It’s easy to choose the most suitable telemark boots if you take into account a few variables: where will you be skiing, what are your style and performance preferences and what sort of bindings will you be using?
Originally a means of efficiently descending moderately steep slopes in Norway on narrow skis, like all ski disciplines telemarking has developed enormously in the last 30 years, thanks to improvements in technique and gear. Telemark boots have similarly developed from soft flexing leather boots with laces to plastic multi-buckled boots with superb torsional stiffness and powerful bellows that enable the boot to flex forward and impart energy to the bindings and skis.
For simplicity we can divide telemark boots into three usage categories:
1. Lightweight Touring Telemark Boots. These boots retain the characteristics of the originals, and are leather or low-cut plastic boots. Lightweight and with a soft bellows flex, they are also comfortable for walking. These boots are ideal for tours where the distance is at least as important as the height. The plastic boots offer good torsional rigidity but the supple bellows limits the ability of these skis to drive the skis.
2. Mixed Touring / Resort Telemark Boots. These mid-height boots are the most versatile and can be used for free heel ski touring / mountaineering and resort use. Generally 3 buckled with a medium stiff bellows that is supple enough to make skinning up efficient while sufficient stiffness to drive the skis and give some re-bound out of the turn as the heel drops back down. These boots generally are slightly lower than resort oriented boots so more comfortable and lighter for walking and touring.
3. Downhill / Resort Telemark Boots. These are taller 4 buckle boots that are torsionally very stiff to enable good power transfer to the edges. The forward flex of the bellows is generally stiffer than boots for mixed use/touring but does vary a lot between brands. Scarpa boots tend to have a softer forward flex than BD’s, Crispi’s or Scott’s, while being torsionally very stiff.
There are two telemark binding standards and you’ll need boots of the same standard. The traditional 75 mm norm boots have a tapered “duckbill” extension of the boot sole that is 75 mm wide, hence the name. The duckbill slots into the binding and is held in place by the binding cables, or “3 pins”.
The NTN or “New Telemark Norm” is Rottefella’s uses a lug under the ball of the boot that pulls the boot forward into the bindings, onto an articulated plate which lift up when making the telemark stance.
The two standards have different boot sole designs so you do need to be sure which bindings you’ll be using when buying boots.
The advantages of the two standards can be summarised as follows: the 75 mm design offers a longer forward flex and suits skiers with a lower stance. For skiers wanting a reliable release system the 7tm bindings are the only brand currently offering this. Most brands now make articulated touring bindings that offer efficient lightweight tour-ability. The NTN design offers more powerful energy transfer to the ski edge and the design of the NTN boots (without the duckbill) makes these boots more practical for use with crampons and when climbing/walking. The NTN Freedom bindings offer better tour-ability than the NTN Freeride but do weigh more than some 75 mm touring bindings. In extreme conditions the boot can release laterally from NTN bindings but these should not be considered to be release bindings as such. Some NTN boots are equipped with toe and heel inserts for use with Dynafit and other insert alpine touring bindings. The flex of the telemark boot sole does limit their usefulness and also the reliability of the binding release.
Whichever binding system you’re using it’s vitally important that your telemark boots are a good fit. During every turn the flexing of the rear foot makes the heel of the foot want to lift up in the boot. To have good control you need to keep the heel anchored, and many telemark boots have the 2nd or 3rd strap that is specifically placed prevent heel lift. Any heel lift will result in loss of power and control. Since the feet are continuously moving during the telemark turn, you need to have the snuggest possible fit possible. The same criteria as for alpine boots apply, only more so. The boots should be comfortable and warm, not so tight to restrict circulation, but should be the smallest possible to ensure good boot-binding-ski interaction. The effect of any ‘slop’ is magnified compared to alpine boots. Luckily modern heat mouldable liners greatly help getting the right fit.
We have over 14 years experience of selling freeheel boots by mail order / internet and have a 99% success rate in supplying the correct size. If you’d like help in selecting the correct size for you then please contact us with the following information:
1. Your regular street shoe size
2. The size of any other ski / mountain boots you have or have rented.
3. The length of your foot. To measure this remove shoes and socks and stand upright with the heels against a vertical surface, eg wall or door frame. Measure the distance from the wall to the front of the longest toe for each foot in mm.
4. Please tell if your foot is average width, narrow or wide, and if you have any particular problems such as bone spurs.
We’ll get back to you with a size recommendation right away. It can take several emails to confirm which size is best for you but it is well worth the effort to get this right before shipping! We’re here to help you choose the right size
ranges from 265 to 458