Full Tilt Ski Boots
To old-timers, Full Tilt boots represent Raichle resurrected; to today’s high-flying Pipe & Park population, they’re dope. Kids who cavort and contort in the halfpipe or on rails feel about their Full Tilts the way Charleton Heston felt about his rifle, although it’s actually pretty easy to slide out of any of their 3-piece shell models whether your feet are cold, dead or alive. The external tongue rocks completely out of the way, and the open-throat shell likewise poses no obstacle for exit or entry.
The irony of what was once Raichle’s World Cup race boot now serving a generation that intentionally aims backward down the hill while lining up for a launch pad escapes entirely the daredevils who have embraced Full Tilts as their preferred footwear. Landing big airs in switch position asks a boot certain questions to which Full Tilts know the all-encompassing answer: have an elastic range no 4-buckle boot can match, supple at the top of its movement and consistently resilient thereafter.
The biggest influence on a Full Tilt’s behavior—and a key differentiator among their models—is the flex resistance of the external tongue, indicated by a flex number that works on a logical 10-point scale, with 10 being the stiffest. Should the standard issue be too firm or flimsy, any model can be retrofitted with a softer or stiffer tongue. What won’t change much is the fixed volume in the forefoot area, so be sure the Full Tilt you fancy is a good match for your foot’s widest point.
As Raichle did before them, Full Tilt has infiltrated Intuition™ heat-moldable liners throughout their line. Their Quick Fit™ liner will, in fairly short order, take an impression of your foot while you ski in it, a convenient form of auto-customization. Or, as with any Intuition liner, it can be heated up at the time of sale and the same process will be over in ten minutes.
Aside from their exceptional range of forward flexibility, another prized attribute of Full Tilt shoes is their weight, or rather, the lack thereof. Their lightest models feel like they don’t weigh more than a baguette, a feature you value if you have to spin your feet three times around your head before you land.
You have to give Full Tilt credit for focus: every boot in their line is built on the same principle and aimed at essentially the same audience. Some are wider, some are stiffer, some are lighter, some can suck up a little more shock; but all use the same fundamental architecture with a shared bundle of benefits. If you take to the air a lot, you’re bound to land one day in a pair of Full Tilts.
The latest development in Full Tilt’s relatively stable world is the retirement of the cavernous Booter and Mary Jane in favor of a new wide-body shell called Evolution. The Evolution models, Descendant for men and Plush for women, use a fresh concatenation of buckles and cables to achieve a far more secure wrap than was possible on the Booter or MJ.
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Seth Morrison/First Chair (Soul)
Flexes:10, 8, 6
Full Tilt didn’t stray far from the Original formula when they concocted the Soul, a similarly narrow-lasted shell with a touch more toe radius and high traction, replaceable rubber soles. The Soul shell forms the foundation for Full Tilt’s stiffest tongue in the 10-flex Seth Morrison, and serves the same function for the slightly softer First Chair 8 and 6.
Because Full Tilt’s signature ribbed tongue remains elastic in all its iterations, even the burly Seth has a high flex range, ideal for landing toxic airs. A shock-absorbing boot board also helps to dissipate the shock created by dropping out of the sky from four stories high. The First Chair 8 has all the same features in a slightly more forgiving flex.
♀ Soul Sister
Women suffer more from cold feet than men do, and if there’s one trait the Soul Sister has in spades, it’s warmth. The well-insulated Intuition™ liner is pre-molded for the narrow female foot and can be further custom molded with a dose of heat. The more rounded toe box of the Soul shell assists circulation to heat-deprived tootsies.
As its name makes plain, the Soul Sister is built with the narrow-lasted Soul shell and a women’s specific cuff. The wrap inner boot has the same cushy lining as the aptly named Plush. To help navigate slippery acreage between the car and the lift, the replaceable soles are high-traction rubber.
Just about every boot being sold today can trace its roots back to a handful of shell archetypes that were developed decades ago. But only one actually is the original – as the name for this Full Tilt shell implies - for the Classic is a faithful replica of the Raichle Flexon Comp. All the strengths of the Original are retained: a strong spine that travels with the leg, an external tongue that suffocates shock and an open-throat design that allows for optimal ankle ROM without impinging on the instep.
A strong skier will probably want more flex resistance than the Classic’s stock 6, but this is easily remedied—all Full Tilt tongues can be swapped for stiffer (or softer) versions. The skier who remains firmly planted on terra firma will approve of the Classic’s rigid boot board. Traditionalists will also cotton to the Classic’s Old School tongue (as opposed to the wrap design used elsewhere in the line).
The Rumor marries Full Tilt’s Original shell with a classic Intuition™ liner, i.e., one with a separate tongue. The cuff is cut a little shorter for a women’s less lengthy calf and the tongue is a relatively soft 4, but otherwise the Rumor is the largely the same boot as the Classic.
Flexes: 8, 6, 4
Full Tilt used to subject the wide-body foot to a flimsy bathtub called the Booter, but this season the high-volume foot is treated to a new wide shell called Evolution. The Evolution retains Full Tilt’s 3-piece architecture but uses a vastly improved buckle system that’s half-cable, half traditional buckle.
The men’s Evolution models are dubbed Descendants, available in a stout 8 flex, a standard 6 flex and a 4-flex that’s aimed at the lightweight tweener who’s working on his pipe and park chops. The Descendants are the best collection of high volume boots ever offered by Full Tilt.
Flexes: 6, 4
Women’s models that use the new Evolution shell as their foundation, the Plush 6 and Plush 4 provide plenty of room for the high volume fem foot, but with more built-in support than the Mary Jane’s they replace. The Plush 6 has a functional forward lean adjustment to help women dial in their stance and comes with a Plush wrap liner that warms you up just looking at it. The Plush 4 uses a normal-tongue, Classic liner and a softer-flexing, external ribbed tongue with the same shell as the 6.