The BootDoctors: Perfect Boot Fit Every Time
What’s the recipe for the perfect boot fit? Take a brilliant podiatrist with a passion for snow riding and running.
Put her in a remote mountain town where a world class ski area towers above. Add her to arguably the top bootfitting team in the Rockies.
– READ THE FULL STORY BELOW ABOUT ONE OF BOOTDOCTORS MASTER BOOTFITTER, SAM TISHENDORF –
“The (Boot)Doctor is in the House” is a series from beloved retailer, BootDoctors, about mountain lore and stories in which the good guys still win and get to ski powder. The Big Idea is to share the power of mountain life: style, gear, community and community outreach, and adventures of all kind.
For more hot happening in Telluride, go scope TELLURIDE INSIDE & OUT!
Testing skis sounds like a dream job, right?
Wonder what it takes to be a ski and boot tester for SKI Magazine?
I sat down with Bob Gleason, fresh from the SKI Magazine gear test. CLICK HERE TO READ ALL THE REVIEWS IN SKI MAGAZINE ON-LINE.
How did you get involved in tests?
Its been a journey of a lifetime!
All my life I have been passionate about skiing, following in my parents’ footsteps (ski tracks) into a lifestyle that merged my passion with my career.
After working as tech services manager at Hanson ski boot and Hexcel Ski company in Boulder I started doing clinics in conjunction with the SKIING Mechanics and Managers Workshops about Hanson boots in 1977.
Then in 1982 I joined the faculty of the Skiing Mechanics and Managers Workshops which were sponsored by Skiing Magazine.
In these workshops we taught ski industry personnel boot fitting, mounting and adjusting ski bindings, and information on ski design and performance.
How did that evolve into the gear tests?
Around that same time I started writing technical articles about boots, skis, and other ski business topics for Skiing Trade News (Skiing Magazine’s trade magazine).
Through the articles and workshops I came to the attention of Rick Kahl, then editor of SKIING Magazine.
I started doing boot testing for SKIING Magazine in 1987.
Then around 1990 SKI & SKIING magazines were bought and joined forces.
In 1996 I was asked to join the SKI Magazine Ski Test as well.
What does it take to be a ski tester?
Good knowledge of product, ability to feel differences, and skills to write succinct and colorful information about products.
Have you ever tried a ski product that put fear in you?
Yes! Skis that were totally unpredictable…occasionally you find yourself fighting to survive the run. And then there was a time when we were asked to try the new ski skates. The conditions were less than ideal with wind blown drifts between polished icy blue patches. Part way down I wasn’t sure if that smell was the clutch was going out but I realized that was my thighs burning!
Are there different skills for boot testing?
Boots are much harder to test than skis. Substantially more difficult because one has to understand different functions and mechanisms and objectively tolerate variations in fit.
Luckily I do have one physical attribute that helps me test boots – I have a thin foot! So I can try many different lasts. Wide feet have far less tolerance.
How many boots do you test in a day?
6-8. Some people find putting just a single pair if ski boots on their feet a challenge.
How does it feel to put your feet into different boots over and over again?
It’s a challenge but boots have gotten a lot better over the years.
In the 80s we had to make alterations before even heading to the slopes for a test run. Definitely we don’t want to injure our feet. There’s been testers who have had to stop because a boot caused injury to their feet.
My ankle bones have sometimes gotten hammered. But, the core testers power on!
The boot test is much more of a working man’s test than the ski test. More coaches, ski shop folks, and ski guides and instructors participate while the ski test tends to be more of a test by elite skiers. More former racers and ski stars show up.
What changes in boots have you seen over the years?
Fit systems have really improved. The geometry is much more consistent.
Boots are far more comfortable. Ease of use has greatly improved with new buckle systems plus ease of entry makes trying boots off the shelf much friendlier.
You must have seen some “flash in the pan designs.”
Dachstein had a design to heel that rotated. That came and went quickly. One year, the boot testers were relegated to test “ski skates”.
What are some of the coolest inventions you have seen in ski boots?
Heat moldable materials allow customization that is way more efficient. We often test boots without molding then then again after molding and evaluate the difference.
Remember the rear entry boots?
When I first started there were a number of rear entry boots. Rear entry were easy to put on and takeoff but had serious functional issues that hampered performance.
With modern injection molding they can inject plastics that have different hardness in various areas of the boot shell. So they can be softer in forward direction while stronger side to side. This aspect combined with more efficient closures have made front entry boots more compliant and easy to use.
What innovations have you seen in skis over the years?
Straight became curved; became fat; cambered skis became rockered. In the last few years rocker or early tip rise have been added into almost all skis. These changes make skis easier to initiate turns, move over changes in terrain more easily, more forgiving, easier to pivot and change directions.
Snowboarding influenced ski design resulting in the onset of shaped skis in the mid 90s.In recent times, wider skis have allowed more float over variations in terrain.
What’s new for 2017?
As rocker has developed we are seeing skis start to get slightly skinnier again. There has been move to slightly narrower skis waist. For a while the western ski was 95-135 mm in waist width. Now we’re seeing skis in the lower 90s up to 115 as the norm for the west.
The NORDICA ENFORCER 93 is this year’s mixed eastern top pick. (Skis that can bridge between eastern and western ski conditions).
I see you have quotes on all the top skis in this year’s gear test. Do you just know how to pick’em?
Nordica Enforcer 100 was chosen as #1 Mixed Western ski (the biggest category) by all but one tester. They seem to like my efficient yet expressive description.
The Top skis are smooth, predictable, perform at a variety of speed levels, can ski all types of terrain and types of skiing.
So gear testing sounds like all work and no fun?
There’s lots of fun involved. Any time you’re skiing and working its fun. When you’re skiing a great new ski and ripping down the slopes with an amazing group of skiers, you’re ecstatic!
Do you expect to keep doing this?
Sure! If I didn’t do this I’d have to get a real job.
– Someone’s gotta do it…Bob Gleason testing products on a powder day; photo by Melissa Plantz –
Bob Gleason does have “a real job” as co-owner/operator of the BootDoctors stores in Taos, NM & Telluride, CO. Don’t feel bad for him though…he skied 132 days last season. About 32 of those days were testing gear.
It’s that time of the year again, the leaves are changing and the air carries the scent of fall. Skiers start dreaming of powder days, alpine peaks blanketed in fresh snow and soft round turns with friends. Skis come out of the closet, racks and garages and we start thinking about upgrading to the latest and greatest gear for the upcoming season.
The BootDoctors® crew has been part of this annual process and the reviews in Ski and Skiing Magazine include the expert insight by none other than BootDoctors® founder, Boot Guru and leader Bob Gleason. Bob was joined by his daughter Galena Gleason (BootDoctors® SoftGoods Buyer), Kelli Gleason (Ski Buyer and Oak St Telluride Manager) and Charlie Bradley (Veteran BootFitter, Instructor and BootDoctors® Taos Legend).
To find out all the insight that the BootDoctors® team and the rest of the Ski Magazine team found, stop by BootDoctors® Magazine Rack and get the full story. Stay tuned for the Skiing Magazine review of the ladies skis with Kelli and Galena. Then pick the brains of our award winning staff to make sure you get the gear that you need!
Join us at Paragon Outdoors in Telluride, CO for Altra Running Shoes Demo
Saturday Mach 21st
We will have demo shoes to try, professional shoe fitting and running fun for all! This demo is offered in collaboration with Jill Burchmore, ChiRunning instructor and founder of 180 Wellness. www.180healthwellness.com Please join us and bring your running buddies for a kick off to the spring running season. Check out the video below to hear about the Altra difference, experience Zero Drop!
*No article on the internet, video or conversation with friends on the chairlift is a substitute for formal avalanche education. DO NOT EVER ENTER THE BACKCOUNTRY without proper education, partners and equipment. BootDoctors® highly encourages continued education beyond the basic level 1 avalanche classes. Skiing in the backcountry is a lifelong learning process, your life is worth more than a few powder turns. We claim no responsibility for those who choose to enter the backcountry, do so on your own behalf and do so safely!*
Image: Kristofer Noel
We are all skiers, snowboarders and snow sliders. We are a tribe and family of adventurers, exploring the resort as children, laughing and giggling as teenagers and thoroughly enjoying the continued freedom as adults. Along the voyage of our skiing lives many of us get into chasing snow, terrain and challenge. This can be found in the backcountry as can a myriad of objective dangers, challenges to our psyche and our emotional control of ourselves, our partners and life. In an effort to help people enjoy the sport that we love so much we’ve gathered some important information for anyone who’s interested in enjoying backcountry skiing to keep in mind. There is NO SUBSTITUTE for education! Please never ever enter the backcountry without at the minimum taking a level 1 avalanche course, this is simply the very basics needed.
Image: Kristofer Noel Skiers: Sarah Bobbe and Kelli Gleason
Education: The most important thing is EDUCATION! Knowledge is the very first step to enjoying the backcountry. No backcountry traveler, skier or boarder should enter the backcountry without taking an avalanche course. Here’s a few options to start out your educational process:
San Juan Outdoor School
Silverton Avalanche School
Equipment: Having the right equipment is second to the knowledge of how to use the equipment (and using your brain). The minimum requirement beyond education and a communicative partner is Beacon, Shovel and Probe.
Beacon – There are a variety of options, the best one is the one you know how to use and practice with regularly.
Probe – Quick and easy to assemble is key, many like the Quick Draw Tour probe from Black Diamond shown below have an easy to activate
handle allowing you to throw the probe out, pull on the handle and have it assemble in one motion.
Shovel – Assembly, strength and size. The shovel needs to fit in your pack, be easy to take in and out of the pack, assemble and most importantly move consolidated snow that resembles concrete more than the powder it once was. Ideally you are never using your shovel for anything other than digging snow pits and making snow seats, but if you really need it you need to be able to count on it’s strength.
Airbag – While education, beacon, shovel and probe are the minimums, many avid backcountry users have found value in carrying an avalanche airbag on their journeys. The idea is that an airbag when deployed will increase the buoyancy or float of someone in a slide and aid in keeping them on the surface of the snow. This won’t help with terrain such as rocks, trees and cliffs but has been shown to help in slides where there is a ‘run out’ that would allow greater chance of remaining on the surface of the snow. There are several brands making these and we personally carry in our shops and use: ABS, BCA and the new Black Diamond Jet Force. The main idea is that you’re better with one than without one; this should however never have an influence on your decision making process!
Avalung – The avalung is a popular piece of equipment. The idea is that if trapped in a slide your breath is redirected towards the rear of your body, allowing you valuable time to keep breathing while your partners find you and dig you out. This comes in a stand alone piece and is also incorporated into many packs from Black Diamond Equipment.
Conditions Report – Know before you go, avid and intelligent users of the backcountry read this report each and every day regardless if they will be entering the back country or not. Keeping tabs on what’s happening in your local snowpack from the professionals is one of the best tools to have, read it and go out and dig a pit. See if you can see what the pro’s are seeing and learn all along the way.
CAIC – Colorado Avalanche Information Center
New Mexico – Unfortunately there is no official site or report for the area.
Image: Kristofer Noel Skiers: Michael Contillo, Kaylie Rosen, Dave Taft
Skis, Boots, Bindings, Splitboards and Skins – It’s essential to be able to travel uphill, across hills, on the flats and skiing downhill while traveling in the backcountry. The use and popularity of Alpine Touring bindings has increased in the past few years. This allows you to “unlock” your heel for the way up, then lock your heel for the decent. Giving you the ability to travel efficiently while skiing with power on the way down. There are may types of bindings available from alpine oriented bindings that have a tour mode to touring bindings focused on being as light an efficient as possible. This is the same with skis and boots. At BootDoctors® we carry a full array of products from light and fast to burly and heavier. Split-boards are the answer; this is what snowboarders have come up with to solve the BC travel issues. They split in two for the ascent, allowing snowboarders to “ski uphill” then reassemble for the descent. Stop by and have a conversation with us about what best fits you, your objectives and your quiver!
Image: Kristofer Noel Rider: Ben Gardner (MV BootDocs) “Splitboarding is the answer!”
Remember education is the first step, learning along the way from partners who are more experienced is the next step. Know where you are going, what you are doing and who you are with. The backcountry can be a great experience, it can also be deadly. Take is seriously and give it respect!
Partners – Skiing in the backcountry alone is never a good idea. Always have a partner or more that have the proper education, skill set and equipment. Plus enjoying the experience with others is way better than alone!
Image: Kristoer Noel Skiers: Heidi Lauterbach and Dave Taft
Emergency Preparation – Traveling in the backcountry comes with another simple rule; always be prepared to take care of you and your partners and to provide yourselves with self-rescue whenever possible. This means carrying enough medical/first aid equipment and the knowledge of how to use the kit, as well as the ability to extract a partner if injured from the backcountry. You can’t simply pick up the phone and call EMS for an ambulance ride, you must be prepared to handle the situation on your own as a team.
In the Pack: Water, Food, First Aid, Space Blanket, Down Puffy/Extra Layers, Map & Compass (and the ability to use them), tools to allow you to package and transport an injured partner (improvisation is key here, use what you have. Take a WFR or similar course and you’ll be amazed how much you can create out of your pack and ski gear! Kevin Dunkak at CPR world in Telluride is a great resource “Kevin@cprworld.com”), 2-way radio, Cell Phone or SPOT type locater. A night out in the high alpine can be deadly without the right gear and knowledge, be prepared!
Colorado SAR Card – Colorado residents and visitors are well served by dedicated volunteer search and rescue teams, but mission costs are often in the thousands of dollars. By purchasing a CORSAR card you are contributing to the Search and Rescue Fund, which will reimburse these teams for costs incurred in your search and rescue. Funds remaining at the end of the year are used to help pay for training and equipment for these teams. Anyone with a current hunting/fishing license, or boat, snowmobile, ATV registration is already covered by the fund. Cards are available at BootDoctors® in Telluride. To learn more stop by the shop or READ MORE HERE.
Stop by any BootDoctors® to have a look at our full line of backcountry gear, pick our brains and build some stoke for your next adventure. With the right mindset, skills, tools and partners skiing in the backcountry can be a rewarding experience. Start off slow, get educated and be safe!
Image: Kristofer Noel Skier: Mark Simpson (MV BootDoctors®)
Other Great ways to enjoy the backcountry:
San Juan Hut Systems – A network of backcountry huts, they sleep up to 8 and are a great way to get off the beaten path.
Opus Hut- Located on the Silverton side of Ophir Pass Opus offers a european type experience in the heart of the San Juans.
Alta Lakes Observatory- Located in the Alta Lakes Basin just outside the boundaries of Telluride Ski Resort, full luxury.
High Camp Hut- Located below the flanks of Sheep Mountain on Lizard Head Pass, luxury and views at it’s finest.
Hire a Guide
Telluride Mountain Guides – Telluride based guiding service offering year round adventure.
Telluride Helitrax – Heli Skiing in the San Juans of CO.
San Juan Mountain Guides – From avalanche eduction, to ski touring, ice climbing and ski mountaineering.
Another year has past and another Autumn Gear Guide is placed on the magazine stands. The Gleason Family and BootDoctors® are proud to be an integral part of the process yet again and we are here to give you the first hand low down on all the latest gear. This year BootDoctors® were proudly represented by Bob Gleason, Galena Gleason, Kelli Gleason and Charlie Bradley. Stop by the shop and grab a copy or better yet come in and pick our award winning “Most Knowledgable Staffs” brains, we are utterly addicted to snow and love to share our passion.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT SKI MAGAZINES WEBSITE