Mar 16 2014

How long do you keep your ski boots?

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.

© 2012

  • http://ern.reeders.net.au/blog/ Ern Reeders

    IIRC Scarpa recommends the average joe replaces boots every 5 years. I’ve only ever seen one pair worn out, and my T2Xs must be going into their 6th or 7th season. It took about 3 seasons to tweak them for all day comfort so there’s an incentive to keep them.
    Is a good walk mode such an issue? Wouldn’t serious tourers have pivot bindings anyway?

  • Dostie

    Is a better walk mode really that important? Perhaps not for the average BC skier. For those who have a bit of competitive spirit in them though, I think it borders on essential. It’s one of the main reasons an AT skier will chose a Scarpa Freedom over a Lange XT. Weight is definitely part of it, but so is cuff ROM for a better walk mode. In tele la la land, there is no such choice.

    Oh, and to answer your Q. A free pivot is definitely essential. A better cuff ROM allows a longer stride, for faster climbs.

  • Jah Lion

    I figure 200 days in pair of tele boots and is time for a new pair. The plastic is soft and the liners are shot. This can take 2 years, it could take 10. Better ROM would be appreciated.

  • teletilyouresmelly

    Well certainly the poll is skewed by gearheads hanging out here more than the average skier. Most I know keep them many years. I agree with Jah Lion, 200 days (which is about every 4 years for me). I do a lot of dirt hiking in mine in the spring and yeah I could replace the liners maybe but they just feel pretty shot between the liners, the sole and the buckles which by then have become banged up or missing. And new boots really do feel much better. Perhaps its an extravagance but then I make my coffee at home so feeling ok about it ;-)

  • Herb Manning

    I have new skis and clothing almost every season but I try to run it out on my boots for several years. Pretty much wearing them out completely before replacing. It’s just such a chore to break in new boots. And when you do and they fit well, why on earth would you go and mess that up with new boots just for the sake of new boots?

  • Edvard

    I totally agree that we need to see innovation in telemark boots. I’m still using the F3 as my tele boot primarily because they are very light but the F3 was never designed to be a tele boot (but works great with TTS bindings).

    A new modern light tele boot would be reason to upgrade.