Available Sizes: 23.5-26.5
Boot Sole Length: 297mm at 25 and 25.5
Stated Weight: 1.9 kg / 4 lbs., 3 oz each (size 25)
Liner: Women’s Power Fit Light
Skier: 5’6”, 125 lbs, former racer, aggressive and dynamic skier
Foot: size 8/8.5 street shoe, unusually narrow foot, long and low arch, with a high-volume ankle and calf
Test Locations: Alta Ski Area, Whistler, Telluride, Crested Butte Resort and Backcountry, Summit County, Squamish / Pemberton Backcountry, Wasatch Backcountry
Resort Days: 25
Touring Days: 10[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Shiva, which will be offered for the 13/14 season as the reworked Shiva Mx 110. We plan to test the new Shiva Mx soon and will be offering comparisons between the two boots.]
The longer I live in the West, the more I am drawn to spending my days in the backcountry. At the end of last season, I finally retired my seven-year-old race boots, and began to look for a single boot that would cater to my up- and downhill pursuits.
As motivated as I might be, however, I had to remind myself that I still end up skiing more days inbounds than in the backcountry. And while I wasn’t ready to invest in another race boot, I still wanted something stiff, but a boot that I could also take on most day tours and a hut trip or two. The most logical choice, then, was an alpine touring boot.
When looking for an alpine touring boot, some sort of compromise is unavoidable. At one end of the ski boot spectrum lies the ultra-high-end plug race boots, which are unparalleled in their precise, powerful, downhill performance. At the other end of the spectrum are the super-light touring boots that can be worn comfortably while climbing for many miles, but aren’t as solid on the way down.
And all AT boots fall somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes. The trick is simply to figure out where each boot should be located on the spectrum, then, you’ve just got to determine where you’re willing to make concessions, on the Up or the Down.
The Shiva appealed to me for several reasons. Big climbs with long approaches were not something I was planning on doing this season, so I didn’t need the lightest boot available. That left me with boots that fell in the medium to heavy weight category. Coming from a racing background and being a fairly aggressive skier, I was concerned that many of these boots would be too soft for resort use.
As a heavier, beefier boot than most AT boots, the Shiva offered top performance for inbounds skiing, which I would mostly be doing, but still had a walk mode and was lighter to tour in than an alpine-specific boot. The Shiva seemed well suited to fit my needs.
Fit and Sizing
My situation at the beginning of the season was less than ideal for fitting new boots—I had neither the time nor means to get to a trusted boot fitter. Because of that and the fact I would still be skiing often, I opted to size up to a 25.5 rather than wear my usual 24.5, which typically requires some punching out in the toe box. I knew the 25.5 was going to be a little roomy, but a slightly decreased feel on snow and blisters seemed the lesser of two evils over black toenails and frostbite.
About halfway through the season, I felt I had a good sense of the Shiva, but nonetheless I received some greatly appreciated boot work from the guys at Inkline Foot Science in Salt Lake City.
An assessment at Inkline concluded that I have a very narrow, low-volume foot with a long and shallow arch. Conversely, I have a high-volume ankle and calf, and I was told that my foot shape would actually work nicely in a fair number of boots.
During the shell fit, it was immediately clear that the 25.5 Shiva would be a comfort fit rather than a performance fit, as I had the space of about two fingers between my heel and the back of the boot. (A performance fit, on the other hand, would measure less than the width of one finger.) Despite being large on me, in general, the shape of the shell is a big bucket fit. With my toes touching the front, I had a little space in my outstep and what felt like a lot of space in my instep. Before any work was done, I had no uncomfortable rubbing or pressure points while skiing.
The Women’s Power Fit liner is “Thermoformable,” which I did not have the opportunity to do, but I would highly recommend it for a more precise fit. When the liners were tightened with the Boa system, my toes touched the front of the boot but weren’t squished, and I had a little wiggle room in the heel pocket, though my heels stayed locked in up through the ankle.
The guys at the shop were not that impressed with the quality of the Power Fit liner, and I think that given another season on the Shiva, I would opt for a custom liner for the added comfort and performance. The liner is made of Cordura, which historically has issues with stretching and can make accurate molding more difficult. Although the liner felt dense and a little bulky, it wasn’t uncomfortable, and I still liked the way the boot skied. Additionally, the liner has an articulated “flex zone” above the heel for smoother touring.
My one other concern would be the liner’s durability. After only ten days of touring on the Shiva this season, I haven’t experienced any problems with wear and tear yet. However, Iris Neary mentions in her review of the SCARPA Gea that after 40 days of touring on the Shiva, the heel of the liner had completely worn through to the plastic. Her Gea liner, on the other hand, has had no durability issues.
Additional Modifications and Features
As I mentioned before, because of my lack of access to a boot fitter, I skied the first part of the season on the Shiva straight out of the box, without any adjustments other than my custom footbed. Because the boots were too big, I dealt with some issues that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been a problem. I will touch on those briefly, but mostly make an assessment of the Shiva based on my days after I got the boots worked on.
Prior to any work, the Shiva felt really comfortable—which isn’t the sign of a properly fitting boot. My toes didn’t feel crunched, and I could move my heel up and down a little. In order to fix this problem, one one-eighth shim was inserted in the shell, and L pads were attached to both sides of the liner above the heel to fill volume. After these modifications and the addition of a Booster Strap (the stock power strap was flimsy), the Shiva felt significantly more dialed.
I was happy with most of the additional features on the Shiva. I usually have issues breaking buckles, but after this season (though shorter than usual), all have survived. The switch on the back between ski and walk mode is low profile and easy to work with mittens on in the cold. The audible “click” back into ski mode never ceases to be a reassuring sound before dropping into a line. I haven’t experienced any issues with the Boa system, yet while it is easy to use, it does feel tedious at times. I only worry that it would take an inconveniently long time to replace if it did break.
The Shiva also comes with alpine soles that function in traditional alpine bindings and frame-style AT bindings, such as the Marker Duke or Salomon Guardian, etc. AT soles are also available separately, which have tech inserts.