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.
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."
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.
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.