After working in a ski shop for several years now, it is apparent that ski boots are a piece of equipment people take for granted. We have people come in every year talking about how they want to improve their performance by getting a new pair of skis, then they pull out 15-year-old boots and expect they are going to get great performance out of the whole system… false. New skis are great and usually aesthetically pleasing, but the boot is definitely the most crucial piece to the whole equation. It is the component that has to keep you comfortable all day, and more importantly, drive the performance of the skis. A new pair of skis is essentially useless without a decent pair of boots. This past fall, we procured a Fischer Vacuum machine that does a full custom mold of the outer PLASTIC SHELL of the boot. Most boot fitters do great work with liners but this system allows the actual hard shell of the boot to be molded to a customer’s exact foot shape. The Vacuum system makes these boots fit and feel like slippers, I have even been known to wear my Ranger 11 Vacuum to work occasionally.
The Fischer Ranger Series is by far the most versatile boot line I have ever come across. The first feature worth mentioning is the hike or walk function. With a simple flick of two levers on the heel of the boot you can go from ski to walk mode instantly. This feature was first sought-after by folks who are into alpine touring (hence the name Ranger) but now, is really great for everyone because, really, who doesn’t want to have an easier time walking in their ski boots? Sometimes the walk from the car to the lift is quite far and it is not ideal to be walking like Frankenstein when you are hauling 40 lbs of your family’s gear. The lever essentially releases the cuff so that you can get about 10 degrees more range of motion – making walking in the Ranger boots actually enjoyable. Another feature that makes walking a breeze are the Vibram soles that adapt to the many changing surfaces you will be walking or hiking on. There is also more rubberized material in the boot board inside this boot, which helps for the off-piste variable conditions and landings from the massive airs you with certainly send once you slip into these boots.
This past season we all got Fischer Vacuum boots to test them out and become knowledgeable about them, Blake and I elected to go with the Fischer Ranger 11. The Fischer Ranger 11 is a 110 flex boot with a 101mm last and has met my every need this season. This particular model of Fischer Ranger only has 3 buckles, two at the toe and one large buckle at the lower shin. I love this boot, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. I spend most of my time in the trees and moguls and certainly don’t try to hit top speed all that often. Only being 110 flex along with having only one buckle at the shin makes this boot ideal for medium speed in trees and moguls, and would not be the best option for ex-racers or folks who like to top out speed every run.
For other folks that have different needs, like a stiffer boot, there are other options within the Ranger family. The Ranger 12 Vacuum is the next logical step up from the Ranger 11 and has the same last at 101mm but a stiffer 120 flex and a traditional 4 buckle system. Other than that, all the same great features still apply. This boot would be more versatile for someone who does like to crank up the speed more than I do. The top of the line boot is the Ranger Pro 13 and oddly does not feature a hike function. These boots are for the best skiers looking for the stiffest boot at 130 flex and a super narrow last at 98mm. Without the hike function, this would not be the best boot for touring, rather a great tool for big mountain lines accessed by a lift, cat, or a heli if you are lucky enough.
The whole point of these boots is maximum comfort, achieved with the vacuum system along with amazing performance in off-piste conditions. Small point of order: going forward, there will be no more Ranger 11, rather a Ranger 10 Plus Vacuum that has a 100 flex and 4 buckle system. While I am a huge believer in the 3 buckle system, Fischer has decided to move all the way back to 4 buckle boots in the Ranger series. The great news is we have plenty of each in stock, so give us a call at (303) 237-7547.
If you like what you are hearing about the Vacuum System, check out Fischer’s detailed technology page, here!