Size: 27.5 / 315mm Boot Sole Length
Stated Flex Rating: progressive up to 135
About My Feet: Bony, with excessive forefoot and heel pronation (corrected to a more neutral, stable position with custom footbed). Pretty normal, medium-height instep. B-width, but with pressure imparted on 6th toe area.
Reference Boots: Full Tilt Krypton, Salomon Falcon Pro CS
Days Tested: 23
Last season, Nordica came out with the 3-buckle Fire Arrow series of boots, and we found two reasons to be interested in the stiffest boot in the line, the Fire Arrow F1.
First, Nordica’s marketing presents an interesting approach to the 3-piece genre:
“The Fire Arrow boot is a completely new design built to meet the needs of modern skiers who create greater lateral forces, increase inclination and ski at faster speeds. The Fire Arrow boots address these new demands with an entirely new shell design to enhance lateral precision, progressive forward flex creating easier ankle articulation and a 45 degree closure system for maximum heel retention.”
The Fire Arrow’s design involves a carbon fiber reinforced boot board (which they call EDT—Efficient Dynamic Technology) adopted from Nordica’s Doberman line. The boot board is screwed into the lower shell in order to increase torsional stiffness and maintain the best transfer of energy and feedback into the ski. The lower shell of the boot is also extended much farther up into an already more upright cuff than a traditional 4-buckle boot, in order to increase lateral response.
The F1’s design sounds very reasonable and is intriguing in itself, but with a purportedly stiff 135 flex rating, we also couldn’t ignore an apparent likeness to the decidedly big-mountain/freeride-focused Dalbello Krypton and Full Tilt Konflict (even though Nordica groups the Fire Arrow in its all-mountain line), which also claim a stiff, smooth progressive flex. The F1’s allegedly stiff flex and 100mm last had us wondering if the boot might bring the same performance and feel of the narrower 3-buckle Krypton and Konflict (built with 98mm and 99mm lasts, respectively) to skiers with wider feet.
I’ve owned Full Tilt Konflicts, and while I loved the smoother progressive flex and rebound over a traditional 4-buckle boot, the width wasn’t enough to comfortably accommodate a prominent 6th toe (without some serious punching), and the boot’s cuff design and placement of the topmost buckle caused some serious inflammation of the peroneous longus muscle on the outside of the lower leg (a problem I’ve known others to have with Full Tilts).
So I’ll try to address two primary questions: (1) does the F1 seem to deliver the special lateral response and great 3-buckle heel hold that Nordica claims, and (2) how does it compare to Full Tilt and KR2 3-buckle boots?
Before getting into the boot’s performance, I’ll first say some things about the fit of the F1 and its stock liner.