Zipfit has been making premium aftermarket liners for ski boots for quite awhile now. Each Liner is handmade in Italy. For those of you in the freeski world who have never heard of them, they have been more known in the racing world and they are about as close as you can get to the foam injected liners that are used in plug race boots for maximum precision, but geared more towards riders who are leaving their boots on all day long while still want maximum performance. Zipfits offer the ability to add a cork gel like material called OMfit into pockets within the liner around the ankle and boot tongue. Unlike foam injected liners, this cork material stays movable and shifts at your feet change slightly throughout the season and even throughout the day as your feet warm up. The benefits of the way Zipfits work over a more standard heat moldable foam liner that you see coming stock on many boots and as the most popular aftermarket options are that the cork you are adding for the custom fit is less prone to packing out, as well as the ability to add more as it slightly compresses and moves around, meaning that you should be able to maintain the same fit throughout the lifetime of the liner. Which brings up the other benefit, Zipfit has testimonials of people with over 1000 days on a single pair of liners, this is magnitudes more than most liners that are packed out after less than 50 days and totally trashed by 150 days. Even if they last half as long as the longest customers claim they will have outlasted multiple pairs of boot shells by that time.
The set of liners that I received is called the Gara Stealth, which has since been renamed the Gara LV. I arrived in this liner after talking with the Brand Director at Zipfit about what boots I would be putting them in and what I was going to be skiing on them. Since that time the website has been updated and some of the naming has been redone to simplify figuring out which liner is the best starting point for you, additionally any zipfit dealer should have an in depth knowledge on the differences as well as reaching out to the zipfit staff and they will be able to steer you in the right direction. The Gara is the most universal fitting liner that Zipfit makes and is for low to mid volume shells, they offer a HV version for higher volume shells. I ended up switching these liners in and out of a whole slew of boots and found that for each boot I put them in they made a significant difference.
I started out with them in a Nordica Promachine 130 boot that I have been using as my alpine boot for almost 4 years now, needless to say the stock liners were pretty beat up at this point despite being the second pair I’ve used in the same shells. Right away I noticed an increase in stiffness, as well as additional toe box room when compared to the stock liner. Ankle and heel hold felt about on par with the stock liner, which is actually saying something because the stock liner of the promachines is my favorite stock liner to date. I ended up only skiing the liners in these boots a couple days because I had new boots show up shortly after the liners arrived.
The second set of boots these ended up in was a set of Head Raptor 140 RS boots. Despite the name, these are actually 130 flex in the stock form. These boots fit pretty different from the promachines, but with a thinner set of footbeds and a couple of punches in my problem spots I got rolling. The additional toe box room from the Zipfit liners over the stock liners was greatly appreciated in these boots as I didn’t have to do my typical sixth toe punch. After putting about 10 days in getting used to the new boots I decided to try out adding some of the OMfit. I did this myself in my living room, but I would recommend having a boot fitter do this for you as you can put too much in and mess up the fit of your boot (but don't worry it can be removed if needed). I ended up putting half a tube in each ankle pouch and a full tube in the tongue of the liner. I had a spare tube that I pumped a slight bit of extra into the right ankle since the fit was still a little roomy on that side. After doing so I noticed a dramatic increase in heel hold as well as instep volume being taken up by the extra cork in the tongue, which is exactly what I was going for. After adding the OMfit into the Liners I went back and used them in my promachine shells, The additional OMfit produced significantly better heel and ankle hold.
I did notice a pressure point on the top of my foot, somewhere that I would usually grind some plastic off of the liner tongue. In this case I moved the laces up one notch on the lace hooks which took the pressure off my foot. I believe this was caused by the bottom lace eyelet being made of metal as opposed to the others which are loops of narrow webbing. The lace going through the metal eyelet was causing some pressure points.
Older Zipfit models were known to be cold due to the neoprene toe box with very little insulation. This set I received and all other models currently made have merino wool insulation along with the neoprene toe box. For me these liners proved to be plenty warm, at least as warm as the stock liners in all the boots but perhaps not quite as warm as an intuition liner. For those of you who suffer from perpetually cold feet you may still require heated socks or boot warmers.
Zipfit liners do require a different method of putting your boots on than a standard liner. You need to put the liner on your foot and tighten it with the supplied lace system and velcro strap. You then slide your foot with the liner on it into the outer shell of your boot. On some boots and in cold conditions this can be a tough task to do in a parking lot. To take your foot out these steps must be done in reverse. I did try taking the laces and velcro off my liners and putting my foot into the shell with the liner already installed in the shell in the more typical manner, but ended up disliking how it worked that way. It was very hard to slide my foot in even without the laces, and when sliding my foot in I felt that some of the OMfit was moved around while forcing my foot in which led to some pressure points. With that said I would stick with the recommended way of putting your foot and liner into the boot.
With having to remove the liner from the shell every time you put your boots on and take them off the liners need to be made of durable material. The exterior of the Gara is entirely leather around the heel is where most of the wear would be while taking them in and out of the shells hundreds of times. After half a season of use the pair I have on hand shows no signs of wear.
The high price tag of these liners comes with a high level of craftsmanship, materials and customization. For any serious skier that wants to achieve better fitting boots and have their equipment last many seasons, these liners are worth looking into. They will not make your boot that is 2 sizes too big suddenly fit like a custom ground plug race boot, but they will take a boot that is already the right size and has a good footbed in it to the next level. For those looking to eak the last 10 percent of performance out of their boots, these are well worth it. They should also outlast multiple boot shells. I do wish that the velcro strap was a little less bulky and perhaps slightly elastic like a booster strap and that the bottom lace eyelet would be like the rest without the metal to ease on the pressure point I had at the top of my arch. At the end of the day, the level of customization these allow makes skiing less painful and more fun, and thats what it's all about.
Since I don't ski much park, and am also not a professional skier I got a few testimonials from Zipfit athletes that Newschoolers will be pretty familiar with:
Giray Dadali, AKA Ahmets brother, has been skiing zipfits for most of his ski career without even being sponsored by them until last season. See the video below.https://www.newschoolers.com/videos/watch/1013403/ZipFit-Testimonial---Giray-Dadali
When I spoke to him Giray had this to say: "Before Zipfits I was trying to cram my feet into boots too small to get good heel retention to do the tricks I wanted to do. My toes would freeze because of it or I would be taking my boots off every other run! Zipfits let me wear the appropriate size boot that wouldn't restrict blood flow while giving the best performance I could ask for. I think they are good for literally any skier out there. Hell even if you fly to resorts then get rentals, putting your own liners molded perfectly to your feet will make you feel at home."
I also spoke with Cal Carson, a well known park and urban skier. heres what he had to say:
"Growing up I always had to sacrifice either comfort or performance, now I can have both in the same liner. Once my liners got packed out they started to become painful. With the cork technology the Zipfits last much longer than your average liner."
For more information and to find a dealer, check out the Zipfit website here: https://www.zipfit.com/