Dec 04 2012

First Look: Fischer Ranger 12


Fischer Ranger alpine touring boot for 2012/13

Fischer’s AT boot: Ranger. $800
w/Heat moldable liner and SHELL!

Everyone is getting in to the backcountry these days with ski boots that offer some form of a walk mode. Most don’t have much range of motion, but compared to none, anything is a welcome improvement if you’re hiking for your turns, or just want a more comfortable walk to and from the lifts, or apres ski at the lodge.

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.

3 position mode switch for Fischer Ranger

3 Positions:
Locked (both down),
Restricted (yellow down),
and Free (both up).

That doesn’t mean you need to wear them for 24 hours, but after the modified form is adopted, it just takes time for the plastic to cure so that it doesn’t continue reforming. Quite ingenious and not completely fool proof for all feet but it can accommodate a lot of issues through a simple heat molding process. It takes about an hour once you decide this is the way to go. For common bunion and other pressure points it does a remarkable job of sculpting unusual shapes. To give you some idea of how far it can be stretched or shrunk, Fischer claims the width at the metatarsals can vary between 96mm wide to 106mm, a full centimeter of difference.

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.

Fischer Ranger

Ranger allows 16°+ touring ROM in the cuff.

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

© 2012

  • climbhoser

    With metatarsals that are almost 130mm wide (size 9 foot), this doesn’t even come near a solution for me.  Good idea, limited execution.

  • Dostie

    At 130mm wide at the mets you’re definitely outside the bounds of anything resembling normal, or even slightly abnormal. Hope you have a dedicated boot fitter who can modify boots to your satisfaction.

  • climbhoser

    Strolz has been my answer.  I’ve had all of my plastic tele and AT boots blown to the max, though it still doesn’t quite get me there.  My feet have been such a source of frustration that I’ve considered never skiing again because of them.  If it weren’t for my Strolz, I probably would have given up.

    That said, I’m apalled that the widest boot on the market is 104 (Scarpa AT).  With the technology available I think it would be easier to put more shell width into a boot, and use foam science to fill or not fill it for people.  Not much, just enough.  As it stands, it seems shells are getting narrower and narrower, which is not only the opposite of what I want, but the opposite of what I’ve seen demand for.  

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