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, 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. There is however another very similar solution called WTR (Walk-to-Ride) found on Salomon, Atomic, Lange and Rossignol boots. It appears however, that even these companies will be adopting GripWalk beginning the 2019/2020 ski season. If and when that happens, GripWalk will essentially be the industry standard.

The big deal with GripWalk, which was developed by Marker, a major manufacturer of ski bindings, is that equipped boots are rocketed along the sole so that walking is more natural, and therefore easier. The other big deal with GripWalk is that the boot can be used in both backcountry and alpine ski bindings, provided they are 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.

Most boots for the 2018/2019 season are GripWalk compatible, but come with a standard alpine sole. The GripWalk sole is optional, and may have to be purchased separately. At least for this season. This will likely change in the very near future. If manufacturers want GripWalk to become the industry standard, then it will have to be included with the boot, not as an up-charge to the consumer. This will most likely happen in the 2019/2020 ski season, with retro-fitting GripWalk equipped boots with standard soles seeing the up-charge.

Not a backcountry skier? Why care about GripWalk? Because it is becoming the industry strandard and therefore will be in your skiing future.

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 (are rocketed) 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.

Look for the GripWalk logo.

If you see the GripWalk logo on a pair of ski boots, and on a pair of ski bindings, they will love each other. It’s that easy.

But what if the boots aren’t GripWalk equipped? Some ski boots may be able to accept GripWalk replacement soles. If the boot has a sticker saying GripWalk Compatible, they are.

But you can’t put a GripWalk equipped boot into a non-GripWalk 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 may however, be able to replace the GripWalk sole with a traditional alpine boot sole, and use your existing ski bindings.

It is confusing.

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 skis or ski boots. If both have the GripWalk logo, you are good to go.

Getting new skis for your existing boots? That fit shouldn’t pose a problem, but use the “GripWalk boot finder” link above to double check before making the purchase.

Getting new boots for your existing skis? That could be, and probably will be, a problem. You may however be able to retro-fit your new boots with traditional soles so they work with your skis. Again, use the “GripWalk boot finder” link above to see what is possible and not possible.

You may want to check out the other “Skier Need To Know” pages for SKIS, BOOTS, and BINDINGS. All Avie’s Ski / Sports ski boots and ski bindings manufactured for the 2018/2019 season are GripWalk equipped or compatible. All new gear going forward will be GripWalk as well.

GripWalk. Take heed of it now as it is the way of the future in ski boot and ski binding technology. In a few years it will be the industry standard, confusion will subside, and this page will need to be deleted.

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