I have been able to spend a few days in the new Kästle K130P ski boot. The K130P is Kästle’s top of the line non race collection boot. They are also offering two 91.5 mm last full bore race models, K 130R and K150R. Kästle, as a brand, is looking to be a full line company, and to do that you need to be able to offer boots. When Kästle started as a ski company in the mid 2000's they started at the top end of the market with their high performance MX collection and immediately set the standard for consumer skis that were of the highest performance caliber. Now Kästle is hoping to catch that lightning again with their all new boot offerings.
As when Kästle hit the high end of the market with their skis, the boots are also a direct shot at not only the high performance recreational boots, but also at World Cup level race boots. For a brand new manufacturer to go after the latter with a first year product takes a big pair of brass ones.
I was not surprised that all that was available to test was a 26.5, that is usually the case when a new boot is developed; 26.5 and 27.5's are usually the first men's shells produced. To add some background, while I measure a 26.5, I normally ski in an 25.5 low volume, and my current two boots have been the Lange XR9 Heritage (RX140) and K2 Recon Pro, which also is advertised as a 140 flex. Both boots have canting done to them.
The Kästle K130P feels stiffer than either of my current boots, even in the warm Mammoth Spring conditions. Yes, I know flexes are not universal, but these early production Kästle boots are pretty burly and are not a marketing 130 in flex. As I said, I ski in a boot one size down from what I measure, and the Kästles that were provided for this preview were 26.5's with a 303mm shell. I hope to get the K120P, the 97 mm last for a long term test boot for the coming season.
Breaking Down the Boot
Let’s just get this out of the way, this is not a rebadged Lange or any other boot. I am not saying there isn’t some DNA shared with Lange’s reference race shell, but it isn’t the same. Yes, the boot is being produced in Italy, and with Kästle’s parent company Sportens owner photographed and read discussing Roxa, there is a good chance that they are building the boot. I will not confirm nor deny that at this point.
Build of the shell and liner is not only on par with any other mainstream boot, but it is very well in the top percentages in design aspects. Kastle’s new liners are far from a throw-it-against-the-wall and see-if-it-will-stick liner, they are ready for prime time. The Performance+ liner that comes in the K130P has full lace up design or can be used as a traditional leave-it-in-the-boot and slide in and buckle up. What I didn’t get to play with is Kästle K_Fit liner enhancements that are used to adjust fit which will attach to the felt-like material on heel pocket. Even though the 100 mm last and being a size up fit well, the K_Fit would have snugged the heel pocket up a bit more. The liner’s tongue is also removable and adjustable for the ideal fit. While I have’t played with the regular performance line, it appears the difference is the ability to lace it up and some of the K_fit padding options.
Shell and stance of the boot
Kästle is publishing a 12* upright stance but where the K boots differ from most other boot designs is that the ramp inside the boot is right around 2* (most other boots are around 4*), this gives the K boot a very neutral feel in the snow. The PU shell is pretty much what you would expect in feel and performance; the boot is very responsive both in a progressive forward flex and lateral rigidity. Like any boot of this level, all of the buckles and parts are attached with T-nuts and in Kästle’s case, Torx screws. The two lower buckles have Kästle’s K_Release ultra flat buckles that integrate a lever to make unbuckling easier. While this is a nice feature, I would like to have seen something similar to create more leverage while buckling the upper buckles, similar to what Head does on their Double Power buckle design.
The toe box of the shell is very modern; this generous shape and the liner was also accommodating for the foot digits. The lower clog does have a slight navicular punch and the Performance boots come from the factory with removable soles and the option for Gripwalk. It is safe to say that Will and his team at Cantology are already working on canting inserts as I write this.
On the snow feel
Again I will go back to my preface: this boot was a size too big for me both in length and volume, but with that said, with my oversized footbed to take up volume, the boot was extremely responsive in the Mammoth Spring conditions and not until I got off piste in some variable 3D conditions did I find the boot to feel its size. Even then I have skied 100mm boots in a 25.5 that were not as reactive as these were.
- Who is it for: Those looking for a solid low to mid volume option
- Who is it not for: Fred Flintstone. Kästle does not offer a higher volume boot …. yet.
- Insider Tip: Like any boot, you don’t pick it, it picks you.
- One thing I would change: These are not a gram counting boot. I would have preferred to see the toe and heel lugs to be solid verses hollow. Hollow lugs limit some fitting solutions such as extreme canting or leg length discrepancies.