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It is amazing how much my opinion of this month has changed over the course of my life.cover image For the first seventeen years I dreaded September and the inevitable return to my educational incarceration. Now I love September. Especially in VT. The endless stifling heat of summer gives way to warm and pleasant days, offset by refreshingly crisp nights. The bounty of our farms and gardens are being reaped on a daily basis and one really has to try hard to go a single meal without some utterly fresh, local, and amazing piece of produce. But the real treat is the first few leaves that start to change over to their fall hues. That, along with the various ski magazines and their perennial gear guides stuffing my mailbox, these are the starting guns in the run up to Winter; the reason both you and I are on this website right now (that, of course, and Pig Roasting directions).

In anticipation of everyone’s return to snowbrain, I have put together a small gear guide containing a few of my favorite pieces of gear. Some are being introduced for the 2012-13 season, and others are unchanged from their introductions in the past season. I shall introduce my choice cuts of gear-meat as installments. Let’s say two wicked awesome installments. All of these items I got to spend time on last season, but sadly I only have adequate photos of the ski boot days, and nothing with the skis. That’s what happens when you are using gear at on snow demos done for industry trade shows. But on the boots that I was loaned by some generous reps and really got to get up close and personal with during many days of use, there are some worthy shots.

This past March I was able to scrounge up a pair of Tecnica Cochise Pro Lights for six days of skiing. A newcomer to the most recent incarnation of Tecnica’s AT boot line, the Cochise PL sports a single wide gauge cuff buckle and a beefy powerstrap to help generate ski driving power. A relatively snug 100mm last holds the foot securely in place.

I used these boots (and all the boots I tested) with Intuition liners. I greatly prefer them to most stock liners for fit, heat retention, weight, and their ability to be thermo-fit with a greater precision than any other stock ski boot liner on the market.
The Cochise Pro Light came in at a nice 3.25lbs/boot (1480g) without any liners. By comparison my tried and true Dynafit Titans measure up at 3.5lbs/boot (1600g) without liners. I plugged my Intuition Pro Tour liners (.5lb/liner; 200g) with the Cochise Pro Lights. Great Success!!!


I have done a lot of chemistry research to try and figure out exactly what flex characteristics Tecnica’s proprietary Triax plastic most closely resembles; a traditional alpine-style PU, lighter and more thermoneutral polypropylenes/Pebax, or more of the super light and stiff polyamide/Grilamid. I found the Triax to have the stiffness and natural flexing tendencies of PU, but it seemed to be more consistent across a wide spectrum of temperatures (20s-40s), unlike PU. Regardless of that I found the boot skied effortlessly and inspired a ton of skier (me) confidence.

The Cochise PL is a very light boot that comes from a company that specializes in boots of a heavy, alpine variety. Which means I have come to expect great flex characteristics and and performance from the usual suspects in the Tecnica line, but would a true “touring” boot from them keep their hallmarks? In the end the boot scored many points with me for stiffness-to-weight ratio and for progressive flex. Certainly I have been in stiffer boots, but for whatever reason the flex of this boot, despite noticeably lower cuff, really felt great to ski. It was incredibly easy to use, which counts for a lot in my world. I find there are a growing plethora of boots with all sorts of tabs, wires, hinged tongues, and other doodads. It is refreshing to get a boot that is supremely simple and high performance. The ski/walk mechanism on the Cochise PL is very easy to use and manipulate with a gloved hand. That mechanism also supplies a very rigid spine for the boot with very little play. Another thing that is different than the majority of AT boots on the market.

Just another bluebird pow day at Tux.  NBD.

Downsides for the Cochise PL, in my opinion, center on a walk mode that has somewhat less negative motion when compared with similar boots. If you think of a boot locked in ski mode at a certain angle, the degrees that the boot can freely pivot forward in walk mode can be called the positive motion. The negative would be the degrees from that locked ski mode position back. For such a light, touring oriented offering from the Tecnica line, a little more range of motion would be a big improvement.

The only other conundrum is the super flat AT sole block. It is very much the same as what is on the regular Cochise, and the Cochise Pro 130, but again not totally tailored for the one touring-centered boot in the Tecnica line.

Everything else about the Cochise PL easily made up for it’s limited shortcomings. For a primary touring skier, who spends some time at a resort and wants an AT boot with interchangeable sole blocks, this would be a superb option. There are very few lightweight, touring first, AT boots that are reasonably stiff and offer the ability to put on an alpine sole block. Or god forbid replace the inevitable chewed up rubber and plastic of a well used, rock scrambling boot. For sure the sole changing option is something that makes the Cochise Pro Light much different from it’s main boot competition.

I hope to spend some more time on these boots during the upcoming season.

For a great mountaineering ski I am all about the Dynafit Baltoro. Introduced last season as the only flat deck (non-insert) ski in the Dynafit line, it couples just a touch of tip rocker with pretty low camber. That mixed with a super thin metal reinforcement plate create a very stable and damp ski. So when you hit that yet-to-thaw corn, or just straight blue ice, the ski will hold on for you. A med-stiff flex in the tip that progresses to a pretty stiff tail is just where I want my mountaineering ski to be; as well predictable and able to hold me out of turns with zero tail washout. Dynafit gives this ski a hybrid cap/sandwich construction; durable sidewall construction underfoot with a lighter, torsionally stiff, and easier to initiate cap construction at the tip and tail. Coming in at 84mm underfoot it is in the sweet spot for mountaineering and hard snow/corn performance.

Baltoro Stats
149 113-84-100 16.9m/16m 1190g
158 114-84-101 19m/17.5m 1290g
167 115-84-102 21m/19m 1380g
176 116-84-103 23m/20.5m 1470g
183 119-86-106 24m/21m 1650g

This ski is a bit unique for such a narrow mountaineering ski in that it has a dual turn radius built into the side cut. The tip and tail sections of the ski have a 23m radius, allowing for a bit more predictable ride with less likelihood for an unexpected hook resulting from a deeper initial sidecut. The middle section of the ski is cut for a 20.5m radius, promoting quicker turn response and ability to keep speed in check during steep descents. I got to ski these in the 176cm length (perfect for me) a few times last season. Two of the times were in heinous rainy wet slop. Once at Mad River Glen, and one day skiing slides in the Adirondacks. The ability of this ski to plow through slush was impressive for its size and weight. The Baltoro felt strong, solid, and very predictable under my boots. Not a quality I can say I find in many other lightweight bc/mountaineering specific skis.

One other quality of the Baltoro, and this is more props to the Dynafit marketing team, is the non-gender specific nature of the ski. There are lengths that are appropriate for most men and women (for a mountaineering ski) and it is just a ski. What Dynafit is saying is, “here is a ski. If you think it is right for you, buy it.” No need to fuss with graphics that have been focus grouped to appeal to males or females, no model names that have also gone through the same marketing vetting process. As someone who works with a lot of ski products, and a lot of ski consumers, this is a refreshing change that seems to be listening to the overwhelming feedback from the skiing community.

I am a big fan of the Dynafit Baltoro. It will definitely find a way into my quiver for this winter.

Stay Tuned For Episode II. In the meantime: Feast on Pow leftovers!

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  1. Jake
    wrote on September 17th, 2012 at 10:48 pm  

    Ok, it may be bad form to be the first comment on your own post. But I just wanted to gloat on that last photo- up there for run of the year. Not often you get to ski 45+/- deg knee deep stable pow on open slopes in bluebird conditions so close to home.

    Just two sets of tracks there on CVS- PW and myself. Except PW was a man and punched it through the fall line constriction, while I just bailed out to skiers left. Baller!

    Thanks to Peter for all images. Maybe I will learn to use a camera this season :)

  2. Jake
    wrote on September 17th, 2012 at 10:51 pm  

    OH, I forgot to add for those interested in the Cochise PLs that you should drop down one shell size from what you usually run. I am a 26 shell in my Titans for a snug but proper fit. Skied the PLs in the same 26 shell and would easily have benefited from the 25.

    Ok, someone else can talk now.

  3. Ben Leoni
    wrote on September 18th, 2012 at 4:58 pm  

    Nice post, Jake. I was waiting to hear about the Cochise Pro Light. Meet up again sometime this winter? This time, beer’s on me.

  4. Jake
    wrote on September 18th, 2012 at 7:28 pm  

    Thanks Ben! I will certainly be finding you out on the snow this winter. Hard to say no to that offer; skiing and free beer may be my two favorite things in the world.

    You still shuffling papers in Maine, counselor?

    • Ben Leoni
      wrote on September 19th, 2012 at 8:07 am  

      You got it. Not only do I get to stare at documents on the computer, the’re letting me write them too! Very excite.

      By staring at documents, I mean perusing skiing articles online…..

  5. Jake
    wrote on September 19th, 2012 at 8:40 am  

    Hahahah. Yep. If it wasn’t for lawyers, accountants, other office types, I wonder if ski articles in an online format would even exist.

    Well, keep up the good work and let me know when you make your way West(ish) for some skiing.

  6. Josh
    wrote on September 19th, 2012 at 12:02 pm  
    • Jake
      wrote on September 19th, 2012 at 1:20 pm  

      Chute Variation South

    • Greg
      wrote on September 21st, 2012 at 7:44 am  

      i thought it was Consumer Value Stores

  7. Jake
    wrote on September 21st, 2012 at 8:38 am  

    I like calling it CVS. So much more mystery than Chute Variation South.

    Plus you can say that is where you went to take your medicine.

  8. Jake
    wrote on September 21st, 2012 at 8:40 am  

    I would also like to amend my post and remove my kudos to Dynafit marketing. I just got the new Dynafit Baltoro Wmns yesterday. Wayyyy more flowers.

  9. Johnny
    wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 9:45 am  

    Jake perfect review, exactly what i was looking for – from somebody who got experiencis with Cochise PL in action not only from store. I want to update my backcountry set and cant decide between Cochise PL and Dynafit ZZeus. Friend of mine got Cochise 120DYN and he’s saying that on his weight 180 lb (81 kg) they are very stiff. I’m a bit heavy guy 210 lb (95 kg), 5,9 ft (181 cm) and don’t know how they will behaviour in colder condition as in the shop is different temperature.
    Dynafit team wrote me back that ZZeus got flex index about 120 what is the same as PL, but for sure can’t compare two different manufacturer as the flex index is no standard. ZZeus got four magnesium buckles and seems that their are higher that PL so I think they can hold my leg better. PL are stripped-down Cochise 120 so instead of power strap connected with buckle (cochise 120) they leave there only power strap with three aluminum buckles. So how do you felt in PL in downhill mode, the transmition from leg to ski was good, is the cuff high enough? Also I couldn’t find how big the lean angle is. Is it between 15°- 21° as in ZZeus or lower? I will use them with Marker Baron and skis Line Prophet 100.
    Sorry for to many questions but I’m trying to get as much information as I can, becasue I have limited selection of products that I can also try here. Thanks in advance =))

    • Jake
      wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 8:37 pm  

      Thanks for reading Johnny. Here are my thoughts on your options…

      First off, without knowing what skis/bindings you plan to use these boots with, I can’t form a very strong opinion. A few facts-

      -the Zzeus is not a PU boot as it once was, and as it may still be listed as. I had original Zzeus’. They were pretty stiff. Maybe a little stiffer than the Cochise PL. But they are softer now as at least the cuff is PP, not PU.
      -We are different size people. As a 5’9 165lb individual, I found the PL to be stiff enough to drive a good size/weight ski in the BC with some aggressiveness. You may need the extra cuff height/stiffness. So that is a variable.

      The Cochise PL is pretty thermo-neutral with the “triax” plastic. A bit stiffer outside, but not wildly different. I also like the Tecnica buckles much more than Dynafits. The action and longevity of the buckles on Dynafit is unimpressive. I am a fan of the wide gauge cuff buckle with a lot of range of adjustment on the buckle ladder.

      Only one lean setting for the PL, 2 for Zzeus. I think the PL lean is in between the two Dynafit angles. Also, the Tecnica product manager was telling me that they measure lean angle differently than other companies, so maybe they don’t put it out there cause it isn’t apples to apples. Just a thought.

      Hope this helps. Bottom line; use what fits your foot the best.

      Happy Hunting!

  10. JTrue
    wrote on May 16th, 2013 at 1:00 am  

    Where did you mount the Baltoros?

    • Jake
      wrote on May 16th, 2013 at 6:03 am  

      on the factory mark for the 176.

      worked fine and for their purpose I didn’t feel a need to deviate.

  11. simon
    wrote on September 8th, 2014 at 6:39 am  

    Hi there, I am a relative newcomer to BC skiing and have been advised by our ski guide last year to buy a pair of freeride boots. Based on fit of my previous tecnica diablo fire and the positive reviews of the tecnica cochise
    I’m thinking of buying a pair but am unsure of which to buy. I’m a fit 5′ 7″ 80kg 54 year old male. I’ve skiied in the fire for about 8 years during which time my skiing has improved quite a lot! Any ideas?

  12. Jake
    wrote on September 8th, 2014 at 11:59 am  

    Simon, thanks for reading.

    My recollection of the Diablo Fire is it is a medium width/medium stiffness (100 flex?) boot, but I am actually not sure off the top of my head. The cochise is a bit higher volume, that I know.

    Where are you located? Do you have any shops or boot fitters nearby that even sell only alpine boots?

    Your height and weight will play a bit less of a role in this process for you, all boots will be scaled to fit your body size based on foot size.

    Your best bet will be to find any decent ski boot fitter and just have them check your feet out, try on a few boots of different fit “styles” (low vol/narrow, med vol and width, higher vol width) and see what you generally like best. Any ski boot ordering online is a pretty big crap shoot to find a really good fit. So be wary and equip yourself with the best possible knowledge. Then give your boot fitter a bottle of whisky, a box of beer, a cured meat, or a package of crushed pop tarts (depending on what is their preference) and buy a few accessories from their store.

    A few suggestions in the broader market of free ride AT boots to look at that a lot of people fit and do many things well are:

    K2 Pinnacle 110/130 (heavier, more for downhill less touring)
    Scarpa Freedom SL (med weight, better for half and half)
    Tecnica Cochise 120 (heavier, more for downhill, but better at touring than K2)

    I also bet some of the new Salomon boots are real nice too, but I haven’t had as much experience in them so can’t recommend anything specific.

  13. Odessa
    wrote on December 9th, 2014 at 10:33 am  

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