Gripwalk very well may be the unsung hero of the upcoming ski season. There will be no fanfare or ticker tape parades but thats O.K. with Gripwalk. It is a modest…sole. So, why will Gripwalk be near the center of the ski world’s needs this coming season? With social distancing and base lodges limiting skier access, people will be booting up in the parking lots and areas distant from the lifts and slopes. There will be a lot of walking.

Screen Shot 2020-10-05 at 11.44.32 AM.png

Gripwalk (rear) DIN (front)​

Gripwalk, one of the newer evolutions in ski boot designs, is a rounded sole that allows for a much easier and smoother stride when walking. The soles are a softer and grippier design along the lines of a knobbier tire on your vehicle. I have to admit, I was sceptical of Gripwalk when it was introduced a few years back and, even though I have gone two seasons with them on my boots, I am still not fully sold. Don’t get me wrong, Gripwalk works 100% as advertised. It makes walking a lot easier and safer on slippery surfaces, no question there. But, is it that much better than a tradtional ISO 5355 sole that has a textured toe and heels? Of that I am not completely sure but that is a discussion to be had elsewhere. What we are talking about is it's now Gripwalk’s time to shine in the sun and say to the ski world: “I got this”.

Screen Shot 2020-10-05 at 11.43.03 AM.png

DIN (top) Gripwalk (bottom)​

Other than being in a full backcounty boot with an AT sole, a Gripwalk soled boot will be your safest and easiest way to trek from the parking lot to the lift. Gripwalk is not the only safe method and we will discuss the the other sole options that you have access to.

Tecnica, Nordica and K2 Gripwalk soles
Other options depend a lot on your boots. If your current boot has replaceable toes and heels you are better off than most. With your replaceable sole you do have a good amount of grip, but think of them as an all season tire. They perform equally well or poorly, depending on your perspective, in most conditions. They are better than a solid soled boot, to be discussed next, but most are not as good a a Gripwalk sole. If you boot is less than a few seasons old there very well may be the ability to upgrade to Gripwalk for about $50 and the use of a screwdriver. For this, all you need to do is check with your local shop or your boot manufacturer's website.

The least safe way to access the lifts in your boots is if you have solid lugged (soled) race boots. These are the slipperiest of all the boots to walk in, like a giraffe on ice skates. These solid soled boots tend to be the preferred choice of racers and instructors but, fear not, they also can be upgraded to add a GripWalk or even a textured sole by a qualified bootfitter who has the vision, knowledge, proper tools, and skill.

Now, if you do not want to go Gripwalk or upgrade your current soles, there are Cat Tracks (the Kleenex or Xerox of ski boot walking devices), Skiskootys, or Yaktrax. These devices do what they are advertised to do but they can be messy and inconvenient because you have to store or hide them somewhere while you are skiing. There is also always the risk of losing them at some point on your trek from the parking lot.

Lastly, and most importantly, if you are going to upgrade to a Gripwalk sole, make sure your binding is Gripwalk compatible. It will have either the Gripwalk logo, an AT designation (some Tyrolia based bindings), or WTR (Walk To Ride). Also, most race specific bindings are NOT Gripwalk compatible, but that should not limit your ability to put a grippier sole on, just not a Gripwalk.
  • Like
Reactions: Dave Petersen