What Fischer brings to the table is something radically different from all the other hike boots. It offers a thermomoldable shell. It’s a proprietary plastic called Vacuu-Plast. When heated to just 170° F it becomes easy to mold throughout the entire shell. Fischer uses a vacuum molding process that draws inside the shell, and squeezes from the outside with inflated pads. It cools to the touch quite normally, but the molecules don’t become “permanently” aligned for at least 48 hours, with the first 24 being the most critical. If necessary, it can be molded multiple times.
Then there are the rest of the features of the Fischer Ranger. It has a pretty darn decent walk mode, and a three position switch: Free, Restricted, and Locked. The restricted mode locks out rear movement past approximately 8° forward but doesn’t restrict forward movement. The Locked position restricts rear AND forward movement, requiring more force to flex and thus generates more power for turns. Fischer rates the flex at 120 which implies a slightly softer flex than most high performance ski boots. The Free position yields a solid 16° range of motion which is nothing to sneeze at — it’s even respectable.Unfortunately the cuff buckles don’t have a way to lock the bail on the row of teeth when loosened, so the buckles may come undone while skinning. No biggie. A solid 47mm wide power strap adds the finishing touch to a well coupled leg. As an overlap style boot it has a smooth progressive flex. It reminds me of my old black Langes, smooth and stable. Unlike those ancient alpine boots the Ranger comes with a vibram sole for grip when you need it on rocks, dirt, or pavement, and a DIN compatible alpine toe for use in alpine or plate style AT bindings. Sorry, no tech fittings (yet?).
As a backcountry boot the converted may scoff at the weight. It does weigh in at a hefty 4½ pounds per boot. That weight is the muscle that delivers the turn, solid and connected. And it has an excellent range of motion for long strides that eat up the vertical. If you’re looking for a boot to play on both sides of the boundary, this should be seriously considered. You can hardly go wrong on the fit department either.
Soma Vacuum Ranger 12
MSRP: $ 800
Weight/pr: 9 lbs.
Size range: 25.5 – 31.5