The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Lange Plastic Ski Boots


A modern-day version of the Lange Boots

A modern-day version of the Lange Boots     Photo: Lange

Bob Lange, who worked at a polyurethane product manufacturing company, had the idea that using plastic in ski boots would give a skier more support and control of his ski than leather boots ever could. Building off of this idea, Lange experimented with using plastic as reinforcement in ski boots as early as 1958. Four years later, in 1962, he built lace-up ABS plastic shell boots. A female Vermont-based ski racer sponsored by Lange in the late 1960s said that the early boots “tortured everyone’s feet who wore them,” because the early boots had no hinging or give. They often caused stress fractures. This led Lange, in 1966, to create a boot with a thermoplastic shell, hinged cuff, and latching buckles that would become the first commercially successful replacement for leather boots. By 1970 Lange boots were universal on the racing circuit, and Lange sold hundreds of thousands of pairs as the world's leading ski boot brand.

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