Upside down but trying harder
- Nov 12, 2015
Nothing, well almost nothing, can ruin a great day of skiing more than cold feet. When you can't feel your toes, it just isn't very fun. I received a pair of Bootaclava neoprene boot covers from SkiTalk sponsor @SkiSkootys to review towards the end of last season. It was warm then but today was THE day. The morning temperature at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe hovered around 5°F with about a 15-20mph wind. While that might seem pretty warm to some, it was definitely the coldest it's been here in a while.
The idea behind Bootaclava, while not exactly new, is a good one: 5mm thick neoprene is used to provide an external layer of insulation around the lower part of the ski boot. I've used another brand of similar construction in the past and I know the concept works. SkiSkootys has a few features that I like and feel are an advance of a simple concept. First is the placement of the strap that goes around the bottom of the boot. Bootaclava's strap sits far enough BEHIND the binding AFD contact point that walking with the cover on will not damage the nylon webbing, at least with Grip Walk soles. The next nicety is the neoprene wraps all the way around the clog of the boot and connects with a large patch of hook and loop material so the connection is secure. It adds a bit more heat retention around the heel than a single strap. The last feature that makes a lot of sense is the "Bootapouch", a double pouch on the inside of the neoprene that can hold one or two chemical warming pouches. There is also a hook and loop patch that can be stuck to the toe of the boot that attaches to hook and loop on the inside of the toe on the neoprene cover. I did not find it necessary to use that.
The Bootaclava comes in two sizes and the large size (26-30 cm) fit well over my 27.5 Fischer RC4 The Curv GT boots. Mediums go from 23-26 cm. Putting the Bootaclavas on is very easy: place the cover on the boot (they are L and R), wrap the strap under the boot and attach the hook and loop, and pull the two sides around the back of the boot and attach the hook and loop. That's all. The cover, when attached properly, does not interfere with either the toe or heel of bindings and the strap underneath doesn't impinge on the AFD interface.
I skied for several hours with the Bootaclavas on and my feet stayed quite comfortable. I do use electric footbed warmers but I know even with that my toes would have been pretty chilly between temp, wind, and snow on the boots. What sealed the deal was when I returned to the truck and realized that sometime during the last three or four runs the batteries on my warmers had expired but my feet were still warm. Of course the temperature had climbed to 9° at the top by then!
If you are looking for an alternative to, or an addition to, battery powered footbed warmers the SkiSkooty Bootaclavas really do work. What are you willing to pay for warmer feet? Bootaclavas are $30USD.
The strap under the boot stays well away from the AFD
Coverage is nearly 100% of the clog
No interference with the binding. The X stitching holds the toe hook and loop in place.
The large hook and loop patch in the back provides enough coverage to adjust over a range of boot sizes. The only thing I think I'd change is the rear overlap; it might gather less snow if it were reversed.
The inside "Bootapouch" can hold two chemical warmers for those really cold days. All stitching is solid. I did not use the adhesive hook and loop and don't feel I will need to but it's there should it be necessary.