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Author Topic: 3 pin boots for newbie  (Read 7597 times)

Offline Sno-trax

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3 pin boots for newbie
« on: February 02, 2014, 03:19:16 pm »
Hi all,
Been awhile since posting on these forums.

Currently, I'm trying out bc/xc skiing around my woods and river, thanks to loan of some older gear
from neighbor.  I am getting the hang of it and know it is an activity I'll want to continue.
So, I'm hoping to find used gear during the off-season, craigslist,etc..

I am using an old pair of Trak bushwack skis and a set of Elan xc skis with an old pair of Alfo low top
boots size 44, my toes are have about a half inch from tip, with thick socks. I normally wear 10.5/11 for hiking and a 12 for my hunting boots, for extra thick socks. My concern right now is figuring out boots to look for.  These Alfo boots have narrow toes
and restrict my toes, so they get cold after about 1.5 hrs of exercise, even tho the rest my body is quite warm.

I don't have a big budget for boots, but realize they are probably the most important piece of gear to get right.
I've search online to look at new gear, seems mostly plastic these days, are there good leather insulated older boots you might recommend?     
A low cost boot that has popped up in online searches is Whitewoods, any thoughts on these?
I don't have access to a retailer to try boots on, so am looking for help here.

thanks for your help.

Sno-trax

Offline jerryswiss

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2014, 04:32:31 pm »
Well in this part of the country you can find a lot of used xc gear. You are right the boots are more important than the skis. I was lucky and found a pair of Kastinger (Austrian) boots that fit me perfectly in a thrift store for $7.50. It would probably cost me $200 to replace them. I have done the same with skis. Check ski swaps if there are such things in your area, CL, ski shops, rental shops, college rental programs, garage sales. I have found tons of gear in this way.

As far as brands. Kastinger, Alpina, there are others mostly European. I like the older leather ones with vibram soles. You can tell by looking at them if they are good. You should not be able to twist the soles very much, they should be stiff like a backpacking boot. And high top of course.

 Keep looking. ;D
« Last Edit: February 02, 2014, 11:35:48 pm by jerryswiss »
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Offline Tomd

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2014, 05:09:20 pm »
I'm no XC ski expert, but I do know this - badly fitting boots will cause you serious problems. Boots that are too big can cause "toe bang" meaning your big toes bang into the front of the boot and the bruising can cause you to lose your toenails. Happened to me-both feet. I was wearing Garmont Excursions, a great plastic boot, but the liner just wasn't fitting right. It took months for my toenails to grow back. If you are in the boonies and your feet hurt, you are in trouble. I cut short my last ski trip for that very reason.

I would go for a close fitting boot and a thinner sock, while avoiding a narrow boot that will cut your circulation, as you found out. Not being able to try them on before buying is a hassle; make sure you can return them if you buy off of eBay, for example. Speaking of which, you can see a lot of boots on eBay and compare prices and styles. As Jerry says, secondhand shops in your area might be your best bet.

I would look for something like a Rossignol BC boot, especially if you are carrying a pack. Also, as for bindings, I had Voile three pin cable bindings sitting on their release binding, not the cheapest, but when my sled pulled me over backwards on my last trip, I was glad one of the bindings released, otherwise I might have broken an ankle.

Never heard of the Whitewoods boots except I just saw them on the Sierra Trading Post website. The price is right but hard to tell anything from a photo.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2014, 05:11:07 pm by Tomd »

Offline HOOP

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2014, 09:55:05 pm »
My beautiful Garmont Tour full leather 3-pin boots needed replacing this year (Vibram soles broke at the duckbill on both! ).  I left it too late in the season to find a replacement full leather pair (I like leather),  so I bought a pair of cheap 3-pin Rossignol BC X-6 3 pin boots from MEC for something like $85.  Turns out they were last year’s model on clearance.  I just checked the MEC site and they are gone.  I bought the same size as my Garmonts, size 43, but I found the toe box in the Rossignols a little smaller.  So I cannot get my optimum mega sock system in there.  I hate these cheap boots, but they will have to do for this winter.  Good Vibram 75 mm sole, but cheap synthetic upper.

I will differ with my friend Tomd on sock systems.  I wear 4 socks:  2 ultra thin polypropylene socks (these slide against each other and negate blisters), then a medium wool hiker sock, then a thick outer wool sock.  So I order about a half size bigger that my normal boot size. On the Rossignols, I had to find a thinner 4th sock, since what I thought was a half size bigger, was maybe only 1/4 size bigger.  And my feet were cold last trip at -25 to -30C after 5 minutes if I stopped skiing.  I found my old leather boots with the larger toe box were warmer.   So for next winter I am looking for a full leather big toe box boot.   

Leather will break in, and if you get them oversized for big sock systems, you should not have a toe bang problem.  But you can get a heel slippage problem, which is what I have.  But I solved the blister problem with the two polypropylene inner socks system.  Super slippery and no blisters since I adopted that trick.

The cheap Rossignol’s will get you by until you can find a better pair for more money.  The new BC X-6’s are selling for over $200, but IMO they are overpriced for a synthetic upper.  But if you can find last years on clearance, they could get you by for a season or two before you get a better pair.
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Offline jerryswiss

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2014, 11:31:33 pm »
These are my Kastinger - Austrian made. They are the best. Would not sell these for $300. Don't suppose they make them any more. Circa mid to late '80s.

This was my first Pair. Richard Pontvert - Made in France. Good boots, but as you can see they have been around awhile. Circa mid to late '70s.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2014, 11:37:03 pm by jerryswiss »
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Offline Tomd

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2014, 12:18:04 am »
My beautiful Garmont Tour full leather 3-pin boots needed replacing this year (Vibram soles broke at the duckbill on both! ).  I left it too late in the season to find a replacement full leather pair (I like leather),  so I bought a pair of cheap 3-pin Rossignol BC X-6 3 pin boots from MEC for something like $85.  Turns out they were last year’s model on clearance.  I just checked the MEC site and they are gone.  I bought the same size as my Garmonts, size 43, but I found the toe box in the Rossignols a little smaller.  So I cannot get my optimum mega sock system in there.  I hate these cheap boots, but they will have to do for this winter.  Good Vibram 75 mm sole, but cheap synthetic upper.

I will differ with my friend Tomd on sock systems.  I wear 4 socks:  2 ultra thin polypropylene socks (these slide against each other and negate blisters), then a medium wool hiker sock, then a thick outer wool sock.  So I order about a half size bigger that my normal boot size. On the Rossignols, I had to find a thinner 4th sock, since what I thought was a half size bigger, was maybe only 1/4 size bigger.  And my feet were cold last trip at -25 to -30C after 5 minutes if I stopped skiing.  I found my old leather boots with the larger toe box were warmer.   So for next winter I am looking for a full leather big toe box boot.   

Leather will break in, and if you get them oversized for big sock systems, you should not have a toe bang problem.  But you can get a heel slippage problem, which is what I have.  But I solved the blister problem with the two polypropylene inner socks system.  Super slippery and no blisters since I adopted that trick.

The cheap Rossignol’s will get you by until you can find a better pair for more money.  The new BC X-6’s are selling for over $200, but IMO they are overpriced for a synthetic upper.  But if you can find last years on clearance, they could get you by for a season or two before you get a better pair.

Hoop and I are talking about two different types of boots, which explains the difference in socks. The Garmont Excursions are essentially a plastic ski boot with a 75mm duckbill. Mine had removeable moldable liners, like a downhill boot, so fitting them is a different proposition from a leather boot. They don't stretch once they are molded, unless you refit them. I understand the multiple sock layering for leather boots, but never tried them myself. I'm sure Hoop has spent a lot more time on skis than I have, so pay attention to what he says.

Offline HOOP

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2014, 07:20:16 am »
Hoop and I are talking about two different types of boots, which explains the difference in socks. The Garmont Excursions are essentially a plastic ski boot with a 75mm duckbill. Mine had removeable moldable liners, like a downhill boot, so fitting them is a different proposition from a leather boot. They don't stretch once they are molded, unless you refit them. I understand the multiple sock layering for leather boots, but never tried them myself. I'm sure Hoop has spent a lot more time on skis than I have, so pay attention to what he says.

Tomd is right.  I should have read his post more closely.  The plastic BC boots (which I do not have experience with) do have that moldable insulative liner that is a major design feature of the boots, and a sock system for them has different considerations than for a typical leather or synthetic soft material boot with little to no insulation or inner padding.   On my old Garmont leathers and these new Rossignol cheapies I have, one needs a robust sock system to keep warm.  I think my feet are getting cold in the new Rossignols because they don't have any insulation in the insole, just a typical thin foam footbed, which is not enough, and the toe box is not big enough to allow me to put another insole in there.   I gotta find me a pair of those lovely old school leather ski boots with room for an insole.   

I just looked up Garmont again and see that Garmont ski boots are now extinct - bought by Scott I think, and they dropped the leather line.  From the website Scott appears to be maintaining the Excursion model?
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Offline SupGen

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2014, 09:02:54 am »
  Howdy, Sno-trax! The first thing you should do is go here: http://home.comcast.net/~pinnah/DirtbagPinner/dirtbag.html . A ton of information in a clear, easy to understand format. I'm a fairly experienced BC skier here in the Northeast U.S.; I bought a house back in '96 and allowed it and it's attendant snow-blowing/clearing activities to ruin my appreciation of winter. All of my skis, boots, and winter camping equipment ended up in the attic. :'( This year I decided to change that; (finding Wintertrekking and all the great people here helped with that decision). After 17 years, to say things have changed on the equipment front is an understatement; I found the amount of specialization that had occurred bewildering. Dave (DirtbagPinnah)'s site really helped me to make sense of all of it. Okay, all that being said (sorry about that), I will also say that you will never see any of those horrid, evil, ugly, etc. PLASTIC boots on my feet unless said feet are no longer attached to me. Unfortunately, there are very few makers of traditional, Norwegian-welted, leather ski boots left and they are very pricey. Two that come to mind are Alico and Andrew, both made in Italy. Two others that are no longer in production are Asolo and Merrell (my preferred brand and what I skied on for many years). The good news is these (and others) are all available on E-Bay at substantial (and sometimes incredible) savings. I recently bought two pairs off E-Bay:(1) A pair of Alico Mod-Doubles (an all-leather double boot with an insulated inner bootie) for warmth in case I ever get my butt "North of the Border" or out in your neck of the woods where it gets really cold; these cost me $200.00 US but that's way below list and they're brand new. (2) A pair of Merrell "Classics" (what Dave refers to as an "Extreme" class boot, these could contribute to my feet becoming un-attached ;D). These are in like-new condition and cost me (drum-roll please) $2.99 US, that's right, two dollars and ninety-nine cents. Back in the day these were probably way out of my price range (why I never owned a pair). The only reason I can think of for the low price is they were listed under Telemarking; modern tele heads seem to be the opposite of me and won't ski in anything but plastic boots. More for us. Sorry about the long-winded post; I hope I've been of some help.

Offline Sno-trax

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2014, 09:28:54 am »
Hey guys,
Thanks for the insightful info.
SupGen, I will read thru Dave's BC ski site.

Hoop, thanks for info on Rossi boot.  I had seen that model in a few online searches.
So, would you advise buying a 1/2 size larger because of the smaller toe box?




Offline Sno-trax

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2014, 09:52:24 am »
Forgot to add this question earlier..

Have anyone tried using a Berwin/universal type of binding? 

It seems like a good solution, except for the price.




Offline Bioguide

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2014, 10:22:57 am »
Forgot to add this question earlier..

Have anyone tried using a Berwin/universal type of binding? 

It seems like a good solution, except for the price.

Hello Sno-trax. Here is a thread on pros and cons of the Berwins: http://www.wintertrekking.com/community/index.php?topic=2177.0

I spent some time last year researching for similar and more durable universal bindings other than Berwins and I found and purchased these Flexi Plateau bindings. A bit expensive however I am very satisfied with their performance and workmanship. I don't do any "downhill" with them but on rolling hills and flats they perform very well. And you can wear any type of boot/shoe with them. http://www.wintertrekking.com/community/index.php?topic=2457.0

Here is a link to the Flexi Pleateau's: http://www.ericphilips.com/flexi-plateau.html

And some pics using the Flexi's:


Offline Sno-trax

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2014, 10:48:05 am »
Bioguide,

Thanks much for the info.  Lots to consider here :)

Offline SupGen

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2014, 11:02:16 am »
  As to those Whitewoods boots, they're made in China and have injection molded soles, I can't think of a worse combination. A boot/sole separation miles from the trailhead would not be fun. I wouldn't trust them any farther than I could throw them. On another note, there's a pair of Asolo Extremes in VG condition at E-Bay right now, the current bid is $20.00 US. Only size 9.5 (about 43/44) so no good for Sno-trax but, $20.00 bucks? Talk about a steal!

Offline HOOP

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2014, 08:10:17 pm »
Hoop, thanks for info on Rossi boot.  I had seen that model in a few online searches.
So, would you advise buying a 1/2 size larger because of the smaller toe box?

Hi Snowtrax,
There is a little problem with the size of the boot vs the size of the Virbram sole. I am sure that the Vibram sole sizes are the same between my old boots and the new boots, because I measured them.  Interestingly when I bought my Garmont boots, they said the size 43 was equivalent to 9.5 US, and my regular size is a size 9.0, hence a ½ size bigger to get the extra socks into.  But the Rossignol boot, also 43, are labeled as 9.0 US.  I think the boot makers make their boot upper different shapes and depths in the toe box area.  And I am not sure there is any true global standard in boot upper size. 

I think if I ordered a size 44, I might feel like I have boots too long, because the 75mm sole (I think they are all Vibram) will be that true size.  So one has a dilemma about ordering boots without being able to try them on with your own sock system.   I have never worn size 44, so I don't really know if they would seem too long. 

I don't want to dis the Rossignols too bad (but I don't like the plastic collar wrapper either).  Its just that me being used to a full leather boot that is without a single seam except for the heel and lace area, I am not a fan of the synthetic boot material, mutli-seam, and I am not sure if they will stretch.  Maybe I should take them into a ski store that has a boot stretcher (if we have one in my town), see what they can do to the toe box area.
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"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline Sno-trax

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Re: 3 pin boots for newbie
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2014, 11:13:53 pm »
Hoop, thanks for the detailed reply. It sure makes finding a decent fitting boot a hassel.

SupGen, thanks for heads up on Whitewoods boots.

At least now, I've got an idea what to look for. 

Thanks you guys.