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Help me understand boots/bindings

I'm pretty new to course skiing and learning about gear. Help me to understand boots/bindings.

Here's my understanding - there's basically two types: hard shell boots, and rubber bindings. Hard shell boots are pretty unanimously considered to be "better" for course/competition skiing, but it looks like Nate Smith uses a more traditional binding?

(sidebar, how do you size pics on BoS to be smaller? lol)

Is that correct or no? What are the advantages or disadvantages of each? What boots do various top skiers use (type and brand/model), including whatever Nate has? Among hard shells and rubber bindings, who are the "big hitter" manufacturers, and within the manufacturers, what models do they have and what are the differences?

I know nothing tell me everything! :D
Thank you!


  • ClydesdaleClydesdale Posts: 43 Baller
    If you’re new to course skiing i’d Recommend wiley’s (Rubber) or if you want to jump right in and spend some money then reflex hard shell. Just my opinion though. MANY good bindings out there and everyone thinks theirs is the best. Kind of like the ford/Chevy question. There ARE pros and cons when comparing rubber vs hard shell and I’m sure others will jump in. Can’t go wrong with wiley’s Or reflex tho....
  • ClydesdaleClydesdale Posts: 43 Baller
    And @SlalomSteve .... welcome to the addiction!
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,347 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    All the top manufacturers make a nice binding, you’ll really need to decide for yourself which one works best for you. I’ve gone from double high wrap, to double hard shell, now back to a Radar front and rear toe plate. Sorry there’s no hard and fast answer.
    Scott Calderwood
  • BrewskiBrewski Posts: 427 Crazy Baller
    @SlalomSteve Just what I know:
    Nate skis with a D3 T-Factor front rubber binding and rear toe loop. Most ski manufactures offer rubber bindings of some sort.
    Reflex makes the most popular of the Hardshells with a snowski style rear release system. HO and EDGE have a hardshell system that uses the same snowski style rear release. MOB (Mikes Overall Binding) has a great release system and I believe offers hardshell boots as well. Goode has a hardshell system that is attached with 3M Duo Lock. Radar has a hybrid boot that is neither hardshell or rubber. Kohen Sports (me) makes customs hardshell boots fitted to custom casts of your feet that you can use any release system. They are 100% custom so I build 'em how you want 'em....
    As far as who uses what, that varies from skier to skier. Some use rear toe loops. Some have double boots. Some have a rear toe with a heel cup. That is all what feels best to the skier and what they ski best on.
    Here are some Pix of Custom front and rear boots I have in process this week. More pix to come as they progress through production.....

  • SlalomSteveSlalomSteve Posts: 20 Baller
    edited October 2019
    Sorry, just to clarify: I've skied very occasionally since I was a small child, but this year was the first year taking it seriously and skiing the course. PB of 4 at 15off at 32mph. I use a fairly new set of D3 Leverage Blackout Front and Countour RTP. I'm happy with them (though don't really have any point of comparison), so this post is more about increasing my knowledge in general than looking to buy something soon. Maybe once I can run a pass at tournament speed I'll think about new bindings (but now I'll already know all about them when that time comes!).
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 917 Crazy Baller
    Just to add to @Brewski comment regarding the MOB. You can mount a wide variety of boots to the MOB release system. I use the Radar Vapor, many use other hard shells, I'm sure one of brewskis custom boots would work great on the MOB. Any boot that can be tightened (to not slip off) can be used.
  • JordanJordan Posts: 1,211 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    One point to add. With rubber indings performance is tied to how tight fitting the binding is.
    If the binding is too tight both comfort and the ease of release can be compromised. With a releasable hard shell you separate the release function from how tight or loose you like your boot as the release settings are in the binding.
    Having said that, if you wear a rubber binding like the Wylies and it's not too tight it will be very comfortable and quite safe.
    On the radar type hybrid boots,, you have to avoid the temptation to pull the elastic laces too tight. If you do, they may not release at all.

    One possibility I didn't see mentioned above is that you can now get the Goode boots with the Reflex release, so you don't necessarily need to deal with the velcro system.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,130 Mega Baller
    There are some variations in rubber.

    Wiley's are traditional with no lacers

    Then you have t factors and animals where there is a lacer to adjust the boot.

    Then you get into the sort of softshell with a removable liner and elastics which are a hybrid between hardshells and rubber in ways.

  • vtmechengvtmecheng Posts: 662 Crazy Baller
    An additional personal preference. I would avoid the lace up style. It's just hard to tighten it right every single time you ski. Most I see with them either pull too tight or end up running real loose out of safety concerns. I do use a lace up front but it's on a MOB so I pull it completely tight every time.
  • jepskijepski Posts: 39 Baller
    Good Information in this thread! I’m using older Radar Vector front, always careful not to lace too tightly and also use binding lube-which I read also aids in foot releasing....not sure how true this is?
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,130 Mega Baller
    @jepski when I used to use lube I always tried to get it all out before the first pull. Feels horrible when your foot slips around in the boot.
  • jepskijepski Posts: 39 Baller
    @BraceMaker - although I read the lube helps with the release, I also try and have it gone so that my foot isn't moving around. I guess as far as bindings/systems the most basic level (debates on "safeness" of a particular binding or system aside).....if you've found something that fits and works for you - stick with it?
  • ShakeskiShakeski Posts: 117 Baller
    @SlalomSteve - I have been playing around with boots for the last few years and recently found one I REALLY like - it is a mix of a hard shell with a soft boot style release (Fluid Motions Rebel Z). The hard shell is fixed to the plate (shell does not release off plate) but has a marine bungee lace that flexes and the liner comes out at release.

    What I notice:
    A hard shell (and I have tried both styles of a reflex type release as well as the fluid motion) is amazing in terms of instant response from your foot into the ski. When you roll, the ski rolls with little to no delay. It makes your knee, ankle, and foot feel as though they are part of the ski (this takes a bit to get used to - but forces good front foot pressure and calls out some stance weaknesses almost right away).

    Soft shell boots and rubber wraps allow for more independence between the knee, ankle and foot. This allows for more flexibility in terms of position on the ski - however also allows for more loss of energy transfer into the ski (example being you move your knee, ankle, foot - that moves inside the soft shell - then transfers to the ski.
  • NandoNando Posts: 557 Crazy Baller
    @Shakeski, what's your experience with the Rebel Z releasing? I was under the impression they were a non-release binding.
  • ShakeskiShakeski Posts: 117 Baller
    @Nando from my experience - it releases the same as any soft shell (i.e. Radar Profile/ Strada) - no issues with ever not coming out as intended and I have gone OTF in almost every way you can imagine :sweat_smile:
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