Keeping skiers’ feet happy is paramount to the success of ski boot manufacturers. If there’s one thing we’ve heard the industry’s finest boot folks harp on as of late, it’s the idea that downhill performance is key, of course, but ensuring all-day comfort is perhaps the most important aspect of their work. That means skiers need to be feeling good in their ski boots at all times, including walking from the car to the ski hill and back, or walking around a ski town post-shredding. Lucky for you (all of us, really) the integration of a few key tech elements has us covered in this regard.
For one, it seems that any ski boot worth wearing these days comes standard (or in an aftermarket package) with rubber soles. Boot companies use various terminologies to name and describe their soles but, in the end, they’re all aimed at achieving the same goal: improving the user’s traction while walking and, by extension, boosting comfort.
The “walk mode” mechanism, used for general “walkability,” has been around for years, but the innovations appearing in today’s variations are improved by leaps and bounds. The system releases the upper and lower cuff from one another, providing greater range of fore and aft motion; whether you’re marching a half-mile or potentially a couple of miles in your ski boots, walk mode makes things a breeze. Next time someone says, “Walk mode is just for hikers,” you can politely tell ‘em they’re mistaken. This feature benefits every skier.
Lastly, ski boot liners have never been more exceptional than they are today. Out-of-the-box comfort is on-point, and things only get better when you consider the wide range of customization options.
To validate the benefits of rockered, rubber soles, walk mode and plush liners, we’ve outlined a hypothetical yet realistic day at the ski hill and emphasized the times when these features come in handy. For the purposes of this demonstration, we highlight Dalbello’s Lupo T.I. ID which comes standard with GripWalk soles. As a testament to the popularity of walkable rubber soles, it’s worth noting the GripWalk sole-binding system is available in 90 percent of Dalbello’s ski boot collection.
So, without further ado…
1. THE FIRST-CHAIR HUSTLE
After suiting up in the parking lot you’re sprinting to the lifts. Thanks to your rockered, rubber boot soles, you won’t have to worry about slipping on icy walkways and hosting an epic yard sale before you even step foot on the mountain.
2. BEAT THE HORDES TO THE HIKE-TO
With skis strapped to your pack and ascending step-by-step to the promised lands, your high profile, slip-resistant rubber soles will prevent you from face-planting on the rocky, icy surface. Additionally, the curved construction improves the natural roll of your feet, keeping you comfortable all the way to the summit.
3. STEP-IN WITH CONFIDENCE
Now that you’ve reached the pinnacle of your desired descent, it’s time to remove your skis from your pack, click in and get ready to shred. However, the entrance to your chosen line has you perched atop a rather precarious outcropping. Never fear: Your GripWalk soles keep you steady as you maneuver across slick rocks and icy surfaces.
4. COMFORT, COMFORT, COMFORT
As the morning turns to afternoon, your feet are still happy as clams. The shock-absorbing qualities of your soles paired with the customized fit of your liners saves the day. Dalbello’s ID liners are 100% customizable; in just 6-12 minutes with the help of a boot fitter, you’ll have a liner precisely shaped to match your foot’s anatomy.
5. GO FROM THE SLOPES TO APRÈS IN COOL, CALM, COLLECTED STYLE
With your rubber, rockered soles plastered to the bottoms of your boots and your walk mode engaged—the Dalbello Lupo T.I. offers a 48-degree range of motion in walk mode, for example—your stroll through the village to your favorite establishment is a breeze. Kiss those awkward, clunky movements of yore goodbye.
6. WIN THE APRÈS DANCE-OFF BASICALLY BEFORE IT EVEN STARTS
You’re a couple of cold ones deep when “Beat It” emanates from the bar’s speakers. Another patron challenges you to a dance-off and you win with ease. Why? ‘Cause you’re still happily rocking your boots and your opponent changed into sneaks. There is no après badge of honor for those who remove das boot!
7. WIN OVER THE REST OF THE BAR
Riding the high of your recent dance victory you decide to buy your whole table a round of drinks (of course). The order gets out of hand, and before you know it the barkeep’s handed you a tray littered with shots, beers and cocktails. You’ve got a literal obstacle course between you and your table, but with the aid of your GripWalk soles and walk mode, you’ll be able to maneuver through the chaos with ease. Cheers to you.
8. FEAR NOT THE SLIPPERY, SLIMY BATHROOM FLOOR
You head over to the restroom, pop open the door and dread fills your soul. Covering the already slick floor is a sloshy mess of melted snow, urine, dirt and spilled drinks. Once again, your slip-resistant rubber companions come to the rescue. Power through the mess, do your business and saunter back out, free from a potential spill.
9. STAY ON YOUR FEET WHEN IT’S TIME TO SHUTTLE HOME
After hopping into the crowded, standing-room-only town shuttle that’ll whisk you to your front door, it’s not long before you’re holding on for dear life. While bodies slip and slide all around you, you hold firm, unmoved.
10. PREP FOR TOMORROW’S MISSION
The forecast is calling for deep snow and you’re keen to try out some new skis to suit the conditions. Lucky for you, some of the most popular demo bindings this season include seamless GripWalk compatibility, including the Marker Squire and Marker Griffon demo models.
GripWalk soles are compatible with all “GripWalk Ready” bindings. Visit dalbello.it or ask your local shop rep for more information.