Well as the season draws closer it`s time to get a little technical with ski boots. I’m talking old and new, the once that have gone with me trough all those verticals, all those kickers and all the fun as well as pain that comes with it.
As you guys know I am kind of a Salomon fan when it comes to powder skis and I have also stuck with the brand for boots since 2007. Before that I had trusty pair of Nordicas that, like my Salomon Kaos, held me trough like 4 seasons. But then came my first Salomon Foil freestyle ski and with them a Salomon XWAVE10 bootpair. Soon after a Salomon KAOS boot replaced it and that one had been my boot of choice until I involuntarily wrecked it after a heli landing at the Monte Rossa Plateu in May, while getting a lace caught on the helis landing skids… so it was time for a replacement… a new more BC oriented Salomon Quest 90 presented itself as a cost effective solution.
So while having all three boots next to one another I decided to check the incremental changes made to their design over the years:
If I am not mistaking, and correct me if I am wrong, all the boots seem based on the incrementally advanced space-frame that seems to have come from the Rollerblade STPro design used back in 2005 when salo was still making agressive Inline skates. Thou the materials used for the boot have changed the base frame design remains similar with all boots. The greatest change here comes with the Quest boot that features the Hike and Ride system and the two Buckle design of the Kaos. Basically we are talking variations here. The Quests Ride and Hike mechanism gives the entire frame the ability to be unlocked to allow more movement at the pivot akin to a light touring boot. But do not be fooled. This is not a classic touring boot! It is made according to alpine spec and Salomon has had problems in the past with tech inserts for Dynafit bindings in the past. They even had to recall them but that was two seasons ago and they learned form there mistake and moved the insert production to Italy to achieve the necessary quality to guarantee the required safety for DIN touring inserts. Also the pivots seem to have gone trough a couple of revisions trough the years. The grates difference here is on the Kaos, probably related to the two buckle system.
As you can see the buckles are a bit of a puzzle. They are different depending on what the boot is intended for. Back then when the SPK came out with the first two oversize buckles combined with a laced boot inside the whole thing was quite a departure from the usual 3-4 buckles. The QUEST comes closer to the XWAVE here with the micro adjustable classic 4 buckles. Also the Quest has a TON of options to have it perfectly fit to your foot so please go to a shop where they are actually qualified to set them up for your foot and not your local Hervis… then again you probably won`t find the Quest in a generic-ware sports goods store.
Materials and weight
Now here is a section that deserves some attention. The base frame of the boots might be the same thing but that can not be said about the used materials. Back when I bought the XWAVE10 the PVC used was quite sturdy and inflexible … that has changed. The Kaos is somewhere in between while the QUEST seems different. It is also considerably lighter. As weight becomes more of a factor in touring and Backcountry that is a killer feature every producer has to take into account. It`s not LaSportiva but hey a kilo less on your feet is a kilo less. How that effects the lifespan of said boot remains to be seen. Even thou the FLEX rating of the XWAVE is 80 it is without a doubt the stiffest of all three boots. The Kaos is rated as 100 in flex but honestly it is probably more around 90. And that is good. I do not like super-stiff boots as I have a very flexible riding style. Blue-feet and pain do not bode well for my flow especially in the trees. The Quest90 at first glance fells like the Kaos here.
If the frame is the same basic design so are the liners. Incrementally improved. Leaving all the marketing mumbo jumbo aside Salomon has a interesting liner design. What you get now seems like the liner that found there first use in there old Rollerblading line or vice versa, but not the normal once, but the aggressive in-lines. Specifically I`m thinking Salomon st. pro2 here again.
The top here are the pro liners. the feature the memo like foam that forms to your foot and sticks to it. That said I was never to much of fan of superfit-me liners. The second and the once I like are the my custom fit liners. The differences here are basically limited to the material of the liners. The higher end models *my custom fit premium and pro* not to be confused with the memofit pro liner, differ in the inner material used. Bye now they all feature some form of cushioning system for your heel. And I love the lases that are on the Kaos Pro liner but are absent on the Quest90 as these come with the Quest MAX series of boots. I`ll have to see if I can live without the laces again 😛
Now before you run out and buy half of a sports-goods store to find the right “shoe for you”, for helping in choosing the right one I also found a few cool little marketing videos by Mr. Salomon Mike Duglas and there boot designer that explain a few basic terms surrounding ski boots. Remember knowing what you want will help you chose the right boot. And since you will be spending a ton of time in them they might as well fit you like a rubber (or glove) 😛 !!!
As you can see they are quite different. The greatest difference thou is the modularity of the souls. The Quest has a rubber soul and a waterproof sidearea that is supposed to give you more of a grip while walking on snowy and stony terrain. It also comes in a tech soul version for technical bindings. The Kaos is very classical and the XWAVE is no thrills here. The Quest is the innovation here as the rubber and it`s profile should help you slip less. Beeing exchangeable, we will see how the rubber lasts trough a whole season. As the Kaos also has replaceable plastic souls I must say that they held up pretty good for four seasons on everything from snow, stone, grass … I`m expecting the same from the Quest.
CUSTOM FIT LINER FITTING