I have been toying with the idea to go hardboot for next season recently. So can some of the hardbooters (it seems there are quiet a few of you (: ) share their thoughts. Why are you guys riding it and is the switch from softboot justified? On many occasions, while traversing, I saw what would be a big advantage for hardboots and with skinning in general. What about riding? Quick turns? Leg burn?
What about hardboots on a solid board for piste carving?
I ride a stock Scarpa F1 for both splitboarding and on-piste with a cambered Burton Fish.
I have been riding the 2009 F1 (27.0) stock this year with a Eliminator Custom Tongue (see: http://www.masterfitenterprises.com/eliminator.html). The Eliminator Custom Tongue has help me create a softer forward lean/flex, while improving overall boot fit. I no longer have to crank down the boot straps to get the boot to fit. Now, I ride the boot snug to almost loose, depending on the conditions. The added benefit of the "tongue", is that I have a larger toe box, so my toes stay warm. Also, I ride with a custom orthotic insoles.
While most Hard Booters do go on to customize their boots for forward and lateral lean, I have not, except for adding the Elimator Tounge. Please note: I am not taking issue about customizing hard boots. but rather customizing HB boots can be a daunting task, for a new hard booter. Especially when one just paid for a new pair of AT boots. Rather one can try one the boots mentioned above in stock form and if needed, customize to your preference.
In a nutshell, hardboots kick ass for going up, and are not bad at all for coming down. For me that is worth it, but maybe not for everyone.
Why are hardboots better for going up? Several reasons, the main one for me being able to take huge strides. Push your back foot as far back as it will go on a soft-boot set-up and soon you'll see your toe hit the board, which cuts the stride short and forces you to stomp a little bit. Do it again on hardboots and you'll see you get a way bigger stride on hardboots. Bigger strides with no toe-knock allow you to glide instead of stomp, and helps you flow uphill.
As described above, the additional stride length and range of motion is a huge deal if you're out for long days. I rode soft boots for years but I always felt like I was lifting my ski instead of gliding it. Here in Utah I end up breaking steep trails with a million kickturns and I would never go back to soft boots.
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:05 am Posts: 1179 Location: Colorado
As lots of folks have commented on the touring benefits of a HB system, I want to emphasize the riding performance. Some people still seem to believe that one must accept some compromise in riding performance with HBs. While with a bog stock boot this MAY be the case, if one is willing to put in a little effort into modding the boots, one can achieve a ride at least as good as any soft boot/binding combo. Currently, I feel my HBs actually ride better than softs. The Dynafit TLT5 is a bit of a game changer, as it is revolutionary boot in terms of riding performance: the sole is thin, not thicker than a soft boot, and the weight of mine with Intuition liners is the exact same as my Driver Xs. With a few mods, the boots can be made to flex very soft, mine are now flexing a little softer (in forward flex) than my Driver Xs, and about the same in lateral and medial flex. The TLT5 has a very close fitting shell, and not everyone may be able to get a really good fit in it-working with a good bootfitter to get it right is really worth the effort. For next season, Dynafit is going to have a boot (I think it is called the One) which may offer equivalent performance, but should be a little easier to fit. This boot is not as much of a Ferrari as the TLT5 is (meaning it offers very high performance, but must be tweaked to perfection to work well) and will be more of a Porsche. The cuff on the One may be stiffer than the TLT5, but I am sure that could be taken care of with mods, and the One will have a slightly more "normal" fit, with higher volume, and will be able to fit more feet. The One is definitely something to look into come fall...
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:22 pm Posts: 502 Location: Durango, CO
After spending a week with Keffler, I am convinced hardboots kick ass and I want them. They seem to be awesome for the sidehilling capabilities, the weight savings, the uphill efficiency, the boot life (my softboots are almost done after 70 days of splitting), and the ease of the system. Also, not dealing with pins is huge, bootpacking toe pointing, crampon compatibility for mountaineering, I guess the list just goes on... Maybe on a powder day I'd rock a softboot system, but hardboots seem awesome for pretty much everything, and the TL5 or whatever it is keff didn't modify much.
But its expensive as nuts, so I'll probably hold off for a few years until a more affordable prototype comes out. I don't know if I feel like dropping about a grand on a hardboot setup right yet. But who knows, next year is another year...
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:10 pm Posts: 1241 Location: South SL,UT
I wanted to wait for the informative posters to provide the technical merits of a HB setup before giving my equally serious, but seemingly smartass reply... Which is; Why meatless, why not carnivore? Or Why not vegan, etc...
Being a runner I've watched an ongoing and raging debate over barefoot, minimalism, zero drop, vs this that and the other... But in the end its what works for the individual. I tried HB's because I normally ride a 195 and the uphill is very challenging, the voile mntn plate is cheap and I found some boots at gear trade very cheap. I really liked the setup compared to the softboot setup I had at the time. However this year with pathetic snow fall and riding what I consider to be a tiny board (163) I bought the latest sparks and the latest Burton Imperials and really enjoyed that setup as well... (BTW its actually a lot lighter than the F3/Voile combo)
Have I abandoned the HB setup? Hell no! I actually bought Dynafits for the 195 (praying for a deep 12/13 season) and I'll probably grab some TLT5's as well. The point being (budget aside) I don't feel like I owe any loyalty to either setup, my loyalty is to my riding. I'd say give it a try and see what you think.
After making the switch this year and making my own binding, I'm completely sold on hardboots. This last week in Silverton was further confirmation that I made the right choice and heading in a good direction. I'd say that my riding has actually improved with this setup. We did an 8 hour day to get V5 Corner Coulior and those boots made a huge difference for me. Kicking steps and then using crampons was awesome. Feel like some kind of super hero crushing the track to the top. It was also easy to leave those skinning up in softies behind on the frozen track up. In tour mode, they feel like house slippers! However, it took me a few days to get the fit dialed in, but it seems to me that hardboots are much more tune-able then soft boots. Oh, and it's such a simpler system. That's huge for me. I now carry a lot less extra parts as there is just so much less stuff to break. For the stuff I like to ride, this is a no brainer. Big thanks to Barrows for helping me with my setup!
If I get enough interest, I'm willing to make some bindings for folks. Sorry, not going to send out detailed pics of my setup as I don't want it getting ripped off (not that I think anyone here would do that, you guys the best!). But for those of you who saw it in person, you know what it's all about. Send me a PM and I'll start making a list. But please only those that are really serious as I need a good head count so I can see if I can bring the cost down.