape norm of 9523, but also to their own norm of WTR. Either of these standards are voluntary. For example, a Dynafit TLT5 does not have a 9523 sole.

    As for the tech fittings, there has never been a DIN/ISO standard for those. And yes, if you supply TUV with some measurements etc they can test tech fittings. TUV does have a set of specifications provided by Dynafit, and you can pay them to test for that if you like. But this is not a standard, not DIN/ISO.

    And specifically regarding Dynafit, they did not launch the tech insert. It was launched by Fritz Barthel as an independent business using Dynafit brand boots which they installed the fittings in by hand. At times Dynafit has worked with TUV on binding testing, and once there was even a TUV logo on the Dynafit binding, but that’s the extent of it for now. It’s indeed a huge selling point to have a binding “TUV certified” to a true DIN/ISO standard, and there is indeed a race to see who can produce such a tech binding. But thusfar, yes, neither tech inserts nor tech bindings are certified to any sort of industry standard.

    I applaud efforts being made by Atomic and other companies to get touring boots and bindings more standardized. But this process should not be used to produce marketing and PR spreech nor should it be pushed to the point where it stifles innovation.

  53. Pierce Oz February 18th, 2013 5:24 pm

    I agree that this is a good progression in boots. I see a day when MOST high-performance boots have rubber soles, a walk-mode, are light-weight, and can work in any binding. Wow, boots that will fit in ANY binding, touring or alpine, with no mods or sole swaps? What a concept!! Hold on, we still don’t have that??? I know that I and a lot of my friends have been getting by with whatever alpine binders we hear or find that work with the “AT” boots we ski every day cable-riding or skinning, and certainly dealing with the consequences on our own. Frankly, I’m blown away this isn’t a reality, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be in a few years. Even the best, newest, “AT” bindings are a compromise when it comes to release, ski connection, durability, etc., and I don’t know that this is a trade-off that can ever be overcome.

    After lots of personal experience and experimentation trying to force a dual-use, quiver-of-one, I have resort skis, with alpine bindings and touring skis, with touring bindings. I think most consummate skiers have come to the same conclusion. Everything I tried before was a compromise and typically resulted in destroyed AT gear, and poor skiability on anything but powder. The Dynafit Zzeuss has been the first boot that I can comfortably say covers it all for me, with lots more options now clearly on the table. I think this will be the case for me going forward, since I’m willing to pay a bit in boot weight for skiing performance, and that “cost” keeps decreasing. Every other beef AT boot prior to this has been a compromise, some WAY more than others (remember the Denali TT??). Cheers to this progression.

    Of course, there will always be a market for plug boots and full-on vert crushing touring boots, but we seem to be converging on a pretty good model for most skiing, IMO. Let’s hope ISO, DIN, and TUV can keep pace and help vs. hurt.

    I can definitely speak to the growing popularity of this skiing equipment segment. A good judge is the number of people “skinning” the short hike out to the top of Benchmark at Vail (East Vail sidecountry starting point.) It was typically a rare sight until the last two or three years. It’s simply not worth bringing touring gear to ski almost entirely downhill with a lot inbounds skiing to get there, for reasons previously stated. This season, at least 25-30 percent of all hiking-skiers are on skins, maybe more. I think it’s mainly a style thing, or simply posing. Sorry if that’s too harsh. It’s a 20 minute boot-hike! VERY rarely, if arriving at the start of the hike at the same time, will someone with skins get there and be ready to ski first.

    Also, I’ve seen a huge increase in tech bindings at the resort. Usually reserved for people gear-testing or skiing down after uphilling, it’s pretty common-place now. I’ve now watched, several times, the same guy on brand-new Double Priced Skis, with brand-new Vulcans spend a full 5 minutes trying to get into his brand-new Plums at the base of Lionshead, only to lock-out the toe once he finally finds his tech-fittings. I should probably offer some help, but my experience is that someone who dropped $4K on their rig isn’t looking for advice. Maybe a wildsnow sticker with the link to the dynafit FAQ would help? I’ve also known MANY people who’ve had AT boots and Dukes for years and nevery owned a pair of skins. I’m sure these all nice, well-intentioned people, but I’ve got to imagine that a lot of the growth is simply because this gear is deemed fashionable.

    Lou, do you think this part of equation will be good for the gear or worse in the end? Are we trying to make touring gear do too much? Is fashion now driving the industry? Maybe it always has?

  54. Lou Dawson February 18th, 2013 5:46 pm

    Pierce, I’d say it’s mostly good, with a bit of manky style and marketing driven gear that’s usually pretty obvious once it starts breaking (grin). As for convergence, yes, we are going to see a new type of ski boot that becomes very popular, one with walk mode and rubber/rocker sole. It’s not necessarily a “touring” boot, just something comfortable that can do everything. Interesting times, way more interesting than when there were essentially 3 or 4 AT bindings and 35 different tele bindings.

  55. MorganW February 18th, 2013 10:56 pm

    Good to see more entrants in the back/slack boot market. Just wondering if the fact that all these are overlap boots is evidence of superior design or just what the target market is “used to”?

    I speak as somebody who has just happily moved from Radiums to Full Tilt to Dalbello Sherpa and noticed the increase in both performance and comfort as I have (a contradiction??).

  56. Wookie1974 February 19th, 2013 2:24 am

    I think these things are cyclical. I have been buying progressively heavier stuff for about a decade now, and have been very happy with that choice, but I find myself dreaming these days of a new semi-superlightwieght setup. I’m reasonably certain that when I get it, I’ll pine for the control, edge-hold and talent enhancement that my heavy stuff offers. Part of the fun, I guess.
    We’re also clearly driven by market forces. True BC is still for a relatively small group, even though it has doubled or tripled in recent years, but near-resort stuff (sidecountry is an illusion and we shouldn’t use it) is now for the masses, and the masses want to ski that stuff on gear they already know how to use – but comfortably. All this beef stuff is great for that, which will drive many readers of this blog to go back to ever-lighter gear just to get away from the crowds. (remember when you could ski powder on the edges of a resort all day after a dump? These days – you better be in the first set, or you’ve blown it! .-))

  57. Greg Hill February 19th, 2013 9:11 am

    Hey Everyone,

    I understand that people are worried about the tech inserts in the Quest Max BC.
    I have been shredding on these for 3 months now and had absolutely no issues with them. I have put them through the ringer;Steep and hard, crashes, whatever conditions and they have held up.

    We are always skeptical about new things but for me I am loving having a burlier ski boot under my foot. The weight is similar to the Dynafit Zzero but the ski ability far superior. I can charge as hard as I want and am completely confident in the boots on my feet.

    I hope that helps with some of your fears.

  58. Lou Dawson February 19th, 2013 9:19 am

    Indeed, we have Quest Max BC here at WildSnow world HQ, the tech inserts look good. We will file a report soon but I tend to agree with Greg, although at his weight I doubt if him skiing on them is much of a beef test (grin).

  59. Chris Rubens February 19th, 2013 10:10 am

    Hey Lou,
    Just wanted to chime in on a couple of things.

    First I have high hopes for your tests of the new tech soles. I rode the first edition and have been riding the new ones for the last year and a half. They are a huge step up and have been totally bomber.

    WTR concept is something that I think is inherently good in the ski industry. I see way too many people stuffing touring boots into normal bindings, while they fit, the release ability values suffer big time. Unless you have adjustable toe height and a sliding AFD plate, which in my experience is prone to breaking. In a time when we are going into one boot that can do it all era, it would be awesome to get rid of removable soles all together. One sole; tech compatible, viberam sole, rockered, fits in normal bindings. Anyway just my two cents, looking forward to seeing the test. Thanks for a great site.


  60. Lou Dawson February 19th, 2013 10:14 am

    Apparently we have some typos in the above, in the WTR acronym. I’m correcting. Apologies to all.

  61. David Butler February 21st, 2013 8:52 pm

    Really interested in what folks are saying about this boot category.

  62. Jason March 13th, 2013 3:35 pm

    Wow, loads of news stuff… I wonder if the word “sidecountry” / “slackcountry” will be revived. LOL

  63. Ed June 18th, 2013 3:49 am

    Great Comments / info guys! finally some really useful discussion / info on the waymakers that i am seriously considering buying. My main query is how do they actually perform on the downhill…big lines , hard and fast skiing ?
    Anybody given them a decent workout yet ?


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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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