Leather Boot Reviews

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anemic
Posts: 229
Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:39 pm

Leather Boot Reviews

Post by anemic » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:01 pm

I know the forum says ski reviews, but...I'm still learning and have a ways to go...maybe it would be helpful to centralize some of the info that may not be easy to find?

What are your leather boots like and how do they compare to other leather boots?

My old school high mileage Merrell leathers feel great on my feet. They are straightforward not Supercomps. No added plastic baffles. I feel like I could maybe race classic in them. They are even relatively light at just over 2# per boot. They are just plain comfortable. Extremely fabulous for the kick and glide. However on the flipside / descent they have very little sole stiffness. This may be somewhat of a limiting factor for it's ability to drive a ski. I don't really know.

I tried to match these boots up with a BD Stigma using a Voile cable binding and it seemed like if the cable binding had enough tension to not fall off, it felt like it folded the sole of the boot quite a bit. It just seemed like a mismatch. They are a great match for my Eons though.

My wife has some brand new Garmont leather boots which look almost the same as mine, but lots better looking. What strikes me as obvious when I compare her boots to mine, hers are waaay stiffer in the sole flex. When I press the toe straight down into the floor, using the heel to try to flex the boot, I can pretty much fold mine in half and I can't begin to move the Garmonts! I'm sure they will break in over time but for now they are as stiff as can be. For now, I'm a little bit jealous of that stiffness. Hers weight just less than 2# per boot. She likes the fit. She likes them tied tightly. She drives her Epochs with them, and she reports that the Epochs are "so easy to turn, they almost turn themselves" and she says this is a new XCD / tele skier.

I recall that Love Johnny did a really cool experiment with Alpina Alaska boots; he had them in both BC NNN and 75 mm. He felt that the BC NNN were way stiffer for turning and ALSO better for kick and glide. Cool experiment. How does the Alpina Alaska compare to a stiff-soled Garmont, or a clapped out leather flopper Merrell? What is that sole stiffness like?

Alpine boots have a nearly useless flex number, but at least it's something for reference. If tele boots had a flex number, from what I can tell, it seems like the sole stiffness would be the salient point. Maybe I'm wrong there? I'd give my Merrells a SSR (sole stiffness rating) of 1.5 and my wife's Garmonts a SSR of 10. Yes, I still need snow.
Call it Nordic Freeride

MikeK

Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by MikeK » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:37 pm

There are a number of boot reviews on here. Unfortunately, you have to know they are boots and what the name is.

Perhaps it might be best to label our reviews like this:

Ski: Fischer S Bound 88

Binding: 22D Axl

Boot: Scott Excursion

Or something like that to be more specific.

You can review anything here... even a book! I did... :?





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anemic
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Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by anemic » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:26 pm

I've been trying to learn what I can from what has already been posted about the subject of leather ski boots.

It was interesting to learn that when Ute magazine did a review of boot/bindings as a system, one of their basic tests was to flex the boot which had been inserted into the binding, both for classic kick / walk mode as well as lateral stiffness / side flex.

So I popped by old leather floppers into my HD Mountaineer bindings and I found that on "Click Position One," which is where I have been skiing all my bindings, my boot had an amazing amount of free travel without any friction whatsoever. So this explains why I feel like I could race classic with this rig, but I get easily flummoxed whilst in the process of making turns.

And of course we lost all our snow in yesterday's terrible rain (the kids had a snow day off school. As I headed to the golf course to enjoy the snow, the rain came and wiped it all out before dinnertime (sad face with tears streaming down cheeks). So I cannot try my boots on "Click Position Two." I think there will be an enormous difference and I may become completely happy with my old leather floppers in every way.

I was a bit fooled because Click1 has such a rigid feeling engagement, meaning that the boot is solidly attached to the binding in a way that it's certainly not going to kick off. Click2 requires enough force to engage even with the heel up / toe down trick that I never once tried it on snow, thinking the duckbill was too thick for Click2. Now I will go Click1 for travel and Click2 for turn mode. Cannot wait to get on the snow again, as always.

I am "this close" to pulling the trigger on some of those Ski March pure leathers from Alico. I've seen numerous posts where skiers have them but not much on how skiers like them. How do you like yours? For striding? For turning?

I have seen enough feedback that the Alaska 75 boots are not as stiff as their own BC/NNN counterpart. Boots that look like SuperComps are not good striders, so I'm not interested. I think I would like to stick with pure leather minimalism for the purposes of XCD. I am seeking confirmation on how one 75 leather boot compares to another. I invite your opinions please! Antarctics from telemarkdown are also on my radar.
Call it Nordic Freeride





MikeK

Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by MikeK » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:55 pm

Just some notes from my personal learning...

True, a loose boot is a shitty boot. I don't care if it's made from hemp or carbon fiber. Any lash in your bindings kind of acts the same way, but if it's small, it should load itself up once you commit to a turn. Still, I'd clamp them firm.

I'll also say this, and maybe Johnny can back me because I believe this is his main philosophy for skiing. Never fight the ski. You don't need lateral stiffness. If you try to fight the ski with leathers the ski will win every time. You need to be able to push down and through the skis (you could do this with bare feet) and put the skis on edge i.e. roll them (you need some degree of torsional stiffness). Lateral stiffness is for heel pushing. Don't worry about that. If you do the two other things and keep your weight balance, the skis will turn.





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fisheater
Posts: 1263
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Location: Oakland County, MI
Ski style: All my own, and age doesn't help
Favorite Skis: Gamme 54, Falketind 62, I hope to add a third soon
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska, Alico Ski March
Occupation: Construction Manager

Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by fisheater » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:57 pm

Anemic,
I have a pair of Ski March boots and I really like them. That being said, my first telemark boot was in my opinion, the worst telemark boot ever made, the Asolo Telebreeze.
To get back on track the Ski March is my first leather boot. I have only had a few hours on them. I have some yard laps on them breaking trails in 10" of fresh. I also skied some challenging single track a week after the 10" fell, but with an additional 5" on top. I was easily able to turn my s-112's on a black diamond steep open hill on that same outing. I found only the three pin connection necessary and did not clip in the hardwire. So I can tell you that I enjoy the boot, without any other point of reference, other than about 7 miles on single track, plus a few hill laps and probably a mile or so of backyard laps.
I can offer some insight on sizing. I do not have a really wide foot. My T-4's fit me well in 28.5. I could not wear a 28.0 in that boot. I wear a size 11 boot/shoe and an 11W is wide on me. My Ski March was ordered 10, but I received a 10W. I am fortunate, the 10W fits well, however I am wearing the boot with the supplied felt insole. Would a regular width 10 fit me without the insole? I am not sure, but that is what I can offer regarding fit.
Where are you able to order a Ski March? I have been on the GI Joe site from England and could not find any. They are also not listed on Ebay presently.





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anemic
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Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by anemic » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:00 am

Thanks fishy! Ski March sounds very capable and strideable. I found them on eBay on GIJoes eBay store in the U.K. $57 shipped.


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Call it Nordic Freeride





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lilcliffy
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Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada
Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring
Favorite Skis: Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Gamme 54 BC; Asnes Storetind Carbon; Madshus Annum; Asnes Comabt Nato
Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance BC; Alpina Alaska BC; Crispi Svartisen BC; Scarpa T4
Occupation: Forestry Professional
Instructor at Maritime College of Forest Technology
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Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by lilcliffy » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:19 pm

anemic wrote: However on the flipside / descent they have very little sole stiffness. This may be somewhat of a limiting factor for it's ability to drive a ski. I don't really know.
Sole flex is a delicate balance- especially when it comes to NN-75mm. As you notice, the degree of stiffness in a sole's flex does have an effect on downhill performance- it also impacts XC kick and glide performance. Obviously, EVERY Nordic boot must have an effective metatarsal flex in order to allow a natural stride- the natural flex of the Nordic stride is THE defining characteristic of Nordic skiing. Having a completely free Nordic stride is obviously more important when XC skiing than it is in a telemark turn- but boot flex is obviously essential to be able to pressure the rear/trailing ski in a telemark.

With a leather NN-75mm boot- sole flex is basically entirely determined by the stiffness of the sole.

With NNN, flex is determined by a complex of both the boot sole-flex and the resistance in the "flexor" or "bumper" integrated into the binding. You can use flexors with different degrees of stiffness in order to regulate resistance.

Because freedom of movement is so critical to truly efficient XC striding- one can easily assume that having no resistance offers the highest performance in terms of kick and glide.

But- a certain degree of boot-binding resistance actually increases kick and glide performance- as long as it does not prevent/restrict range of motion.

Having a balanced degree of resistance in the boot-binding flex effectively transfers force downwards into the ski. Therefore, a boot-binding that has no resistance when striding transfers very little force downwards into the kick zone of the ski. A boot-binding that has balanced degree of stiffness/resistance will trasnfer much more power downwards into the kick zone of the ski.

In a telemark turn a certain amount of resistance also transfers force down into the ski- which is particularly important on the rear ski as the heel is lifted. The addition of a heel cable greatly increases resistance and power transfer down into the ski.

Without some resistance- the only downward force of the skier is his/her weight.

A balanced degree of sole stiffness offers more support and stability while striding as well. This is just as important while backcountry skiing as it is when backpacking over highly variable terrain.

A boot with a very soft sole-flex is going to have very little break-in time- this seems to be a valuable selling feature in this day and age. I personally see this as a VERY negative attribute of a new boot. Soft-flexing boots just get softer with age, and I don't find the mid-sole lasts very long. I have become so dissatisfied with the out-of-the-box-soft-flex of current backpacking boots that I have begun to purchase full-on mountaineering boots for heavy-duty hiking and backpacking. The mid-sole of the Scarpa Kinesis I last bought only lasted a year. I have replaced them with the Scarpa Wrangell- which was MUCH stiffer out of the box- it has broken in beautifully and mid-sole seems like it is going to retain its stability for many years to come.

The current generation of NN-75mm leather/composite BC-XC are very soft flexing- right out of the box. I really don't like this. I tested the 75mm Alaska before I bought my NNNBC- at the time was still on the fence about NNNBC. I could not believe how much more powerful and stable the NNNBC Alaska was compared to the 75mm. The only difference between these boots is the sole. (Of course how they perform is also a product of the binding).

Do you need a complete range of motion to efficiently stride? You sure do- but a little stiffness and resistance doesn't necessarily reduce your range of motion.

Last winter, my friend in Ontario was trying to decide between the Alaska NNNBC and the Alaska NN and sent me these photos- he was worried that there was too much resistance and stiffness in the NNBC version for efficient XC skiing.
NNNBC  binding resistance 01.jpg
3pin resistance 01.jpg
The two photos illustrate that he can move the 75mm much further before encountering any binding resistance. The Alaska NNNBC is stiffer, more powerful and more stable- this is a function of both the sole flex and the resistance in the binding.

The Alaska NNNBC is currently they only leather Nordic boot that I own (I actually have a pair of Alico Snow March in the mail...).

The Alaska NNNBC is incredibly comfortable; has a soft flexible upper and a moderately stiff flex. In my experience, it offers a perfect balance of stability, power, and flexibility for BC-XC skiing- it is a dream backcountry striding boot.

Soft-flexing 75mm boots also allow a skier to get away with an elongated stance- because, they can still pressure the ball-of-foot, even when their rear heel is lifted very high in that elongated stance.

An elongated stance in a stiffer flexing boot leads to a lot of difficulty pressuring the ball of foot on the rear ski. Therefore, in my limited experience, a stiffer flexing boot requires a more compact stance in order to flex that rear foot, and pressure that rear ski.

I recall that Love Johnny did a really cool experiment with Alpina Alaska boots; he had them in both BC NNN and 75 mm. He felt that the BC NNN were way stiffer for turning and ALSO better for kick and glide. Cool experiment. How does the Alpina Alaska compare to a stiff-soled Garmont, or a clapped out leather flopper Merrell? What is that sole stiffness like?
I don't know how to compare the sole-flex between different BC-XC boots without them being compared in a test. I do know that there is a wide range in stiffness though- even through the boot line of a single manufacturer. For example; the Alpina BC1550 and BC1600 have a significantly softer sole flex than the Alaska BC does. Reports suggest that the Rossi BCX10 has a stiffer flex than the BCX6 (which I own). The Fischer BCX6 (older grey version) that I own has a sole flex that is very similar to the Alaska BC in my estimation.

In the NNNBC platform, Rotteffella manufactures all of the outsoles- but, the boot manufacturer designs and manufactures the midsole.

Mike's test of the Svartisen BC vs. the Alaska BC suggests that the Svartisen BC is even stiffer! But- his Alaskas had some miles on them...I wonder how the sole flex of these two boots will compare once he has the Svartisen broken in?

I prefer the stability and power that a moderately stiff offers. I will gladly take the time to break in a pair of boots to retain that stability and power.
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.





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lilcliffy
Posts: 2932
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada
Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring
Favorite Skis: Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Gamme 54 BC; Asnes Storetind Carbon; Madshus Annum; Asnes Comabt Nato
Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance BC; Alpina Alaska BC; Crispi Svartisen BC; Scarpa T4
Occupation: Forestry Professional
Instructor at Maritime College of Forest Technology
Husband, father, farmer and logger

Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by lilcliffy » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:35 pm

anemic wrote: Now I will go Click1 for travel and Click2 for turn mode.
But will "click2" prevent you from fully extending your stride- or, will it transfer force down into the ski?

I loosen my 3pin binding when climbing a significant slope- in order to reduce resistance- but I want that resistance when XC skiing.
I am "this close" to pulling the trigger on some of those Ski March pure leathers from Alico. I've seen numerous posts where skiers have them but not much on how skiers like them. How do you like yours? For striding? For turning?
I have a pair in the mail...I ordered them because I am getting close to replacing my old "mountain touring kit" (XCD Guide/10th Mtn) with a new ski. I was pretty much decided on the Altai Kom- which I cannot imagine not wanting full-on "Telemark" power for...BUT, I would still want a leather boot for more mellow touring on the Kom- hence my decision to try the Ski March...After Johnny's testimony regarding the Objective BC with NNNBC- I am reconsidering this...
I have seen enough feedback that the Alaska 75 boots are not as stiff as their own BC/NNN counterpart. Boots that look like SuperComps are not good striders, so I'm not interested. I think I would like to stick with pure leather minimalism for the purposes of XCD. I am seeking confirmation on how one 75 leather boot compares to another. I invite your opinions please! Antarctics from telemarkdown are also on my radar.
On the light-duty end of the spectrum- I have greatly preferred the performance of the NNNBC boots versus their NN counterparts.

The only reason that I am still holding onto 75mm tech is because if I go to a ski as big as the Kom (or Vector/S-125) I am going to need the power of my T4s to ride them in everything except the most IDEAL conditions. I cannot justify a ski like the Kom without being able to ski the truly steep. But if I choose the Objective instead- perhaps NNNBC is all I need in the BC...
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.





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Cannatonic
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Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by Cannatonic » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:27 pm

I ordered wide Ski March and the ankle is a little too wide, so I ordered 1" ratcheting buckles from these guys, I'm going to have a cobbler install them at some point, hopefully it will work. The Ski March are super heavy-duty and supportive compared to the Antarctic, Alaska, etc.

https://www.ratchetingbuckles.com
"All wisdom is to be gained through suffering"
-Will Lange (quoting Inuit chieftan)





User avatar
lilcliffy
Posts: 2932
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada
Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring
Favorite Skis: Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Gamme 54 BC; Asnes Storetind Carbon; Madshus Annum; Asnes Comabt Nato
Favorite boots: Alfa Guard Advance BC; Alpina Alaska BC; Crispi Svartisen BC; Scarpa T4
Occupation: Forestry Professional
Instructor at Maritime College of Forest Technology
Husband, father, farmer and logger

Re: Leather Boot Reviews

Post by lilcliffy » Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:19 am

Cannatonic wrote:I ordered wide Ski March and the ankle is a little too wide, so I ordered 1" ratcheting buckles from these guys, I'm going to have a cobbler install them at some point, hopefully it will work. The Ski March are super heavy-duty and supportive compared to the Antarctic, Alaska, etc.

https://www.ratchetingbuckles.com
This is very helpful info- thank you!
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.





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