Pain Killers

Nov 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

DISCOMFORT ALWAYS TRUMPS performance; so when your boots hurt, those $700 mid-fats might as well be hewn from solid hickory—you'll ski like a gimp chimp either way. These custom boots, liners, and footbeds will save the day (or the season).

s Rail (left, $390, 877-405-5557, is among the first of a new generation of "soft" boots—for improved fit, the hard shell stops short of wrapping over the instep; instead, insulation and weatherproofing are handled by padding laminated to the shell. It's not a race boot, obviously, but it can handle gentle cruising. *Built for expert freeriders, Tecnica's Icon Carbon (center, $725, 800-258-3897, has memory foam at the ankle and instep that molds to your bones, and interchangeable cuff flaps—choose stiff, soft, or a combination—to get you the forward flex you want. *Head's Worldcup Ti M103R (right, $675, 800-874-3235, is a purebred race boot. The cuff has adjustments for cant, forward lean, stiffness, and height, while a thermomolding SuperHeat3 liner hugs your foot.
If your old boots no longer fit, or if you simply want a set of incredibly lightweight and warm inner boots for your randonnée or telemark shells, check out Raichle's custom ThermoFlex liners (left, $170, 877-405-5557, Utilizing EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) foam that softens when heated, they buckle up warm so the liners mold to your foot, ankle, and lower leg. *Stronger skiers putting in upwards of 25 days a year, though, should opt for harder, higher-performance liners. ZipFit bladders (center, $180, 800-775-8100, are filled with a silicone compound called Thermixx. Toss them in the microwave, shove them into the shell, and they're done. *Ski hard 50 days a year? Foam-injection liners, like the all-leather Ergo Foam Fit by Kneissl (right, $230), are the choice of World Cup racers. The injected foam forms a perfect cast around your ankle and foot for amazing energy transfer.
Footbeds prevent the foot from flattening and rolling around inside the boot, wasting energy and causing cramps. The Conform'able Step-In Plus Snow (left, $50, 800-225-6850, is a simple and quick preshaped insole—slide 'er into your boot for a huge improvement in comfort and control. *Problem feet?The Kork Skithotic from Superfeet (right, $150, 800-634-6618, is heat-molded to your unweighted foot. It's more expensive, but once the cast has cured, it supports your arch in its natural, nonpronated position. —S.M.

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