Featured Long-Term Review: 2018/19 Salomon S/Max 130

Discussion in 'Ski Boot Discussion by America's Best Bootfitters' started by Philpug, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    I haven’t been in a Salomon boot since the 1990s ... it was the Integral Equipe 9.0 bubblegum boot, and quite frankly I wasn’t in it for much more than a cup of coffee. Before that, I had some limited time in some SX92E and SX92R models. Since then I have tried a few on, but nothing really struck my fancy -- until now. One of the issues I have when testing is the lack of 25.5s as an option because most early-production models come in 26.5 or 27.5. Last year Salomon did bring the all-new S/Max 130 in my tiny size, so that was my chance; after a few runs I could think was, Wow.
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    Every year I bring a new boot (or two) into my rotation. Last year, the Head Raptor 140 was my reference boot. I put 100 days in it, and it's still skiing strong. I need to get in some other products, though, or I would still be happily skiing the Raptor. (It's all part of the job; you can thank me later.)

    On to the S/Max. The first thing I noticed was how light it is. The scary thing is, it isn’t even the lightest of the collection. That distinction goes to the smurf-blue S/Max 130 Carbon, which is about 120 g lighter than the 1780 g of the stark white regular 130. The second thing I noticed was the very narrow back half of the boot. This boot has a heel pocket that feels like a suction cup.
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    In comparing the S/Max 130 to the Raptor, you cannot but notice the weight difference; it is significant. At almost 2500 g, the Raptor feels like workout weights on your feet; the S/Max feels more like an endurance running shoe. If you put one on each foot and swing your feet, you feel the mass of the Raptor controlling the momentum where the S/Max feels like it is just along for the ride. If light weight didn’t matter, Head would not be offering its Nexo LYT boots alongside the Raptors. What does all this mean in actual performance? Well, keep reading.

    This is not a Cage Match between these two boots; it is a transition from one to the other, so enough about the Raptor. Not only are we talking light weight with this new generation of boots, but we are talking a level of customization that traditional plastic boots were never capable of. When I skied the boot at Copper last year, I felt right at home in it and thought, I need to get a pair of these into my boot rotation. Then a few months later, after numerous emails and suggestions that I might (or might not) have incriminating photographs, a pair arrived at Pugski's Test Center.
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    On the matching S/Max Blast.

    The Custom Shell HD is very easy to mold. I followed Salomon’s guidelines, and I warmed the liners at the same time the shell was heating. During the heating, I padded my feet over the navicular and on my sixth toe. The mold process went as expected, and while the fit was snug with the pads, the boots felt great once I got the pads off. When I first initially tried the boots on and checked my stance, I was about 1° out on both; after the mold process, I was dead-on neutral. If you have alignment issues and traditional shells require canting and routering of the lugs, the S/Max can be canted during the molding process.

    Once I was able to get out on the snow with this new white wonder, I immediately felt the responsiveness of the low-volume design and, yes, the light weight. I will get to the weight in a bit, but let's talk about the fit. The new S/Max has a much more responsive fit than anything I have ever tried from Salomon. The shell is more contoured and anatomical in design, again in the back half of the boot -- where the magic and energy come from. How narrow is the back? There are three buckle positions on the shell for closure; one of the first things I have to do to a boot for a snug fit is move the ladders to the tightest position. This is the first boot that not only can I leave them in the center position, but I am nowhere near maxing them out.

    I keep touching on the light weight of the boot. This is something addressed extensively in the article Evolution and Revolution of Ski Design. Well, we are seeing a revolution in boot design with Salomon's mono-injected Core Frame reinforcement, which allows Salomon to offer these lighter-weight options. These light boots are easier to walk in, easier to get on and off, and, for a bootfitter, easier to work on. All that is icing on the cake because most important, they are easier to ski. How is that? Even though there is not a lot of sprung weight with a boot on snow, there is a lighter and quicker feel when you are making quick short turns across the hill. The boot is very reactive, and reactive is fun.

    I will be reporting back throughout the season and filling in some of the holes such as the specifics about how I set up the boot up, so stay tuned.​
    • Who is it for? Chicken legs, you found your boot.
    • Who is it not for? Athletic-calf guy. Yes, boots can be modified on the cuff, but there are probably better options.
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    • Insider Tip 1: The cuff alignment screws are hidden under sleek two-hole covers, but much of the cuff shape will change during the molding process.
    • Insider Tip 2: No GripWalk option ... yet. While the S/Max has replaceable soles, an articulated sole would be a nice option.
     
    Tony S, Shawn C., Mendieta and 8 others like this.
  2. Big J

    Big J Booting up Skier

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    Phil, Very good review. I recently purchased a current model pair of the Salomon X-max Pro 130 boots in 26.5 size as a possible replacement of my Atomic Live Fit 130 boots. I also feel the home molding process was easy and very complete. I googled it and followed a procedure such as you did. I do not know how this boot is supposed to compare to the S/max 130. It appears to fit my wide high arch feet pretty good. Seems light with good support. I also think that it solved my canting stance issue with the heat molding. I only have one concern and that is the 130 flex seems to be very light to me compared to my Atomics. I hope that is not the case as I do not want to crush the front of the boot. What do you think of the boot and if the flex is light or not? I needed a High Volume boot so I read the reviews and chose this one. I would not have been able to fit into the S/Max 130 boot.
     
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  3. neonorchid

    neonorchid Out on the slopes Skier

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    I have the second year X-Max 120, went with it because it was the only one of the three flex options REI had in my size. I did try all three 100, 120 and 130 the previous year and inside the shop couldn't feel a difference. They will stiffen up in the cold temps on the mountain. I never felt like the 120 wasn't enough for me but then again I am a lightweight.
    Anyway, @Brian Finch is on the X-Pro 130 this year and he's a guy at home in 140/150 flex Plug Boots, check out his thread - https://www.pugski.com/threads/2019-salomon-x-pro-130.12540/
     
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  4. Big J

    Big J Booting up Skier

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    Thanks for the info. I am not a light weight although sometimes I wish I was. I looked at this thread. I have the wider version as my feet are 106mm last.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
  5. Big J

    Big J Booting up Skier

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    When we get enough snow I will ski these and report back on my impressions of the forward flex.
     
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  6. Jean-Benoit

    Jean-Benoit Booting up Skier

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    Thank you Phil. Fascinating to see just how much boots are evolving, in all aspects. Did you also get a chance to try the Atomic Hawx Ultra 130s? If so, any significant differences? Seems like they're essentially targeting the same public - narrow foot, fairly stiff, light, high performance, heat moulded shell. One of those two could be in my future...
     
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  7. Roundturns

    Roundturns Booting up Skier

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    A couple of years ago I tried a pair of Salomon 130 boots on and was very impressed with the way the boot engulfed the heel delivering excellent heel hold down. Intrigued and very interested with the heat molding process being a "chicken leg".

    Have a new pair of Head Raptors I hope to get fitted this week, but the Salomon 130 maybe would have been the better choice.
     
  8. Thread Starter
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    Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    I did try it and I do like it. @DoryBreaux was in that boot last year and he loves it. Between these two? IMHO a competent bootfitter can make either work for you. The fit is pretty darn similar, narrow in the back with a pretty high leg shaft. IIRC, the Atomic is slightly wider in the forefoot.
     
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  9. DoryBreaux

    DoryBreaux Friend for Hire on Powder Days Pugski Ski Tester Industry Insider

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    Love the Ultra 130. I'm in a slammed race fit (almost no space in a shell fit) and after the memory fit process (same as custom shell), they're the most comfortable boots I've ever been in. And they ski very well. Are they a plug boot? Absolutely not, but they aren't meant to be. I will likely be getting a 150 race boot for resort days next season, but that has a lot to do with my size.
     
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  10. ted

    ted Booting up Skier

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    Imo the biggest difference between these two boots is the instep height of the shell. The Atomic is much higher, but the tongue of the Atomic kind of hides this difference.
    The Atomic is also adjustable for forward lean, which is a plus if you need it.
     
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  11. Brian Finch

    Brian Finch PT, CSCS, Cert- DN, FRCms, M|WOD Coach Industry Insider

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    Thanks for the “plug”.........

    I had a rather surprising 2 days in the X-Pro 130

    Day 1: Wifey says “let’s train Slalom...” OKAY this is the reason I got this boot. My wife races- a lot & there are always race (DIN) skis to be skied & then there’s my kids to help coach & chaperone. I wanted a DIN boot I could ski in all day & drive race skis. I skied em “out of the box” & they were only sore on one spot on the right heel.

    They were capable, but not a plug. This proved wicked fun as I was able to carve & slarve a typically hooky 165 SL ski. Laps on the WC Superstar Trail were fun like Tokyo Drift style skiing.

    Liners needed to be baked!

    Day 2: Gnar / rain / snow & let’s see if we can handle a 200cm Praxis: no problem! Ripping slarves or pivot turns was no issue. Blasting thru crud, yep fine. I placed a very used Intuition Pro Wrap in the boot & it was PERFECT!

    Impressions:

    Baked would be good.

    The upper cuff is really springy & each time I felt it was snug, the next run it felt more broke in.

    It’s able to be stood on or slid.

    It’s NOT HOOKY, this is a real first in a boot for me. A combo of drive / forgiveness.

    It’s not a 130 flex, but that’s alright.

    Soles are grippy.
     
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  12. neonorchid

    neonorchid Out on the slopes Skier

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    I'm not following what you mean by "NOT HOOKY"? I haven't heard that trait used WRT ski boots, if I were to guss I'd say it's a stiff Plug Boot thing where the boot is not forgiving like a softer boot, IDK?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
  13. Big J

    Big J Booting up Skier

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  14. Big J

    Big J Booting up Skier

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  15. Big J

    Big J Booting up Skier

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    Please clarify what you mean It’s not a 130 flex, but that’s alright. Is this a reference to the flex being softer or?
     
  16. Alba Adventures

    Alba Adventures Putting on skis Skier

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    That is a great looking a performing boot. Like @Brian Finch , I have gone to the dark side and skiing Full Tilts. Not sure if I will ever go back to a normal buckle system again. Then again, I had no choice after my Raichle Flexon from back in the day were done as they stopped making them.

    Though if I had to look for a performance boot for guys like me, this might be it . Light boot and I loved my Head Raptors - in fact I had two pair. Was like a perfect fit though heavy boot.

    This review makes a convincing argument for someone in need of boots to get it. For sure will keep it in mind if I ever want to go to other side again.
     
  17. Brian Finch

    Brian Finch PT, CSCS, Cert- DN, FRCms, M|WOD Coach Industry Insider

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    Initial flex is very soft, but it works more modern centered style.
     
  18. Brian Finch

    Brian Finch PT, CSCS, Cert- DN, FRCms, M|WOD Coach Industry Insider

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    Many “old” boots lock me into a turn & won’t allow me to cutback or slarve & force me to “rail out” at mach foolish.

    This is problematic when I’m not on a race course.

    The newer boots let me pull a lot more of the above pic, surfer cutback hipchecks to modulate the radius & “Tokyo Drift” the chutes or narrows or just speed modulate.

    The X Pro let’s me stand on the ski & carve out the turn or let the tail break free & drift. I’m aiming for a more Freeride flow collab of carve/drift/carve.

    Freeskiing a Plug, for me, leads to an excess of leaning & taking the ride. Newer boots allow me to angulate better & feather the turns as needed.

    This help?
     
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  19. neonorchid

    neonorchid Out on the slopes Skier

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    Yes. I had an idea that was what you alluded to along with thinking in the stiff boot any simple loss of "race form" throwing you into the backseat skiing your tails.
     
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  20. neonorchid

    neonorchid Out on the slopes Skier

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    Btw, @Brian Finch, I tried the new 2018/19 X-Pro 100 a few days ago as it was the only Alpine boot they had in my size and I wanted to compare an "Alpine" fit with two AT boots, '18/'19 Tecnica ZeroG and Scarpa Maestrale ll boots. Was surprised at how much better this lattestX-Pro fit from the X-Pro I tried when it first hit the market. Either my instep articulation point above the arch grew from running or a new/redesigned X-Pro liner is snugging things up there and in the heel pocket. The rest of the boot mid/forefoot on, cantankerous, more like X-Max but wider, both cause no problems with my toes fitting the boot! Only my X-Max 120 are very low volume above the arch and to the back of the heel pinning my foot down keeping it in place. The heel pocket of the NIB never tried by anyone X-Pro 100 actually felt a bit more secure and not as wide as my X-Max (could be more due to liner packing in). I gather that is where the "springy upper cuff liner that continues to break in", would end up rendering X-Pro too voluminous for me. However if I had to replace a MIA boot on vacation to use out of the box, '18.'19 X-Pro would be it ... have yet to try Nordica Promachine so maybe not.
    New S/Max fit was very close (tight), in the heel box/ankle, metatarsals were ok with the tighter fit but the ends of my toes were squeezed together. The very front of the boot would require reshaping to work.
    Don't ask about the two AT boots ... lets just call it a work in progress, I may very well end up with something else:\
     
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