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Author Topic: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?  (Read 2009 times)

Offline AB_Winter

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Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« on: January 23, 2018, 04:40:07 pm »
I just ordered some Alpina Alaskas. Is there a break in period for leather ski boots? Also, should I treat the leather with protectant like mink oil? I've only had cheap synthetic nordic ski boots that don't require any maintenance.

Offline HOOP

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2018, 06:34:06 pm »
Hi AB_Winter.  Good timing with your question. Just yesterday I just put the first km on a brand new pair of leather Crispi Antarctics.  OUCH!  Man that leather is stiff and my feet were hurting. Before killer blisters had a chance to form, I skied back to the truck and decided it was a snowshoeing day with snow boots instead.  I will have to plan some short skiing distances locally and methodically break those boots in. 

My previous leather boots:  Garmont Tours (no longer made), required no break in period, so I guess its luck of the draw for how the boot first forms to your flexing foot. Both makes of boots had the same Vibram 75mm NN 3-pin sole, so I guess its all about the leather.

For heel blister avoidance, I and my buddies discovered a preventative sock system:  wear two pairs of thin, slippery polypropylene liner socks:  one next to the skin and one over top, and then layer your wool socks over these.  The polypropylene liner socks slide on each other and the wool, and so so this greatly reduces friction. 

Re leather treatment: I don't know the Alpinas, but my Crispis and the Garmonts before has a superb finish on the leather and when new I do not see a need to treat them with anything. When the time comes, I treat all my leather boots and mitts and gloves with SnoSeal.  It has beeswax in it.  I rub on a layer and then soak it in with a heat gun (but gentle on the heat).  You can see the SnoSeal being absorbed into the leather when it heats up.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2018, 06:55:22 pm by HOOP »
My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"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 Marko_Mrko

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2018, 07:01:04 pm »
Hi ABW!

I've owned a pair of Alaskas for 2 years now. I felt the boots were really comfortable at the start, got better even better after three or four hours of use. If they're not comfortable right now, it may be a fit issue. The leather itself does not appear to be treated (unlike the Crispi boots), and I was worried they wouldn't be waterproof.

I applied HydroBloc from MEC. It has worked really really well for me. There are different ways of applying the product. Manufacturer says "apply sparingly to clean dry leather using soft brush", but some advocate getting the boots moist, then applying to the wet leather. I followed manufacturer instructions, it's been great but I think some other guys here have more experience.

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/4017-078/Hydrobloc-Proofing-Cream

Cheers
Marko

Offline Kaifus

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2018, 07:11:04 pm »
I have the Alpina Alaska's and there was no break in period for me. The one good thing I'd say about them is that they feel good on my feet. A year ago I did tape my heels with "Leukotape P" to avoid blisters but that was after a couple days when I was skiing all day on a trip. I've never treated mine.

Offline AB_Winter

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2018, 05:30:05 pm »
Thanks for the tips. The boots will arrive late next week with my new skis. It's good to know that they might be comfortable from the start. I'll try HOOP's sock trick and have a look at the suggested products. Now I have to go and try to gather some information about waxing. This will be my first set of waxable skis, and my first metal edges.

Offline Kaifus

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2018, 07:40:31 pm »
What kind of skis and bindings did you get?

I've used the waxing info on this site to wax my own skis: http://www.rideandglide.org

Offline AB_Winter

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2018, 10:31:34 pm »
Thanks for the link Kaifus. There is plenty of info there. I'm having a hard time sorting out what is necessary information about waxing, and which parts of the waxing process were created just so vendors can sell me products that I don't really need. Does it really matter if my metal edges are sharpened at 1 or 2 degrees, or is this a myth created so that I buy the jig that guarantees a 2 degree edge? I saw a video today suggesting that people apply a special wax just for ski storage. I'll probably start another thread later this week when I finish my research.

I ordered Rossignol BC59 skis and voile mountaineer 75mm bindings. We get a lot of really cold weather here, and small metal parts and plastic don't hold up so well. The cold seems to make them very brittle. I read many good things about NNN BC, but the 3 pin 75mm system seemed to be more robust and simpler mechanically. I have some track skis with NNN bindings and I often have problems with little pieces of ice making it difficult to clip into them.  I've also had problems getting them to release properly. I would hate to have similar issues in the back country where I can't take my skis into the lodge to melt the ice so I thought I might try something a little different, but I've never tried 75mm bindings so there are probably some drawbacks to those as well.

Offline FlatbowBC

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2018, 01:59:16 am »
This past week I've also begun looking into getting some 3 pin boots. I had already narrowed the choices down to either Crispi Antarctics  or Svartisens ($249 and 299 USD at Telemarkddown.com) or Alpina Alaska's ($299 CDN at MEC) prior to reading through this thread, so the previous comments in this are extremely helpful.
It seems that the selection of new leather 3 pin boots has become very limited these past few years. Apparently there are some very comfortable and light plastic uberdollar 3 pin boots out there, but the aesthetic of plastic boots doesn't appeal to me. My application will be for use with the 125cm  Altai Hoks (at least initially) for use on steep trails near Vancouver and in the interior of BC.
  I had originally ordered the Hoks with the universal X bindings, which proved to be terrifying on the north shore mountains nearby. The terrain is steep, and the snow is wet, dense and fast. That combined with wide skis make a solid boot ski interface crucial for safety. I am returning the universal bindings in exchange for 3 pin bindings.

As far as I can tell from my research the pros of the Alpina Alaska boots are that they have minimal, if any break in time, and they are locally available for ensuring proper fit. The one con I have read of are multiple reports of the duckbill area failing. I have no doubt that MEC would look after things if that were to happen, but it could be a major issue if that happened well out in the back country somewhere.
The pros of the Crispi Antarctic would seem that they are probably the most robust and stiff soled 3 pin leather boot  out there. The cons  would be ordering online and hoping the fit works out. Also is the excahnge rate, shipping and possible duties to  consider.
What I'm wondering is if the extra stiffness of the Antarctic soles would make an appreciable difference in the performance.

Offline HOOP

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2018, 10:00:59 am »

As far as I can tell from my research the pros of the Alpina Alaska boots are that they have minimal, if any break in time, and they are locally available for ensuring proper fit. The one con I have read of are multiple reports of the duckbill area failing. I have no doubt that MEC would look after things if that were to happen, but it could be a major issue if that happened well out in the back country somewhere.
The pros of the Crispi Antarctic would seem that they are probably the most robust and stiff soled 3 pin leather boot  out there. The cons  would be ordering online and hoping the fit works out. Also is the excahnge rate, shipping and possible duties to  consider.
What I'm wondering is if the extra stiffness of the Antarctic soles would make an appreciable difference in the performance.

Hi FlatbowBC.  This season I have been working on breaking in my new Crispi Antarctics. As I mentioned in my post above from Jan 23, the first time out was painful. I have since been skiing a few times on them (not enough, my day job schedule has ruined my winter!  :) ).  I have adjusted my sock system and added another thick wool sock.  I oversized them one euro size, which is my normal sock add-in procedure for cold weather boots. 

The extra sock worked to reduce pain to almost nil.  Also no blisters using two inner pairs of slippery polypropylene liner socks (the outer one slides over the inner one, and does not lock onto a wool sock - the heel does move in the boot, but low friction, low heat).     

The Crispi's at first seemed maybe too narrow for my foot.  But I can see and feel the leather starting to flatten out dorsally, and stretch out laterally.  Or in other words, I think the leather around front and middle of foot was sort of rounder, and is now spreading out wider as the boot leather is repeatedly flexed. The permanent leather creases are just starting to form, so they are not fully broken in yet.

The Vibram 75mm sole is stiff, but I can flex it normally, I think.  I ski on the flats, ski-trudging along, so I don't need boots with torsional rigidity for downhill telemark technique. All our hills here are covered in trees and shrubs. Also if I was to learn how to telemark ski, I would be using a cable binding that is  wipe-out releasable.  My binding is the simple but very rugged Voile Mountaineer (no release, no heel cable).   

I would like a few more skis in the Crispi's to give a good break-in period before I give my final review.  Its looking bad for me for opportunities for the remainder of this season however, as the day job and life are keeping me in the city more than I would like.   :-[
« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 10:16:58 am by HOOP »
My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"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 FlatbowBC

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2018, 12:58:27 pm »
Thanks Hoop! Yes, I used to live in Manitoba (back when I posted here as "FlatbowMB"). In  Manitoba, I might have been able to get away with using the universal bindings with the Hoks for anything west of the Whiteshell area. Things are so much different here in BC when it comes to human powered locomotion. The extended flat stretches across frozen lakes that are the norm in eastern Manitoba and northern Ontario are quite rare here. Here the norm is trails that will have you ascending (or descending) 1800 - 2500 feet in a day with multiple hairpin switchbacks. Being in total control of the skis on descents here is critical.
I was going to go with the Voile mountaineer binding for the Hoks, but after reading your post, I have decded to go with the Voile 3 pin cable bindings. I can always quick detach the cables and use them like the mountaineers, but will have the option of using the cables when I feel the extra stability they provide is needed.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 03:32:15 pm by FlatbowBC »

Offline Kaifus

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2018, 04:48:34 pm »
I have the Alpina Alaska’s and the Crispi Mountain boots, the Crispi Mountain look pretty similar in construction to the Antarctica’s. I wore the Alpina’s three weeks straight just now, plus over a week a year ago and three days in 2016, all pretty long skiing days, and I’m sure there were day trips I didn’t count. The Alpina Alaska’s are comfortable, and are really good looking. They’re heavier and higher than they sould be in my opinion (but I always just ski on hard water). With that crappy suede leather they really suck up moisture on warm days, cold days they’re fine and I probably just need to treat them. The lace-to-tie looks nice but extents out below my gaitors so each evening I’d have to work scraping out the built up ice in the tung and lacing. But the one real complaint is that on this past trip the sole started to rip away from the boot at the duckbill on my left boot. I never noticed any performance loss or moisture getting in and it didn’t continue to grow but really not what you want in a pretty expensive boot.

The Crispi Mountain boots are how boots should be made. I think they’re pretty much bulletproof the way they are constructed and they’ve made from good leather. I don’t wear mine, they hurt my feet. Even after hundreds of miles and fifty dollar insoles they hurt my feet. It’s something to do with lack of arch support and the bottom of my heel taking all the weight from a days skiing.  They also have a plastic piece at the back of the heel that has a sharp edge that wore through the insulation and fabric of the boot’s lining then through my woolen socks. I’m not sure if that was a manufacturing mistake? I can’t believe they’d make something like that and not taper out that edge. I took them to a shoemaker who added new insulation and redid the lining but that edge is still in there. They fit my feet pretty well, it had nothing to do with improper fit.

Pros and cons I guess.



Offline Moondog55

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2018, 08:51:05 pm »
All of the above replies are why I swapped to plastic boots 3 decades ago.
They do not have the longevity of a good leather boot but leather boots get so soft and floppy so quickly that you lose edge control, a plastic boot doesn't behave in the same way and having a removable inner boot is simply a better way to mange warmth in my experience.
The high cost of a good plastic boot and mouldable inner is certainly a factor but money isn't everything. I would no longer use a plastic boot that only had a stitched and open cell PU liner tho, it is the adoption of insulating mouldable inners that has been the game changer for me
Intuition liners are simply warmer for longer than any logical combination of socks in a ski boot. You do need to adopt a different mindset where sox are concerned tho as wool will not work. Woollen socks soak up water from perspiration and become soggy
Back to the original question
When I owned Scarpa NorTour boots from new I waited until the plastic coating on the leather wore off before using Snowseal on them, just a little as seldom as possible as these organic waxes do soften the leather if you use too much. These days I would use Nikwax boot care products as they seem to do a better job but if a boot doesn't feel right on the first wearing it will probably never get better in my experience

Offline Mangrove

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2018, 04:53:40 am »
Also, should I treat the leather with protectant like mink oil?

"Mink oil" is quite commonly a mix of paraffin and/or some other waxes in mineral spirits. Finnish research I have read point out the advantages of using animal-based fats in taking care of the leather.

Offline FlatbowBC

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2018, 03:42:20 pm »

The Crispi Mountain boots are how boots should be made. I think they’re pretty much bulletproof the way they are constructed and they’ve made from good leather. I don’t wear mine, they hurt my feet. Even after hundreds of miles and fifty dollar insoles they hurt my feet. It’s something to do with lack of arch support and the bottom of my heel taking all the weight from a days skiing.  They also have a plastic piece at the back of the heel that has a sharp edge that wore through the insulation and fabric of the boot’s lining then through my woolen socks. I’m not sure if that was a manufacturing mistake? I can’t believe they’d make something like that and not taper out that edge. I took them to a shoemaker who added new insulation and redid the lining but that edge is still in there. They fit my feet pretty well, it had nothing to do with improper fit.

Pros and cons I guess.

Thanks Kaifus, this is extremely helpful. It is interesting that the Crispi boots have not become more comfortable for you with use, and have had their own issues of breakdown with wear. Given that there is nowhere locally for me to try the Crispi boots on, I will likely end up with the Alpina Alaskas since I can try them on at MEC (assuming they provide a comfortable fit.

Offline FlatbowBC

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Re: Care and Break-In of New Leather Ski Boots?
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2018, 03:53:27 pm »
All of the above replies are why I swapped to plastic boots 3 decades ago.
They do not have the longevity of a good leather boot but leather boots get so soft and floppy so quickly that you lose edge control, a plastic boot doesn't behave in the same way and having a removable inner boot is simply a better way to mange warmth in my experience.
The high cost of a good plastic boot and mouldable inner is certainly a factor but money isn't everything. I would no longer use a plastic boot that only had a stitched and open cell PU liner tho, it is the adoption of insulating mouldable inners that has been the game changer for me

Something to consider, but for me, even the Alpina Alaskas would be a major investment. The modern plastic boots run at least double to 4x that (eg.the Arcteyx models). If they have a shorter life expectancy than leather boots which are 1/4 of the price, that is a deal breaker