So many boot liners — so little time. I was chanting that mantra when during this past weekend I noticed that Garmont and Dynafit thermo liners are made by the same purveyor of foam, Palau in France. Excellent — I could test the molding process and performance of three different boot brand’s liners in a simple two-pair comparison of Scarpa/Intuition and Palau.
|Checking the Scarpa temperature while molding. A bit cool because the liner had only cooked for part of its allotted 15 minutes.|
While all three boot makers (Dynafit, Garmont, Scarpa) are recommending their thermo liners be heated with a blower system while in the boot, doing so is tough to rig for the do it yourselfer. So I stuck with using my convection oven, and could have easily molded them in a regular oven using the correct technique (pre-heat oven, protect boot from radiant heat scorching, and turn off oven soon after you put the liner in thus letting the ambient heat of the oven do the work.).
Oven mold temp for both types of liners is 250 degrees for 15 minutes, so that’s what I stuck with. To be sure, I shot the oven interior with my infrared thermometer, and checked the actual surface of the liner as well while it was heating. You can do the same thing with an accurate oven thermometer. Just be careful since over-heating these things will ruin them.
Both the Intuition and Palau liners puffed out nicely in the allotted time. For molding, I first stuck my footbeds in the liner, followed by my foot, then slipped the whole shebang into the Zzero boot. A spray of silicon eased the process. One interesting problem I had was that my footbeds are quite flexible in the toe area, and tended to get curled up by the liner and press against my toes. A stiffer footbed would prevent this. I also had a bit of trouble making sure the bottom of the liner ended up being the bottom after molding. They’re so flexible and puffed up when they come out of the oven that you can end up with all sorts of funny twisted configurations is you’re not careful. Working solo didn’t help with this, as a boot fitter can inspect things before you insert — more, this is of course one of the reasons why molding in the boots with a blower works well.
Next, time to go skiing. I opted for the Intuition liners, as they felt a bit stiffer and I though it would be fun to get the most beef possible out of the Zzero. We ended up at Snowmass Resort (Colorado) in some chopped pow, and the combo was actually too stiff! Conclusion from that is that the aftermarket Intuition liners definitely have presence. They’ll make a terrific addition to a softer boot such as a Garmont Megaride, but might not be necessary in an already stiff boot such as the Green Machine. That is, unless you want the max agro boot combo. In that case, all bets are off. Swap in an Intuition liner, swap on a stiffer tongue, crank down that power strap — and race World Cup downhill in your AT boots. With the aftermarket options available now, it appears any whining about soft AT boots is a thing of the past.
Funny thing is, even though the current North American AT fad appears to be beefy rando boots, I’m still partial to lighter ones that have a slightly softer feel. Thus, the Zzero with its comfy Palau stock liner is my first choice. Indeed, this was validated today when I did an uphill today with the Palau, it is indeed the correct liner for what I want in a boot as stiff as the Zzero, and having a regular tongue allows my shin some forward movement while walking that’s slightly more comfortable than a wrap-around such as Intuiton. But I like the Scarpa/Intuitions as well, and will use them in my softer AT boots — perhaps my Scarpa Matrix or even my F1s.
|For skiing the liners last weekend we were thinking of doing some earn-your-turns at a closed resort, but instead headed for Aspen Mountain, knowing fresh snow would have blanketed some of their groom. Mistake. Instead of being mechanically whisked up to a white wonderland we were greeted by this gigantic crowd and a closed gondola. Not the best of mornings for the Aspen Skiing Company. Instead of waiting in line we headed for Snowmass Resort, and ended up waiting in line there as well. Oh well… I got the boots skied, but should have just gone uphilling instead of riding lifts.|
|While driving through Aspen I got this one-handed “street” shot through our truck window of the classic Hotel Jerome. It’s a beautiful building that embodies the history of the old mining town. Jerome is now a bit pricey for a bed, but they’re not charging for photos — yet. Amazing what the little Canon A720 can come up with, isn’t it?|