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It's Time to Ditch the Rear Entry Ski Boots!

Updated on September 26, 2011

It's Time to Ditch the Rear Entry Ski Boots!

It's time to ditch the Rear Entry Ski Boots and join us in the land of performance and comfort. Using Rear Entry Ski boots in 2011 is comparable to Driving a Model T as your every day car. The technology and philosophy used to create ski boots has changed so much in the last 20 to 30 years that rear entry boots are not only outdated but can be dangerous.

As part of my job working for Skis.com, I answer a multitude of questions each week from people looking to upgrade their equipment. A question about rear entry boots, combined with an outing at the annual Retro Day at Boyne Mountain Resort, got me thinking... how many of these people are actually still skiing on this equipment?

While riding the chair with my boyfriend, his dad, and some of his dad's ski buddies we attempted to spot the most outrageous and now often considered dangerous ski equipment we could. The consensus was that most of the equipment on the the hill that day was older than I am. Now its one thing to don a neon one-piece for a day of debauchery, but if you are still using rear entry boots, straight skis, or Cubco Bindings... Please make your way to the local ski shop and make an upgrade. You'll thank me later!

Rear Entry Ski Boots
Rear Entry Ski Boots

Rear Entry Ski Boots

I will admit, that it took my father over 25 years and a whole lot of convincing to give up his Rear Entry Ski Boots. Over the course of my career as a boot fitter I have convinced more people that I ever should have had to, to throw out the Rear Entry Ski Boots and try a new pair. While many customers, my father included, have met me and my co-workers with resistance it is a life changing decision all skier should make.

Please watch the video below about some of the amazing features of new ski boots, as well as information about how the improved fit of new front entry ski boots can improve your skiing technique.

Front Entry Ski Boots - Fit, Flex, and Features

Shattered Rear Entry Ski Boot
Shattered Rear Entry Ski Boot

Safety Concerns of Rear Entry Ski Boots

Many rear entry ski boots and some early generation front entry ski boots were being developed in the 1980s and early 1990s. At this time the manufacturers were doing a lot of experimenting with plastics technology in order to come up with the best solution for the intense thermal stresses a ski boot is put through, i.e. under direct heat on the floorboard of the car on the way to the resort, and then directly out into subzero temperatures for a long day on the slopes. As with any technology we have made significant improvements in the last 20 years which helps to greatly reduce a common problem with older ski boots - explosion or cracking. That's right, due to the design flaws in the older plastics they are breaking down at a rapid rate. The best case scenario for a boot exploding or cracking like this, is when you are putting it on in the lodge or if you accidentally drop it. However, more and more people who insist on skiing their old boots are experiencing this plastic explosion problem on the hill. This obviously could be quite serious depending on how and when the boot breaks.

www.Skis.com

New 2012 gear is already hitting the www.Skis.com warehouse. Check out the website and start deciding what new boots you just have to have.

Retro Style vs. Gear Snob

I'm sure some of you reading this lens are still hanging on to your rear entry ski boots because they are "comfortable" or they were expensive when you bought them 25 years ago. On the other hand some of you may be avid Ski Magazine readers and live for the Gear Guide to come out every fall. Here's your chance to sound off and express your opinion about ski equipment.

How often do you replace your ski equipment?

I'm a bit of a gear snob and have all of the latest and greatest in ski equipment.

I'm a bit of a gear snob and have all of the latest and greatest in ski equipment.

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    • under ceige 6 months ago

      Front entry boots suck! I hadn't skied for 25 years and recently got back into it and might quit due to my "new" boots..they were fitted by a top boot fitter and my feet are in constant pain-just terrible... I want my Salomon SX80s back!!!!

    • Steez McGee 19 months ago

      Step 1: Buy Full Tilts, or any pretty much any boot with an Intuition liner.

      Step 2: Get the liners heat molded.

      Step 3: Buy the appropriate flex level tongue to suit your riding style (park, race, urban, etc)

      Step 4: Buy a Booster Strap suitable for your riding style.

      Step 5: Enjoy the comfort of the boot.

    • Johnd40 2 years ago

      Definitely pent subject material, be thankful in support of picky facts . gfgcdeeebgga

    • Fred Bock 2 years ago from Providence, Rhode Island

      One of the expensive lessons I've learned thru the years is if you have a fit problem, go see an expert. I spent many a ski trip laying in the middle of the trail, just so I could get my feet out of the plastic maidens. Did it for 30 years too.

      I finally went to a boot fitter in Aspen, with the 'feet hurt, we can help'. They did. Three years later, I couldn't get my foot in the boot, so, I went to the man who trained the previous guy. He's also at the base of a mountain (and regularly on the 10 best boot fitters for Ski magazine), so, you can get it dialed in quickly.

      Loyalty is one thing, but the technology is just getting better. My wife had both heel plates break on her mid entry boots...we need another tirade on them :)

    • Joe Johnson 2 years ago

      I have been skiing rear entry boots since 1985. ...Richllies for about 7 years until the cable broke out of its anchor in 1992 and my Nordica 997s since then. When the soft plastic "walking bottoms" broke down in 2008, I purchased a pair of front entry Salomons. They were so uncomfortable, I put them in my closet, where they have remained since then, and I recreated the bottoms using 2-part epoxy. I love my rear entry boots and will continue to use them until they do explode or a tightening cable breaks. My son had a pair of from entry boots that were extremely difficult to get into and I just found him a pair of hardly used Nordica 967s that fit just right. He is very happy camper, skis just great! He has asked me to shop the web to find him other pairs that he can have for the future. That is how I found this site. I believe that the rule should be thus: Ski the boots you feel and ski the best in. Quite simple really. With technology today the boot manufacturers certainly could create another round of excellent rear entry boots that provide all of the supposed great features of the uncomfortable front entry boots.

    • Nano 2 years ago

      Absolutely agree with the super value of the rear entry ski boots. Far much better than the multi- hook front boots. And less safe?. Why?. People don't crash or break legs now using front boots?. Exactly they broke legs as in the nineties, but more unconfortably

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      The trouble with ski boot fitters is they make more money out of this old technology. No not rear entry boot technology, the conventional boot design. Its the same old story, if your not old enough to have experienced the whole history you haven't got the whole picture.

      The boots that are considered modern are old designs with more colors. Based on the leather boots of the 50s and 60s, some older, they were just a conversion from one material to another. Doesn't make it bad but there are better ideas out there and rear entry was one.

      Most of the early rear entry boots were rubbish but just as the designs became refined the old world crap came back.

      Old straight skis were crap and all the ski techs back then said, it was the skies poor skiing ability. Just wait some sucker will want to go back there too.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I have been skiing for almost 30 years and I have to say the most comfortable boots were the rear entry. I wore then till the base plates broke. I've used several front entry since but here's the problem. I have a narrow foot and a high arch so I wear a tight fitting boot. Since I'm not a bunny on the slopes anymore it's very difficult and painful to super extend my foot to get the angle to enter the boot. I am now on the hunt for a rear entry boot. For me the "safest" boot is the one that is comfortable, a great fit and gives you the performance you crave. I bet anyone who owned a rear entry boot will still say it's the best boot ever. The unsafe boot is the one that looks great but rubs or causes cramping and causes you not to ski well due to discomfort! Sometimes newer, advanced technology is not always the best. You'll know what I mean in about 30 years!!

    • MonsterJack LM 6 years ago

      Every season... I am a super lucky girl! :-)

    • skier chick 6 years ago

      I end up getting new ski boots every two years. And I've been getting a new pair of skis every year to expand my quiver... I'm now rotating between three pairs of skis - race, all-mountain twins, and freestyle twins.

    I might consider buying some of those parabolic shaped skis someday.

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      • Robert 2 years ago

        I tried my new 2015 Salomon Quest ski boots this week. To me; they are not more confortable, or warmer than my old Salomon Sx 91, and they do not make me ski better. I still prefer the old ones all the way.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        Rear entry are still best for people with long narrow feet. I have tried front entry boots and have not been as happy with them. also I own parabolic skis but admit they do not work as well for me. the ski is wider than my stance and tend to overlap. granted not many people ski with the classic style of skis locked together,bursitis a real problem. no industry is more faddish than the ski industry.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I will never ever ski in 4 buckle front entry boots again, after spending 1 season on the 4 buckle front entries, I have come to one determination: I ski better on rear entries for the one reason; that it doesn't hurt my chins! Last time at Tahoe I decided to ditch my rossignol front entry and try to rent different sets of boots to find on that doesn't hurt. Everyone of them hurt the front of my chins. I will either give up skiing or continue with rear entries. It's pretty much that simple.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I am still skiing on 1977 Hanson ski boots. My skis are top of the line 1989 Rossignol slalom race skis (I bought as many up as I could for only $99). I don't change my gear because if something works and feels good- I stick with it. I am considered one of the best stylin' skiers in Canada at age 50 who does not need disco FAT skis to ski good. Anybody can ski on FAT skis, only good skiers can ski on the old skinny skis!

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        This Christmas, I received a pair of brand new, high-end ski boots. I had been skiing in the same Salomon rear-entry ski boots for the past 15 years, and always avoided buying new ones because my old rear-entry ones were so comfortable. After getting new ones, I sold me old boots and began trying my new boots. I HATED THEM!!! They were the most uncomfortable things I had ever worn... sore, cramped feet and sore thighs make for a horrible day on the hill!! I have now sold my new ski boots, and bought THE EXACT SAME REAR-ENTRY boots that I had before!! I am now loving them and am enjoying my day on the hill again!! Thank you rear-entry boots for the comfortable day! By the way, I am a 27 year old woman (not 50) and have been skiing since I was a child. I would consider myself a very good skier, and rear-entry boots are the way to go when wanting to enjoy a wonderful, comfortable day on the hill. If you are considering giving up your old rear-entry boots, don't do it!!

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Four years ago a very knowledgeable sales rep from a very reputable ski shop in Vancouver spent 2 hours trying to find a boot that would fit me. (size 6, wide foot, wide calves). He looked me straight in the eye and said I could see you a pair and we'd spend about $1000 trying to get them to fit you but what you need is a rear entry boot so start looking at the Thrift Stores. And I found one - and it is the BEST! And now I see Alpina is making them once again....they will be back - like all good trends are. But I hope they will be back to stay!

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        This article makes no case at all. I have tried new ski boots no less than six times, and tide I actually bought them. No dice. I am a forty year veteran skier who grew up skiing ome of the most awesome terrain in the alps. No ski boot I have ever tried even comes close to the comfort and support I get from my 1985 Salomon sx rear entry boots. I skied on them yesterday as a matter of fact. All this hogwash about new technology in the plastic - such horseshit. Then, I spoke to a finnd of mine who works fr Nordica and he told me they stopped making rear entry boots because they were too expensive to make.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Sorry, but a lot of the newer boots are not comfortable for people with very large calf's (being African American and German my calf's are huge). The only boots that I've been able to fit have been rear entry boots. Not every one is built like Saun White.

      • Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

        I haven't upgraded my ski gear for more than 10 years ... but I haven't hit the slopes more than a few times in that decade either.

      • Scott11 6 years ago

        Still using my original gear. After reading this I am totally stoked to go gear up with some new digs!

      • catbehaviors 6 years ago

        I have never been skiing, but want to someday. I was out at the mountain yesterday, and it really made me think I should get into skiing soon. You have some really helpful tips, and I will be sure to get the new versions whenever I get skis!

        Blessed by a SquidAngel. 0:)

      The Most Important Thing

      Safety and comfort are key, and the reason that your equipment of the past should be retired.

      Please let me know what you think about my lens.

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          I agree with F. Robert. I have very large calves and, very wide feet. Tried the new boot style, and almost killed myself in addition to the pain in my foot, toes and ankle. I am seeking another set of rear entry boots. My old pair must be at least 30 years and are starting to lose the padding inside.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I agree with Richard P in general. I started skiing in 1966 at 8 [laceup leather boots, cable throw bindings, rope tows and palmas. From 1979-1991 I ran my own ski shop, for boots - Salomon, Koflack, Lange, Munari, & San Marco were my mainstays. In 79 I foam fit the top of the line San Marco racing boot for myself to run gates and got a Hanson copy cat two buckle rear entry San Marco called Hot Dog. I skied the Hot Dog 95% of the time until the SX91 salomon followed by the 450CE Koflack which I still have the shells for and am building new liners. My racer friends would kid me for using rear entries and I would bet them to try to stay in my tracks in the bumps.

          In 95 or 6 the CEO of Rossignol admitted in a trade article that the reason they stopped making rear entry boots and started the "performance" campaign in the early 90's was because people were not replacing their old boots often enough because their rear entry boot were "too comfortable" and had nothing to do with performance differences. I concluded that meant that the boots of the future would regress, not be as easy to get on and off, or not be comfortable for the "life" of the boot [liner breakdown] all in the name of "performance" but really about skier repurchase desires of the makers.

          IMO someone could reintroduce almost any of the two top 4 end rear entry boots from 88 and take 10-15% of the US market in three years with an EVA type moldable liner.

          I also have finally found a ski I like better than my 91 Blizzard SL's but it sure isn't a rocker ski. Which still mystifies me why people like them but then people liked the short "pivot" skis of the 70's too. I guess carving a turn is just too ingrained. Funny the Rossignol rep gave me a warning when he set the skis up for me that I would "re-eally" have to "ca-arve my turns and be "on" the skies. Expect to see a marketing blitz in a few years trying to get people back to skis that carve citing something they think as ugly about style of skiing rocker types trumped up by some ski industry manufacturer who needs sales.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Hate to correct the youngster that wrote this, but she obviously never tried the Hanson Exhibition or Experimentals.

          Bought a pair in 1971, and used them for both racing and recreational, and were extremely comfortable and warm in all conditions. Lateral support was second to none ( and a LOT better than my brand new Rossignols), rear support was rock-solid rigid, and forward flex could easily be varied over a wide range. Never experienced the snow incursion that someone else mentioned. Fit was perfect, and I have wide toes, narrow heel, high, sharp instep, and bony ankles - everything that no other boot out there could accommodate correctly . Hansons secret was the wax-fit bladder that they used. Most companies that followed Hanson quite frankly didn't know what they were doing, tried to design a rear-entry boot using the top-entry thought and design process, came up with all sorts of total crap, and gave rear-entry a bad name.

          Entry was easy - push your foot in part way, stand up, and tap the toe against the floor once or twice until you foot was seated in place, rotate the rear up, and secure the clamp. ZERO pain, and perfect support. Unfortunately, the foam liner finally died 17 years later ( Hanson did indeed have a problem there), and the boots hit the trash bin. Had I been smart, I would have kept the shells as the basis for new liners.

          After using rentals a few times over the last 25 years ( my engineering job kept me off the slopes except for a few rare occasions), I decided that it was time to get new equipment and get back out there at least once a week. Too old now and not racing any more, I bought a pair of Rossignol Expreience 120's. I've spent untold hours getting them to fit correctly and not have high-pressure points on my instep and ankles, and they still do not even come close to the Hansons.

          Rear entry boots will indeed be back in favor in the future, but it will take someone with the proper technical competence and knowledge of what went on before to come up with one that fulfills the promise and get accepted by the ignorant youngsters out there :) .

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Unfortunately for many skiiers, the standard buckle boot is made to fit the most common foot and those with very high insteps and extra wide feet suffer. I've tried almost every buckle boot made and many are uncomfortable even without the liner, they are too narrow and flat angled at the top. The rear entry, while not as much control, doesn't crush the high instep, wide foot, and at least you can ski without tears in our eyes. I've been skiing for over 30 years and with rear entry for over 10 and won't give them up until I can find a "custom" shell and not the same old narrow, flat angled ones made today.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Bill

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Unfortunately, this is a simplistic paper about rear entry boots. Properly designed shell of rear entry boot in combination with heat molded foam liner or inflatable liner shall provide much better fit for feet/shank than front entry boots. It is very easy to design excellent back part of this boot, which will lock leg/shank in the boot in perfect position. No doubt, properly designed and manufactured rear entry boots shall outperform front entry boots. They are for next world champions. And for advanced skies.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Sorry, but the newer boots cause my knees to ache and are simply too painful. I need to be able to stand up straight when I come to a stop which I can't do in the newer boots since they seem to force a permanent bent knee stance.

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          Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

          This is really useful info.

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          MonsterJack LM 6 years ago

          That girl in the video looks really cute!