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 Post subject: Vibram Snowboard Boots – Then and Now
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:44 pm 
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Location: California
So my new (old) Oxygen boots came last week along with my new Burton Driver X boots the week before that both feature a Vibram sole (something I've always wanted in a snowboard boot for the bc) so I thought I'd do a little side by side comparison. :)

:thatrocks: Special thanks to bcd for his public service announcement about seeing the boots on ebay! Turns out they were my exact size and going for $45. It was just too good to be true so I had to pick them up.

The Oxygen boots are from the early 90's and feature a plastic lower shell, Vibram sole, and very soft plastic upper cuff. They barely look like they've ever been used and are in immaculate shape for being around 15 years old. The design provides the best of both worlds in my opinion, the benefits of a hardboot (plastic lower shell for foot protection, small footprint for climbing) with the benefits of a softboot (soft lateral flex, traditional feel, and can be used with strap bindings). So stoked.

Side profile
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The Burton Driver X boots are from 06/07 and feature a ton of cool features like a stiff (pseudo leather) outer shell, speed zone lacing, vibram sole, improved toe box protection, gel cushing, thermo liner, Outlast, etc. They're guchi.

Side profile
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The sole width of the Oxygen boots are narrower that the Drivers and are much more akin to the sole of an AT boot. One of the drawbacks to regular snowboard boots in terms of backcountry and mountaineering use is the extra width of the sole. It can make foot placement more critical in sketchy situations and makes the boot have more surface are on the soles which can lead to loss of traction. The Oxygen boots also have a pointier toe which will improve climbing as well.

Sole comparison
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Front profile comparison
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The overall height of the boots are very similar but the Oxygen upper cuff is considerably lower. This would make more since if the cuff was really stiff like you'd expect in a plastic boot but it's actually very soft, even softer than the Driver (softboot).

Side profile comparison
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The Oxygen cuff
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It's obvious that the Oxygen's aren't perfect but they do have some really great attributes and I'm excited to try them. I may play with a cuff mod and morph a cuff from an old pair off soft boots on them to add some height and stiffness. They needed a modern liner as well so I promptly got rid of the retro ski boot liner and replaced them with the Driver liner. I also added a better lace.

Side profile
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Front profile
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Next was to compare how crampons fit on the boots. I don't own any step-in crampons but since the Oxygen boots will accept them I'm sure I'll get a pair. I threw some Kahtoola strapies on them for now.

Side Crampon view
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Sole view
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Driver X
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Sole view
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Next was to see how the Oxygen boots fit in a modern snowboard binding. Surprisingly, they fit very well. The sole sat flat and the Burton cap-style toes straps fit great over them.

Side profile
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Front profile
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In terms of weight differences:

The Oxygen (with updated liner) weighs 2lbs 9oz
The Driver X with liner weights 2lbs 11oz (US mens 8.5)
For kicks the Burton binding (medium) weighs 1 lbs 15 oz (with center disc but without screws)

My plan is to use the boots depending on location, conditions, and distance. I'll be sure to report back with my findings. 8)

Thanks again bcd!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 9:15 am 
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Nice detailed report BCR. I own the Driver X, the C60's and while they are a great setup, the added girth is a real drawback. I believe on days that I'm doing 6-7k of vert that I could add an extra k with a narrower boot/binding combo. The extra width adds up to moving a lot of additional snow, which is just more work. The Driver X Vibram offers the best traction of any sole I've ever used though, quite impressive.

Another benefit of running the Oxygen's (or any PMB) is that the sole is so firm, you no longer need a toe ramp on the strap bindings. This adds up to less weight and easier access to the slider pin for quicker tranny's.

Using the narrower profile PMB also generally means you can get away with a smaller (narrower profile, less weight) strap binding as well. Pull off the toe ramps (no longer needed), and don't use the angle discs (you get your board angles from the pucks on a split), just drill straight thru the baseplate of the binding for mounting to the slider track.

The drawback for me is that the soft boot offers so much "feel", while the stiff soled PMB's give me a very different ride. I really love the spongier feeling of the softer soles for descents in all conditions.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 2:27 pm 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Thanks for the report. A couple questions:

- Can you show a photo of the inside of the Driver X shell? I'm wondering if they improved the situation with that cuff that holds the liner in place. It was kind of a pain to remove/reinsert the liners in last year's model.

- How does the stiffness of the sole in the Oxygen compare to the Driver X? Seems like that would be one area where a PMB would be much nicer than a softboot - nice stiff solid platform (combined with the narrower profile) when kicking steps up a steep chute.

Seems like you'd lose the advantage of having a narrower boot profile in the Oxygen by using it with normal strap bindings, at least when skinning. I'd love to see someone come out with a commercial boot like the Oxygen, and bindings like BDC's mod.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 6:47 am 
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Location: Bishop, Ca
Once you go Koflach, you'll never go back.

or something like that.

Climb an icy slope in the spring (with or without crampons) and you'll never wear your Drivers again. As shown in the photo, the one drawback is the length of the boot. Comparing the same sizes, the Koflachs stick out a bit higher than the Drivers, which can create a toe drag issue past size 10 or so.

With enough interest in something like this, perhaps Koflach or another manufacturer would bring these things back to life.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 8:57 am 
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Karma,
I wouldn't say the Drivers and C60s are any wider than any other soft boot/strap binding set up so if the user is already committed to using that option there isn't any additional drawback (other than the ones they've already accepted by using that option). Cool to hear that you liked the traction of the Driver sole. It's definitely the most aggressive sole I've ever seen on a snowboard boot. I'm excited to use it.

Re the toe ramp. I'll probably leave mine in. They weigh maybe an ounce each and don't slow down my trannys.

Re the binding mod. I'll probably play with it a little since I have a bunch of spare parts but I doubt I'll drill into the baseplate of the C60. With a non aluminum baseplate most of the structural integrity comes from the pressure the center disc provides. I'll have to figure something out to make a lighter binding now that I've shaved 5ozs off each foot…I'd love to hit that 10k goal with you when I come out. 8)


Jimw,
As I stated in previous posts, yes they addressed the ankle support issue to allow the liner be removed easier. Its not worth taking a picture of but if you really want me to I will.

Re stiffness of the soles. The Oxygen boot sole is very stiff and doesn't flex, The Driver is pretty stiff but still provides a little flex. “Life is a series of compromisesâ€Â


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:07 am 
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Quote:
to define "enough interest" in more detail.


I'd buy a pair...is that enought interest? :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 10:37 am 
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 10:55 am 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
bcrider wrote:
Re the binding mod. I'll probably play with it a little since I have a bunch of spare parts but I doubt I'll drill into the baseplate of the C60. With a non aluminum baseplate most of the structural integrity comes from the pressure the center disc provides.

SF did something similar here:

http://talk.splitboard.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2180

Another advantage of this is that it apparently stiffens the binding/interface/board connection. That's one thing I don't like about the Voile interface - with the same bindings, there is more lateral flex vs. Burton.

Quote:
Jimw,
As I stated in previous posts, yes they addressed the ankle support issue to allow the liner be removed easier. Its not worth taking a picture of but if you really want me to I will.

Well, yeah, that's why I asked. :) I can't find them in any of the shops around here. I know you said they addressed the cuff issue in previous posts, but have you actually compared it to last year's model or is that just what they told you? 'Cuz we all know what they say and what is reality aren't always one and the same...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:03 am 
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jimw wrote:
I know you said they addressed the cuff issue in previous posts, but have you actually compared it to last year's model or is that just what they told you? 'Cuz we all know what they say and what is reality aren't always one and the same...


I have this year's improved model and I have last year's model. So yes, I have see and tested the improvement first hand. :) It's easier to get the liner out the shell for sure but still a little tricky due to the ankle support. It would be much easier if the ankle support wasn't there at all but I think the tradeoff is well worth it. The ankle support really sucks your heal into the liner well.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:57 am 
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Location: N. Vancouver <=> Santa Cruz
I really like the Driver X boots. Super comfy and I think the stiffness is almost perfect for riding variable terrain.
One quirk I noticed:
You have to hit a 'sweet spot' when tightening the upper and lower portions of the boot. Too loose and they feel sloppy, to tight and they tend to spring load when doing hard, toe-side turns - I've found that if I hit some chatter while turning hard on my toe-side, the heel will flex and as soon as the pressure lets up at all the heel 'pops' loose and sends my edge an inch or two backwards, which can be a little unnerving (has anyone else noticed this?). I've found that keeping the lower portion tight and the upper a little loose will usually help avoid this.
But, as was mentioned, they still aren't ideal for climbing, but closer than any other snowboard boot I've seen. My toes start to scream after kicking steps for an extended period and their width is a prob for traction. I would LOVE to have a narrower Driver X with some sort of metal shank you could insert in the sole for climbing... ya, that'd be nice.
Thanks for the side by side BC... Damn, those Oxygen's are my size, let me know if you decide you don't want 'em :D Nice score!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 12:06 pm 
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Bcrider, sorry to bring up the distant past, but I know you used to ride the K2 step in set up. I still do, but the boots are about shot, and I simply can not find replacements. So I am reluctantly embracing the future, and starting to look at boot/binding set ups. Two questions: 1st- What is the weight difference between the old step in boot/bindings vs. the new high end Burton boots/bindings? 2nd- Is the lace lock on the Driver X bomber? They look a little suspect to me. I'm kinda old school, when it comes to reliability, less parts is better, which is hard to say with all the parts involved on our boards!
Thanks!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:25 pm 
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Hi ricorides,

The Driver X US mens 8.5 = 2 lbs 11 oz and the C60 binding (medium) = 1 lbs 15 oz. From memory (don't quote me), the Clicker T1 US mens 9 with upgraded thermo liner = 3 lbs 3 oz and the Clicker HB Pro m/l = ? but I want to say 1 lbs 8-12 oz. In terms of weight they are pretty close. In terms of comfort I'd say the modern boots/bindings win hands down. In terms of performance I'd say they are pretty close with the modern boots/binding having a slight advantage. In terms of convenience the Clickers are really nice in certain conditions but can be slower in others, lets call that one even. In terms of price, the Clickers are less expensive (if you can find them). In terms of availability the modern boots are everywhere and the Clickers are a bit of a treasure hunt.

Re the SpeedZone lacing. It rocks man for real. So quick and the ability to tighten the lower portion independently from the upper (and vise versa) is great. In terms of durability. I had over 40 days in mine last year with zero durability problems. There really aren't any moving parts. The only thing that moves is the lace, through internal guides and the upper lock. Apparently they did refine the upper lock this year to be less exposed and protruding. I guess the sled crowd would break theirs from riding on the sled.

Hope that answers your questions. :)

There are some threads on the Burton forum too about them.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:27 pm 
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Posts: 132
Location: Slackcountry, NH
Hey All,
I had a pair of the koflach/oxygen boots a few years ago. They were great for hiking. I have some Koflach Degres now and they are great except for the sole length.

I beleive that Atomic and Koflach are part of the same cconglomerate. Also Luke Edgars left K2 and specifically K2 SB/BC to go to Atomic sb.

Seems like an opportunity to perhaps get a snowboard oriented PMB designed.

Yes, Iknow that the market is small and the costs of tooling are high, and that AT boots are the ",only real, serious, and intelligent choice" but I'd be interested in a pair.

Just a thought.


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