Oct 27 2014

Black Diamond Tele-boots sentenced to die


Black Diamond's Push. Their most popular teleboot, but not popular enough.

Black Diamond’s Push. Their most popular teleboot, but not popular enough.

It’s unofficial: Black Diamond is adding a nail to telemarks demise by ending production of their telemark boot line. If you like their teleboots, better buy ‘em while you can because they won’t be making any more any time soon. That’s not official, I’m telling you it will be.

Insiders have been hinting at this for a couple of years now; not that it would happen, but it could. In the last six months though the words that have leaked through indicated BD couldn’t justify another production run on any of their telemark boot models. Word from a few retailers indicates that they won’t be available to order anymore either, except for what remains in their warehouses at the moment, which can’t be much.

BD Stilletto

BD Stilletto

It’s a sad statement on telemark but retailers have been saying “tele is dead” for awhile now. To be sure, the decline of tele was predictable and BD’s entry into that side of the boot market always perplexed me even though I was personally happy with the decision when it was first announced. With interest growing rapidly in AT, as far back as the turn of the century, did the market need or even want four telemark boot makers?

What was worse though, was the anemic response to Black Diamond’s entire boot line, not just the tele side. In conversations with several boot fitters over the past year the criticism was consistent; BD boots are buckets. They might fit a few high volume feet, but filling volume does not lead to high performance, or customer satisfaction. Better to start tight and make adjustments to relieve pain rather than start loose and cause pain down the road.

BD's Custom - pure beef.

BD’s Custom – pure beef.

With outlets like REI and Sierra Trading Post unloading Black Diamond ski boots, telemark and alpine, at below wholesale prices one has to wonder if tele is but the tip of the iceberg of BD’s entire ski boot line. In my experience, the necessary correction to the last of BD’s alpine boots has been made, and touring performance is now on par with other boots that offer a large cuff range of motion. The question is, will the market acknowledge that or continue to operate on the existing, admittedly outdated, perception? Let’s hope not. With every alpine boot maker now making AT boots worth considering the road to profitability will be a tough battle.

Related Posts
Review: Factor MX
Review: BD Seeker
Telemarking: Neither Dead nor Stupid
Wither Goest Tele?

© 2014

  • Rene-Martin

    I have to say I’m a bit surprise. I’ve been riding BD tele boots since year one and I’ve always loved them. It’s true that I would I liked them to design something different, reinvent power, weight and design instead of just making a really good products.

  • Chris

    I wonder if we’ve started to take the idea of a tight boot too far, much like climbing shoes. I experienced purchasing the wrong boot that still caused too much pain after three boot fittings – then tried on a competitors boot in the same size that required one. Maybe I’m one of those outliers…

  • Dostie

    Bootfitting is a learned art. It takes two. The fitter needs to suss up your foot right and get you as close as possible with one or two options. The wearer needs to know how to judge that fit in the shop and interpret how it will work on the slopes. Some shapes require obvious modifications. Others just need the right match and that’s where experience comes in to play. It wasn’t until I bought my 4th pair of boots that I understood how a boot should fit in the store to feel right on the slopes.

  • Dostie

    The most disturbing aspect of this story is that, without knowing actual numbers, Black Diamond telemark boots are probably the number 2 selling brand in America right now. Garmont is gone, Scott hasn’t really replaced their market presence (yet?), and I haven’t seen any significant evidence of Crispi selling many boots either. The two most dominant telemark boot brands visible on the slopes these days are Scarpa (#1 by a long shot), followed by Black Diamond. There are lots of Garmont boots still in use, but they were bought long ago. If #2 pulls out, that’s a scary sign of how anemic telemark equipment sales are.

  • Santa

    I was a leather boot guy and I love telemarking in the context of totally free movement forward – knee toward the ski. When I tried plastic Tele boots, there was no joy. The friction when dropping the back foot change the whole thing. No fun at all – not what I remembered. for me, that was the end of telemarking. I’d rather snowboard or Alpine ski – better sensations. That’s just me. -Santa

  • Dostie

    If you don’t actually tele these days, how does that prove you love telemarking?