Reboot your boots: get new liners to extend boot life

After four years of skiing an average of 30 days a season, my poor ski boots were becoming looser and looser on my feet, as the liner boot was completely packed out. This required me to buckle the boots tighter and tighter to maintain some level of control while skiing. I was beginning to think it might be time to get new boots, until I had a conversation with Dave Simpson of Scarpa at the SIA show and the SIA Demo Day.

"Why not try a new pair of liners," Simpson suggested. Scarpa makes an aftermarket version of the Intuition liner that is used in Scarpa's top telemark and AT boots. Intuition liners are made with Ultralon™ foam, a closed cell foam that is much more resistant to packing out than standard foam liners. Intuition liners are thermo-moldable, and can be molded up to 12 times, much more than standard foam liners.

Intuition liners are warmer and lighter than standard liners, and the closed cell foam is supposed to offer a performance boost because the resilience of the liner transfers energy to the ski faster. The Universal liner also has an overlap tongue design to offer more rigidity. As an added bonus, the Intuition foam doesn't absorb moisture, so it dries out much quicker than standard foam liners.

After getting a pair of the liners, I headed up to Larry's Bootfitting in Boulder to meet with Larry Houchen, an expert in fitting ski boots. Houchen threw my new Intuition liners in his special oven and heated them up, and while waiting, had me put a thin ski sock on over my foot with my custom footbed inside the sock. Right away, I could see that the new liner was denser than my old one, because Houchen had to spray cooking oil on the plastic bag he put over my foot so that it would slide into the liner. After getting both feet into the boots, he buckled them up and we waited for the foam to cool and mold to my feet.

Houchen carries the Universal liner, as well as a full line of alpine, telemark, and alpine touring boots, and his shop was busy that Friday afternoon with people getting the best boot advice in the Denver/Boulder area. The new liners were fitted in about 15 minutes, and then it was time to see how they ski.

I've logged several days now in the new liners, and can tell you that I noticed an immediate performance boost. The liners fit my feet much better, and I didn't feel like I needed to overbuckle the boots anymore. I was also skiing with much thinner socks, as opposed to thick ones I had to use for the last several uses to compensate for slop in the liner. It's hard to describe, but the boot felt much more like an extension of my foot than a bulky piece of plastic connected to the ski.

Intuition Universal liners retail for $169, and are a great way to get more life out of your existing ski boots while boosting their performance.