Separating the wheat from the chaff is getting tougher. "There used to be a gap between good and crap," says Mike Evans, who has tested boots for SKI since 1988. "Now there's a deep middle ground." That makes our job harder, but not less enjoyable. Again this year we tested our boots in early May at Mt. Bachelor, Ore. Despite the late date, we skied every type of snow you'd find in the course of a winter. Mostly, though, we had the consistent hard snow that makes Bachelor such a great test site.
Testers use their personal skis when testing boots in the upper range of performance. There are also more appropriate skis on hand for testing All-Mountain Cruiser and Player/Aspiring Carver boots. All testers are fitted with the same Instaprint custom footbed, which they take from boot to boot. Testers make at least three runs on each boot (about 5,000 vertical feet), which provides them time to settle in and discover its nuances. This year we performed more than 375 tests on 51 models.
Our team of boot techs ensures that all standard adjustments on the boots are properly set. We score the boots on a 1-10 scale in multiple criteria. We analyze the fit and record our impressions. After that, we feed the data into a customized scoring program and review the comments to determine the winners.
-J.R & S.C.