The dreaded boot bulge is nearly ubiquitous to ski touring — ugly as the squeamish profile of an under-inflated tire and just as detrimental to performance. The problem is basic. In downhill mode you anchor the the boot’s upper cuff at one point with the lean lock, creating a triangle of force that tends to spread the cuff at the pivot points when you flex forward, this happening at the exact time in the ski turn you want the boot tighter, not looser.
Try to fix this with reinforcements, you might get less bulge but end up with little to no “progressive flex” (as well as increased weight). If “anti-bulge” stiffened reinforcements are taken to the limit, it feels like you’re skiing with steel bands on your legs. In the name of lighter weight “cabrillo” boot you get somewhat used to this sort of feel, “somewhat” being the operative word. Overlap type boot shells can mitigate the bulging syndrome as well, but introduce other problems for ski touring.
Hoji combines sweet flex with the lighter an easily entered cabrillo type shell. Despite our emphasis on the one-motion “pants down always” touring latch system, we are here to tell you it skis downhill quite well — and does NOT bulge in any fashion compared to conventional touring boots. The reasons for that are fairly simple, yet not entirely obvious at first glance. A few photos of what was explained to us by the boot’s eponymous master.
Downsides of this? Fairly complex to design and manufacture, with possibility of problems if the cuff flex stops don’t align. A bit heavier than some of the simpler systems out there. Can’t think of anything else.
All this can be observed during a carpet test. Have at it!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.