Would you have guessed how I spent my $150 REI gift certificate? I went to – drum roll, please – REI and bought myself a new pair of boots. What was wrong with the old ones? For one, the lacing system was a pain to deal with: the strings would get wet and then freeze, and I would alternately cut off the circulation in my fingers and then in my feet from trying to tie them strongly.
I compared the three brands they had in the store: Burton (my first preference), K2, Solomon, and Vans. Once I saw the different boots in real life, I quickly honed in on the Vans. They were incredibly easy to tie, and amazingly durable. Once in the boot, you simply tie the front clip, then twist a dial in front that latches a cabling system. I loved it!!!
Too bad there was this little pain going on in the front of the ankle. The kind of pain that is no big deal while you are trying on boots, but that becomes a ferocious killer after eight hours of boarding. When you get off the mountain hoping this is the last day of snowboarding in your life…
I tried to move everything inside the boot to remove the pressure point. I tried to go down a model, but there was nothing I could do. I suppose I could have gone for a larger size – but the boot itself fit perfectly. The only other option would have been to cut out something inside, but who wants to do that? Besides, the pain in the ankle was aided and abetted by a corollary discomfort in the top edge, way too hard.
Grudgingly I had to admit the Vans were not built for me. I was quite unhappy about that, since the system promised utter simplicity. Next were the Burtons: quickly dismissed, as their high end models require an advanced degree in geekism to operate. They have THREE cables that need to be tied, and add to those a bunch of straps.
The Salomons were nice, and I liked the cabling system – alas, it was close to impossible to get in or out of the boot. The heels were incredibly tight, and the last thing I was to do is to wait five minutes to get the darn boots off at the end of the day.
So, the K2 were my default choice. They are fine – fit like a glove, for sure. The only downside is that they have an outer system of regular strings, which is exactly what I wanted to get rid of; they do provide front tension with a cable system, though, which obviates the need to retie them during the day.
Kudos and thanks to Joe, the poor salesman at the San Francisco REI – he went and got all the boots I asked for without the slightest complaint, and was just about as friendly and knowledgeable as they get.