How long do you keep your ski boots? To get some sense of that the poll on the right was posted on this site.
After a year the curve is not quite what I expected. It appears the majority of folks tend to replace their boots every three years. I thought the average was going to be more like four or five, and in a way it is, but over half replace their boots fairly regularly. At least, those who peruse this website do.
Then there are the curmudgeons who don’t think they need to upgrade and they hold on to their boots a lot longer, as indicated by the small spike in replacements around seven to eight years.
The thing about simple polls like this is they don’t answer some important questions that beg to be answered. Like why boots get replaced. No doubt some have simply worn their boots out. For the majority of cases I find that hard to believe, especially with plastic boots.
My hunch is the fit isn’t that great, and there is a newer model available that promises performance features missing with the existing boot. If that is the case, it draws attention to the lackluster sales in telemark equipment, particularly boots.
Part of the lack of sales has to do with the lack of innovation occuring in the telemark realm. While more and more ski boot companies add a touring function to their alpine boots, telemark manufacturers who used to dominate backcountry boots sales have not bothered to integrate the superior range of cuff motion available on AT boots in their telemark lines.
To say that sales don’t warrant it is to ignore the lessons of history. There were no sales of plastic telemark boots before the Terminator was developed. Nor should it be any surprise that the last bit of innovation in telemark boots was back in 2007 when NTN was introduced. That wasn’t so much an innovation as an adaption of existing technology to a new interface.
In the meantime, sales of AT boots outnumber tele boots by a factor of 10:1. It is true that it is much easier to convert an alpine skier to a backcountry skier simply by asking them to upgrade their gear — tele requires so much more. However, there have been a ton of improvements and innovations that have help fuel interest in AT boot sales and even though my limited poll asked nothing about the why, I can assure you, the option to improve the your skiing performance by simply getting a new boot is motivation enough for most of the market.
If telemark boot manufacturers want to improve sales of telemark boots all you need to do is develop a better walk mode in the tele boots. We don’t need more power, we need more freedom. Build it and they will come.