Gear Showcase Full Tilt
Welcome to my first Gear Showcase of the season. The aim of these articles is to both show the offering of some Newschoolers' favorite brands and to give more of an insight into the products themselves. These articles are fully independent (I wish they were paying me) so treat them like a more in-depth version of the gear guides you find in most magazines.
What's Up at Full Tilt?
If you browse the forums you will have no doubt seen this brand debated. In just nine years Full Tilt have become one of the definitive freestyle brands and every year their new products have been met with a thunderous amount of support. Regardless of whether it's how they ski or how they look, few would argue that Full Tilt are one of the top players in the freestyle world, who for many can do no wrong.
Boots like the Drop Kick, Tom Wallisch and B&E pro models have become almost iconic, so their absence at this year's SIA was more than a little surprising. For years SIA has been the place to see the new gear months before it hits the shelves, so having some of the most popular boots missing was unusual. The confusion only deepened later in the year when the full 2015/16 line up was announced and the demise of various boots was confirmed.
For the first time the brand's unwavering support did seem to be decreasing. There were many threads asking about the change in lineup and also quite a few people complaining that it just did not have the same feel as previous years.
Looking a little closer however, although some of the pro models have gone, the actual lineup of boots is perhaps the strongest Full Tilt have ever had. Along with updates to existing boots, for the first time they debuted an all new wider shell, giving even more people the chance to ride the original three piece boot.
I will admit it may seem a little confusing, what boot replaces what and where do others sit in the range, so hopefully this article can guide you through the new lineup. Concerns you may have had that Full Tilt had "lost it" will hopefully be laid to rest and I also have some exclusive news on the disappearance of the pro model boots, so read on to find out all you need to know about Full Tilt 2015.
2015 Shell Options
For 2015 Full Tilt have three different shells on offer. The Soul and Original shell both share the narrower 99mm last and the all new Evolution shell offers a wider 102mm last.
The Soul and the Original offer the same overall fit but the Soul has been updated to meet the demands of modern skiers. For the most part if you fit into the Original, then the Soul should be a straight forward transition. You will still find the same narrow fit but the updated toe box shape should help decrease the chance of toe bang and being able to replace the heel and toes, you should find the boots last longer before they need replacing.
The Original shell is still in the line up but for the most part, the boots which used the Original shell have been updated to use the Soul instead. Although a classic you may not see the Original shell around for too much longer but the Soul offers everything the Original did and more.
Although Full Tilt have had a wider boot in the line up for a few seasons in the High Five and Booter, they were not really Full Tilt, but instead shells licensed from Roxa. Although they did offer a wider fit then the Original shell, they suffered from downsides like 3-1 sizing and even Full Tilt will admit they were never really happy with the boots.
The Evolution shell in contrast is an all new wider fitting boot built completely by Full Tilt. The Evolution shell is built around the Original 3 piece design, but Full Tilt have not been afraid to try new things. The Evolution uses an all new Cable/Buckle system which incorporates the best elements of both standard buckles and the much loved cable system of the Original. The Evolution represents the very latest technology from Full Tilt and could well be an indication of what we may see on the Soul Shell in the future.
Replacing the Drop Kick
Dropping the Drop Kick was seen by many as a bad move, but it's not really gone. The Drop Kick used the Original Shell with an active foot board and a number six tongue. The First Chair 6 (FC) has all the same features and the only real difference is the FC uses the updated Soul Shell.
The Soul and the Original are very similar, both have a 99mm last and all that really changes is the toe box shape, which has been redesigned to offer a little more space, while the Soul has replaceable heel and toe parts rather than just the small replaceable heel of the Original. The Seth, FC 8 and FC 6 could all be options for replacing the dropkick and for woman the Soul Sister also uses the Soul shell.
If you fit well in the Drop Kick then chances are the First Chair will fit just as well and should last longer thanks to the replaceable soles. (Left FC8, Right FC6)
If that does not convince you, the Classic boot is still in the line up, using the same shell as the Drop Kick. The only differences you will find are that the Classic uses a rigid foot board (which can be changed for the active) and it no longer uses the Wrap style intuition liner.
For the first time Full Tilt have used a tongue liner in the Classic. Still made by intuition from the same heat mouldable foams as the wraps, however there is less of the Intuition foam (heel only) when compared to the wraps. By using less of the Intuition foam Full Tilt are able to offer the Classic at the new lower price of $399. The new liner should offer a little more volume in both the forefoot and calf, so if you have struggled here in the past, but don't think you need the wider shell, the Classic could be worth a look.
Replacing the High Five and Booter
The High Five and Booter were, for a number of years, the only option from Full Tilt for skiers with a wider foot. They were not perfect though and Full Tilt will admit they were only really to fill a hole in the lineup, until they could develop their own wider fitting boot.
That all new wider boot is now ready in the form of the Descendant series. With flexes from eight to four they replace the High Five and Booter and also represent the first really all new boot Full Tilt has ever made. With a number of changes, such as buckles and teeth partly replacing the cable design, the Descendant is a real step forward and possibly an indication of future developments we may see. The Descendant boots are offered with a eight, six or four tongue (a ten tongue is available online) and there is a woman's version called the Plush with a number six tongue.
I was lucky enough to test out the Descendant 8 last season and you can read my full review here
Tom Wallisch Pro Model
Already an icon, the Wallisch boot being dropped certainly surprised a few, but again, it's not really gone. The First Chair 6, other than graphics, is almost exactly the same boot as the 2014 Wallisch, so although it may not look quite as cool, you can still wear the same boot as the pretzel king.
B&E Pro Model
The B&E was essentially the same boot as the Drop Kick, using the Original shell and the number six tongue, so again the First Chair 6 or Classic would be the two closest boots. But performing the same and looking the same are not as we all know the same, so I wanted to know why both the B&E and Wallisch boots had been removed from the lineup. To get the answers I contacted Josh Malczyk.
Along with being the greatest dad dancer according to Twig, Josh is the head of marketing for Full Tilt and as such is the reason for much of their success. I contacted him back in the summer but for two months I was met with silence, until a couple of weeks ago when an email appeared in my in box with some rather exciting news.
What was that news, well I'm afraid you are going to have to wait just a little longer for that. At 12am (Vancouver PDT) on OCT 30th we will be releasing all the details of that email and you don't want to miss it. Other time zone times below.
Until then I will leave you with this......
Article Times for Friday 30th October:
Vancouver 12am PDT
Montreal 3am EDT
London 7am GMT