Roxa Element 120 I.R.

One of the benefits of working at a ski shop is that you get to see, touch, and learn about the wide diversity of equipment available to skiers and riders. There is a down side. It is tempting to acquire equipment!

This season I did acquire a few new things. And I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts about those items that I now have had the opportunity to try out. Here are my thoughts on one item.

3-Buckle Cabrio Boots

I am a bit of a sucker for 3-buckle Cabrio ski boots. I have fallen in love with the progressive flex from this style of boot. They also are a snap to get a foot into compared to traditional 4-buckle overlap boots.

For years I skied in Dalbello Krypton 130 boots, and loved them. But, at 98mm width, they were quite narrow. I do have a narrow foot, so they fit, and fit well. But while I can’t say they were comfortable, I also can’t say that they weren’t. They certainly weren’t painful. However, at the end of the day, it was sooooooo nice to get out of those oh so very snug boots.

Roxa Element 120 I.R.

Enter the Roxa Element 120 I.R. ski boot. This is a 99mm last (width) boot. But with adjustment of the toe buckle it can be expanded by a couple of millimeters. While that doesn’t sound like much, to your foot, it is. Enough so that this boot, for me, becomes “comfortable.”

Sure, I could jump up to a 100mm last boot. I tried that. And while I got the “comfort” in the toe box, my narrow foot had too much room everywhere else. That made for a slightly sloppy fit, which I did not like. The adjustable toe box on the Roxa Element 120 I.R. solved that dilemma.

Intuition I.R. Liner

The Roxa Element 120 I.R. boot comes with the incredible Intuition I.R. boot liner. This liner is a “wrap” liner, so called because it wraps around your leg. The wrap provides extra structure making for a stiffer, more responsive boot controlling the ski. The Intuition I.R. liner is also incredibly warm. Yes, warm. In a ski boot.

Finally, the Roxa Element 120 I.R. boot comes equipped with GripWalk. If you haven’t yet heard about GripWalk, you need to pay better attention! GripWalk is becoming the new standard for ski boot soles. GripWalk provides a bit of rocker in the sole, making walking much more natural feeling. And there are rubber grips on the sole instead of just slippery hard plastic. So the boots actually grip while you walk. GripWalk! Bindings not GripWalk compatible? No worries. Element 120 I.R. comes with standard soles you can swap out until you get GripWalk compatible.

Grilamid Poly

Sure, you never heard of Grilamid. Neither did I. Until I hefted an Element 120 boot. I looked at Ben, the Avie’s rep for Roxa and said—”This boot is feather light! What’s missing?” His response—”Good for nothing extra weight.”

Roxa is using some incredible state of the art plastics in making their boots, and Grilamid is one of them. This “super plastic” is incredibly strong and rigid. But unbelievably light in weight. Because of the strength, less is used. Add less plastic used onto the fact it is lighter, and you get a boot that is feather light. Need an extra benefit? Grilamid is NOT affected by cold. So it does not get brittle, despite it being thin and light.

In summary—3 buckles, easy entry, comfortable, warm, super light weight, great for walking. But how do they ski?

On The Slopes

Clicked into a pair of skis, Roxa Element 120 I.R. boots perform spectacularly. The buckle above the bridge of the foot locks the heel snuggly into the heel pocket of the boot. No slipping, no lift. Nestled in the I.R. liner the leg is directly connected to the ski via the boot so great control can be exercised.

What I can say is that the Roxa Element 120 I.R. ski boot is a comfortable, powerful, controlling ski boot. Because the boot is Cabrio-style, the flex is progressive rather than immediate. Personally, I like the progressive power application when I am skiing around the slopes mixing things up between carving and just goofing around. The skis can be driven with as much or as little power as I want in a very controlled fashion. They allow me to ski in a much more relaxed manner than if my feet are inserted into a similarly stiff 4-buckle overlap boot.

Undeserved Bad Reputation

I have heard comments that 3-buckle boots lack power and can’t drive the skis. That is indeed a true statement when applied to 3-buckle—not Cabrio-style—ski boots. 3-buckle boots are often seen in rental boots, where there are simply 3 instead of 4 buckles to make it easier for novices to get feet in an out. But these boots, while having 3-buckles, are NOT Cabrio-style 3-buckle boots. They are 4-buckle overlap boots that are missing a buckle. See “3-Buckle vs. 4-Buckle” for a more detailed comparison.

Because of the very incorrect comparison noted above, a lot of misinformation has been spread about Cabrio-style ski boots. As a result many skiers shy away from some really great ski boots when they see 3-buckles. And that’s really too bad. They are missing an opportunity to find some new magic in how they ski. Indeed, some may not like the progressive nature of a 3-buckle Cabrio boot. It is a different feel. But if you don’t have the open mind to try it, you will never know. I am glad I did.

The difference, by way of an analogy, might be the difference between an incredibly loud alarm to wake you up in an immediate and reactive fashion versus an increasingly louder alarm until the response of wakefulness is achieved. While sometime we need that loud alarm, maybe we don’t want it all the time.

Some Final Thoughts

In closing, Roxa Element 120 I.R. ski boots are great companions for my feet. I can slip into them quite easily and back out again at days end. In between my feet are comfortable. And warm. They provide the progressive power control I prefer when free skiing, and they have the ability to provide plenty of power to drive a ski into a carve without effort.

Those looking for a bit more stiffness should look at the Roxa R3 TI I.R. boot series. Ray Gomes, another Avie’s staff person is skiing those boots. He is a very powerful skier who takes his skis and boots everywhere there is to go on the mountain. He recently was at Waterville Valley skiing on many of the skis we will have in the shop next season. Ray skied everything from big, fat powder skis to skinny slalom skis over 2-days. I asked how his Cabrio boots worked, and specifically how he liked the Roxa R3 TI I.R. boots. His response—”They are incredible! They drove every ski without issue no matter what ski and where I took them. And 3-buckles? Why have one you don’t need? I love the power strap buckle up top. Great feature.”

Is there a downside?

Yes, but a minor one. At days end, once I am back home or wherever I am spending the night, I pull out the liners to let them completely dry. I know most folks do not do this, but I do. When the liners get pulled out, the tongue of the boot tips out and completely over the toe of the boot. That’s kind of nice as then everything is open and getting the liner out, and back in, is a snap. The problem is that the buckles all end up under the tongue as you pull it back up to the front of the boot. If I had at least 3 arms and hands, maybe I could gracefully reassemble the boot. So far I have not been able to do that. It takes less than a minute to move buckles and tongue around and get things all squared away.

But there is a fix. Hook the toe buckle up on the last tooth of the stay but don’t snap it closed. You can get the liner out, and back in, but it takes a bit of force and good alignment of the liner to get it to slip back in. If you don’t regularly remove your boot liners, this is not an issue. You can do this same “trick” when slipping your foot in and out of the boot. It works quite well for feet but is a bit more effort for liners.

While annoying, I don’t find it a game breaker for wanting to take part in all the great assets of clicking Roxa Element 120 I.R. boots into my ski bindings. The comfort, warmth, and performance all quickly make up for that minor distraction.

A final word on the Intuition I.R. liner

Generally, when we fit boots at Avie’s we tell people we can “cook” the liner for a great fit. And then we recommend not doing that unless there is something that doesn’t feel quite right. The Intuition I.R. liner really wants and needs to be heat fit to the wearer before hitting the slopes. In this way best fit is ensured. At Avie’s we can do this right in the shop once you decide these boots are “for you!” This will give a near perfect fit, which will become truly perfect the first time you wear them out on the slopes. The heat you generate in the boot will finish the custom fit process naturally.

Don’t shy away from 3-buckle Cabrio boots. Give them a close look. They have much to offer.

Lurking In The Closet…

The Highwayman…in your closet?

It’s July. The day is hot. So hot that even the act of getting out of bed in the cool of morning makes you break out in a sweat. And worse yet, the air is so water-filled with humidity that you really think you should have gills instead of lungs.

To seek any form of refuge, you go down into the basement where you know it will be at least a few degrees cooler. As you step down the stairs you notice an odor. A dead mouse?

At the bottom of the stairs the odor is stronger. Bigger. More malodorous. Hmmm, maybe a deceased rat?

You head towards the closet on the far side of the room. Each step of your approach finds the disgusting reek getting stronger and stronger. You realize it can’t be a rodent. It’s something far worse.

You get to the closet door where the stench is nearly overpowering. You grasp the handle wondering if this is the doorway to the River Styx and if the Highwayman awaits to take you across.

Terrified, but determined, you throw the door open. There, in the dark corner of the basement closet is the source of the most imaginably horrible smell you have yet to smell.

It’s the family collection of ski and snowboard boots tossed aside at the end of the winter season.

You slam the door and race up the steps to fresh air. The heat and humidity hit you like a sock filled with sand. You hop in the car to go purchase an air conditioning unit so you needn’t go down in the basement again. You make a mental note to not volunteer to gather the gear for the first ski and ride trip of the season.

A Better Way

While the above may be a bit imaginative, it is close to reality in many cases. I work in a ski shop. I know the truth because it cannot be easily hidden. But it can be easily prevented.

And there is no better time to stop the Highwayman from taking up residence in your basement. The end of the season is near, and for many, already here. Before tossing those boots into the basement closet, reconsider. Avoiding the scenario above is not as difficult as you might imagine. In fact, it’s easy. Here’s how.

Step 1

Go get your ski or snowboard boots. Hold your breath if you have to, and take the boots outside if need be. Now the gross part…..stick your hand in the boot, pull out the liner, pull the footbed out of the liner, and place both downwind. Take a deep breath, grab the other boot and repeat the process. You survived the worst of it.

Step 2

Get a 5-gallon bucket and add a couple of drops of a mild, anti-bacterial dish soap. Yes, the liners are gross but a few drops of soap will do the job. Fill the bucket about two-thirds full with cool/cold water. Insert the liner into the soapy water, being sure to immerse the liner entirely. Get your hand back inside the liner and gently agitate the soapy water inside the liner for 30-seconds or so. Remove the liner, empty out the water and put aside. Grab the other liner and repeat. Gently wash the footbeds when done with the liners.

DO NOT use bleach. It will destroy those liners faster than you can say “OMG” the long way. Then again, if you really want a new pair of boots…

Step 3

Fill the bucket back up, but this time with no soap, just cool/cold water. Or take the liners to the bath tub. In either case, rinse the liners very, very well. There should be no soapy residue or soap bubbles after rinsing. Then rinse the footbeds.

Step 4

Take those nice clean boot liners and footbeds, and put them somewhere in the open where it is dry and where they receive lots of air circulation. If the day is nice put them outside. But take them in before the dew settles in the evening. Leave the liners in that dry, air circulating space for 2 to 3 days to ensure they are absolutely dry.

Step 5

Get a shoe deodorizing spray. There are a ton of them out there to choose from, but you may want to focus on organic/all-natural sprays. It is possible that a chemical-based spray could lead to a break down of the liner foam, so going organic/all-natural will be safer. Give the liners a spray, let them air dry for a day and you are almost done.

Step 6

Take your nice, clean, non-stinking boot liners and slide the footbeds in. Then insert the liners back into the boots. If ski boots, lightly clamp all the buckles. If snowboard boots, lightly tie/BOA tighten the laces. Why? Because this will help the boots, whether ski or snowboard, hold their shape. This will ensure that they fit the way they are supposed to next season. This is especially true of newer boots constructed of lighter, thinner materials that may take on odd shapes if left unattended.

The final act of your boot maintenance project should be to store them in a dry spot. Don’t toss them back in that damp, nasty basement closet. And don’t go to the opposite end of the spectrum and toss them in the attic. The extreme temperatures may destroy the integrity of the plastics.

Keep your ski or snowboard boots someplace where humidity can be kept in check, and where air circulates on occasion. You will be much happier this coming winter when the snow falls and you start prepping for that first trip up north. Your companions will be much happier too; they won’t need to try to hide their gag reflexes when you pull out your boots!

And best of all, you won’t have to risk meeting the Highwayman in that basement closet ever again.

The Coming of Age

I was at Stratton taking another lap down Lower Downeaster, the trail you see pictured above. My feet were tucked into a pair of Dalbello DS 110 boots. Those boots were clicked into a pair of Volkl Kanjo skis. And I was loving life.

The Past

Towards the end of last ski season I found myself struggling a bit, and having too many days coming off the slopes feeling defeated. Or at least confused about why things weren’t clicking like they always used to. Skis didn’t respond like usual. Or worse, they seemed to have a mind of their own, wanting to go somewhere other than I wanted.

This season started off the same. I knew the reason. I just didn’t want to face it.

As I cruised into my mid-60s, I knew that I wasn’t as strong as I was a decade or so earlier, and what strength there was ran out quicker. And it took longer to recover that spent strength. Sure, I could ski in my Dalbello DS 130 boots atop the Blizzard Quattro RS skis, and ski really well. But after a couple hours of euphoria on that pairing, things degenerated. Rapidly.

Skiing is my winter release. The snow covered slopes are where I bleed off stress, forget the rest of the world and its associated problems, declutter my mind, and simply relax. To the max.

The Present

I needed to find a new set up that wouldn’t sap strength quite as quickly and would let me stay in that “happy zone” for as long as I wanted or needed. So as this season progressed I skied various demo skis Ted has available at Avie’s Ski / Sports. I really liked the Nordica Dobermann Spitfire 76, as well as Blizzard Brahma 82, and Volkl Kanjo.

The Spitfire 76 skis were great carving skis, and they were a blast on the groomers. But they were a bit heavy, and stiffer than what I felt I was looking for. And maybe a bit too skinny. If I went that direction, why not just keep the Quattro RS skis?

The Brahma 82 skis were great all over the mountain, but again were a bit heavier and stiffer than desired. What I was gravitating towards, it seemed, was something lighter and livelier.

Kanjo was great all over the mountain, had a lot of pop, and were incredibly light. They seemed for me to be the most fun of the three. But were they really the ski I was seeking? I thought they very well might be.

My Future

So, I bought a pair. I pondered bindings, and Ted suggested Marker Squire (instead of Griffon) to keep things really light. I also picked up a pair of Dalbello DS 110 boots.

I sharpened the skis so they would cut into a firm, hard-pack surface, and waxed and buffed them to a perfect high gloss shine. Then I took the new set up to Stratton to give them my undivided attention for the entire day.

Like I noted earlier, I was loving life. I skied until late morning without feeling fatigued and beat up. I took a short break to hydrate and refuel. Then went back out for another couple hours of fun with my new best friends.

I will miss the exhilaration of tipping down a steep slope with feet in super stiff boots clicked into race-worthy skis. That outfit is now in the hands of a younger man who will put them to good use in actual race conditions. So I feel good knowing those great skis and boots will continue to do what they do so well.

I admit, I am starting to feel my age. But that doesn’t mean giving up something as fun as skiing. It just means I need a new way forward that adjusts better to a new, aging, and changing me.

If fact, out on the slopes in my new set up I feel like a kid again, discovering the magic of sliding downhill over snow in the cold mountains on a pair of sticks with an enormous smile plastered on my face.

Your Future?

The new ski gear available today is simply magic. Boots are incredibly light, and with GripWalk, easy to walk in. Skis are available in so many configurations that it is truly impossible not to be able to find a pair of skis that make you feel like it’s the first time out all over again. Except this “first time” you will actually spend time skiing instead of falling!

And there are many options for trying before buying. Demo skis are there for the trying. Talk to shop employees who have skied the skis—like those at Avie’s—and let them help you find your new best friends.

Same for ski boots. New boots are so light, so warm, and so easy to get in and out of, that you will wonder why you didn’t upgrade sooner. No matter the size of your foot, there is a ski boot width and stiffness combination that will put and keep that smile on your face.

A Word About Volk Kanjo

For me, Volkl Kanjo paired with Dalbello DS 110 was the answer. For you it may be some other ski, some other boot. Regardless your age, if you are looking for a really lightweight, lively ski that holds turns wonderfully, carves as well as they do short quick turns, Kanjo is a pretty darn good choice.

I skied Kanjo on big, wide, groomed trails, as well as on narrower, windier trails. These skis carved incredibly well on the big groomers. They also made short carves on narrow trails, as well as jumped side-to-side quickly and effortlessly.

I even took them over a couple of ungroomed trails to see how they would handle more lumpy, crusty, crummy conditions. They didn’t chatter or slip. They sliced their way through the crusty crud, loving every moment. And so did I.

Though I haven’t taken them there just yet, I think Kanjo will play nicely in both the bumps and in the woods. These are a lively set of sticks that perform well beyond their price point. There is a demo pair at Avie’s if you are considering getting a new pair of skis.

A Word About Dalbello DS 110

The new Dalbello DS line of boots are phenomenal. For a 4-buckle overlap boot, feet go in and out about as simply and easily as can be imagined. Not like a pair of slippers—lets’ be serious! But wicked easy.

The change from a 130 to a 110 stiffness boot was not as traumatic as anticipated. The response from the ski is not as forceful or immediate, but I still was able to drive a ski—even stiff skis like Nordica Enforcer—without much problem (other than taking more effort, as is normal regardless the boot stiffness).

Bottom line? No matter age, ability, or desire, there is a match up of boots and skis that will be your soul mate. All you need to do is explore some, and find them.

Ski Boots—Year of the Boot

Ski boots are critical gear. And this ski season should be known as the Year of the Boot. Why? Because this year marks a watershed of change in ski boot design.  

This season, when you walk into Avie’s Ski / Sports to check out new ski boots, you will find several pleasant changes. The first is that most boot manufacturers have pulled together their boots into a single “family.” For instance, Nordica now has three variations of boots under the “machine” family name. Previously they had 3 or 4 different boot models with different names and differing attributes.

Using Nordica again as an example, they have Pro Machine, Speed Machine, and Sport Machine. Each boot style is modeled after their Dobermann race boot. Each boot style differs in boot last, or width in common terms.

Pro Machine is the narrowest boot, and comes in a variety of flex options. Pro Machine is also “tricked out” with the most bells and whistles focused on high performance for transferring power from skier leg to the ski through the boot. 

Speed Machine is a medium width boot, also coming in a variety of flex options. This boot is slightly more comfort-oriented, but in the stiffer flex models, still a highly performance-oriented ski boot. 

Sport Machine is a wide boot, with a variety of flex options, but oriented very much towards comfort. But again, in higher flex value models, the boots offer plenty of performance for those with wider feet. 

The other brand boots you will find at Avie’s Ski / Sports, Dalbello and Tecnica for instance, have followed the same basic pattern for their ski boot lines. A single family of boots, modeled after their brand race boot, with various styles reflecting boot width. Each boot-width series has a variety of flex values offering a range of performance and comfort options to skiers.

So what’s the big deal about this?

The “Big Deal” is that it makes much more sense from both consumer and boot-fitter perspectives:

  • Boots are grouped under a family heading, in consideration of fit and performance options, is both more logical, and easier. 
  • Boot-brand “families” have been designed based on race boots, so all are highly performance-oriented. More so than ever before.
  • Each brand-family is lighter in weight, making them much less clunky when clomping around.
  • Skiers with wider feet have real options for performance-oriented boots, and at lighter weight than ever before.
  • Prices have remained relatively stable, despite significant upgrades in performance, design, and reduced weight.

A Good Year To Boot Shop

The bottom line is that it is a great year to shop for ski boots. Never before in my experience has there been such a significant change in ski boot availability and performance at an industry-wide scale. 

This Avie’s Ski Tester could only say “Wow,” “Incredible,” and “Amazing,” as I  stepped into and tried out several boot brand families. I liked the the level of comfort found in the Dalbello DS ski boots so much, I bought a pair. In the ultra-high performance DS 130, the toe box offers just enough room to be comfortable, but at no loss in performance characteristics. The boot feels molded to my foot, but with just a bit of wriggle room for the toes.

I had the opportunity to ski in a pair of Dalbello DS 130, Nordica Pro Machine 130, and Tecnica Mach 120 LV ski boots. While each had their nuances, I can definitely say each was amazing. So much lighter in weight than in previous boot models, and so very performance oriented. I ended up in a pair of Dalbello DS 130 boots because that particular brand and model provided a best fit for my feet. Performance was outstanding in all three brands tested. So was overall comfort.

I have skied in a pair of Dalbello Krypton 130 3-buckle cabrio-design boots for years. So I am interested to see how the Dalbello DS 130 4-buckle overlap design boots perform relative to the Kryton boots. Once I get on the slopes a few times and have a chance to compare them, I’ll get back to you with my thoughts. Keep an eye on the Avie’s Ski / Sports BLOG. Sometime in late January most likely. That should give me a bit of time to do a fair comparison.

All the boots have liners that are heat-moldable. Some—and I think this will soon be an industry-wide standard—have heat-moldable shells to facilitate boot-fitting for those with more “difficult” feet.

If you have been considering new ski boots, 2019 is a great year to take action. The options are just amazing. Of all the new gear and changes in the industry this year, ski boots are at the top of the heap. At least in my opinion.

Boots are the heart and soul of your ski gear outfit. They are the “transformers” that move energy from your legs to the skis. If you want to improve your skiing, new boots are the first upgrade to consider. Not skis. Ski boots do the steering. Skis simply respond accordingly. Think of boots as the rack-and-pinion gearing. Skis as the tires.

I suggest you take a look at the Avie’s Ski / Sports web page titled “Skier Need To Know—Boots.”

Just click the link. You will find some good information about ski boots, and how to think through what will be a best option for you for new boots. There is a lot to consider, but it’s not confusing when broken down into logical blocks. We help you find that logic on the “Need To Know” pages of the Avie’s Ski / Sports website.

There is a “Skier Need To Know—Skis” page to help you think through new skis. Check that out as well if you are thinking of buying a whole package of ski boots and skis. 

Take a look at the “Need To Know” pages. Stop into Avie’s Ski / Sports and check out the ski boots. And maybe some skis. Talk to Avie’s staff. Let us help you find that perfect pair of boots, and skis.

Hope to see you soon.