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Head Strato's 28.0

Chris Karol

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..ouch right? Some things are worth paying for... not that I wouldn't have taken a deal on them but I think it's all for the good of the sport. I'm still amazed that Head even went to the trouble of making a hardboot!! Howards grandson must be a carver or something. Good on'em anyway, nice boots but they just didn't work out for me.


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...not much going on with the band these days. The riding video was pretty crappy with the weather and all, but I got a good interview with you and Jorg having a beer at Bumps.

..as far as my ski boot set-up goes, it's not what you'd think from first appearance. They look like full on race boots, and they are, but... The biggest difference is that my set-up allows a larger range of motion than a stock ski boot, maybe even more than some snowboard boots.

My set up usually starts by removing material from the back of boot. This allows the shaft angle of the cuff to be almost vertical. Stiffening fasteners/rivets are also removed so the upper cuff has two clear hinge points and flexes freely until buckled down. I adjust cuff flex by tightening or loosening my buckles.

The next step is that the foot has to be positioned correctly in the boot. Even without orthotics you can position your foot (shim's, heel-lifts, etc..) within the boot to suit your bio-mechanical self. Good orthotics are obviously important too but even those won't help if they aren't set in the right position within the boot. (same goes with the other adustments on the cuff and sole, ie; this all has to be done together).

Finally, with the foot positioned correctly in the boot, and able to stand in natural STANDING position, we ran some tests to determine what my BOOT canting needs were. From there I grind down the sole of the boot to match those angles. (I actually attach plastic plates to the boot sole and grind those if possible)

The end result is a boot that I can wear all day without having to unbuckle and they rip for both snowboarding and skiing!

My liners are super thin race plug liners yet I'm totally comfortable. My theory is that by having my foot positioned correctly, and my boot soles ground to my angles, I can ride off the bottom of my feet more and not have to push against the boot so much to get pressure to my edge.. seems to work!

..so that's my boot set-up.

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Chris, excellent description! Thanks for laying it out, I remember your set up and I recall your methods being cutting edge. For those in the Vail area, do you offer this boot tuning through the shop?

Sounds like you have found an excellent solution for the best of both worlds.

Thanks again for taking the time. Have a great season!! Bryan

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This season I'll be doing internal boot work both in the shop and on mountain. It only takes about 15 minutes in one of the mountain top restaurant locations to get your foot position set up. Then you're out the door and riding so you can experience the difference right away. Mountain top service is more of a quick fix though because there's always more work to done.

What usually happens is you get your foot in the right spot inside the boot and can feel where the boot is holding you back so, you go back to the sole/shell/cuff structure and modify as needed. Sometimes you'll need to go back and reposition the foot after modifing the boot structure. It's a process for sure. Each year we have to learn all the new boots.

For boot grinding and other major surgery, I'll still be at Kaelins and possibly splitting time with two other shop locations in the Aspen area. We're just discussing that this week so I'll let ya'll know what's up as the season nears.

This will be my first season offering this for snowboarding. I've got some canting solutions for bindings too, both hard and soft.

Looking forward riding with you again this year!

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..thanks Bryan, I hope so. I appreciate your interest and support.

tcross, I used to ride an old pair of Reactors with Burton race plates. I ran the bindings flat (no canting) and insisted that I like the softer boot. I tried Cateks back then and found them to be too stiff. So I went from one of the sloppiest interfaces to what looks like one of the stiffest,,,but again the boots have been worked on quite a bit both on the shell and with my foot positioning inside the boot. Bottom line - I don't think I could get away with the new set-up if I didn't have the boots dailed in and my canting angles on the binding just right. So,,How's the ride?

Sweet! I loved this set-up from the get go. Even if they did put me on my head the first day I rode 'em!

Power transfer is a lot quicker than anything I've ever ridden. I widened my stance when I switched from the flat Burton plates to the canted Cateks. That gave me more stability and increased my overall range of motion.

...random issues include;

Boot sole length..I still ski in these so I could only remove a limited amount of material from the sole to keep my angle reasonable without to much boot drag. I'm probably running a few degrees more angle to accomodate the ski boot sole but I think it's worth it. I did grind my right toes and left heels (regular foot) a little bit so I could get my feet more over my edges.

Rear boot torque..the rear boot gets flexed a lot more than the front. It's worth monitoring pinch points on the boot and cutting or drilling any sticky spots out before the plastic starts to tear or crimp.

To sum it up; the convenience is nice but the ride is even better!

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