Fischer Ski Boots
Fischer had a long and illustrious history as a ski maker before it decided to jump into the boot pool, despite said pool already being awash with brands. The focus of their debut models was an abducted (toes-out) stance, a clever idea they slightly overcooked, leaving some test pilots feeling like they were travelling in a downhill herringbone.
Undeterred by the difficulties of getting traction in an over-served market, Fischer pressed on, tinkering with stance and story until a few years ago they went all-in on a fancy new system for custom molding the shell, Vacuum Fit. Vacuum technology had been part of Fischer’s manufacturing expertise for many years, so transferring this concept to ski boots may have been an easier step for Fischer to imagine than for other, tradition-bound brands.
Vacuum Fit was such a hit with specialty shops it enabled Fischer to steal the limelight from industry leader Salomon, even though Salomon was first to market with a shell-molding technology of their own called Custom Fit. The big deal about Vacuum Fit was that it didn’t just expand the shell (although it could); it could shrink it. Even the one-in-a-thousand shops with a history of boiling boots to modify them never had the means of reducing shell volume all around the forefoot like Vacuum Fit.
Like many first-of-their-kind innovations, Vacuum Fit didn’t get everything right immediately. The biggest limitation was it didn’t have much effect on the critical rear foot, but a second-generation Vacuum station corrected this oversight. Today, the Fischer Vacuum is a Full Fit process, and still the only heat molding technology that facilitates reducing shell volume.
Vacuum Full Fit is a standard feature on the RC4 series of narrow race boots, the medium-lasted Progressor 13 and 11 and the top 2 models in the Ranger series of hike-mode (HM) boots.
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RC4 Vacuum Full Fit
Flexes: 130, 110, 100
If you’re getting a Fischer boot for the unique properties of its Vacuum Fit, namely the ability to shrink-wrap the shell around the foot, then it only makes sense to start with the narrowest shell you can slide into. This makes the RC4 series of race boots the models of choice to optimize Vacuum Full Fit. Because Vacuum Full Fit also allows for shell expansion, even if the shell impinges a bit out of the box, going tight turns out alright in the heat-molding game.
We’re not sure how many Americans will find their bliss in the 95mm-wide 130 Pro model, but the 98mm last of the standard RC4 130 also comes in softer 110 and 100 flexes, bringing this unique and useful technology into the wheelhouse flex range for the weekend warrior. We cannot overemphasize the importance of accurately matching the contours of a semi-rigid, supportive shell around the lower leg, ankle and mid-foot. This is what the Fischer Full Fit Vacuum technology in the RC4 last is designed to deliver, and in the hands of skilled bootfitter, deliver it does.
♀ Trinity 110 Vacuum Full Fit
Boots that purport to support an expert lass are often less than advertised, but the one-model collection that is the Trinity 110 Vacuum Full Fit is the undiluted deal. Even if the Trinity didn’t have the remarkable Vacuum Fit embellishment, it would still be a stellar shoe for the woman who is as on her game as this boot is.
But Vacuum Fit isn’t a mere lagniappe to sweeten the sale, for women, particularly very good women, have more to gain from Fischer’s unique shell-shrinking system than men do. Lower shells on 99% of all women’s boots are made for men, but the Trinity’s ability to suck up 5mm in the lower shell – particularly in the rearfoot - changes this shell from a devout men’s model to a sexual agnostic.
Progressor Vacuum Full Fit
Flexes: 130, 110
Fischer’s edge over other brands with heat-moldable shells is their Full Fit Vacuum is equally elastic whether they’re asked to expand or contract. This makes the Progressor Full Fit models ideal for a foot with a narrow heel and ankle that spreads into a flat spatula across the metatarsals. The Progressors’ 100mm-last can suck up any extra room in the rearfoot until it fits like a 95mm soft race boot while allowing the forefoot to expand where the spatula needs its lebensraum.
As is often the case in the world of alpine boots, the Progressor series is directly descended from the race-caliber RC4’s, meaning that the basic shell architecture borrows all its basic elements from the best boots in the Fischer line. The Progressor 13 Vacuum Full Fit is more of step sideways than a step down, delivering a potent 130 flex to advanced skiers with medium-volume feet.
♀ Zephyr Vacuum
Flexes: 110W, 100W
The Zephyr women’s models are both medium-volume Vacuum boots, but the 110-flex Zephyr 11 uses the Full Fit system that brings the shell close to the foot from stem to stern while the Zephyr 10 bears the CF suffix, indicating only the heel area gets the Vacuum Custom Fit treatment.
Both Zephyrs employ Fischer’s proprietary Vacuum methods where women need the most help, in the rearfoot, the critical fit zone where women are proportionately narrower than men. This may be especially true of women who are considering a Zephyr Vacuum because they need its fairly generous 100mm last; extra forefoot room created at the expense of heel and ankle retention is counterproductive at best. Fischer’s Vacuum Fit, either Custom or Full Fit, assures security where it matters most.
Flexes: 100, 90, 80
The top model in the high-volume Cruzar collection has its own nifty version of Vacuum technology that allows the rearfoot area to expand or contract, while permitting the presumably impressive forefoot room for expansion only.
The Cruzar 10 Vacuum’s Custom Fit process begins by heating the shell under a hot blanket, then cooling it while contracting the rearfoot using compressed air. The result may not be quite as precise as what is achievable with Vacuum Full Fit, but big feet that need a 103mm at a minimum don’t normally get treated to this level of customization. Skiers that have a history of being hard to fit due to a bulbous ankle or a high instep should consider the Cruzar as a possible problem solver.
♀ Cruzar W
Flexes: 90W, 80W, 70W
As with the men’s Cruzars, the ladies’ troika of wide-lasted boots is headlined by a model, the Cruzar W 9 Vacuum CF, with the substantial upgrade of Fischer’s Custom Fit shell. The Cruzar W 8 and W 7 Thermoshape offer heat-moldable liners, so they’re not plain vanilla footwear, but well adapted designs for the recreational female skier with significant feet.
One fit zone that plagues many women is over the instep, where the first cuneiform bone often pops out of the instep like a prairie dog from its burrow. The Cruzar W’s anticipate this development, doming over this area so that, with or without an infusion of heat, the normally barking instep will be silent.
Ranger 12 Vacuum
Flexes: 120, 110
If hiking is your passion, none of the Ranger 12 Vacuum models is likely to be your best boot. For the backcountry skier who has forgotten the sound of a Doppelmeyer bullwheel, Fischer makes the Transalp line, replete with its own iteration of Vacuum technology. But if your BC forays are but one course in your skiing buffet, the medium-volume Rangers are classic alpine boots with a hike mode (HM) latch that will adapt to your daily predilections.
While all HM models make a stab at weight loss and add a dose of tread to whatever sort of sole is underfoot, the Ranger 12 Vacuum Full Fit brings a move to the BC ball that no other footwear can follow: a fully conformable shell that can come 5mm closer to the medium-volume foot. The closer the shell is to the foot, the more it feels like an extension of the skier rather than an alien object, a point to remember whether you’re venturing uphill or down.