Tail of the Tape
-Size: 27.5 Mondo, 313mm sole length
-Last: 97mm in reference size 26.5
-Flex index: 130
-Extras in the box: Two hex wrenches, softer elastomer compression inserts for the Suspension Blade and cuff pivots
I tried one boot on at the Reno show several months ago. It felt snug but in a comfortable way. I felt the same thing when I got the new boots out of the box. At first my toes were on the front of the boot pretty firmly and I felt what I believed was going to be a hot spot on the lateral side of my right foot. A new set of custom molded footbeds with proper arch support pulled my toes back. I was still feeling the pressure on the right foot while walking around but, as we say, these are SKI boots, not WALKING boots. I didn't want to do anything more until I got a chance to ski the Shadows.
There were a few things I noted that kind of surprised me. The first is there is no pull strap on the back of the liner. I've become accustomed to that on prior boots as I feel using it helps seat my heel. Looking back across some other Lange offerings I noted this is nothing new. C'est la vie. The second point is the Shadow's booster strap is riveted on. Many skiers prefer a more elastic booster/power strap than the non-elastic stock strap. It's not impossible to change the strap but screws would make it easier. OK, enough guffawing, on to the meat of the matter!
On the Hill
The first day on the hill was a bluebird May day at Palisades/Alpine. The first few turns in the softening snow were tenuous. The tips of Dynastar M-Cross 88s felt very vague, not at all like I remembered from the last time I skied them. Well, it didn't take long to figure out what was different. The forward lean of the Shadow is 12° (16° with the included spoilers). My Fischer The Curv is 14°. The Shadows are more upright and I had to think more about pushing into the tongue of the boot. Once that was figured out we were cool! If you get thigh burn in your Ricky Racer 15-17° boots the Shadow may be worth a peek. Two degrees may not sound like much, but it is noticeable. Three or more, and it'll be a whole new ballgame! The pressure I felt on the side of my foot showed up right at the beginning of the day but quickly disappeared, though I think a very minor punch may be called for. Power transfer to the ski was quick and I didn't notice any delay; tip the boot and the ski turns. Laterally the boots felt rigid.
The flex of the boot is very smooth with good rebound. Lange claims the Dual Hinge and Suspension Blade provide a more linear flex, essentially allowing more power transfer with less effort. I can't argue with that as small flex inputs provided more ski response than I expected. Is it a lot? I'm not ready to say it's a massive game changer, but I think when conditions are firm I'll get a better idea of what's really happening.
I found the heel lock in the boot to be very good. My heel seated and stayed there. The forefoot area is generous for a claimed low volume boot. It might be too voluminous for skiers with very narrow feet. Even after just a few runs I was planning on the next thicker sock for the next day skiing. The liner itself feels really nice, a good balance of comfort and performance. The Auxetic Tech allows the liner to expand around the foot in multiple directions at once. Thinking of a piece of rubber, when it's stretched one way, it is contracted another. Auxetic Tech helps alleviate that so there is stretch in one direction without pulling in the other. The liner has minimal stitching and overlapping, reducing pressure points. The tongue feels thick but is comfortable while still providing good power transfer. Overall, it's a very comfortable, well constructed liner.
The flex, while listed as a 130, felt fairly soft. Granted it was pushing 60° and PU is fairly temperature sensitive but a strong or heavier skier may test the limit of the flex. This is not an uncommon feeling for me. At 220# without gear and very mobile ankles I found even the Raptor 140 to get soft on warm days. For me, it's not a big deal as I don't ski that hard when things start getting squishy underfoot.
Overall, the Shadow feels quite comfortable. Lange says the cuffs are redesigned for easy entry and they are right. The Shadows are ridiculously easy to get on and off. Again, it was warm, but past boots could be a challenge even on the warmest days because the snow buildup on them kept them cold. As we get in to next season and the temps drop to reasonable ski levels I'll report back on the ease of getting in and out of the boots. Lange retained the Dual Core shell technology which allows different plastics with different characteristics in different areas of the boot. Lange also incorporated a new snow seal at the overlap of the clog. It runs up under the first clog buckle and looks like it will eliminate the need for duct tape. (Oh! He went there!) Just kidding, I've only heard stories...
I ran the boots with the stiffer of the two provided elastomers in both the Suspension Blade and the Dual Pivot. Varying durometers of the elastomer inserts will be offered with the ability to soften the flex of the boot by about 10%, per Lange. The inserts also provide some dampening effect. Changing the flex is easy requiring the removal of hex screws, popping out the elastomer inserts, and replacing them. The Suspension Blade is easiest. Remove the screw and the plate. The insert comes out easily. Replace with a different durometer insert and screw the plate back on. The Dual Pivots require removal of the lower pivot screw, then lifting the lower portion of the cuff away from the clog to remove the insert. Install the new insert, line everything up, and replace the screw.
The Shadow series is offered in mens' in flexes 100, 110,120, and 130 all in low and medium volume. Women's run 85, 95, and 115 in low and medium volume.
If you're normally in a high volume boot, you may consider giving the one of the MV offerings. The LV boot feels generous; the MV may just work for you.
The soles on the Shadow are flat so Cantology shims can be added with no issue. Alpine soles (ISO 5355) are also available for those who don't care for GripWalk soles or whose bindings are not compatible with GripWalk.
Ramp angle is 4°.
The cuff has alignment adjustability. As with many other boots, there is an off-set insert around the lateral pivot screw. Using the included tools, loosen the screw and turn the outer ring to tip the cuff in or out. There is not an adjustment on the medial side of the cuff.
Lange uses quite a few terms to describe the different aspects of the Shadow: Dual Pivot: Suspension Blade, Dual Core, Auxetic Technology, Core Custom 1, Reactive Boost Tongue. All you really need to know is the Shadow is, at first blush, a solid entry into the high performance all mountain category of boots.