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 Post subject: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:55 pm 
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Hi!

I'm considering trying out a hardboot setup, but as a surfer, I'm a little nervous about losing the "surfy" feeling. I know "surfy feeling" is often used to discuss this particular aspect of the hard/soft boot wars, and that it's entirely subjective, but I think everyone knows what we all mean so I'm not going to go too much into it. I'm looking for feedback from people who have actually tried both, especially those who were also skeptical/unsure about loosing that flex/looseness in the feet, and what they found out either way.

From my research, it sounds like it sounds like there are good lightweight AT boots that aren't actually that stiff, and you can ride them in walk mode? That seems that it would make the ankle flex not all that different than a softboot (leaving in walk mode)?

I'm only interested in feedback regarding the ride mode/flex side of things, the rest of the picture isn't worth talking much about because it's pretty one sided: the hardboot/tech setup is a pretty clear winner all touring mode things - efficiency, weight, bootpacking, safety, speed, etc.

If there are people who didn't want to lose that play and flex from softboots and ended up going to hardboots without feeling like it was that compromised, I'd be curious to know what boots you ended up with, and if you ride with walk mode or not.

Also, somebody please send some winter to the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:27 pm 
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If you truly want the feeling of surfing, then I would suggest a noboard and some sorrels.
All snowboard boots are much stiffer than no boot at all.
I would never recommend riding a hard boot system in walk mode, as walk mode gives no rearward support for heel side turns: riding a head boot in walk mode is similar to riding soft boots without a highback on the binding.
If you normally ride in a high end snowboard boot, like Burton Driver X, Salomon Malamute, Ride Insano, or other high end soft boot, a well set up hard boot system will be no stiffer than what you are used to, but it will require some mods to the boots, and a little adjustment period.
Read the threads not he TLT5 and 6, these boots offer great ride feel with a couple of simple mods. Not all hard boots are equal in flex, so be careful not to lump them all together. There really is a ton of information on this site on the topic, I would suggest reading up.
My background is in skateboarding, and I would not tolerate a boot binding system which did not allow enough freedom of movement to feel the flow, and to throw some skate/surf style slashes, playbacks, arches, and achieve expressive riding, and I always ride a hard boot system in the backcountry, for all riding.

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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:14 pm 
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I tried a hardboot setup one spring after having ridden softboots for about 25 years. On days when the conditions were good, it was a perfectly lovely experience. With your weight centered on the board and riding over soft and predictable snow, life was good. I frankly never felt like they toured appreciably better than softboots, but then most of our days don't involve long approaches or tons of side hilling, and basically no bootpacking. Finding hardboots that are truly comfortable can be a challenge compared to softboots, but if you can find a good pair of thermoform liners in a shell that matches your foot, then it could be fine. As I said, when the snow was good, hardbooting was good.

What drove me back to softies was when the conditions were marginal to poor. Feeling your way down a mountain in whiteout conditions over sastrugi was pure hell in hardboots. Slow syrupy spring slush where you need to keep your weight way back or risk get tossed over the nose of the board was pure hell in hardboots. Unpredictable breakable crust = hell. Basically anytime you needed to get over the nose or the tail of the board and have lateral ankle flex was a total no-go compared to the freedom of softboots. That is of course why softboots also don't traverse in tour mode well: that is when you don't want lateral flexibility.

If I lived in a place with consistently good snow and lighting conditions I could see having a setup in my quiver that was dedicated to hardboots. I live in a place with a pretty marginal snowpack and just got really tired of riding the mechanical bull, which is how hardboots can feel sometimes. It may come down to your local snow or riding style more than any overarching superiority of one system over another.

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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:51 pm 
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Philip's experience is in direct opposition to mine.
With a properly set up hard boot system there is no downside in ride performance.
I suspect that Philip was using boots which did not flex correctly for good snowboarding performance.
I have zero downsides in ride performance with a hard boot system, in every snow condition imaginable: perfect pow, perfect corn, heinous breakable crusts of all varieties, wind board, ice, sun cups, etc. No problems at all, at least no problems which are any different than they would be with a soft boot, and, no more broken straps.
It also does not hurt that a good hard boot system saves significant weight over soft set ups.

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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:20 pm 
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I posed this question about riding with a surfy feel with hard boots. Check out this thread

That Surfy-Feeling: Soft Boot and Hard Boot flex???

http://splitboard.com/talk/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=13333

Note: I am not a skateboard or surfer.

My background is that I went from Sorels (1987 to 1990) and move directly a 2 buckle Burton MGX Hard boot and rode that boot for till 2009. Old but to me the MGXs were surfy for a pair of carving boots.

2009 Started Splitboarding: Switch to Scarpa F1s and ride them stock with a Masterfit "Eliminator Custom Tongue" shim and a Bomber Siderwinder bindings. Sidewinders allow for lateral movement.


Two years ago tried the Burton Driver X boots Just to see if I was missing anything. The Driver X boots were heavy and stiffer (not as surfy) compare to my Scarpa F1s /Bomber setup. So I sold the Driver Xs this year, because the I really could not feel a surfy-difference between the soft and hard boots mentioned above.

Also please note I ride Burton Race Plates binding on my solid boards (Burton Fish, Venture Euphoria) and a modified Burton Race Plate Volie Slider track with a Venture Storm Splitboard. Both ride binders ride well. I mention the Burton Race Plates because the Phantoms binding are based off of a Burton Race Plate binding (in particular the race plate bails).

Since 2009; I noticed for me that over the years I have relaxed my stance angles and ride my AT boots a lot looser (just snug) With the Masterfit "Eliminator Custom Tongue" shim. see Intentionally loosening boots? [url]viewtopic.php?f=10&t=15020[/url]

The only time when I would lose ankle flex (boot to stiff); is when I had over tighten my F1 boots and I was riding slow on groomers with the wife.

This year I been riding a pair of r Scarpa F1 Race Boots with Prior Fissle on powder days and it has been great!

So for me having tried both hard and soft boots: There is no compromise in a surfy feel in riding AT Boots.


As mentioned the no-boarding for true snow surfy.

I would be interested in hearing from Surfers what you consider is a surfy feel on snowboard.

Philip says:
Quote:
Basically anytime you needed to get over the nose or the tail of the board and have lateral ankle flex was a total no-go compared to the freedom of softboots.


I don't have any problem with later flex in getting my weight over the front or tail of the board with the Scarpa F1s and splitboard HB bindings mentioned above.

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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:43 am 
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Philip, what softboot model do you ride instead? (just to better understand your experience)


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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:40 am 
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Location: Colorado
jerrett wrote:
I'm looking for feedback from people who have actually tried both, especially those who were also skeptical/unsure about loosing that flex/looseness in the feet, and what they found out either way.


Image
Vail pipe on the Phantoms1-16-14 by travis young 424, on Flickr

I have a Skateboarding background and also surf, no-board and far prefer the feeling of soft boots. I grew up ski racing, and have experience with hard-shell snowboard carving boards/boots from way back in the day, so I feel I have a good amount of experience to express an opinion on this. I am a freestyle/ freeride type of rider. I have been on both the Sparks, and the Karakoram split 30's for many seasons. This season I have been lucky enough to ride the Phantoms with modified TLT5's, comparing them back to back with Spark afterburner tesla's and also Burton softy's on a solid, as well as the Phantoms/TLT's on my solid board. I can honestly say that i don’t see myself going back to the softy's again. Calling the Mod TLT's/ Phantoms hard shells is not correct, they are split board boots/ bindings and feel nothing like any other hard-shell I have tried, much more like a regular soft set up than people seem to think. I was skeptical and didn’t even think i would be interested in a set up like this even a year ago. With the Phantoms and moded TLTs and an open mind, I honestly think you would be happy with the feel of the set up in ride mode. The touring benefits and light weight are unbeatable in my opinion. The future will be split specific boots similar to the TLT’s but adjustable forward lean and side to side flex. For now, this set up has plenty of “surf” for me.

Oh yeah, I have tried riding in walk mode. In perfect pow it’s fun and a lot like no-boarding. Reminded me of riding my old Sims with no high backs from “88”

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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:39 pm 
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Concerning surfy feel....

With AT boots I have a more direct manipulation of a snowboard (along the axis), therefore less ankle flexing required to initiate turns compared to riding in softboots. By direct manipulation of a snowboard, I mean the torsional twisting along the the snowboard axis. Example (toe side turn) to engage pressuring the front toe and releasing the rear heel edge. The same is true for a heel side turn front heel pressure and rear toe side release. This is best explained in Go Snowboard DVDROM by Neil McNab

The point I making here is: I do flex my ankles to initiate fluid turns and I transition my weight fore and aft when initiating fluid turns. Contrary to perceptions, I am not riding stiff and stuck in the center over the snowboard. Rather it just takes less effort to ride and initiate fluid turns, when riding in AT boots and HB splitboard setup is that. Because the AT boots and Hard boot plate bindings have more direct connection with the snowboard.

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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:01 pm 
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Lots of great insight here, the more the merrier :)

It sounds like walk mode is akin to highbackless, which seems like a nice option to have for those who are into that sort of thing (I've had lots of fun in deep days without highbacks, but it's too much of a pain to switch back and forth for me to use as much as I'd like)

Has anyone noboarded with hardboots in walk mode? If that's workable then using a plate binding that is compatible with the snowsurf plates from Almond that would sort of solve the issue for anyone really wanting a surfy setup in deep pow, since on those days you could just drop without bindings.


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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:21 pm 
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j. I have not noboarded since back in the Snurfer days... But I would imagine a hard boot in walk mode would still be too restrictive for good noboarding. I would prefer a super soft boot for noboarding, like a Sorel, even regular snowboard soft boots would be too stiff for me as I would want to have a super soft ankle flex in order to keep as much contact between the boot sole and board as possible.

Yup, riding hard boots in walk mode is much like riding without highbacks in normal bindings, except that the new generation of AT boots we typically ride in have much less rearward support in walk mode than any regular snowboard boot. Boots like the TLT5/6, Scarpa F1 and Alien, and Sportivas, all have walk modes which allow for very unrestrictive rearward flex of the boot in walk mode for improved touring performance. Older hard boot designs do not flex rearward with nearly as much ease. I would find a normal soft snowboard boot to have much more rearward support (in a backless binding) than a contemporary lightweight AT boot. But the beauty is, it is easy to try it!

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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:13 pm 
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I have been riding soft boots for 19 years. I did some hard boot carving from time to time but love the feel of a soft boot for all around riding. This being said, I've been devoting more and more time as of late to touring (80+ days a year) and felt limited in my range with a soft boot set up when it came to the mountaineering aspect of splitting. I recently picked up a pair of Dynafit Dy.N.A. PDG boots and followed the mods for a TLT 6 heal side flex. I haven't gotten back on my soft boot touring set up since.

That being said, it also started puking here in Utah and I've wanted to just go out and make quick laps and the hard boot set up is ideal for that, can do 10k a day and feel great where a soft boot I'd be hurting after 5 for 6. However, I am not giving up on the soft boots, they have their place for shorter tours where you want to get a little jibby or sending some drops.

If you're looking for a surfy feel, the hard boot is not a bad option when combined with the right board. I think your board choice will be very important for making the surf like ride possible. I have my hard boots set up on a hovercraft and it rips tight low angle trees, big steep faces, and nasty technical chutes with ease. I can play in pow fields with way less effort than I did on my soft boots without feeling like I'm being restricted.

If you're looking for a surf like ride and need to get it this season go with a TLT 6, and when doing the mod cut the entire top part of the metal lock plate off. You can then use the removable tongue to regulate the flex. I haven't removed that much of my lock plate (I took 2 mm off) but I like a stiffer flex towards the heals. My buddy who took the top half that plate off his TLT 6s claims his hard boots feel like a stiff snowboard boot. If you can wait till next year it sounds like one or two companies will be releasing a hard boot snowboard specific touring boot. This is probably your best bet. I don't have any details on them, but the rumors sound promising.

Your binding choice is important as well, Spark R+D is releasing a hard boot binding next year, Phantom already has a nice package available and I'm sure more companies will catch on in the near future. As with soft boots the binding being mounted on the plate and pin system makes for a rough ride that tends to give way too much feedback without the direct power to the board. If you can drop the money on a Phantom set up do it they rock, if not, save your money over the summer and drop the coin on next years set up from one of the companies.

I would highly suggest trying hard boot touring, even if it doesn't end up being your daily driver for the back country a light weight set up deserves a place in your quiver. Being able to get twice as many pow laps in on those epic days makes them that much better. Getting a surfy split I think will make or break the boots for you, if you like slashing and spraying obscene amounts of pow give it a go.


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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:07 pm 
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billygoat19 wrote:
If you can wait till next year it sounds like one or two companies will be releasing a hard boot snowboard specific touring boot. This is probably your best bet. I don't have any details on them, but the rumors sound promising.



ahem. uh what? please elaborate. give me the rumors.

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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Hardboot insigh
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:45 pm 
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billygoat19 wrote:
If you can wait till next year it sounds like one or two companies will be releasing a hard boot snowboard specific touring boot. This is probably your best bet. I don't have any details on them, but the rumors sound promising.


doubt it

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