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  1. #1
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    Ahead of the game - Daleboots and the big 4-0

    OK. When I was 18-22ish or so, I used to see the old guys (like 40 years old and older) clomping around in their Daleboots.

    I asked a few about them; they all said basically the same thing, albeit worded slightly differently:

    "At some point you'll stop being a dumbass and trade the last 5% of performance for a comfortable boot, rather than the other way around."

    Hrmph. Nah. Race boots are just WAY better, yo!

    I've pretty much always fought with ski boots. I've had foam liners, Zipfits, several Thermoflex/Intuitions, I had my own boot stretcher clamp-dealie for a while, I worked in shops, made footbeds for lots of customers, went to boot fitting clinics, had a fair number of happy customers (only one sticks out as unhappy), shrug, I was an OK bootfitter. Not "Larry from Boulder" good, but better than the average ski shop meatstick.

    I could always make my boots SKI well, but they sucked for the rest of the day.

    Last year, I had a Bad Boot Year. Nasty shin issues (a new one for me), super painful, and combined with the new method of going UP (snowmobiles), I came to the conclusion that I _really_ had to do something about boots.

    I'm not 40, but I now have Daleboots. I called Daleboot directly, asked them if I should go to SLC. They said no, they have a "great" guy in Denver. Lee @ The Custom Foot:

    http://www.thecustomfoot.com/

    <spoiler>
    Lee is in fact great.
    </spoiler>

    So, I went and saw Lee. Told him my story - longtime skier, lots and lots of boot problems, short, wide, high volume foot, mellowing-aggressive skier, like to ski fast AND I'm pretty damned heavy.

    I went in with lots of "common knowledge." I've been around ski-crap for a long time. I just kept an open mind. I forced myself to become The Customer. I let Lee do his thing.

    He told me I needed the VFF Pro, not the riveted "race" shell - if, for no other reason, I can always -add- the rivet to the VFF Pro shell and get basically the same result. I liked the logic. All I really ski is natural snow now (will ride lifts 2-5 times this year, if that), I don't need a stupid-stiff shell (but I do need a fair bit, simply due to the fact that I weigh a LOT - like 280).

    He made me footbeds. Yay. Probably the 10th or 11th pair I've had made.

    He measured my feet - length, width, girth (kinda Salomon "heel-instep perimeter" measurement), as well as a couple of places on the lower leg. Traced them. Looks roughly like a square tissue box with toes. Rad.

    The shells took a while to come back from Daleboot, but I got the ball rolling in late September anticipating some delays.

    A week ago, our schedules meshed, he finished the boots. Adjusted the under-footbed-thingy (adjustable ramp/pseudo cant dealio under the liner), cooked the liners - Daleboot spec Intuitions - smashed it all together.

    Lee pays all KINDS of attention to the details; various bits of this and that covering sensitive areas, good toe-box-pad-thing, shrug, he does a great job prepping the foot to get into the cooked liner.

    Cooked liner got put on foot with all sorts of stuff taped to it, whole thing goes into shell, do this, do that, walk around, remove, remove taped-on stuff, have fun!

    This is where it got weird.

    THEY'RE FREAKING HUGE.

    ok, not really. The shells are a bit longer than I'm used to skiing, about 15mm. Big difference, right? The liners are also a bit bigger. Lee/Daleboot's logic was simple - my foot and calf are wide/big, so a bigger shell with an even bigger liner will gain the desired results.

    (nothing else has worked....nothing else has worked....nothing else has worked......)

    "OK!" I'm the customer. I'm the customer.

    Put them on. SUPER easy to put on, move the shell a bit, plomp, foot is in. Buckle. Ummm, they're WAY too loose.

    Lee is smirking. "Everyone says that....." he says. "Go ski them."

    I can't make my foot do weird things INSIDE the boot, but, well, they don't hurt, even a LITTLE!

    "Go ski them....." Still smirking. Super nice guy.

    ok.

    Skied them this morning. Lee/Daleboot are freaking magicians. Buckled the boots at about 9am at the top of the lift. Left them buckled until I got to the car at ~12:30.

    THAT, by itself, is freaking unbelievable in the Republic of Iain. 3+ hours of buckled tight enough to ski? LIES!

    True.

    I was skiing with my kid (11), who was not feeling all that well & having a rough day. IE, stand for a while, let her get ahead, 4-10 fast turns, stop, repeat.

    NORMALLY, standing around = numb, tingly, burning, painful feet.

    Nah. Fine.

    No unbuckling routine at the bottom of the lift.

    No rebuckling routine at the top of the lift.

    They ski -very- well. I can drive the ski (although, the ski I was on did not like being driven, so the jury is a bit out there). They're super responsive, comfortable, shrug, they're pretty astounding.

    Complaints - they're so "loose" (comfortable) that I kinda got weirded out a couple of times mid-turn - it did not "feel" right. No slop, though, there were no problems, I'm just more accustomed to having a freaking vise on my foot.

    I suspect that I'd miss the raceboot feel on a big GS ski on a hard day going _fast_. Did not really have the opportunity to go "fast" today. WROD.

    I think my left ankle pocket/area could use a slight shim, or simply a thicker sock, but again, that might just be a feel thing.

    I doubt you'll see any WC racers in these boots. They're softish (although my forward flex adjuster is barely adjusted, there's room). Laterally, they're very stiff/responsive - no complaints there.

    Almost everyone else? Shrug, why not. My last pair of boots - thoroughly molested Dobermans - arguably skied better on hard snow. LOTS of power, but there's no way I could have "skied" for 3 hours in them like I did today. I think that with some more time in the Daleboots, I'll get used to the "looseness" - they're not ACTUALLY loose, they, well, they FIT, shock and surprise - and *I* will not notice the difference between them and my other boots (I'm a good, solid skier, but let's be realistic, racers demand a LOT more from their boots than even a typical, good "freeskier.") IE, I'll get closer to maximizing the potential of the Daleboots than I would the Dobermans - but I doubt I'm going to eclipse the capabilities of the Daleboots (and certainly not the Dobermans).

    I am SOLD. Holy crap. Today was pretty much the worst case scenario for me and my feet - fair bit of standing around, not as much skiing. Buckled once, skied-stopped-stood-repeat many, many times, no foot pain, no funky feelings, no floppy ankle within the boot, zero problems.

    If you've had good luck with off-the-shelf boots, then you're the lucky one - I know people who can try on 4 or 5 pair of boots, narrow it to 2 or 3, then choose a price. I'm not that guy. That guy does not need Daleboots (although he'd probably like them).

    Sick of buckling/unbuckling (try riding a sled in deep snow with buckles hanging off your foot sometime...)? Have problem feet? DEFINITELY give Daleboot some thought. I've been skiing for a long time, I've tried all kinds of stuff, and I have never, ever had a boot that skis THIS well, this comfortably - and this is straight out of the box. I normally ski a new boot 2-3 runs & make a list of Things to Fix.

    I have no list this time.

    Me likey.




    Iain

  2. #2
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    I hope Daleboots paid you to type that shitty essay

  3. #3
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    Dec 2004
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    Morrison, CO
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    Nope, I paid them. It'll potentially help someone, I'm just psyched that I have a pair of boots that fit. Glad you liked it!


    Iain

  4. #4
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    For future reference if your going to write something that long use an inverse pyramid style or in other words put the most important stuff first, b/c 99% will not finish the essay.
    Disclaimer: you might have used this format but i'm not sure since i didn't make it past the 3rd sentence

  5. #5
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    DO you think that this is daleboot or just a bigger boot that is well fitted?

    Is it the tools, or the mechanic.

    great that you have something that works for you


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mannix View Post
    ...
    Good to know the Denver guy knows his stuff. Your experience sounds much like mine when I got fitted at the factory.

    I think a lot of it is that they've been fitting the same shells for, what, 30 years? So they know exactly how to make your feet happy. Also, they understand that control comes from the shin and instep, not from cramming your toes into too short and small a toebox.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by alma del polvo View Post
    For future reference if your going to write something that long use an inverse pyramid style or in other words put the most important stuff first, b/c 99% will not finish the essay.
    Disclaimer: you might have used this format but i'm not sure since i didn't make it past the 3rd sentence
    blah blah blah, did not write it for the 99%, wrote it for the 1% who are looking for info on Daleboots. The last place I'm going to take writing suggestions from is the internet, particularly HERE;).


    There's some good Daleboot info here on TGR, the rest I found was questionable at best - at least those that post here (Spats & others) are approaching skiing from the same frame of mind that I do - I think I found some stuff on Epic Ski, but, well, ummm....

    Mntlion - hard to tell. I omitted the other piece of the puzzle - lots of "great" bootfitters have worked on my boots (including the esteemed Larry, albeit many years ago, when he was still a minion of the Evil Empire) - no one has even come CLOSE to this.

    Admittedly, I did not give Larry or the 5 or 6 other "great" bootfitters a blank check and green light - they were working with what I had. I suspect Larry could have come up with something good, too. He was good when I knew him, he's got to be way better now. I'm not sure that Daleboot is the be-all, end-all of ski boots, but for people with funky feet/challenging fit issues, they seem REALLY good. I felt like I'd given the "traditional" method a fair shake - find a wider-lasted shell, get it shell fit (1.5-2 fingers, typically), footbed, liner tricks, whatever - I've jumped through those hoops 6 or 7 times, with the same results each time.

    Spats - retroactive thanks for your input. Agreed; they do approach it a bit differently. I guess that's why they've been around for 40 years.

    Now that they have a stiffer shell - the originals, or at least the late 80s-early 90s boots - were _soft_. Now, the shell options have broadened. I kinda don't get why more people don't ski in them. The cost difference is not that big - about the same, really. Sure, you can find last year's _____ boot for $399 at a tent sale, or 2 years old for $249, etc - but if you need a new pair of boots, it is what, $500+ for the boot, then footbed - $100? $150? The better part of $700, at least.

    I doubt you could spend MORE than $1000 on a pair of Daleboots, even if you tried - and there are plenty of off-the-shelf boots + footbeds that will total $1k, with tax and all that.

    Shrug. Not about the money for me, at this point.



    Iain

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mannix View Post
    Sure, you can find last year's _____ boot for $399 at a tent sale, or 2 years old for $249, etc - but if you need a new pair of boots, it is what, $500+ for the boot, then footbed - $100? $150? The better part of $700, at least.
    Don't forget that Dales come with Intuitions, which will run you an extra $150-200 at a shop. Then if you got another boot on sale or mail-order, you'll get charged for bootfitting time and work. Unless you're lucky enough to find a boot on sale with Intuitions in it already that fits out of the box, you're not saving any money over a Daleboot.

    And of course if you buy more than one boot because the first can't be made to work, you've spend much more anyway. If Daleboot can't make it work you get your money back.

    Then there's the replaceable toe and heel lugs, so you can keep going long after most boots would be unsafe...you can get spare parts forever since they haven't changed the shell, unlike every other manufacturer who makes cosmetic changes every two years...and you're supporting American ski bums and American manufacturing, instead of Chinese slave labor. It's a good deal all around.

  9. #9
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    everyone that i ever met in slc loved their daleboots and the company......and they have a great warranty

    Hayduke Aug 7,1996 GS-Aug 26 2010
    HunterS March 17 09-Oct 24 14

  10. #10
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    Dec 2004
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    Morrison, CO
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    Good points. It hurt a bit, for me - I can get just about anything on proform.

    Everything BUT Daleboots, naturally - despite the added cost, I have zero regrets. Got a lot of crosseyed looks from coworkers, but whatever - I'll pay just about anything to not have a repeat of last year.

    According to Lee the Magician, Daleboot is working on "Vibram" toe and heel lugs for the AT people. Hrmph, did not ask about Dynafit compatibility. Will do that, will certainly get some grippy toe/heel lugs when they arrive.


    Iain

  11. #11
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    Mar 2006
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    pictures? I have weird feet, and even though I have lots of happy customers and was a decent boot fitter (for a stupid shop bro) I can't fit myself.
    No longer stuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Just an uneducated guess.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    pictures?
    http://www.daleboot.com/11.html

    They used to have a picture of some guy with horribly deformed feet on their website -- like "toes pointing several different directions" deformed -- and a blurb "If we can fit this, we can fit anyone." But I think it grossed out too many people, so they took it down.

  13. #13
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    Y'know what? I take it back.

    I don't think Larry or any other great bootfitter could have matched the Daleboots.

    Mind you, not THEIR fault - I've never, ever felt a boot like this (comfortable? Loose?), *I* would not have said "that feels good" to this boot if someone simply asked, whereas Lee knew the boot was right, no matter what I felt.

    I suspect a big part of it is the width of the shell/forefoot; it is considerably wider than any of my other boots. So, if we'd taken the biggest off-the-shelf shell we could find then cooked a liner, I'd PROBABLY have said "that feels good."

    (feels a lot like boots of years past, but good.....)

    So, yeah - I guess I'd grown so accustomed to boots hurting a LOT, that if they only hurt a little, they were OK. Did not think for a second that boots could be COMFORTABLE, and without Lee's confidence in the product - "go ski them" - I'd have written these off as too big, too loose, too sloppy.

    They're NOT too big, loose or sloppy, mind you, they just feel it by comparison.




    Iain

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by alma del polvo View Post
    For future reference if your going to write something that long use an inverse pyramid style or in other words put the most important stuff first, b/c 99% will not finish the essay.
    Disclaimer: you might have used this format but i'm not sure since i didn't make it past the 3rd sentence
    Translation: I am naive, innocent, and not that literate. Don't make me work.

  15. #15
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    I've been on my Dale VFF Pro's for about a day and a half (actually 3 half days). I agree with what you said about skiing in these boots. I'm still a little concerned about the stiffness of the boot, but I haven't been on anything steep yet, either.
    After spending years learning how to twist, grunt, and shove my feet into and out of boots, these things are slices of heaven. Just pull the tounge out, slip your feet in (or out), and enjoy.
    As far as being a bigger boot, my mondo remained the same, 27, and the bsl went from 307 (lange) to 310.

  16. #16
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    I reckon you're the heaviest person ever to not quit skiing.
    Do you by chance happen to own a large, yellowish, very flat cat?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mannix View Post
    According to Lee the Magician, Daleboot is working on "Vibram" toe and heel lugs for the AT people. Hrmph, did not ask about Dynafit compatibility. Will do that, will certainly get some grippy toe/heel lugs when they arrive.
    Don't bet on Dynafit ever happening. I've asked. I think the problem is that they make the toe and heel lugs out of softish plastic which wouldn't withstand the torque.

    You can make your own Vibram toe/heel lugs if you want: just grind 'em down and cement some tread to them. However, the VFF "walk mode" isn't worth much: it lets you flex forward, but doesn't allow any more rearward flex, so skinning flats is still going to suck.

    Having hiked and toured quite a bit in mine, I can vouch for the fact that they walk easier than any other alpine boot -- but they're no substitute for a pure AT boot.

  18. #18
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    Update on them - still love them. Still adjusting to what they "want" from me; less force, more polite requests. I never realized how much force I was using in my other boots (perhaps because they were stiffer?). Still super comfortable, still super warm, the only "complaint" I have is 100% feel-based - if I do get out of shape & things get loose - picture a load of something in a pickup bed while hitting a speed bump - it FEELS like my foot is just floating in the boot.

    It is not; the "straps" holding the "load of something" in the bed are tight enough to prevent movement, but *just* tight enough. IE, when I hit a bump and get unweighted, my foot FEELS like it is flopping around. It is not, regroup a split second later, all is right in the world.

    Odd, bizarre and awesome boot. Comfortable, warm, and for the skiing I'm doing (99% natural snow), absolutely spectacular. I buckle them loosely for the ride to wherever we're skiing, then buckle them tighter once I start skiing, leave them that way for the rest of the day. Unbuckle back at the van, flop them off (everyone has mentioned that they're "easy" to get on and off, not only true, but in reality, they're several magnitudes easier than what you're thinking), happy feet.

    If you're happy with Brand X off the shelf, good for you - I wish I were!

    If you're the slightest bit UNhappy with Brand {A-Z}, get Daleboots. I _really_ doubt you'd regret it. I certainly don't.

    The only real issue I've come up with is simple, and not the boot's fault. The snowmobile rails are chewing the hell out of the area under the arch, between the toe and heel lugs. Will post a potential solution to that problem in the snowmobile thread later; the toe and heel lugs are separate, so the arch area is simply shell, like an older Atomic & several other boots. Absolutely not a reason NOT to buy Daleboots, but one that needs addressed - while no real damage has been done, if I don't get something to prevent damage, I'll chew through the shells in a season or less.

    Got a gaperriffic solution for that, though.



    Iain

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spats View Post
    And of course if you buy more than one boot because the first can't be made to work, you've spend much more anyway. If Daleboot can't make it work you get your money back.
    When I was in the market for new boot a couple seasons ago I decided to give Dales a try. I have short/wide/high instep/high arch feet and have had fit issues in the past. They felt good at the factory, but I skied them for several days and I just could not ski like I wanted to in them. I walked hat-in-hand back to the factory and the guy just smiled, shrugged, apologized that things didn't work out and refunded me no questions asked. Gotta respect that.

  20. #20
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    Glad the Dales worked for you.

    I have a pair of VFF Pro's, as well. Got them in early 2009 and fitted at the factory. Skied 3 days. Pain. Had to unbuckle at bottom of each run. Only way to make them work was to buckle very loose. Almost ruined a good heli day. Boots were noodles. There is a little bit of a learning curve with these boots as someone in another thread pointed out. Unlike traditional, stiff boots you can't really lay into the boots and drive the tips of your skis. Rather, you kind of ski from your feet if that makes sense. Kind of weird, but not bad once you get used to it. Not totally sold on this, though. Thought this may be the source of pain so skied 4 more days on them. Pain and still too soft.

    Back to factory for work on the boots. They swapped out the liner for a new one that would take up more volume (pretty cool of them). Adjust here, adjust there...had them shorten the cable and add a booster strap (expert) and on my way. Skied 4 more days. Pain. Still have trouble tightening the buckles to lock my foot down. Boots are still pretty darn soft. Boots also feel sloppy in heavy crud at high speed. I will be going back to the factory when I get back to SLC later this month. Hopefully, we can get rid of the pain. If so, I may keep the boots. Overall, I'm torn. Performance doesn't match a traditional race boot. But, I'm willing to sacrifice this for comfort. I haven't found the comfort part yet, though. On the positive side, the customer servie is top notch. The guys at the factory are cool and very eager to help and will do whatever is necessary to get them right. There is no doubt that they will work hard (again) to get these things dialed. If they can, I will keep them. If I don't get the comfort, they are gone as the performance sacrifice isn't worth it if there is no comfort.

    Caveat: for some of the chargers on this board, I don't know if these boots would cut it. I think these boots just wouldn't be powerful enough. Just my $0.02.

    Also, the vibram inserts are available at the factory in SLC.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by alma del polvo View Post
    For future reference if your going to write something that long use an inverse pyramid style or in other words put the most important stuff first, b/c 99% will not finish the essay.
    Disclaimer: you might have used this format but i'm not sure since i didn't make it past the 3rd sentence
    Might want to get back on the Ritalin then.
    I read the whole thing and I'm not even looking for boots, just found it informative and interesting; a somewhat different "take" on boot fitting.
    Thanks Mannix
    Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
    After the first three seconds, Corbet's is really pretty average.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Malcolm View Post
    I mean, it's not your fault. They say talent skips a generation.
    But hey, I'm sure your kids will be sharp as tacks.

  22. #22
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    Its interesting that you went from one of the narrowest boots out there to one of the widest and you feel better.

    I'd love to know how you feel in a wide off the shelf boot with an intuition liner.

    Not a knock on your bootfitting, just wondering if daleboots are better than perhaps a more appropriate shell size.

    I've also discovered that I use to crank my buckles down, but recently been setting them deliberately loose. Once you get over the feeling, I actually feel a little quicker / agile. My heel never lifts nor does my foot flop aroud, but my boots no longer feel like a vice.

  23. #23
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    With all the "I only ski natural snow" it's odd you never tried an AT boot with an AT fit boot fit?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Ern View Post
    Glad the Dales worked for you.

    I have a pair of VFF Pro's, as well. Got them in early 2009 and fitted at the factory. Skied 3 days. Pain. Had to unbuckle at bottom of each run. Only way to make them work was to buckle very loose.
    Do you have pressure points, or does your entire foot hurt? Because if your entire foot hurts, you're probably cranking them down too far trying to get stiffness that doesn't exist. If your foot isn't physically moving around the boot, you won't get any more control by cranking them down.

    Dales will never have stiff forward flex. End of story. They're extremely laterally stiff, but they are very soft forward. Some people can't ski like that, because they like to really drive their tips hard. Which is fine, and they shouldn't buy Dales.

  25. #25
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    Oct 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spats View Post
    Do you have pressure points, or does your entire foot hurt? Because if your entire foot hurts, you're probably cranking them down too far trying to get stiffness that doesn't exist. If your foot isn't physically moving around the boot, you won't get any more control by cranking them down.

    Dales will never have stiff forward flex. End of story. They're extremely laterally stiff, but they are very soft forward. Some people can't ski like that, because they like to really drive their tips hard. Which is fine, and they shouldn't buy Dales.

    Good points. I believe my problem stems from cranking down the buckles in an attempt to stiffen them up. You are right that they are very soft. I've now done everything I can to get them stiffer and they are still pretty darn soft. Too soft to drive the tips hard. I did note the difference in the way you need to ski with these boots. I don't know if they suit me. I'll give them another couple of days and see how they work. If I end up ditching these, it won't be for a lack of the factory from trying their best to assist. They have been top notch.

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