Crab cakes and football, that’s what Maryland does. Well, blue boots and racing are what Lange does. There is a long established history of Lange and racing and, while they have had race boots in various colors such as black, yellow, orange, pink, and of course, purple haze, it is the blue boot that people recognize today as a Lange race boot. It is nice to see Lange come back to a medium blue from the dark blue which IMHO was a slight misstep.
In the past 15 or so years, Lange’s blue RS boot was the boot that many high performance skiers sought out. It was also one of the few products on the market that ski shop customers demanded, and would walk out if the shop didn’t carry it. For those skiers, there was no substitute. Until this past season, the RS collection shared its architecture with its brother the RX. This season, the RX was replaced by the Shadow series of boots. That change took the reins off Thor Verdonk and his team, allowing them to ramp up the horsepower and create an all new and higher performance RS series of boots.
Lange has long offered a halo World Cup collection for the racers of the world. They never offered a flex number, but instead used letters ZA, ZB, ZC and ZJ with the C being the stiffest and the J for juniors and women. All skiers looking for a solid lugged boot with a lace up liner were served well by these boots which had one simple purpose: to be efficient and fast. One of the ways the boots are efficient is because the shells were shorter than their retail RS counterparts by 3mm. Whereas the RS (and RX) series were based on the 6s in millimeters (25.5 was 296 mm), the Z boots were on the 3s, so the same 25.5 was 293 mm. While that does not sound like much, it is millimeters that can define a boot design.
So, what does all this mean for the all new Lange RS? Well, everything. The RS now doesn't have to compromise performance because it no longer shares and plays nice with the RX. Now, it can rise to its rightful place close on the heels of its 92mm wide, solid lugged real racer brother, the Z boot. Now, all of the RS boots are also solid lugged which creates a better connection to the binding and thus the ski. The RS collection will still be offered in a 21.5 short cuff version (but in current 261 mm shell), all the way to a 120 flex! Most of the models will still be offered in a narrow (97 mm) and wide (100 mm) width. Whereas the old RS’s 100 mm offerings came with replaceable soles like the narrow versions, these are now solid too. More on the wide version in a bit when we talk about fit of the boot.
Rarely do we ever talk about aerodynamics of boots (we do not have any discussions on what wax people should use to make their boots faster) but, when races can be decided by hundredths of a second, a more slippery boot can add to that advantage. It might mean the difference between first and second or between third and not reaching the podium at all. Working with Formula 1 Sauber-Alfa Romeo Racing team, Lange is making a more streamlined boot with their AeroFlow shell.
Connecting the cuff of the boot to the lower (clog) is key to power transmission. Lange has designed a new Race Flex Adjuster with two options included with the purchase. A PU+Injected Carbon for the most direct energy transmission and a PU53 which can decrease the stiffness by about 8% without the loss of energy are in the box. Skiing the boot on hard snow with both, the difference is noticeable. Without having to go to the World Cup boot, a skier can experience increased performance. Lange will continue to use their very good DualCore which does help keep the flex on the boot very consistent in varying temperatures.
Consistent with other Lange offerings, the RS’s stance has a 4° ramp in the boot and a 12° forward lean, but actually feels more aggressive than the published number. A significant spoiler is included for those of us who like a little more aggressive stance and/or have chicken legs and need to take up some volume. Out of the box, the RS is set up at a 1º positive lateral stance for additional energy transmission. With Lange’s commitment to stance alignment and canting, any bootfitter worth their salt should check alignment with every skier who commits to the boot.
While many boots claim to be “bootfitter friendly”, the Lange RS is definitely one that is more friendly than most. From the ability to adjust flex, a zeppa (boot board) with marking if it needs to be flattened, dual cuff alignment, and fully removable buckles, the Lange offers a wide range of adjustability. I like the solid lugs for the ability to cant the shell and the numerous sole options.
While we are on boot fit, we say that a millimeter is a mile. The roof of the new RS is a mile and a half (1.5 mm) lower than the outgoing model. I like that, but @Tricia, with her surfer's knot on the top of her foot, not so much. Since she has moved to the Shadow, this should not be an issue for her. Again, another aspect of the new design that moves the RS closer to the World Cup models.
I have said this about a few reference products, but when you have a target on your back, it is extremely difficult for your competition when you keep moving that target. Lange has been adept at moving that target for as long as I can remember.