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I promised to let everyone know about the boots that I checked out at the Snowboard Expo. Well the expo was lame but I have been to a number of shops in the last week and here are my findings. I have tried all of these boots on personally:


Burton - Driver The size 10 I tried on ran considerably large. I am sure I could have fit into a size 9. I did not try a 9 though because I immediately new this was not the boot for me. The boot is too soft. This is supposed to be one of Burton's stiffest boot but it does not impress. On top of that, the liner is crap. Very low quality. And worst of all is the tightening device. It is so hard to loosen the liner that after I had tightened it all the way down it took me and two shop workers 15 minutes to get it off of my foot. Eventually we had to resort to pliers to get it off. We all had sore fingers after the ordeal and this was in a warm shop. I couldn't imagine going through this on the mountain.


Northwave - Kevin Jones Felt like a nice boot but just didn't fit my foot right. Northwaves tend to have a very narrow toe box which really squishes my toes. This was supposed to be alleviated in their top boots this year but it apparently was not. Not quite stiff enough for me either.


Salomon - Malamute Oh how sweet it is! I have been riding Malamutes for the last two years and love them. I have had two pairs but they were both 00-01 models so I missed out on last years advancements in tying methods. Continued this year, the laces are actually joined at the top by a device that tightens down the way that most liners do. Loop around a couple nubs and just pull up as hard as you can. Then they lock into the awesome Salomon lace locks. The liners are the best I have ever seen. They include a similar system for tightening and an extra velcro strap that comes up from the bottom of the boot to hold the heel snugly in the cup. This is the stiffest boot I tried on and also extremely comfortable. I tried on a 10 which was nice but maybe a tad too big. The 9 was a little snug. I could live with the 10 happily but would like to try on a 9.5. This is also the most expensive boot I have considered at $300US.


Salomon - Preface A very nice boot similar to the Malamute. Not quite as stiff though. I did not like the look and color of this boot as much as the Malamute. For only $20-40 more I think the Malamute is worth it.


32 - TM-TWO Quite a nice boot. Lightest weight boot I have ever had on. It's very comfortable, almost like a skate shoe. But after 2 years in Malamutes this boot is just too soft for me. It did really feel like a high quality product, just not my cup of tea.


Vans - Contra BOA Awesome! This is the boot that made me unable to just walk away with the Malamute. It's very stiff, although not quite the level of the Malamute. But the BOA is awesome. This is not a gimmick, very cool technology. You just tighten up the liner and then turn the knob until you are as tight as you want to be. Done with your run and want to give your feet a little blood circulation for the chair ride back up? Just click the BOA open then closed to relieve the pressure. Up at the top just give her a few cranks and you are ready to go again. This is the second year Vans has had the BOA and they have made some major improvements. Better cable mainly. Plus they give you two extra cables in case you break one or both! Everyone I talked to said the chances are less likely that you will break a cable than a lace on a regular boot. I am really thinking about going with this awesome boot. note.gif If you buy this boot make sure you open the BOA and tighten down the internal mechanism first, or ask the shop to do it. Vans ships them not tight enough inside.]


Vans - Daniel Franck Too soft. Not really in the same class as the other Vans I tried on. Beginner-intermediate boot.


Vans - Fargo BOA Great Boot. It's just a little softer than the Contra. I like the look a little more but for only $20 more I would get the Contra. The toe box is supposed to be a little wider but I didn't notice much difference.


There you have it. It is really between the Malamute and Contra for me. It's a quite tough decision though.

There are still some boots I would like to try on. These are:

DC - Stratus and Phantom 2

Deeluxe - Choice

Nidecker - Project X

Nitro - Punisher


I have yet to see these in a shop yet. I am still looking though.


I hope this is helpful to all the board riders and real rippers out there. Ride on!

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enderzero, that's very helpful indeed. Thanks for taking the time to post all that.


I'm hoping to get the Vans Contra in England (they do a SI version too, no?), and I'm glad to know you rate it highly. I'm a sucker for new technologies, and that cable tightener sounds like a no-brainer for snowboard boots. (I'm personally very fond of bike brake cable - I use it for all sorts of things about the house... \:\) )

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Nice reviews enderzero


Tried on some Malamutes today. Very nice indeed. Great inners. The ankle strap is a good idea, as is the elasticated pocket for the inner cord. I've got nowhere to put the leather grip of the inner cord of my boots (Airwalk C4s). Inside the Malamute inner, you also get custom-made Sidas Comform'able footbeds (a tie-up with Salomon). As enderzone says, the laces on the shell tighten with a built-in laces grip that clips onto the side of the boot. Overall a very impressive package. Great fit, and very stiff. The C4s I have are also very stiff since they have two ratched straps on the cuff above the ankle. However the Malamutes have better inners, are easier to get on and off, and were a better fit.


The ones I saw were 44,000 yen. I didn't buy em, but will be on the lookout to see if any are left come sales time. For the meantime, I got some Conform'able "snow" footbeds to replace the ordinary shoe inners I have been using. They are supposed to mould to the shape of your foot if you blast them with a hair dryer. Thanks to the snow in Hakuba, I should be able to test them over the weekend.


A few other manufacturers (Sanchez, DC, 32(?)...) have a BOA boot out this year. If your foot matches the boot (the magic "if"), it looks like a very convenient system. I would imagine laces, a hook, and some good ol' fashioned localized pulling would be better if the balance between your toes, arch and ankle doesn't match that of the boots. I've tried a couple of BOA boots, but I think the Malamutes were better for me.

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Thanks guys.


Man, I am still really beating my head about this decision. I am really thinking I could get away without buying new boots, but I am planning to come Japan for the winter in January and if I decided past then I needed new boots I would really regret not bringing them with me.


44,000 is a bit more than they cost here. Here they are $300US or 36,300Y.


Everyone complains about finding large sizes in Japan. How about American size 10? Is that hard to find?

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Originally posted by enderzero:

Everyone complains about finding large sizes in Japan. How about American size 10? Is that hard to find?
i got a pair of 32 boots in a size 28 which is about a US 10. the guy showed me about 4 pairs of boots in that size. and depending on your feet, you might be able to fit into a 27.5. and i saw a few boots in that size.
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Indeed I am rach.


I won't be at all happy if I look at a certain website and see that it's snowing heavily in Japan when there's just the usual English palette of greys outside the window.


But it will be nice to try on every single boot in any of several shops, and perhaps make a purchase on spec, and not only on what fits.


What are you up to? Not going to Brissle for the sweet Christmas?

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Hey Ocean,


Don't be afraid to try on a boot that seems like it would be way too small. I wear a size 12 shoe but a size 10 boot. You definitely want the smallest boot you can fit into. Your toes should just barely touch the front when standing upright. Then when you bend your knees they should pull away. Good Luck!

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Thanks enderzero.


I've crammed my feet into loads of boots that are too small, and then spent ten minutes trying to pry them off again. One or two may have fitted in the toe region, but been too big over the bridge (Kissmark actually).


So I think you really need a range to try on to get a boot that fits overall.


Besides, boots in England are cheaper, and I'm going there anyway.


I'll certainly be bearing your review points in mind when I set off with my dosh in my pocket...

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Just a quick cautionary tale about buying boots abroad. After discovering that Salomon no longer import bigger than 28.5 size boots & they don't allow internet companies to send them out of their respective countries, i resorted to getting some sent to my parents house and getting them sent on from there.

However, when i took the liners into the ski shop i bought my old boots from, and tried to buy my new ones from, they wouldn't let me use their heat molding machine. Even though it was the same guy i'd dealt with before and he knew i would have bought the boots there if it were possible.

I had to call Salomon in Tokyo, tell 3 people there my sorry tale before they finally sorted me out with a shop willing to help me.

On a side note: ICI sports (in Sapporo, but i think they are nationwide) were nothing but rude and generally useless. I have been a regular customer there for over 5 years, but it is always a struggle to buy anything from them. I know someone (i think Higuma) spoke highly of their shop in Tanuki-koji in central Sapporo, but they practically called me a liar when i said i had seen the same product at one of their other stores for a cheaper price. There have been numerous other cases of their terrible service but i'll try to stop my ranting.

On a lighter note, anyone in the Sapporo area into Nordic/cross country skiing should check out Sapporo Skid in Sumikawa. They were very helpful and actually treated me as a valued customer rather than a nuisance to get rid of as quickly as possible- even though i didn't buy anything there.


Hope this helps someone - sorry for the negativity.

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Sorry to hear you had a crappy experience at ICI - mine was the opposite... Do you know the name of who you dealt with there?? let me know by private email if you do OK....


If you do decide to give them another shot let me know and I'll hook you up with someone who won't treat you like that OK!!!!


I have seen alot of Gaijin in there lately - and it has been real busy - and I believe they are mostly Monkeys on the cheap... I can understand how this might create a bad attitude in a salesmen who is trying to sell his product to the rabid native purchaser as opposed to a looky-loo who's looking for 4 year old stuff on for 70% off... Still you should have been given a fair shake and treated better up front...


Now... not saying that this is you... but I think therre are lots of foreigners like this loitering around....


As a general observation side note I would say that it would appear that 70% of the purchasers out there don't know what they need or want and are therefore steered into something... In an odd way I think that this is what those purchasers really seem to want.."Just tell me what to buy so that I can get it over with".... In this way the average salesmen is just doing his job by telling Joe Average what to buy - - gee that's sounds crappy doesn't it, but perhaps true... The problem is when someone with less than native language skills comes in and actually "knows" what he needs and wants... Just like swimming upstream....



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Sorry for the slow response on this. I had a little think about what Higuma said, and tried to cool off a little. I also mentioned my experience to a number of friends and they all had suffered similar treatment at ICI. It is a real shame because i do actually like the shop, and they shouldn't be so eager to turn foreign customers away as most 'cool' Japanese boarders wouldn't be seen dead there.

I agree completely with Higuma about the mooching foreigners looking for something for nothing, and not being too polite about it. However, if i go in there and politely ask a perfectly reasonable question i think it is completely unjustified to give me the brush off. I'll give some examples of the reactions i've had from ICI employees just this year.


1. At the Fushiko shop (surburban Sapporo, no loafing foreigners) i took the boot i wanted to the counter. This was after standing next to the boots in an empty shop for a good 10 minutes with no offers of assistance. I asked if they had the boot in a bigger size. The girl i asked looked blankly at me, i repeated the Q and she turned to the guy stood next to her. He just gave me the batsu sign. I asked if they could order the boot in a bigger sign, again the batsu. Not a word, not an explanation/ apology, nothing.

Just to clarify, my Japanese isn't perfect, but it's damn good enought to ask a simple question and to understand a civil reply.


2. At the tanuki (city center) shop i asked the snow board guy (v.short hair, round glasses) i forget his name the same Q. Now this guy knows me, and in the past he has been quite helpful. He answered me nicely enough and actually went through the motions of getting out the catalogue to check. This is because i bought the same model boots (salomon) from him a couple of years ago and i think he actually used to ride for them, although i don't think he does anymore. Anyway, he said they had stopped importing that size into Japan.

A couple of weeks later i took in the boots i had had shipped from home in hoping to get them fitted using the special machine. I asked him v.v.nicely if i could used thier machine after explaining how i had got my hands on some boots the right size. He said no. I asked why, even though he knew i hadn't bought them from a cheaper shop round the corner of anything, because of the guarantee i was told. I said i was happy to waive my guarantee, still no luck.

Now this wasn't rudeness, just a shitty way to treat a loyal customer- in my opinion. Salomon fixed me up with a shop only too happy to help me and said any alledged guarantee problems were totally bogus.


3. The Oakley goggles id seen at the Fushiko shop for 10,500 had sold out. I was positive that the price was correct as i'd checked it on 2 occasions while i dithered over getting them. When i asked the guy on the 2nd floor of the tanuki shop how come the exact same goggles (last years) were 12,000 there he told me i was wrong, those goggles weren't that price at the other store. Then he called Fushiko and said "we have a gaijin here who says you had these goggles for 10,500, he's wrong isn't he" while i was stood there. Why it was relevant that i was foreign was not made clear. Then he turned to me and said that i was wrong once more. When i ventured that perhaps the other store had mis-labeled the goggles (which they often do) he just said no and turned his back to me.


Now, Japan and Japanese people have been very good to me, so i try not to dwell on situations when i feel it is blatant that a Japanese customer wouldn't be treated that way, it is a door that swings both ways after all. However, i feel there is no excuse whatsoever for plain and simple rudeness. I was courteous at all times yet i received nothing approaching the same respect in return.


So, Higuma, or anyone else on friendly terms with an ICI staff member, i would appreciate if you quietly mentioned the fact that i and a number of other decent, polite foreigners had stopped using their shop due to the bad attitude of many of their employees.


Finally, anyone who made it this far. Sorry for the epic, ranting post. I obviously had a few things to get off my chest. Feel much better now. Hope everyone else is getting better service while getting ready for the season.

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I've had fairly similar treatment buying stuff before, and raising their attitude with the staff in question often gets an interesting response. After a bit of remonstrating, I have had some of these people so committed to finding me something that when they fail (as indeed they must if the sizes simply aren't there), it's almost embarrassing to leave the shop without having bought anything.


So I'd recommend asking them point blank "What do you mean by batsing me like that? Can't you speak?" and see what response you get.

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Me and my wife bought some lined North Face fleeces at the ICI shop in Jimbocho for 9,000 reduced from 22,000. One week later, we saw the same ones in ICI Nagano for 14,000.


Doesn't sound like they're very coordinated. As for that batsu sign.

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