Posted on January 17 2018
As a backcountry skier you're probably well aware of the hype, and #hojiboot has been coming across your instagram feed for awhile now. We got our hands on a pair of the limited edition Hoji Pro Tour Boots and took them out for a test drive. One of the best parts of my job here at Cripple Creek Backcountry is helping determine what new gear is just hype, and what is worthy of bringing in the doors and getting our customers in. Here's my take.
I generally do not trust last numbers as they can be misleading, so going by feel alone, the widest part of the boot is a touch tighter than my Scarpa F1s. This would be a middle of the road last in the backcountry boot world. The instep is relatively low while the toe volume is rather large. The ankle fits like a freeride touring boot should- tight. The ankle and heel pocket are quite reminiscent of the Dynafit Vulcan, which makes sense as Hoji has been skiing a modified version of that for years. The cuff tightens up nicely and feels just a hair shorter than my F1. Being pressed for time and weary of creating a foot issue, I did run it with my F1 liner. The stock liner is certainly underwhelming compared to intuitions, but did feel a little better around the ankle. The instep/ankle strap seems a bit too far down the foot at first glance, especially compared to the venerable Maestrale/Gea line with which it will compete. In practice i did like the placement of the strap as the boot flexed. More on flex later.
This is where the Hoji boot really shines. The power strap and top cuff buckle are both linked to the walk/ski lever which provides for a very simple transition. When putting the boot on, you simply put it in full lock down ski mode tightness, and then throw the lever up. This one lever walk mode pops you in to a fully free pivot motion which feels similar to many rando race boots and ultralight offerings on the market. The most direct comparison would be to the Salomon X-Alp/Explore in terms of walk feel. The forward motion is virtually limitless, while the rearward motion is more than enough for even the flattest of roads. Hoji and Dynafit incorporated the speed nose into this boot and the company line is that it makes for a more efficient stride. I think I would have to do an A-B comparison with a non speed nose boot on one foot to notice. Full disclosure, we did make a pretty short tour of it up the resort in order to get a lot of downhill vert via chair lifts. It was however plenty of time uphill to know that the Hoji boot walks really really well.
The range of motion is unreal for a stiff and progressive boot. Wish I'd of actually skied it in jeans.
This is probably why you're reading this post isn't it? I can read your mind's curiosity regarding the "revolutionary" new ski lock system. Well, at first glance it is legit. Once the lever locks down in to place, you know you're in ski position. The lock is incredibly solid feeling and the flex force is evenly distributed to the lower cuff. The entire sliding mechanism is made of plastic, which does make me question it's longevity. The boot is markedly stiffer than my F1, and more importantly it has a far more solid feel by having less distortion. The flex is progressive and stiff enough for anyone not on the FIS World Cup circuit. I wanted to test with a large ski and chose the Black Crows Corvus Freebird out of our demo fleet. At 109 under foot and 183 long the pink Crow is quite cumbersome on resort hard pack. The Hoji boot was plenty for the Corvus and would be plenty for any ski at any speed in the backcountry. The cuff height felt a little lower than I would prefer which was slightly puzzling for a stiffer ski touring boot. All in all I am excited about the downhill potential and am looking forward to getting out on it more.
Wishing for Hoji style pillows, this small bump would suffice
The Pro Tour Hoji Boot compares closely with the Scarpa Maestrale RS less than 40 grams weight difference at 1386 in a 26. My quick take in comparison is this: Hoji walks way better, Maestrale RS is more comfortable and customizable, Hoji has a razor thin advantage in downhill performance. Check back here in the future as I'll update after more time on the boot, please drop me any questions below. Think snow!
Cripple Creek Backcountry Vail Manager