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Telemark Boots

Telemark Boots

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 Crispi’s or Scott’s, while being torsionally stiff.

Binding Systems

There are now three telemark binding standards and you’ll need boots of the same standard
1. The 75 mm 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”.
2. NTN Standard
The NTN or “New Telemark Norm” developed by Rottefella 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 75mm and NTN standards have different boot sole designs so you do need to be sure which bindings you’ll be using when buying boots.
3. 2-PIN NTN Standard
Scarpa had some reservations as to the success of the NTN binding project back in 2008 so included Dynafit "Tech"inserts in the design of the Scarpa TX Pro boots so that they could also sell these as AT boots if necessary. This inadvertantly led to the develop of the next generation telemark bindings. Skiers realised that combining the tech inserts with a cable heel assembly would give a pretty efficient telemark touring set-up. These hybrid "2-PIN telemark" bindings include the Wasatsh Telemark Tech System, the Moonlight and the telemark baseplates from Kreuzspitze. These were still quite rudimentary bindings but the Meidjo bindings from The M Equipment combined an AT insert binding style toepiece with the NTN underfoot 2nd heel attachment, ie a "2-PIN NTN" binding.
To be compatible with 2-PIN NTN bindings a boot must have the NTN sole plus "Tech" inserts, at least at the boot toe. Please note that all boots in the 2-PIN NTN category are also in the NTN category, so can be used with the Rottefalle Freeride and Freedom bindings, and the 22Designs Outlaw X bindings.

The advantages of the three standards can be summarised as follows: the 75 mm design offers good forward flex and suits skiers with a lower stance.  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 2-PIN NTN bindings are the most advanced telemark bindings available and offer efficient touring and excellent downhill control.

Boot Fit

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.

Which shell size do I need?

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

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