a new industry standard for ski boots…
GripWalk. Get familiar with this term. It appears to be the future of ski boot soles.
With the big uptick in interest in ski touring and backcountry access, ski boot manufacturers have been getting creative in resolving the issue of boot sole compatibility for backcountry and on piste activities. Backcountry boots need greater griping power because backcountry skiers are hiking in them. Skiers staying on the trails of ski resorts don’t really need that extra grip to get from lodge to lift and back again. At times though, such a feature could be handy, if not welcomed. In other words, having better gripping soles on ski boots wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
It was clear that there needed to be better compatibility between boots and bindings such that skiers could readily step into bindings for backcountry one day, and for on resort trails the next.
A New Ski Industry Standard
Enter GripWalk. Because Avie’s Ski / Sports sells Tecnica, Dalbello, Roxa, and Nordica ski boots, as well as Marker ski bindings, all of which use GripWalk, I will refer to this trend and the new boot sole involved simply as GripWalk.
The big deal with GripWalk, which was developed by Marker, a major manufacturer of ski bindings, is that equipped boots have rocker (e.g., a slight “u-shape”) along the sole so that walking is more natural, and therefore easier. There are also rubber pads on the boot sole, providing for greater traction and less unexpected slipping and sliding. The other big deal with GripWalk is that the boot can be used in both backcountry and alpine ski bindings, provided they are clicked into GripWalk equipped bindings.
But a GripWalk equipped ski boot will not fit into all bindings. They work in fact, only with alpine bindings that have been manufactured to accept the GripWalk boot sole.
Confusion Can Arise
Confusing? Yeah, a bit. At least right for the moment as we move through the crossover time as non-GripWalk bindings are still on store shelves and new bindings coming from the manufacturers are built to accept GripWalk. As you make your way through this crossover period, be aware of this change as you purchase new ski boots or new ski bindings.
If you are purchasing a whole package, it would be best if you can purchase boots and bindings that both have the GripWalk capability. This ensures compatibility. If you are picking up new ski boots, check to see if they have GripWalk coming out of the box.
Almost all boots are GripWalk compatible, but many come with a standard alpine sole. In this case the GripWalk sole is optional, and may have to be purchased separately. Some boots however come with GripWalk as the default, and non-GripWalk soles would need to be purchased separately. Some boots come with both sole types, one installed on the boot and one in the box.
Confusing? Yeah, a bit. What you need to do is ask the sales person, if they don’t let you know right off, what sole is on the boot you are considering, and will it fit into your ski binding. Our best advice is:
Look for the GripWalk logo.
GripWalk Boot-to-GripWalk Binding
If you see the GripWalk logo on a pair of ski boots, generally at the heel, obviously they are GripWalk equipped. Bindings with
GripWalk Boot-to-non-GripWalk Binding
You can’t put a GripWalk equipped boot into a non-GripWalk equipped ski binding. Why? Because the GripWalk soles make the toe shape and height different enough that they will not fit a non-GripWalk equipped ski binding.
You have 2 choices—replace the GripWalk sole on the boots with a standard sole OR replace the ski binding with a GripWalk equipped binding.
non-GripWalk Boot-to-GripWalk Binding
No problem. All GripWalk equipped bindings will accept ski boots with standard soles installed. There are a few specific limitations, but in general terms there is no problem.
non-GripWalk Boot-to-non-GripWalk Binding
Yeah, you guessed it, no problem here.
There are some benefits. The boot sole has improved grip, so you will be less likely to slip and slide around, whether in the lodge or on the way to-and-from. This means increased safety. Traditional alpine ski boot soles are quite slick, especially on tile floors. GripWalk boot soles also have a bit of rounding (e.g., have rocker) from toe-to-heel, making it easier to walk using a more natural gait. This should reduce the tendency to do the “Frankenstein Walk” while wearing ski boots.
To find out which ski boots are compatible with GripWalk soles, go to the official GripWalk “boot finder” webpage. This will help guide you in determining what boots will be compatible with what bindings.
Bottom line? Look for the GripWalk logo if purchasing new ski bindings or ski boots. If both have the GripWalk logo, you are good to go.
GripWalk. Take heed of it now as it is the way of the future in ski boot and ski binding technology. It is becoming the industry standard.
[updated November 2020]