The “new” thing in thermo liner molding is to heat the liner while inside the boot, with an expensive ($300 pro price) blower system that you’ll generally have to seek out a dealer to find. Not only will that entail dealing with store hours and finding the person who actually knows what they’re doing, but re-molding will require repeated trips to the store — with the aforementioned hassles.
Home baking liners is a tradition in the backcountry skiing community, so why this back step? It is indeed nice to heat the liner in the boot. It stays lasted (shaped) and holds position so you don’t have the issue of quickly, but nonetheless carefully placing the liner in the shell before it cools. But, and it’s a big BUT, if you’re molding with custom footbeds you’ll probably need to remove the heated liner from the boot, put your ‘beds in, then stick the liner back in the boot — thus actually making the process more complex by adding one more step.
|Dynafit Zzero boot with my homebrew blower system. It didn’t work.
Still, this being the WildSnow.com World HQ of backcountry homebrew, for round one of fitting my Zzero “Green Machines” I tried to cobble up a blower system for heating the liners. After all, one has to be loyal to the innovations and standards of the industry — at least to the point of giving them a shot. My homebrew failed, but I learned quite a bit in the process.
(Note: I skied in the Dynafit Zzero a few weeks ago but used them without molding the liner. I can’t wait to get them tuned up and really cranking! Exciting.)
We’ve got a temp adjustable heat gun and an accurate infrared “gun style” thermometer. A quick trip to NAPA yielded a chunk of heat resistant tubing that fit on the end of the heat gun. I cut some slots in the tube to distribute the heat, stuck the rig in a boot, and fired it up. I got the temperature right (around 250 degrees) by experimenting and grabbing multiple readings with our thermometer “gun” (nice tool, by the way, highly recommended), but couldn’t get the boot to heat evenly. After fiddling around till the point of diminishing returns was reached, I grabbed our convection oven and went back to the standard method. Doing it that way worked fine, so that’s the upside of this experiment.
Conclusion: Don’t let the “new” way of molding liners scare you away from home baking. Sure, if you can find a store with the gear and a helpful human, go for it. Otherwise, excellent cookbooks exist such as this one. More, since we tend to regular blogs about boot fitting, I made a “Boot Fitting” category in our category index in the sidebar to your right. Here is a quick link to our Boot Fitting category index.
Noon today, this came in from Scarpa and I found it worth publishing and commenting on:
Lou, to assist people with getting a proper fit, SCARPA made a shell fit tool this season, taking the mystery out of using your fingers to fit shells sizes. We are making these available to retailers and they are also available through SNA. Since people have fingers of different thicknesses, that method is inexact to say the least. So SCARPA had a tool made that slips behind the heel. When placed behind the heel in one direction, it measures the upper end of how much room a skier should have in a shell (standing flat in the shell with toes just in the front of the shell). Rotated on its side, it measures the minimum amount of space one should have in a shell fit. So itâ€™s easy to get an objective standard for how much room a person should have in a shell fit.
I’ve seen that Scarpa tool and it’s a good idea. Would be easy to make one for home use, dimension is 14 x 20 millimeters. Regarding stacked fingers, this is indeed imprecise but since everyone’s foot volume is different the “space behind the heel” method is only a starting point for boot fitting, not the end-all be-all. Thus, my take is that the stacked fingers is still valid — though the fit tool would be nice. BTW, can anyone find this on the Scarpa website? I’d like to link to it…
Another addendum: If you do use custom foot beds, another method of getting them into the heated liner is to hold them on your foot with a nylon stocking, then insert foot/footbed into the heated liner while the liner is in the boot. Using this method would be perfect for working with liners heated by in-boot blower.
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.