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Boots with walk mode

SkiNY

Diva in Training
My 15yr old daughter is a ski instructor at our small local ski hill. She needs new boots and we’re trying to find info on good boots that have a walk mode. I’m not finding much on woman’s. She teaches 5-6 yr olds and spends more time on her feet then skis. Last year (her 1st teaching) she got bad blisters. It could just have been a low quality boot. Instructors out there…is it better to just get a high quality boot or find one with the walk mode? TIA
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
is it better to just get a high quality boot or find one with the walk mode? TIA
Not an instructor, but my first pair of boots 15 years ago had a walk mode. My friend who was a never-ever used them for a few seasons after I moved up to better boots. She was only skiing at a small hill 4-5 days a season.

My impression is that boots with walk-mode are very soft and meant for people who don't ski much. When I used them, I was mostly skiing at small mountains in the southeast with a 4-7 year old just getting started.

Properly fitted boots don't cause blisters.
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Most brands offer a “hybrid” touring boot that has a walk mode, tech inserts, and made of the same materials/creates the same feel as an inbounds boot. The only kicker is that they all have a GripWalk sole, which works with around 80% of inbounds bindings, but some of the more budget bindings only work with ISO 5355 inbounds soles. I can help figure out what her options are if you know her bindings.

But lots of good options on the market - Lange XT3s, Atomic Hawx XTD (ultra or prime for narrow and medium width), Salomon Shift, Tecnica Cochise, K2 Mindbender - Fischer, Head, Dalbello, and Nordica all have lines of their own as well. Some are slightly lighter and softer than their inbounds counterpart. Others match exactly. But with the rise in demand for hybrid AT gear, these lines can meet the demands of serious skiers and have been front & center for boot R&D over the past 8-10 seasons.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Most brands offer a “hybrid” touring boot that has a walk mode, tech inserts, and made of the same materials/creates the same feel as an inbounds boot.
How does the price of a touring boot like this compare with regular boots. The OP's daughter is 15. While obviously it's better to invest in good boots, probably not worth spending too much. She's teaching at a small hill. Hard to know how much skiing she'll be doing after high school.

I bought tele gear for my daughter when she was in middle school. She was done growing. The boots and skis still fit perfectly But she's only used them a few days so far . . . and she's finishing college this year.
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@marzNC - It ranges from no increase in price vs. non-walk mode boots to $150 more, with an average of around $50-75. It really balloons out if her bindings aren't GW compatible, and even more so if the skis are stuck with that system bindings.

I try not to ascribe what other people's budgets should be unless explicitly shared. From the OP's comments about quality, it sounds like there's the appetite to invest to some extent for boots that fits well and is comfortable for both skiing and teaching. Fit is definitely the most important factor to prevent blisters, but I can also see a walk mode and grippier soles coming in handy for teaching tots.

I grew up in NC and can definitely see concern for over-investing in teen gear. Ski days took a lot more time travel costs. I loved it, but not a lot of friends had all 3 across time, money, and interest as a teen & young adult, so it didn't happen very often. The OP's daughter, on the other hand, has 3-4 seasons left with a local hill, and is instructing for at least the upcoming one. Statistically speaking, most people stay in state or at least within the region for school and post-grad work. That daytrip access may not change.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I grew up in NC and can definitely see concern for over-investing in teen gear. Ski days took a lot more time travel costs. I loved it, but not a lot of friends had all 3 across time, money, and interest as a teen & young adult, so it didn't happen very often.
What part of NC? Where did you ski in the southeast? I went exploring with my daughter in the southeast for a couple years after she could ski all the trails at Massanutten. While Sugar and Beech were a slightly shorter drive, our situation made Massanutten the better choice as a home hill. Now she's in college at UNC Asheville. I met up with @SarahXC when I went to explore Cataloochee using the Indy Pass.

For my daughter, there were too many competing priorities after middle school. She was actually at a boarding school in New England and could have gone skiing a bit. Cataloochee is only 45 min away from Asheville. But she hasn't made it yet. Has found it easier to make friends who like indoor rock climbing instead.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
I found just undoing my buckles when I was teaching kids worked the best.
For the OP, I think just getting properly fitted boots will be better than trying to find something with a walk mode.
 

lisamamot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My impression is that boots with walk-mode are very soft and meant for people who don't ski much.
Hmmm, my Lange XT had a walk mode, were not soft, and I ski plenty. Frankly, the walk mode was only slightly different from the ride mode. I skied more than once in walk mode and it was barely noticeable.

That said, the walk mode on my Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD have a huge range of motion (54 degrees?) when in uphill mode. Entirely different creature; these are my AT boot which I wouldn’t choose to use as my one and only.
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I definitely agree that fit's the most important aspect for minimizing things like blisters, but I believe really strongly in affirmative gear discussions. We can all speak to experiences of having our thoughts and instincts dismissed in male-dominated gear spaces, and I think one of the special aspects of being a women's only space is being able to give trust and credence to the research and instincts posters come in with while also exploring alternatives. Especially in cases like this where fit and walk mode aren't mutually exclusive.

@marzNC I'm from Elon and went to school in Chapel Hill. I've barely skied anywhere out east. I generally just say I'm an adult learner since I got max 30-40 days between ages 8 and 20 in before moving to Seattle (and all in giant rental boots with super low volume feet). But I did a weekend at Sugar and one or two at Winterplace, a night at App Ski Mountain, a few weeklong trips to Snowshoe and a spring break in college at Park City. I nabbed an Indy Pass this past year and should bring it and my boots when I go visit family.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
If so inclined, here’s also a trick that helped me IMMENSELY with my AT boot blister problems. When doing my AIARE class I wore knee highs under my ski socks and poof that problem went away. The knee high is slippery so it didn’t allow anything to rub into a blister when going uphill/walking around.

In my case I used to get bad heel blisters in walk mode going uphill, so this may be evidence that this type of boot won’t necessarily fix blister issues either. Fit might help though, my heels are particularly bony so her mileage may vary there. If her boots are working otherwise, maybe try some blister tricks. Hybrid boots with walk mode are more comfy to walk around in though!
 

elemmac

Angel Diva
The only kicker is that they all have a GripWalk sole, which works with around 80% of inbounds bindings, but some of the more budget bindings only work with ISO 5355 inbounds soles.
Most brands offer replacement ISO 5355 soles for many of their boots that come with Grip Walk. Some will come with both soles in the box, others you need to pay for them separately. Just noting this because it's not necessary to rule out all boots with Grip Walk if the bindings don't work, just need to go one step further and makes sure they make a compatible ISO 5355 replacement sole.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My 15yr old daughter is a ski instructor at our small local ski hill. She needs new boots and we’re trying to find info on good boots that have a walk mode. I’m not finding much on woman’s. She teaches 5-6 yr olds and spends more time on her feet then skis. Last year (her 1st teaching) she got bad blisters. It could just have been a low quality boot. Instructors out there…is it better to just get a high quality boot or find one with the walk mode? TIA
Blisters means her feet were moving around inside the boot, rubbing against its sides.

That is the definition of boots-too-big. Most ski instructors I work with who teach kids have regular alpine boots. They don't get blisters, even though they have to walk uphill a lot. It's the fit that will save her, not walk mode.

She needs a better fitting pair. Fit comes first when choosing a boot, and the bootfitter (not boot salesman) will choose which boots in the shop will fit her feet. That is, if she sees a good bootfitter.

Recommendations for seasoned and skilled bootfitters can be gotten here from people in her area.
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
Most brands offer replacement ISO 5355 soles for many of their boots that come with Grip Walk. Some will come with both soles in the box, others you need to pay for them separately. Just noting this because it's not necessary to rule out all boots with Grip Walk if the bindings don't work, just need to go one step further and makes sure they make a compatible ISO 5355 replacement sole.
I was offered both on my Dalbello Asolo GW 95's.
 

SkiNY

Diva in Training
Thanks all for your thoughts and information.
- I do believe a good fitting boot could solve my daughters issues. And Jilly, I’ll talk with my daughter if she tried unbuckling. I forgot to mention the blisters are on the inside of the foot by her arch
- she has marker bindings that are compatible with Grip Walk. (It says it right on the binding). I’ll look into the boots you mention Analisa. Thanks
- yes, we will spend money for a good boot. Feel this is the top equipment to get right. She should get decent use of them for the next 3 winters and we see after that. Luckily she has a few friends that also ski.
- missyski, we’ll look into a sock to see if that helps. We did use some KT Tape blister prevention that helped but it didn’t always stay on. Maybe the sock would keep it in place.

Once again, thanks for your thoughts. I love this site and get such great information.
 

Peppermint

Angel Diva
When I was buying new boots after a 12 year hiatus from skiing, my boot fitter asked what type of skiing I would be doing. I explained I was getting back into the sport so I could ski with my little kids, then ages 5 & 7 and didn't need or want anything very technical and was price sensitive. He noted that I would be spending half of my time standing and taking them to the bathroom and food breaks, which was true. I ended up getting a 3 buckle middle of the road set of boots that had a walk mode. I think they were around $250 back in 2008 and yes, they were not the most technical but they offered me enough that I could ski on my own at Wachusett and still be able to walk relatively easy when dealing with my kids. They were comfortable to stand and walk in and kept my feet warm, which sounds like something she would appreciate. Unless your daughter is done growing, I would not spend a ton on boots at this point. Take her to a good boot fitter and explain what her needs are, including the cost, and see what they say. Just my 2 cents.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Thanks all for your thoughts and information.
- I do believe a good fitting boot could solve my daughters issues. And Jilly, I’ll talk with my daughter if she tried unbuckling. I forgot to mention the blisters are on the inside of the foot by her arch
- she has marker bindings that are compatible with Grip Walk. (It says it right on the binding). I’ll look into the boots you mention Analisa. Thanks
- yes, we will spend money for a good boot. Feel this is the top equipment to get right. She should get decent use of them for the next 3 winters and we see after that. Luckily she has a few friends that also ski.
- missyski, we’ll look into a sock to see if that helps. We did use some KT Tape blister prevention that helped but it didn’t always stay on. Maybe the sock would keep it in place.

Once again, thanks for your thoughts. I love this site and get such great information.

I should have added, because I had only lightly healed blisters at the time I was doing my class, I used liquid bandage and covered with KT tape under the knee highs. I don't actually know which part was the true winner, but it was all so easy that I haven't experimented with only part and not the others etc.
 

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