First things first… we really need to thank our Tecnica/Blizzard Rep Pat Sipe for getting us these boots. He hooked both myself and one of our customers up with some of next years boots. Our customer was in a bind because he had damaged his current boots and was on his way out to Utah for a week of skiing. Pat really came through and made things happen. It’s that kind of support that makes us look good. Thanks Pat!
Anyway, on to the fun stuff.
So, a few weeks ago we were at one of the winter trade shows looking at all of the new equipment that’s coming out next season. It’s here we get to see, touch, and feel all of the new equipment. Anyway, things were pretty blah for the first part of the show. New colors, a couple design tweaks… more or less typical changes nothing special. FYI – Mantra’s are getting tip rocker, Gotamas are getting wider, Rossi Super 7’s will be available in 188’s and every helmet out there now has a brim! But when we got to the Tecnica booth there were some truly exciting boots waiting for us… The Cochise (120 flex), Bushwacker (110 flex), and the Crossfire (100 flex).
These boots are Tecnica’s answer to other slack country boots like the Black Diamond Factor and Method, or the Salomon Quest series. The slack country movement isn’t all that new. Companies such as Marker have had bindings catering to this crowd like the Duke & Baron for a few years now. The idea is that the person interested in these products is primarily someone who prefers to ride the lift and will occasionally make a trip into the back country or venture into lift-served back country areas. Because of this, downhill performance takes priority during development but many back country friendly features like a true-walk mode and replaceable sole blocks that are dynafit compatible are also included.
This combination of features makes these boots ideal for ski patrollers and anyone else that spends a lot of time in their boots but not necessarily on their skis. They are also perfect for short days in the back country as they have all the features you would expect from a full on AT boot… they just ski better!
For 2011/2012 Tecnica did their homework and the boots that will be available next season are pretty amazing. They include many of the features we’ve started to expect from boots in this category. They are available in 3 different stiffnesses, have a true walk mode that offers an impressive amount of aft cuff flex. The ski walk lever has a very low profile and is super easy to use even with gloves on. All of the models are built on a 100mm last and they all have replaceable soles. There are two different soles kits available. The DIN sole kit is a little lighter and is compatible with all of your typical downhill bindings. The AT sole has a treaded sole, dynafit compatible inserts and is rockered to make off trail travel a little more bearable. The AT soles are compatible with most AT and Dynafit bindings and most alpine bindings with adjustable toe height.
Some of the features you might not expect are the new power strap and buckle combination. The buckle allows you to really crank the power strap down reducing shin-bang and providing an amazing amount of drive. When it’s time to hike you can just flip open the buckle and you now have a huge amount of mobility. When it’s time to ski, just close the buckle and you’re ready to go… no messing around. Tecnica combined this system with a super wide strap eliminating the need for a 4th buckle.
One of the other neat features of these boots are the way the sole blocks are attached. Some of the other companies use only 2 screws to hold the toe block on. This makes for a super light system, but it hasn’t proven very durable. Tecnica sacrificed a little weight savings and uses a 4 bolt system that threads into metal T-nuts inside the shell spreading the load out and providing the ability to replace the whole system should something ever wear out.
The last feature that I want to point out is not included on all of the Tecnica models… just the Bushwacker. The Bushwacker uses Tecnica’s Airshell technology to provide a semi-custom fit that will remind a lot of you of the old Reebok Pumps! At first I thought this was a super gimmick. But after skiing in my Bushwackers for a couple of weeks I can honestly say it’s the best thing since fat skis! There are air bladders around your heel and over the instep, and because the Bushwacker is built on a 100mm last, incorporating the airshell technology gives it an effective last width of 98-100mm. Personally I have a narrow foot with a very low instep and typically I run out of length before I get into a boot that effective holds my foot down. With the airshell technology I now have a boot that fits perfectly without all the time spent getting a custom fit.
Overall we were very impressed with the boots and will be stocking the Tecnica Bushwacker’s with AirShell Tech next season. Below is a short review written by one of our local ski patrollers. We were able to get him a pair of the Cochise boots and from the sounds of it he’s been very happy. Check out his review below for the whole story.
NOTE: All of the photos here are of the Bushwacker boots with DIN soles. The Cochise was not available.
Kyle’s Tecnica Cochise Review
First of all, a BIG THANKS to Downwind. I was basically in need of boots quickly because I was having issues with my current boots and I had a big ski trip coming up. They worked hard and got me something that wasn’t readily available in a very timely manner.
Approximate hours on/in them (between walking around, touring, standing, waiting, etc.): 60
One line review: The sickest, most versatile, comfortable, and well built boot I’ve ever skied.
Conditions Skied: Ice, groomers, fat skis, mid-fats, 44″ of utah pow, spring slush, bumps. I guess pretty much everything at this point. I also toured a few thousand vert, hiked a few hundred, and stood around in them for 5 hours while trying to get out of Little Cottonwood Canyon in a 2″ an hour snowstorm.
Technical geeky fit stuff: The fit is a 9/10 for my foot style (lower instep height, narrow heel, wider forefoot). The instep height is where I dock it a couple of points. I actually think that the height is too high for a boot targeted at this demographic. That said, this is a really easy fix with a little bit of foam on the boot board or a nicely built custom insole with posting.
Buckles: The buckles are very nice and look like they will hold up to hard knocks no problem. On top of that they are very easy to use… a huge plus. The power strap is SUPER sick, as it incorporate a buckle to add additional tension. This allows for endless adjustments and in my opinion, there is no better system out there, especially if you have chicken legs like me.
Soles: The soles seem bomb proof. I have both DIN soles and Dynafit soles. I’ve basically split my time between them both. The Dynafit soles are HEAVY DUTY, which is great. They easily withstood repeated hikes up rocky terrain, and it was nice to have a little extra grip on icy surfaces. The DIN soles are noticeably lighter though. No matter which sole you have, they are very securely fastened to the boot which is extremely important. This has been an issue with my other boots, and I can’t imagine having any problems with the Tecnica boots as the screws thread into a metal insert that can be replaced if something were to ever wear out. I cannot express how thrilled I am about this aspect of the Cochise design. It’s safe, sustainable, and burley.
Liner: The liner is what you’d expect to receive when buying a top of the line boot. Very well built and comfortable. No complaints at all.
Walk / Tour Mode: Frikkin un-bee-leeve-able. Whether you’re hiking to your favorite spot, touring with friends, or just on your way to the car — YOU WANT THIS FEATURE! It’s very easy to operate and as a ski patroller, it has been a saving grace on accidents, running rope, moving sleds… anything that requires me to move around the hill while not on my skis. I love it and it’s absolutely worth every single penny. The Cochise has the mobility of a true AT boot, but skis like a full on alpine boot and in my experience the cuff is FAR more mobile than other boots in its class.
Flex: I was previously in a boot flex rated at 120 from another manufacturer. The Cochise is definitely a bit stiffer, though at room temperature it feels quite a bit softer. In the shop I was actually quite concerned that they were going to be too soft, but after you engage the incredibly sick power strap and cool them off just a couple of degrees, they’re quite stiff and capable of holding down big boy chargers on any mountain, anywhere in the country. I would say the 120 flex is right on.
Ease of entry / exit: Way easier than any boot I’ve ever owned that’s had a similar flex. They have a nice little feature where they put a little bit of soft plastic in a strategic spot over your foot and it makes entry and exit a breeze. They get a billion points for this, because nobody has ever done it better in my experience.
Weight: After all, it’s a touring capable boot, right? This boot is quite light. I’m not sure how they did it, but they did. It’s by no means super light, but the lack of weight is definitely apparent.
How do they ski: Incredible! If you’re in Houghton and about a size 10 shoe, let Downwind know. I’d be more than willing to let you take them for a spin. In these boots I feel I can confidently ski whatever I want and know that my boots a) won’t be sloppy… b) won’t hurt my feet… and c) aren’t going to explode mid run.
Overall: Tecnica has managed to make a sick, sick, sick boot that is versatile, lightweight, and seemingly extremely durable. I am super excited about this boot because it’s a game changer and it’s done right. SPEND THE MONEY, you won’t be upset. Like any boot, you need to try it on, but if it’s even remotely close to your foot shape, it’d be worth trying to make it work because it’s that exciting of a boot.