Raichle Flexon Ski Boots

Posted: Wednesday, 1 June 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels:

When I began gathering equipment back in the summer of 2009 I bought some Raichle Flexon ski boots from eBay for 99p. I didn't realise at the time that I had bought a brand which have gained somewhat of a cult status. This is their history:
Throughout the early 70's a smart guy by the name of Eric Giese had worked for NASA in the days of early space suits for the first landings on the moon. The big problem in space suits is they had cooling, heating and electric lines running throughout the suit and as the astronauts did space walks they had a big problem with them kinking and getting crimped when people tried to walk with their knees and ankles flexing. The solution was articulating hinges which had ribs to allow flex in the ankles, knees and elbows to preserve the shape of the suit around the joint. Today you see this on everything from water pipes to flexible drinking straws.
In 1978/79 living in Aspen, Eric applied this concept to skiing. He independently developed some very unique boot design concepts that included a floating ribbed tongue instead of an overlap. His goal was to enable the boot to flex without bulging/distorting in the lower shell. This was the largest single problem of the day, especially since ski boots at the time had no ankle hinge. The ankle is of course a critical area of fit where any distortion would immediately causes a loss of control. This is how the ribs of the original Raichle flexon tongue were conceived.
Eric then approached the US distributor of Raichle and presented his concept with a rough prototype. The US distributor saw the potential of the design and brought Eric and his boot to Switzerland, Raichle world headquarters. They had a large meeting including people from the US distribution, and the President of Raichle Switzerland, Heinz Herzog and many others in the company. They debated whether they should go ahead with the project. The Swiss felt it was too radical, too different looking, knowing they are a conservative company. Finally in a last ditch effort, Eric put one of their existing boots on one foot and his prototype on the other and jumped up on the conference room table. He flexed them both and their boot bulged out, looking horrible. He then said something to the effect of, "Guys, you need to decide what you want, do you want this or this?!" The decision was obvious.
In 1979, ten years after the first moon walk, the first 3-Piece boot prototype was built by Raichle. After many different prototypes it was brought to market during the winter of '80/'81. This flexibility with direct force path function concept, was later named the Flexon Concept and ultimately this first boot was named the Flexon 5, and later the Flexon Comp....read more about the history here

They are very comfortable, more so than any ski boot I've experienced before. They have an odd binding system that uses wires rather than the conventional catches.
Sadly after about 8 weeks of skibiking, the fastenings are starting to break and the liners starting to split from washing; I am looking out for another pair

Full Tilt Video History from Full Tilt Boots on Vimeo.