Rossignol Ski Boots
Rossignol hit a home run when it launched the Alltrack line of hike mode (HM) boots two seasons ago. For 2016 they’ve essentially re-built the entire collection around the foundation laid by Alltrack, creating a parallel universe of classic overlap shells (i.e., no hike mode) dubbed Allspeed. Within its middle-of-the-bell-curve realm, Allspeed has all the bases covered: every flex from 80 to 130; narrow, medium and wide iterations and a choice of men’s and women’s models. The returning Alias Sensor and Kiara (women’s) models fill in the need for an ultra-wide chassis.
The standard-bearer for the new Allspeed collection is the narrow-lasted (98mm) Elite 130. Its signature technical feature is a trim, anatomical spine called Sensor Blade that serves as the boot’s power source. Sculpted cutouts reduce weight and reinforce the lean but muscular structure. The rear screws that connect the cuff to the shell can be rearranged or removed to alter the forward flex.
The keys to comfort are held by the inner boot, a Custom Liner pre-molded to retain the heel and ankle securely. Thinsulate™ insulation keeps feet warm and dry without adding bulk, so the liner can be close fitting for more sensitive steering. An Easy Entry Insert over the instep makes this area of the shell more pliable so feet can slide in and out without being pinched in the process.
All the Allspeed models can be retrofitted with Walk to Ride (WTR) soles that substitute a grippier tread pattern for the standard DIN sole. This modification probably makes more sense to apply to an Alltrack Pro model as the Alltrack is bedecked with a hike mode, but there’s certainly no harm in swapping the soles on an Allspeed if you want better traction when on foot.
Rossi has gone all-in with the Allspeed line, with 17 adult models spread across three lasts (Allspeed Elite/Pure for narrow feet, Allspeed Pro for medium and Allspeed for wide) parceled between men and women. A clean, classic collection, the Allspeed models will be the backbone of Rossi’s boot offering for years to come.
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⚥ Hero World Cup SI
Flexes: 130, 110*
* SC (♀ Short Cuff)
The Hero World Cup SI 130 doesn’t take its cues from the new Allspeed Elite, but is a direct descendant of the real-deal Hero World Cup SI, a polyether shell in a bone-crushing 92mm last. The 97mm SI 130 is likewise made from polyether, but at 97mm it doesn’t require spending a day with a grinding tool trying to gouge out enough room inside for a foot to lay flat. This considerable concession aside, the Hero World Cup SI 130 otherwise comports itself exactly like a race boot.
Women with real, race-caliber chops can have a rough time finding a sufficiently supportive shoe. The Hero World Cup SI 110 SC rides to their rescue. The SC stands for Short Cuff, the only adaptation meant to accommodate the shorter legs on the fairer sex. If you want a little more cushioning but still need a stout flex, the new Pure Elite 120 has you covered.
Flexes: 130, 110, 100
The Allspeed Elite 130 sets the tone for the entire extended Allspeed family, even though from a sales standpoint the wider and softer Allspeed Pro 120 will probably be a hotter seller. The Allspeed Elite 130 has the accurate, low-volume fit the world’s best skiers are accustomed to, without the Iron Maiden aspects of true race boots.
Rossi learned a few tricks when they concocted the original Alltrack Pro that they applied to the Allspeed Elite. The lower shell on the Alltrack is formed in a waffle pattern to create a structure that’s lighter, transmits energy better and looks cool. Rossi took a similar tack when designing the Allspeed Elite upper cuff, in particular the spine. Viewed from the rear, the back of the Allspeed Elite is a flat plane punctuated with two removable rivets and a slot to add a third, all the better to fiddle with the boot’s forward flex. Material has been removed from either side of the spine so the cuff looks sleeker, wraps better and weighs a bit less.
A performance boot is only as good as its liner lets it be, and Rossi’s Custom Liner deploys double-density foam to hold the heel securely while allowing the ankle a pocket in which to operate. The liner can afford to be close-fitting because Thinsulate™ insulation keeps feet warm and dry without adding a lot of material.
♀ Pure Elite
Flexes: 120W, 80W
Give a lady a lever that’s long enough, and she can move the world. Fortunately, the cuff height on the Pure Elite isn’t tall enough to shift the earth off its orbit, but it’s tall enough to deliver pristine power to the edge. Close-fitting yet still cushioned, the women’s version of the Allspeed Elite gets away with its tall upper cuff by flaring it enough to allow for a woman’s lower calf to be held without being pinched.
There isn’t a world of options for women in the 120 flex range, so Nordica should be saluted for giving the aggro gal a boot she can bend but not collapse. The liner on both the Pure Elite models is insulated with Merino wool, which wicks almost as well as it warms.
The only oddity in the Pure Elite presentation is the performance plunge separating the beastly beauty of the 120 and the made-for-the-average-Josephine flex of the Pure Elite 80. Not that we don’t like the idea of a great-fitting, narrow-lasted boot for recreational women (sister company Lange has made a killing in this domain, which might factor into Rossi’s motivations), and we already said how nifty it is to have a 120 flex for the bad-ass lasses, but what are women between these poles supposed to do, add pads to the Pure Pro 100 until it fits?
Flexes: 120, 110, 100
The key differentiator across the three branches of the Allspeed family is shell volume, which by current convention is indicated by forefoot width, measured in millimeters (usually, but not necessarily, in size 26.5). The Allspeed Pro fills the all-important “100mm” slot in Nordica’s 2016 line, the wheelhouse fit for the average foot. Befitting their importance, all the Allspeed Pro models (120/110/100 flexes) are equipped with Thinsulate™ Platinum insulation.
We wouldn’t expect to see all three of the Allspeed Pro boots at one dealer; it’s far more likely the typical retailer will sell the top model, the Allspeed Pro 120, by itself, or back it up with either the 110 or the 100, but not both. Whichever Allspeed Pro models a shop stocks, their stock, soft PU soles can be upgraded to the more aggressive tread pattern of a WTR sole.
♀ Pure Pro
Flexes: 100W, 90W, 80W
You won’t find a much more homogeneous line than Rossi’s 3-boot, Pure Pro collection of medium-lasted, recreational boots for the on-piste skier. Every model is a PU shell (yes, this matters) with a Merino wool insulated liner, built on a performance platform. The reason we’re leading with this observation is that when most boot families slip down the flex index, they jettison every performance feature along the way, until the last boot in the line-up is a feature-less “pure boot.”
The Pure Pro line of made-for-women models avoids this pitfall by keeping their standards high even as the flex index slips ever lower. Even the Pure Pro 80 has Merino wool in the liner, a PU shell that won’t wilt as the skier advances in ability, and the same, comfortable, relaxed, 100mm last that is the defining trait of every Pure Pro model.
Flexes: 130, 120, 100, 80
Rossignol has always had a soft spot in its corporate heart for the high-volume foot, going back to its very first days as a boot brand. Maybe that’s why the narrow Allspeed Elite collection is two boots deep, the medium Allspeed Pro line presents three models, while the wide Allspeed contingent includes four models, in flexes from 130 down to 80. Or maybe it’s because Americans keep growing in every dimension, feet included, making the widest Alltracks the boots most suitable for replicating.
Because the Allspeed line descends to an 80 flex, it drops correspondingly in street price to the $299 slot, making the Allspeed 80 a great value as long as you have enough meat on your hoof to fill it. At the other end of the Allspeed flex spectrum, the polyether 130 gives the XXL-footed one of the best wide boots on the market, at a flex index that normally sells for $100 more.
Flexes: 90W, 80W, 70W
Ladies with high-volume feet don’t get equal treatment, from Rossignol or anybody else. The flex range that rose to 100 in the Pure Pro line and to 120 for the Pure Elite skier with a tiny set of tootsies, tops out at 90 in the 3-model Pure branch of the family tree and its 102mm last. All pretense of delivering the ultimate performance experience is jettisoned in favor of getting a lightweight, warm and supportive 4-buckle shell to close around a foot that would rather be at the beach.
Before someone posts an angry tweet maligning our monstrous insensitivity, we’re only observing that Rossi’s Allspeed boots for women with wide (102mm) feet, née Pure, are only offered in the soft-flex range from 70W to 90W, an acknowledgement that Rossi doesn’t detect a market need for anything more substantial. This is a tortured way of saying that the skier who is bound for a Pure model will be so relieved to discover a comfortable, snuggle-warm boot that other concerns melt away like summer snow.
Flexes: 120, 100, 80
Rossignol has always made a home for the guy whose nickname is Bigfoot. Sasquatch gets a choice of high-volume boots from Rossignol, the Alltrack (referenced elsewhere) and Alias Sensor families. With a 104mm last, the Alias Sensor 120 definitely qualifies as big, and it’s also substantial and supportive, qualities big men require in their boots. The 120 flex feels supple enough for everyday skiing on any snow surface.
An Alias model is a good fit for the fellow whose foot is large everywhere, past the ankle and on up the calf. The upper buckles have an impressive range of outward adjustment and should be able to close around a Sequoia.
Flexes: 130, 110, 100
The Alltrack Pro 130 emerged as 2014’s best in test for a medium fit (100mm last) in MasterFit’s on-snow evaluations, certainly a well-deserved feather in their corporate cap, but we suspect a measure of delighted surprise helped the Alltrack Pro over the top. One doesn’t expect a hike-mode (HM) model to offer first-rate performance in ski mode, nor does one hope a HM 130 will have the same flex resistance as an on-piste race boot with the same flex index, yet this new Rossi comes awfully close on both accounts. As a true 100mm last with a conforming inner boot set on a neutral platform, it’s instantly comfortable for many foot shapes, which never hurts first impressions.
Part of the Alltrack Pro’s appeal is that it behaves like a non-HM boot in ski mode; the flip side of this equation is that it also doesn’t behave a lot like a HM boot when in hike mode. Its limited range of cuff travel may also put limits on the duration of upward travel for which a skier might consider it suitable. But for someone who hikes to ski rather than visa versa, the Alltrack Pros are clear winners.
Now that the Alltrack Pro has been with us a couple of seasons, we have a deeper appreciation for the Sensor Grid design that sets this shell apart from a crowded field. By elegantly thinning the shell walls, the structure oxymoronically shed material yet gained strength and energy transmission. Most importantly, it allowed the shell to wrap the foot, bringing the shell and all its steering strengths close to the foot and lower leg.
Rossi has made all the Alltrack and Allspeed soles compatible with replacement WTR toe and heel pieces, but the Alltrack Pros, with their Posi-Block HM feature, are the most sensible place to invest in this switcheroo.
Alltrack Pro W
Flex: 110W, 100W, 80W
It looks as though Rossignol has a hit on their hands with the Alltrack Pro series. The signature feature on the Alltrack models is a hike/ski latch on the rear spine that they purloined from sister company Lange. The curious quality of the Alltrack Pro 110 W is that it skis brilliantly, not because of its focal feature, but despite it.
Most hike mode (HM) boots lose some of their downhill flavor with a loosey-goosey flex that doesn’t quite live up to its numeric billing. This isn’t an issue with the Alltrack Pro W 110, but it you plan on spending more time going uphill than down, you might want a longer range of motion in the hike position.
If you’re looking for superb fit and function when facing downhill, with toe room to spare, select the Alltrack Pro W on its downhill merits and deploy the hike mode only for ease of entry/exit, traversing parking lot acreage and the occasional scramble across a rocky ridgeline.
Flexes: 120, 100, 90
The Alltrack series comes in two widths, the medium-gauge 100mm last of the Alltrack Pro models and the wider, 102mm last used in the 3-model Alltrack pack. The two sibling series alternate flex indices as they cascade down the product/price waterfall. All the Alltracks include a hike mode, but that’s probably not the best reason to buy one. The 102mm Alltracks represent one of the best options for any guy with a big foot, even if his longest hike of the day is to the car. With a 120 flex that won’t fold like a cheap suit at the moment of truth, the flagship model is a bonanza for the big bruiser who has some skills.
♀ Alltrack W
Flexes: 90W, 80W, 70W
The chances of the classic 90-flex American woman climbing anything more demanding than the stairs leading to the upper deck at the base lodge is close to nil, but that doesn’t mean she won’t appreciate flipping into hike mode as she prepares her assault on the first flight. Back in the 1980’s we referred to such shell/cuff connections as a “walk mode,” and for models such as the Alltrack 90 W and its softer-flexing sisters, that’s the function they nobly serve.
The generous, 102mm last of the Alltrack W 90 gives even the meatiest woman’s foot the chance to relax, and the 90 flex should be spot-on for the recreational skier who wants to feel good without the obligation to actually be good. Comfort is king for this skier, and in this regard the Alltrack’s are what the (boot) doctor ordered.