Technically improved

By CLEA SIMON  |  November 18, 2008

Ski boot technology has crossed over to boarding boots in a big way, with custom moldable liners now the norm. But ski boots aren't standing still, and the next step can be seen in Salomon's FALCON CS. For this ski boot, Salomon injected a moldable plastic into the outer shell, as well as the liner. After purchase, these boots are fitted and then baked at the place of purchase in a convection oven. The result, ideally, is a comfortable and supportive high-performance boot for all foot shapes and sizes; a plus for those with bigger or wider feet who have suffered through years of narrow high-performance boots.

Flexibility is key in another crossover move this season, coming to ski boots in the form of Black Diamond's newest convertible boots. These new boots, notably the FACTOR, PUSH, and STILETTO, let snow fanatics transition from Alpine downhill speed to the freedom and flexibility of telemark skiing with barely a pause.

As both kinds of skis have gotten wider and more flexible, with those floating twin tips, the major noticeable equipment difference between the two styles has been in the boots and bindings, with Alpine boots holding a more upright angle in a full-foot binding, and telemark's more wide-ranging style leaning at a deeper angle, but attaching only at the toe. By letting wearers adjust the angle of lean, these new boots allow skiers to shift into the more forward-leaning tele stance or back for a less-angled Alpine hold. Add in the new, adjustable AT — Alpine/tele — bindings, such as Dynafit's new super-lightweight version, and you're ready for anything.

Retro and provocative
Style has always played a role in the snow, and, as usual, snowboard design sets the trends. The wilder, younger cousin of skis, snowboards continue to borrow heavily from their skateboard roots — and skateboard past. In keeping with skateboarding's punk heritage, the look on the snow this year is totally retro, but in a very now way, according to Chris DiTunno of Ski Market's Undergound Snowboard shop. Bright neon, reminiscent of the late '80s and early '90s, has been on the upswing for years. But this year, on Burton's new JEREMY JONES BOOT retro day-glo, swaths of green, pink, and blue are set against a camouflage base for an updated look.

Recalling boarding's bad-boy youth, Burton's HAIL BOOT posts its own challenge: "Let them hate us," reads the toe of one foot, in flowing gold script. "As long as they're afraid," completes the other. Gold and white on red, it's bling for the snow crowd. Flash with attitude.

All that retro brightness throws a lot of glare. The answer? SMITH'S I/O GOGGLES — the I/O stands for interchangeable optics, not input/output — which let you change out lenses for different conditions. Rimless design and small toggles hold either of the two included lenses, an Igniter mirror lens and a Sensor mirror lens. Throw on a washable NOMIS HEATED HOODIE — improved in its second year with reverse-weave cotton that keeps wind out, and the battery-powered heat in — and you're off.

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