Ski boots in general are such a bother that once I find a pair I like, I just stop there and call it good, which is why you don’t see too many boots reviewed on the site. I was almost exclusively backcountry skiing, so I reviewed a bunch of A/T boots, found one I liked, and, like I said, stopped there.
Then I decided to become a helicopter ski guide. I caught the bug and spent ten days at a big heli-ski operation, shadowing the experienced guides and learning what the gig was all about, and trying to prove myself as being up to the task. I was skiing on my backcountry setup, which worked for the most part since I didn’t have any actual guiding duties that time around, but high on the list of assignments I got from my mentors was “get real ski boots.” I protested. I loved my nice soft A/T boots, and I was skiing powder anyway, so who cared? THEY cared. “You can’t guide all year in touring boots,” they told me. “You’ll get hurt. There is not enough support in them to ski all day every day.”
I was a bit crushed, as the last time I’d tried alpine boots was a disaster. I had received a demo pair (not Dalbellos) to review for the site and found them so devastatingly excruciating, and the rep so haughtily unhelpful, that I didn’t even write up the review. I didn’t think it was fair; I hadn’t had enough time in the boots to really get to know them, and the rep didn’t have any hints by which I could modify the boots, he just told me I was wrong about them being cold and uncomfortable. Oh, OK dude. They hurt, and I almost lost my toes, but it’s all in my head. Got it! Just thinking about that experience makes me want to go ahead and write up that particular boot.
My point was that after that I didn’t even know where to start in finding a pair of ski boots to use for ski guiding. I turned to my mentors. “Dalbello” was the firm number one answer, so I hit up Dalbello for a demo of the Kryzma, the top of the line women’s alpine boot. They felt really promising even before molding the extra-thick and extra-warm Intuition ID liner, and it could only go uphill from there because these boots are really customizable. I installed my standard heel lifts to ward against achilles pain (I don’t even bother to try boots without it, and the only feature these boots are missing are the adjustable heel lifts found in other Dalbello models) and switched out the bases to the “softer” orange pair instead of the hard white pair. Evidently the orange bases are more dampening and shock-absorbing while the white ones are for super responsiveness but give a less forgiving ride. We are talking high level, here. Me, I don’t mind a little cushioning, so I use the orange pair even though I swear they both seem exactly the same when I hold them, stand on them, and bash them on the ground. Use whichever one you think is best for you.
I skied on that minimally-customized setup for about ten full ski days and a handful of instructing days (I teach beginners, so I’m standing, skating, and walking a lot) and had zero complaints about my left boot. I loved it. I could actually forget I was wearing a ski boot on that foot. Already I was skiing better because the boots were so dependable. There was something to that advice I got from those guides, as it turned out. My right boot was a little more tricky. My foot is just shaped differently and I have a 1 degree misalignment in that right knee. Yes, I’m that picky, so I’ve ordered the Dalbello parts to bolt to the bottom of the boot to correct my stance that 1 degree on the right. I’m hoping that it brings my right foot to the level of comfort of my left foot. For now I’m using a not-ideal half-wedge to give the outside of my heel a little support, and that’s helped a lot.
Despite being comfortable in the boots, something was still a little off, and the boots felt a little too “flexy” from what I expected. I was enjoying the way they skied, but when I really turned up the juice, I felt as if they weren’t stiff enough and didn’t give me enough rebound to make fast turns at speed. I delved into the bag of little plastic pieces that came with the boot, and found that there were a lot of easy things I could do to change the boots into just exactly what I wanted. With just two little pieces of plastic, one for each boot, you can change the Kryzmas to have three discernably different flex settings. You can also swap tongues to a stiffer one or a flexier one (comes with the boot, another nice feature). I ended up leaving the flexy tongues on but putting the plastic pieces to the stiffest setting, and that really helped keep my right foot down into the heel pocket where it belongs and correct the flexy feeling of the boots. NOW they ski like I thought they would ski at the beginning! But if I end up skiing powder for a full season, I can always go easily back to the flexy setting for comfort. Awesome!
I realize that my last paragraph might not make much sense unless the boots are actually in front of you and you can see what I’m talking about. But just take my meaning that it’s really easy and simple to customize these boots at home (though the little manual that comes with them doesn’t help much, I’ll admit. It needs some serious improvement) and even in the field once you get them set up close enough to how you want them. I’ve found them really responsive and supportive on the slopes, and comfortable enough to tolerate wearing all day long even when not skiing. Cold-feet me also finds the ID liner to be warmer than a normal Intuition liner, though I use boot heaters regardless. The boots are nice and light which is great when you have to wear them all day.
I’m happy to give a really positive endorsement of these boots. There’s just nothing negative to say. They ski incredibly well. I love the three-buckle system and I can’t live without the instep buckle (the blue one in the pic above). I can even leave these buckled on the chairlift sometimes, and that’s a major victory. They will suit a variety of wearers, and if you can’t get them to feel good then I really don’t know how ski boots are ever going to feel good for you. Did that sound judgy? Sorry. But really, these are really versatile, they’re designed well, they fit well, and they look super sharp in their matte-and-gloss-black-with silver color scheme. If you’re on A/T boots and you go to the resort a lot, trust me, get real boots and your skiing will improve by miles (thank you to the man who gave me that sage advice).