Lange enters the carve fest with its new G Force models. They're smart but not radical adaptations of its three medal-winning lines: the high-performance overlap X Zero series for medium to lower volume feet; the similar ACD (Anatomical Comfort Design) models, designed for medium to wide feet; and the Max/Anthea convenience lineup. Those three groups remain thankfully intact with some additional models.
X Zero Series
X Zero 9 Race $595 X Zero 9/ACD $575 X Zero Banshee ACD $465 X Zero 7 ACD/L $425 X Zero 6 ACD/L $395
Since Lange launched the plastic boot era in the late Sixties, its boots have always performed superbly. But for many years, its shell shape didn't fit a lot of skiers. Since the company bumped out its regular last for the Zeros and introduced the "relaxed fit" ACDs two years ago, the words "Lange," "comfort," "fit" and "performance" easily mesh in the same sentence. All 15 testers who skied a version of the X Zero 9 gave it medal marks, and the exclamation-point-happy Pelletier sisters said it best.
Former World Cup racer Monique said, "I love this boot! I've never had a 'Lange foot' in the past, but I am comfortable in the ACD. The carving precision is efficient. The flex is simple and effortless. No wonder Tomba rips on these!"
Nicole: "Within three turns I had the balance point dialed and the flex range nailed. The X Zero 9 went from the crud to the course without hesitation!"
The rest of the X Zero line is similarly impressive. The translucent-shell Banshee is quick, stable and dependable. "No tricks here," said Cutter. "Like a determined boxer, it stays with its turns right to the very end. And it doesn't bite."
Our women, in particular, liked the X Zero 7. Lawrence called it "uncannily accurate." Steinberg felt the 7 too soft for big guys like him, "but they'd work fine for a strong skier who weighs 140-160 lbs."
Key Features The new X Zero 9 liner has three independent pockets around the ankles and heel, and gel behind the Achilles. Side pockets accept shims for a custom fit. Macro-adjustable cuff buckles, cuff cant, rear power frame.
Thumbs Up Simple, beautiful. And simply beautiful.
Beware Top models are still not easy to get in or out of.
Who They're For X Zero 9 Race: Racer X Zero 9/ACD: Racer, All-Mountain Expert X Zero Banshee: All-Mountain Expert, Executive X Zero 7: Executive, Player, Aspiring Carver X Zero 6: Aspiring Carver, Newcomer
G Force Series
GX 9 $585 GX 8 ACD/L $525G Mad Max $475 G Max 7/Anthea 7 $425
Among the most versatile "carving" models we tested, the G Force boots retain the winning stance and fit of the Zeros, but have a lower-height, softer-flexing cuff with a beefy medial panel.
"It's tight in all the right places," said Karnopp of the GX 9. "Not stiff, but very responsive with a solid, snappy feel." Lawrence felt the foot-to-ski feel "was razor sharp. This is the best boot on the market." Comparing it to the X Zero 9, Evans said, "It's much quicker entering and exiting turns, and rolls smoothly from edge to edge."
Nicole Pelletier was so enthusiastic about the GX 8 that she nominated it for a "platinum" medal. "I didn't hesitate to take it through any conditions on any skis," she said. Said Elling: "Even though the GX 8 fits my foot better, I'd probably ski the GX 9 and punch the hell out of them to get their stiffer, smoother flex."
The Mad Max was noticeably different from its G Force siblings-somewhat passive despite its Klingon Warbird styling. It's really closer in design and performance to the Max 6 (see below). "It lacks some of that 'painted on your foot' feel that Lange is known for," said Cohen. "Perhaps they should call it Moderately Upset Max." Gleason recommended the Mad Max for "groomed runs and mid-radius turns."
Key Features Volume ccontrol tongue insert, cuff cant.
Thumbs Up Lower cuff height than X Zero series creates a more upright stance.
Beware Entry and exit are difficult. Power strap can slip off shell if not set precisely.
Who They're For GX 9/GX 8: All-Mountain Expert Max: Player, Aspiring Carver G Max 7/Anthea 7: Player, Aspiring Carver
Max 6/Anthea 6 $350
The lead boot in Lange's three-boot comfort series, the Max 6 is a low-priced model that really performs. "Perfect for women who are looking to improve," said Sumera. "Smooth transitions with that great Lange inside-edge feel." And from Wetherbee: "Skis well enough to inspire false confidence."
Key Features Walk mode, cuff cant.
Thumbs Up Will make you ski better.
Beware Front buckles are difficult to latch/unlatch.
Who They're For Player, Aspiring Carver, Newcomer
XR L $300
The last holdout from Lange's almost defunct performance series, the XR L is a gem for women on their way up the learning curve. With precise flex and strong medial/lateral stability, "it is quick, but not twitchy," said Thoren.
Key Features Four tried-and-true micro-adjustable buckles.
Thumbs Up Will make you better without breaking the bank.
Beware This is a women's boot only.
Who They're For Player, Aspiring Carver, Newcomer