(Editor’s Note: It was just over a year ago that I went to the front lines to sell skis and boots at the retail level. A big part of the lure was the opportunity to learn some boot fitting tricks from Jim Schaffner. A fringe benefit was getting to meet and help so many folks get outfitted for skiing, from their helmet down to their boots.
When referrencing the owner of Truckee’s Start Haus, if it was about boot fitting, there was always an off hand remark acknowledging Schaffner’s supremacy in the world of boot fitting. I first saw it in action with Schaffner passing on his tips and techniques at a Masterfit seminar, then with customers, and over time, in the loyalty of his customers.)
There’s been a lot of excitement about K2’s entry – or reentry – into the ski boot market, especially with the new K2 Pinnacle backcountry ski boot.
Normally the Start Haus doesn’t jump on every latest-and-greatest bandwagon, but with the K2 boot line, shop owner and renown bootfitter Jim Schaffner got an inside look at the design process, and gave feedback on the boots as they were being designed.
With a background in ski boot R&D, Jim was called on to give his input on angles (forward lean, ramp), fit and performance.
Working with K2 through multiple iterations of the pre-production boots since 2011, Jim not only came away happy with the fit, performance and angles of the boot, but also came away impressed with the entire design process.
“The unique aspect of working with K2 that you don’t see much anymore is that all the staff, right up to the president, is an engineer or has an engineering background,” Jim said. “Nobody has been able to do this – to come from having no boot factory to having a great boot line like this out of the gate.”
The Energy Interlock design, replacing standard rivets on the spine of alpine ski boots, really works, Jim said, and the K2 Spyne 130 competes with the best from Lange, Tecnica or anybody else.
But more exciting than that, the two interlocking knuckles of the new design can be disengaged, easily allowing a walk mode without compromising the ski-ability, he said.
“The Pinnacle is much closer in ski-feel to their alpine boots than with other company’s releasable cuff boots,” Jim said. “The Pinnacle is one of the best executions of ski-ability with a releasable cuff.”
So while the Start Haus normally reserves judgment on new ski equipment like this, the shop will be sticking K2 ski boots on customers’ feet this fall as soon as they come in, putting them up against the best boots from established boot makers.
And if you know the Start Haus, that’s saying something.