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Gear

Vector Evo 130

Head

2016

price$800

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX130

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH100

SIZES25.0, 25.5-30.5

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The Vector Evo 130 is so comfortable you may never want to leave the lodge. But that doesn't mean it lacks on-hill performance. It skis with Head's signature precision, slashing super smooth and predictable turns through a variety of snow conditions. The boot fits like a generous medium width-with more room than average for the category at the forefoot-but maintains enough linkage at the ankle, heel and calf to enable quick moves as needed. On top of an already sweet and highly anatomical fit, Head's new Form Fit heat-and-mold shell technology allows additional fit customization. There's a full plate of features, including a flex adjuster, lever-assisted Double Power buckles plus shape-shifting Spineflex buckles, a pulley-action power strap, single-side cuff-alignment adjuster, and a Velcro rear spoiler. Testers felt the boot ran a lot softer than its 130 flex index and was a little light on rearward support. Head says production boots will run 5-7 percent stiffer than the ones we tested.

Vector Evo 110 W

Head

2016

price$700

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX100

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH100

SIZES23.0, 23.5-27.5

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Head has resolved a couple of fit issues, maintained its skiing power and improved the look in this latest Vector incarnation. Testers were unanimous in their praise. They liked its stunningly good out-of-box fit and the fit-insurance-policy that comes with Form Fit heat moldable shell technology. The boot wraps the foot and leg with well-distributed pressure and just enough plush for a pillow-like feel against the sock. That's backed up by a firm liner construction that held testers in a good skiing position. Testers liked the more relaxed fit in the "cankle" area below the calf and above the heel, where previous Vectors squeezed too many women. Laterally strong, quick and precise, they said, it drove the ski with unflinching precision through crud while also arcing crisp groomers. Testers with bigger calves liked the upright cuff but our more average to slender legged women felt a little spoiler action between the liner and shell would get them where they wanted to be (an easy bootfitter install).

Hybrid 12 Thermoshape

Fischer

2016

price$650

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX120

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH103

SIZES25.5, 26.5-31.5

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This one snuck up on testers. They were pleasantly surprised by how much they liked the Hybrid's convenience, fit, versatility and all-around performance. It's a value-priced model-so there's no Vacuum custom-moldability-but the stance and fit were still spot-on. Testers raved about the Hybrid 12's ease of entry and exit and its welcoming initial fit, which enveloped the foot in a soft but even wrap. It fell right in the middle of the wide-fit group's fit-tension spectrum. Everything works efficiently to close up shop and get you skiing quickly. Testers heaped praise on the buckles, the power strap, and the Hike Lock walk mode. It doesn't happen often, but they seemed shocked that they couldn't find anything to nitpick here. As for on-snow performance, it scored high marks both on- and off-piste.

Ranger 12 Vacuum

Fischer

2016

price$900

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX120

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH96

SIZES23.5, 24.5–31.5

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The Ranger 12 Vacuum returns with a revised fit profile that earned it high comfort scores as well as also top marks for agility and quickness-a nice combo. The Vacuum shell-molding capability was a hit with the testers who went through the process. All noted major post-Vacuum improvements in toebox and forefoot fit. Depending on their individual foot shape, several mentioned a general evening of the fit elsewhere or slight tightening in the heel, ankle, and lower leg. The new moldable rear spoiler improved the calf fit, an improvement from last year's model. The plastic used in the Ranger 12 shell was stiffer than its predecessor. Testers approved but our bigger guys said it could be stouter still. The Ranger 12 moves well laterally, precise and powerful rail-to-rail with a sensitive connection to the snow and ski. Testers concurred that the Ranger 12 Vacuum is light, easy on and off, and has a smooth and respectable range of cuff movement when the Hike Ride Lock feature is disengaged. Fore-aft balance proved a little elusive for non-Vacuumed testers, who found the as-is version a bit upright. Custom testers, however, were happy. The stance improvements that come with the Vacuum process continue to impress our test team and highlight the importance of the process.

RC4 130 Vacuum

Fischer

2016

price$950

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX130

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH93

SIZES25.5, 26.5-29.5

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Here's one of the very best of the technical frontside boots and one with a highly-effective customization feature. Our testers put it through its paces both in its stock form and after full Vacuum molding. After custom molding, its scores for fit and performance were among the highest of the entire test. As in the past, the RC4's crispness and precision wowed testers. They linked carved arcs in reliable succession and never did bump up against an upper speed limit. Liner modifications-a taller and wider toe box and a seamless tongue construction-helped to boost its comfort scores. It still fits shorter, closer through the instep and lower in cuff height than the category average. This was our first time testing the dual-zone version of the Vacuum system, which allows for different molding pressures to be applied to the forefoot and rearfoot areas. Testers noted significant fit enhancement after the Vacuum molding process, and they detected stance improvements as well. Virtually all of our discriminating stance-stickler testers said they came out the other side of the molding process with an acutely tuned alignment.

Zephyr 11 Vacuum

Fischer

2016

price$800

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX110

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH95

SIZES23.5, 24.5-27.5

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The Zephyr 11 impressed testers with its even, medium off-the-rack fit, feel and clean connection to the ski. Testers really got wound up after the Vacuum molding process. Fischer's medium width Vacuums have historically done well even without Vacuum molding. Their stance set up is neutral from the get-go and the fit works for many feet. So it was interesting to see what really changed to make it go from great to super-duper-great. One tester's form explained it well; her fit scores got more in-line, meaning that looser spots got snugger and tight scores mellowed. She noted that while the out-of-box skiing feel was really good, after molding she noticed a "flatter" feel underfoot and better translation of movement to the ski. Those comments are consistent with our Vacuum tests on other models, too. A couple of stock mode testers mentioned an upright stance. One liked it and one felt a touch back. Vacuum molding fixes that; stand where you want to ski and there it will be.

Kyra 95

Dalbello

2016

price$600

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX95

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH102

SIZES22.0-27.5

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The Kyra 95 is back on the podium for the third year in a row. And while it's relatively unchanged, this unassuming three-piece always surprises our test team; it's capable, comfortable and versatile. Some testers were most impressed with its universal fit appeal; the 45-degree Dynalink Rearfoot Retention buckle maintains a comfortably snug instep fit for both high and low volume feet. Testers with a wide range of calf shapes also found a happy place here. Though even without activating the Cuff Volume Expansion feature the cuff fit is generous. The toebox and forefoot is extra roomy, testers report, and especially well-suited to wider feet. Other testers loved it for how it handles on snow-both up and down inclines. Our skinning tests showed that the Kyra toured fine (although it's a little heavier than others) but skied down with great aplomb. On- and off-piste, the Kyra 95 demonstrated a strong-enough lateral toughness and predictably smooth transitions from turn-to-turn. "Fun and easy to ski" was the tester takeaway.

Luna 80

Dalbello

2016

price$400

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX80

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH101

SIZES22.0-27.5

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Our test is always sprinkled with good deals and sleepers that surprise testers with unexpected performance. The Luna 80 was both: a shocking, stunner-sleeper of a good deal. A Soft Value entry, it scored fourth highest of all boots tested and you'll find it in most ski shops selling for less than $300. This is the little three-piece that could. Our testers couldn't believe the agility and straight-up power that this 80-flex exhibited in all sorts of conditions and turns. They loved that it made slow speed skids, medium cruise-carves and flat-out railed screamers. An 80 flex! Testers said it slid on easy, buckled up cleanly, fit like a well-contoured wide boot (bigger than its 101mm tag would suggest) and came off like butter when it was all over. Luna means moon. That's fitting as our test team was over it for this one.

VFF Pro

DaleBoot

2016

price$795

YEAR2015/2016

LEVELAdvanced

FLEX120

GENDERMale

LAST WIDTH92

SIZES22.5–32.5

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Salt Lake City–based DaleBoot makes fully custom boots—liner and shell. Extensive measurements, foot tracings and interview info are taken by dealer partners or right at the factory store. If you purchase at a dealer, the final stance and fit work are done locally after your boots are received (all part of the price). This year we put the VFF Pro to the test and it scored higher than many of the brands that are worldwide household names. Testers said the VFF put the ski on edge and held it there at speed through variable terrain as well as any boot in the group.

Boss

Dalbello

2016

price$550

YEAR2015/2016

LEVEL

FLEX100

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH103

SIZES25.0-30.5

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Here's one of the testers' all-time favorite three-piece boots. Regardless of what shape of foot was stuffed inside it, it felt secure enough to get the job done everywhere on the hill, they said. A key to the broad fit spectrum is the slick Hi-Low Twinstep Closure buckle. You can adjust for higher or lower fit at the instep (the top of the foot) by simply selecting a different set of buckle teeth on the bottom buckle. Testers also liked the 45-degree Dynalink Rearfoot Retention middle buckle, which helps create just the right amount of closure through the throat of the boot for a variety of foot shapes. And on snow, the Boss takes charge every bit as well as boots that are $200 more expensive. Testers thought it was smooth, powerful, and agile enough to be a daily driver for all but the most aggressive of big guys.

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