After spending last season in Florida and with early indications of a good snow year in the San Juans I decided it was time to upgrade my well seasoned AT boots (original Technica cochise 130s, now on their second liner) with hope of reducing their 4 pound, 6 oz per boot weight.
I have had terrible times with boot fit, having demo’d, rented, bought, returned, resold all manner of boots and generally had problems with my “hard to fit” feet – generally too wide across the metatarsals for most boots. One would think that with a wide forefoot, one would want a larger last 102+ mm, leading me to trying on the La Sportiva Spectre 2.0s (102.5 mm) Maestrale’s (101 but generally felt to fit most feet) Dynafit Hojis (103.5, surely this would accommodate) and a couple of the new Tecnica offerings (alas, they have changed their last in recent years, becoming more narrow). In past seasons I have tried the Salomon MTN Lab, the Garment Radium, among others; the outcome with all these was crushing discomfort. The other interesting trend is that some boot fitters have tried to steer me into a narrower boot with disastrous results.
So, I was skeptical to even try on the Atomic backland’s with their 98mm last. However, after 2 1000’ laps with them on wolf creek pass today – we have found the ruby slipper. I’ve never had a ski boot not hurt BADLY the first day on the hill. Atomic has some new tech where the shell has some mold-ability in addition to the liner. While I did get it heated up in the store, they seemed to fit great out of the box. At 2 lbs 10 oz I was stoked for the weight loss on the skin track and they seemed to ski just fine.
Bottom line – the last numbers are meaningless. Try on every boot. Would be great if the industry or ASTM could come up with some meaningful description of width or volume, but “last” numbers aren’t it.