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Exclusive: A Look Back at the Venerable Salomon SX Series of Ski Boots with Jim Schaffner


We are nearly 25 years into the 21st century, and there is one piece of ski gear from the 1980's and 1990's that just will not die: the Salomon SX series of boots. Specifically, the SX92 makes many appearances in the wild these days, but let's talk about how that started. All the naysayers bundle all of the rear entry boots from the last century into one unfair pile, but there is one series of boots that bucked all of the shortcomings the rest of the rear entry boots suffered from. In the SX collection, Salomon made a boot for the ages, a timeless boot.

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Say what you want about the rest of the rear entry offerings that we saw through the years (I am sure we will get some comments of disdain that compares these to “short skis”) but hear me out. In many ways, Salomon reinvented the ski boot market with the original SX90. This was the inherent simplicity of the line, the patented heel hold that many other companies tried to copy. Salomon really thumbed their French nose at the industry. While every other brand used just the length of the foot, Salomon invented the Heel Instep Parameter (HIP) sizing, in which the circumference of the ankle volume defined the boot size. This is a sizing method that some of the most respected fitters of today, like my video guest, Jim Schaffner, use. The Salomon SX90 evolved into the SX91 in the mid 1980’s which brought in a multitude of additional features such as flex adjustments, better plastics, and a sleeker design, making the boot not look like the box it came in. Both the SX90 and SX91 were the only rear entry boots to win both the World Cup and Pro Ski Tour. Take that, you purists who say “Rear Entry is not for performance!"

Things really exploded for Salomon with the SX series when they introduced the SX92 in the later 1980s. The SX92 and its lower price point variations were the catapult into the stratosphere not only in consumer acceptance and perception, but behind the scenes in profitability, allowing them to afford to attack the ski market. More on this is discussed in the above video.

Think about what 30-35 year boots you see on the hill. Basically just two, the Salomon SX and Sven Comer’s three piece Flexon that still lives today. All you really see of the Flexon now are the current models from Full Tilt and K2, not the 30 year old originals, but I still have to pour one out for the design. I should know the validity of the Flexon performance and heritage; I skied in the same pair of Flexons for almost 25 years (I changes the shells 4 times and the liners 3 times but they were the same Flexons).

Now the focus of this article, the SX. You cannot ski a full day at any mountain and NOT see a pair of Salomon SX’s on the hill. Seriously, just think about that and all of the great boots from the past century. We don’t see Lange XL1000’s or XLR, no Rossignol Course, no Tecnica TNT, no Nordica 982, let alone the companies that are no longer around: Heirling, Dolomite, Caber, San Marco. The list of all these have long been in the trash heaps, because the inferior materials they used simply deteriorated over time. However, the venerable SX92 and its variations (Race, Force, EXP and numerical versions, the SX93 and 95) continued until almost the year 2000. To paraphrase Jeremy Clark talking about The Stig, “Some say …. The SX92 was not Y2K compatible."

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SkiTalk has a whole section with an album called “SX in the Wild” with pictures of many, many people still skiing this timeless wonder. We even have one active member of our site, Mike Foote, who has a stockpile of SX’s in an undisclosed secured climate controlled location somewhere outside of Boston. Am I exaggerating? I don’t know … am I? Mike may very well be the only person this century to ski “The Big Couloir” at Big Sky in a 30 year old SX92 boot.

Recently we had a reintroduction of a rear entry boot brought to the market, the Nordica HF. This is a very good boot in its own right and I am glad it came back, because it was needed. But, the HF is not an SX. The HF could not carry the SX’s skis even it had a SkiTote. The SX91 and SX92's were special boots, unicorns. Even the top end models like the Equipe and Race, with their vast array of adjustments could be skied by a never ever skier to a top level skier in complete comfort while matching every skier's needs. How many boots today can you say that about?

So, next time you see a skier out in an old Salomon SX, stop them, and ask them why they are still skiing a boot that should have been replaced years - heck - decades ago. After you hear enough of their stories, you will find yourself perusing Ebay for clean examples, but first, you will need to learn more about Salomon’s brilliant H.I.P.

10/24/23 addition and thanks to @Bill Talbot for the reminder...

A few years back I started a discussion called "Future Products We Would Like to See" and part of that focus was a possible modern Salomon SX92.
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Bring back the SX92. Skier demographics are changing, and while there is no question that an overlap boot maximizes performance, there are skiers who need more -- or in this case, are happy with less. How often do you see Joe or Jane Skier struggling to get their boots on or off? These skiers need a boot they can use without the need for the buddy system. The original Salomon SX was a great design in its own right with the array of bells and whistles in fit adjustments such as the ability to adjust stiffness at will. It is time for another SX. With today's lighter plastics and 20 years of technology advancements, I think it is time to bring back the rear-entry boot, and what better boot to lead the way than the SX.

Note that in the 5 years since I made my wishlist, more than a few of the items have become reality.
About author
Philpug
I started skiing in the mid-70s in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; from then on, I found myself entrenched in the industry. I have worked in various ski shops from suburban to ski town to resort, giving me a well-rounded perspective on what skiers want from their gear. That experience was parlayed into my time as a Gear Review Editor and also consulting with manufacturers as a product tester. Along with being a Masterfit-trained bootfitter I am a fully certified self proclaimed Gear Guru. Not only do I keep up with the cutting edge of ski gear technology, but I am an avid gear collector and have an extensive array of bindings as well as many vintage skis.

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A bit my my personal history of the SX.

SX90
I first saw this boot the season before it was released. At the time the Rossignol rep was renting a cottage we had and he received a pair. This was well before Rossignol offered boots and was working with Salomon for their demo bindings. While rear entry boots were nothing new in 1980, the SX90E was a revolution in design.
SX91
A few years later, I was at a local business and I recall one of the local hot shots came in with a box and sure enough it was the SX91E. Having seen the 90, the 91 looked light years ahead of the previous generation.
SX92
I was working with Langehorne Ski & Sport outside of Philadelphia and was thinking about replacing my Flexons and they had the 92R which was not readily available as the 92E. The fit was good, but not enough to switch from my Raichles.

I never owned a paor of these when they were in their prime. I did switch from my Raichles for a while when I was a mountain rep for Salomon when I switched to the Intrigal 9.0/9.1 for a few seasons then the ProPulse 9.0 about 95 or so then back to the Flexon again.
 
I remember when I got my SX91E's. I was coming from some Scott Superhots that were so brutal on my feet. These were bedroom slippers in comparison. I got them at Oscars in Toronto. Oscar was the premier bootfitter in the city at the time, and they fit me like a glove. I was amazed at the adjustment they had, and the heel hold down lever was the best thing ever. Especially a few days into a ski trip when your feet would start to squirm, a turn on the knob was all it took to suck your heels back in. I skied in them for almost 18 years. I would probably have kept skiing in them but one day I went to the demo tent to try some skis, and the gentleman there said "I'm sorry sir, we cant let you demo skis with those boots" He explained that they were too old and they didnt want to be liable if the broke in half while on their skis. How embarrassing. I got new boots the next season, but I will always have a place in my heart for those boots
 
I would probably have kept skiing in them but one day I went to the demo tent to try some skis, and the gentleman there said "I'm sorry sir, we cant let you demo skis with those boots" He explained that they were too old and they didnt want to be liable if the broke in half while on their skis. How embarrassing. I got new boots the next season, but I will always have a place in my heart for those boots
We address this in the video, the plastic in SX91 (and 92+) were not a PU or PE because they didn't have to flex like they needed. While every other boot of that era were time bombs and it wasn't if they broke but when, I have yet to see a SX91 series or SX92 series in peices on the slopes.
 
I wonder if anyone is going to do what Full Tilt did ( buy/reappropriate Raichles Flexon mold ) with the Salomon SX line? Would Solomon even do it if there was interest? If ever there was a boot worthy of resurrection with more modern materials, this is it.
 
I wonder if anyone is going to do what Full Tilt did ( buy/reappropriate Raichles Flexon mold ) with the Salomon SX line? Would Solomon even do it if there was interest? If ever there was a boot worthy of resurrection with more modern materials, this is it.
I am to understand that Salomon distroyed the molds. Other than the liner, the materals would still be viable today. Salomon absolutely should reintroduce the boot.
 
Someone should start manufacturing the sole plates for the SX92's. That is the only part of my old Salomons that has worn to a point that I've stopped using them!
 
Salomon absolutely should reintroduce the boot.

My wife still misses hers. She would be there waiting for the doors to the shop to open on the first day they were available!

And they should offer a heated version.
 
Nordica does in the HF Elite

Yup, top of her list, but........her "traditional" Solly women's boots are heated, fit great, and she's in the camp of skiers that would rather (insert euphemism) than go boot shopping.

But the Sollys are getting really long in tooth, so one of these days!
 
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I've got four pairs of SX's all in my preferred size 350. (91's are 355)
SX 91, SX 91 Equipe, SX 92 Equipe and the SX 92 Equipe R.
Have skied them all and my pick of the bunch is the SX 92 Equipe. I wanted to like the
The SX 92 Equipe R best but for me it wasn't quite as good as the other.

I also had a pair of Nordica NR990's that I skied for a while that I also liked.(one of them broke in half many years later)

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Here's the 'return' of the SX wish list boot!
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Nordica NR990
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Salomon got it right with their SX Series.
I bought my light grey and black ones when they first came out and I still have that pair!
Back then I really wanted the hot looking Red and White SX-91 Equipes but went for the standard ones.
About 30 years later I found a pair of the hot ones in my size on eBay for about $20 and skied with them that season while on my also newly acquired classic 1980’s Fischer RC4 Vacuum 195 beveled edge slalom skis.
I have confidence in the plastics they used in the Salomon SX ski boots. I also had good luck with 30 year old Marker Racing Bindings too!
 

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I skied in the SX90, 91 Equipe and 92 Equipe back in the day. And in a 355. Plenty of room for my wide foot and high instep and could crank the buckle down to hold my foot in place. They pretty much made you ski from your knees! Their fit concept worked great for me! I skied in Hanson Teams prior if memory serves me right.
 
I bought a pair of SX-70's in 1979. They were so much better fitting than the Koflach instep vices I was wearing. My brother was working in a Boise ski shop and fitted me. I used them until the mid-90's. I wish I'd gotten the SX-90's, but didn't have much $$ then for skiing. I was looking forward to the Nordica HF-120 coming on the market, but after trying on a pair I wasn't too impressed. I've gotten used to Intuition liners and their custom fit, so it may be an unfair comparison.
 
I owned a pair of the SX91E back in the day. Fond memories of it but am happy with my current Lange RX130's. The Langes are the only boot that I have bought 3 times as they fit me so well!

Rick G
 
Found this today. Snowbird GS 1980. SX90's. And ATOMIC Bionic Team SL
 

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Salomon got it right with their SX Series.
I bought my light grey and black ones when they first came out and I still have that pair!
Back then I really wanted the hot looking Red and White SX-91 Equipes but went for the standard ones.
About 30 years later I found a pair of the hot ones in my size on eBay for about $20 and skied with them that season while on my also newly acquired classic 1980’s Fischer RC4 Vacuum 195 beveled edge slalom skis.
I have confidence in the plastics they used in the Salomon SX ski boots. I also had good luck with 30 year old Marker Racing Bindings too!
Awesome, skiing can always use more contrarians!
 
The old Salomon & Hanson moon boot style ski boots were the warmest but goofiest boots I ever tried. The crazy canucks Cdn race team used the Salomons for awhile.
I used the toasty warm Salomons vs my stiff as a brick, cold as a witch's you know what Lange Fantoms when standing around a lot coaching.

Some of that old tech should be revisited, maybe updated and incorporated into today's boot designs.
 
SX71's or 72's (not sure) purchased over the phone in 1989 while l was in Florida with the navy from that very same Langhorne ski shop @Philpug worked at. Used them on a month long ski trip that season and again in The Alps while stationed in Italy 1989-1992 and finally a Utah trip in 1995. Switched to Lange Banshees in 1998 but never had any complaints with the Salomon's

Horrible picture, but this is me in the SX's in my perfect horrible skier stance in Purgatory CO late Jan 1989

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