Review: Dahu Ecorce 01 120 Ski Boot

Dahu has been around for a while, I recall seeing them at the Copper trade show back in 2015 or so. Even though the current Dahu boot/exo skeleton looks similar to the earlier incarnations, the fit and function are generations better. Since the earlier designs, Dahu has gone through some evolutions to make it work more efficiently while maintaining the unique design.

First of all, this is not another Apex boot. Yes, the design concept does have some similarities (a removable inner boot set inside of an outer frame) but that is where the similarities end. The Apex is a luxury cruiser, like the early generation Lexus ES350 that your Uncle Carl and Aunt Martha had, a comfortable ride but hardly a canyon carver. The Apex is a really nice design and definitely fits a need but there are limitations, such as with skinnier narrow low volume feet and those looking to feel the ski and the snow. The Dahu Ecorce 01C with a 97 mm last is more of a Citroen, unique bordering on contrarian but still drives and handles very well, with a sport sedan panache … The Dahu and Apexes are indeed different tools, so different that if I was still a buyer for a shop and was to stock this type of boot, I would carry both brands.

Dahu is not a plug race boot and will not ski like that, but unlike some of the other alternative offerings, it will not limit 95% of the skiers out there who will be skiing it.

I spent some time at Snowbasin Resort with Dano Bruno, the man in charge with Dahu here in the US. I was fortunate that even with our condensed ski testing schedule, I was able to get out in the Ecorce for a few runs. I was pleasantly surprised with the boot’s performance, and actually impressed with how well the Dahu skied, but I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the inherent design and circle back to the actual on-snow part in a bit.

Dano filled me in on the recent update to the boots and the changes that he brought to the product. While he was telling me all of this, I took the boot apart and examined the design. The sculpturing and the integration of the pieces are very well thought out.

I am always leery when a rep or brand starts the conversation with “There is a process to…” For me, that means something is either very complicated or the design wasn’t thought all the way through and with the Dahu there is a little of both. So, putting the Dahu on does require a bit of a process. I figured that I had two boots to put on, a left and a right, so I said to Dano, “Let me figure one out, then you show me how to do it right.” Surely enough, their process was indeed a bit easier to start with the boot in the frame versus putting the foot in first, then getting into the frame … which will happen from time to time during a ski day. Putting my bootfitter hat on, the question then becomes: How much of the fitting process will the customer retain when they are thinking about this better mousetrap?

dahu_skiboot_1.png
Dahu-skiboot_2.png

The boot should come with a safe word.
Yes, the Dahu has more straps, cables and positional needs than an afternoon at Ms. Samantha’s Dominatrix Dungeon. But again if you are into this type of thing, the results can be rewarding. Once you get into the well-sculptured inner boot, laced all snug and cabled in, you are held in very well. Dano suggested to start with the boot in the Grilamid exoframe before putting your foot in. Once you are in, bring the rear spine up and lock the spine into place. Note that there are different degrees of stance available, ranging from 12-14 degrees. Once you get everything buckled into place, and if you didn’t look down, you would feel like you were in any other ski boot … which is a good thing, right? I think it is.

Yes, the Dahu is indeed a better mousetrap but for a select consumer, one that is looking for a shoe that can be skied in … and quite frankly one that skis very well. The Dahu 120 skied, for the most part like any other 120ish boot out there.

Once you get past the idiosyncrasies of putting them on and getting in and out of the shell when needed, it fits a need. It is a great option in today‘s age of remote parking or in a case when the resort village is also the place where you will be doing a lot of walking or aprè.
  • Who is it for: Those with a narrower foot who have to do a lot of walking.
  • Who is it not for: Racers or those with very athletic legs, higher volume feet or those who need a lot of punches.
  • Insider tip: These do run true to size. The frame is darn close to a traditional boot. My 25.5 frame I tried had a BSL of 302 mm, which is pretty efficient.
  • One thing I would change: Better positioning of the buckles. Right now it is tough to get the right leverage with the middle buckle.
  • Other Review: America's Best Bootfitters, Powered by Masterfit
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.

Replies

I love the look and design of this Boot! I still find this concept a bit awkward though. I mean, you stop and unbuckle the boot and walk with the inner boots and leave the shells clipped into the skis? or remove the boots from the bindings as usual then remove the shells and carry the shells or leave them with the skis? I guess its cool to have the options to do whichever. That said, when you walk with the inner boot you get all kinds of crud on it and that might affect the shells when you get in them again so maybe you are required to clean the walking boots a bit before skiing again? Maybe I am overthinking this. :roflmao:
 
I have lace up liners and get all sorts of mud in my shells, putting things on/off in the parking lot. A few min in the sink every few days cleans them out no problem. No issues skiing.

Like the idea of these. There also seems to be a 135 flex option.
 
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Ok, so it may be a bit of a complicated process, but how easy is it to get into? Anything can be practiced enough to commit to memory. Second question is, how comfortable is it? Does the exoskeleton create any "hot spots"?
 
I have the 120 in 26.5 - they are waaay to small. I can't even fit in them with the footbeds removed.
I was surprised the 25.5 sizing was was on. It is definitely a low volume fit.
 
Hmmm... not understanding the logic of going w/ a "Low Volume" exo boot... Too much competition w/ no hassle standard boot designs and sizes. Ski boot companies are just starting to cater to the performance "wider last - high instep" categories. That's an entirely open emerging market right now. Nice to have options and nice concept, but very confusing business model focus.

Banging head against wall like w/ women's ski clothing for women w/ hips. U.S. women's ski clothing is still in the stone ages when it comes to sizing.... repeat after Wifey; " .... these are loose around my lower belly but super tight around my azz and thighs! AGAIN!... and also they are too long!" ... U.S. & Canada based modern Snowmobile gear anyone?!?!?? They seem to understand U.S. fit much better than this Euro-centric ski industry. These Apex boots sound like another one... l Wish them success but remain confused.
 
Hmmm... not understanding the logic of going w/ a "Low Volume" exo boot... Too much competition w/ no hassle standard boot designs and sizes.

I kind of get it and like it. It's for people for whom there is no such thing as a 'no hassle' standard boot design.

I really wish I had had a pair back when my foot was crunched.
 
Hmmm... not understanding the logic of going w/ a "Low Volume" exo boot... Too much competition w/ no hassle standard boot designs and sizes. Ski boot companies are just starting to cater to the performance "wider last - high instep" categories. That's an entirely open emerging market right now. Nice to have options and nice concept, but very confusing business model focus.

Banging head against wall like w/ women's ski clothing for women w/ hips. U.S. women's ski clothing is still in the stone ages when it comes to sizing.... repeat after Wifey; " .... these are loose around my lower belly but super tight around my azz and thighs! AGAIN!... and also they are too long!" ... U.S. & Canada based modern Snowmobile gear anyone?!?!?? They seem to understand U.S. fit much better than this Euro-centric ski industry. These Apex boots sound like another one... l Wish them success but remain confused.
Not understanding why you don't understand. Apex bills themselves as the most comfortable boots, well, not for me, they kill my feet if I try to get any assemblence of control from the boot. These actually fit much better and ski well to boot, no pun intended. Are there enough people who want these as an option? Time will tell but I can say, there is very little compromise in performance for most recreational skiers.
 
Not understanding why you don't understand. Apex bills themselves as the most comfortable boots, well, not for me, they kill my feet if I try to get any assemblence of control from the boot. These actually fit much better and ski well to boot, no pun intended. Are there enough people who want these as an option? Time will tell but I can say, there is very little compromise in performance for most recreational skiers.
I'm referencing the the tight last. Offering these boots w/ a larger last makes more sense for the rec mrkt bec there seems to be a higher percentage of "larger" U.S. skiers emerging into the market that are in need of accommodating gear. We need to get out of the "ski industry" Euro centric, small figure paradigm and understand that as our market grows, the audience that is willing to try skiing will mostly be people that reflect our larger body paradigms.

As an advisor for Inclusion On The Slopes, I'm pushing for the ski industry to address this paradigm so that people, especially women and minorities, do not have to fit into the " excessively tight" clothing and boots that are currently available. Clothing and boots need to fit "correctly". Personally, I should be a "Large" ... and I am, in snowmobile clothing which better reflects true U.S. body shape paradigms. In regular ski gear many times I take a 2XL or even 3XL and the clothing looks and feels like a box on Wifey and I, and actually impedes proper movement and function....We still can't figure out Wifey's sizes in ski clothing to the point where she ALWAYS shops snowmobile first, which is sad and reflects a real loss of revenue for skiing overall. I'm not even going to start to address fitting various ethnic body shapes and the colorful profiles that we prefer. The ski clothing industry as a whole is years behind where they need to be.

From the review, this boot seems to be made for skinny feet, once again... rinse, wash, repeat. Wake up ski industry and allow your market to grow! :beercheer:
 
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I'm referencing the the tight last. Offering these boots w/ a larger last makes more sense for the rec mrkt bec there seems to be a higher percentage of "larger" U.S. skiers emerging into the market that are in need of accommodating gear. We need to get out of the ski industry Euro centric, small figure paradigm and understand that as our market grows, the audience that is willing to try skiing will mostly be people that reflect our larger body paradigms.

As a advisor for Inclusion On The Slopes, I'm pushing for the ski industry to address this paradigm so that people, especially women and minorities, do not have to fit into the "tight" clothing and boots that are currently available. Clothing and boots need to fit "correctly". Personally, I should be a "Large" ... and I am, in snowmobile clothing which better reflects true U.S. body shape paradigms. In regular ski gear many times I take a 2XL or even 3XL and the clothing looks like a box on Wifey and I....We still can't figure out Wifey's sizes in ski clothing to the point where she ALWAYS shops snowmobile first, which is sad. I'm not even going to start to address fitting various ethnic body shapes and the colorful profiles that we prefer. The ski clothing industry as a whole is years behind where they need to be.

From the review, this boot seems to be made for skinny feet, once again... rinse, wash, repeat. Wake up ski clothing industry! :beercheer:
This is why there is an Apex AND a Dahu. Can and will Dahu offer a higher volume option, very well they might but in the meantime there is the Apex. At least there is an option.
 
I'm seriously interested in "Exo Boot" development and that is why I'm commenting and pushing for a wide last, high instep, high performance "Coach Boot" version. Dahu seems to have the "Performance" quotient down to a higher degree than Apex. If they expand their "Fit" concepts, they may have a winner... as always IMHO :beercheer:
 
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FWIW: I bought a pair of the 120's several years ago. TWO THINGS TO BE AWARE OF!! One, they could NOT be made to fit my narrow feet (I wear an "A" or "AA" dress shoe) and Two, DAHU would NOT honer their "guaranteed fit" as advertised. My old Head Raptor's (96 last) and heavely modified by Philpug to fit, were getting a bit long in the tooth and a bitch to put on and off. These looked like they might work and I was intrigued by the design and "guaranteed fit". After five days skiing and a major attempt to make them fit after each day, I gave up. Problem was that my foot rolled in the shell whenever I tried to edge. We tried different "size" inner boots, only two would fit in the 26.5 exo shell, neither solved the problem. The issue was, that when I tightened up the lace-up inner boot, it was narrower then the shell. The lower shell half, being a solid "one-piece" shell, could not be "collapsed" around the inner boot like an "overlap" boot could, therefor allowing my foot to "roll/move side to side" - impossible to ski with them. After much hassele with the dealer over several months, he refused to refund my money ($900). I called DAHU in Eagle CO several times and they give me the runaround, telling me to go back to the dealer for re-fits, etc, then finally flatly told me "we're not refunding your money, you used the boots to much" - then they stopped answering my calls.
 
Lange seems to have originally come up with the idea for an "Exo Boot" in the late 1990s; they obtained a patent but didn’t put it into production. Claudio Franco, one of the inventors listed on the patent application, left Lange around the same time and set up his own footwear design company, Design&Develop. Design&Develop did the design work for the original DAHU boot https://www.venicedesignweek.com/claudio-franco-designdevelop/ I think they also do design work for Atomic.

The boot wasn’t a success in Europe; it was expensive, fiddly to put on, and the performance wasn’t very good. The Dahu Sports Company was declared bankrupt in 2019. They only managed to sell a total of 7,000 pairs and had debts of CHF 1.5 million. The company was acquired by Progression Brands Group https://progressionbrands.com/ for CHF 450,000; it currently trades as NB NewBoots SA.

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper La Liberté Olav Nietzer, the general manager, is reported to have said that he wants to reposition the boot in the luxury segment and wants to attack the American market as a priority, US customers are considered to be attracted by comfort and design.

The new owners have had some of the holes in the shell closed up, which should improve the warmth. They have also added Gripwalk soles and removed the protrusions from the side of the inner boot that connected it to the cuff; this should make the boots easier to close.
 

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