(We talked a bit about the backstory of these boots with Hoji on this episode of the Blister Podcast.)
The new boot will come in four varieties: the Hoji PX, the stiffer and lighter Hoji Pro Tour, and women’s versions of both boots.
The Hoji Pro Tour is made from Grilamid, and has a fiber-reinforced cuff and spoiler.
The Hoji PX is made entirely from Pebax.
And in our new GEAR:30 podcast, Eric Hjorleifson also makes mention of a “Limited Edition” version of the Hoji — check out the podcast at 18:07 to hear more about that, and you can hear him talk about all aspects of these in our conversation.
TOPICS & TIMES:
- Welcome to our new GEAR:30 podcast (0:00)
- When and where the idea of Blister was born (1:10)
- What were the design aims of this boot, and what is unique about it? (2:52)
- The “PDA” design of this boot (15:42)
- The various iterations of the “Hoji” boot (18:07)
- Weight of the Hoji (23:32)
- The width of the boot + Hoji’s sizing recommendations (27:18)
- Fit of the Hoji Pro Tour vs. Fit of the Dynafit Vulcan (31:15)
- The buckles & ankle retention (35:30)
- Crampon Compatibility (39:58)
- Range of Motion – Forward & Rearward (42:05)
- Durability – Bushings & Cables (44:33)
- Hoji’s approach to boot testing (53:20)
- Where would you locate the Hoji among the Vulcan, Beast, and TLT 7? (1:00:15)
- Where would you locate the Hoji among non-Dynafit boots? (1:02:31)
- Flex of the boot (1:07:17)
- Why Eric thinks you should try skiing with your boots unbuckled (1:12:58)
- Any plans to work on a new AT binding? (1:16:05)
More on the Hoji boots from Blister editor, Sam Shaheen:
The most interesting feature of these boots is probably the “Hoji Lock” ski/walk mode that was designed to produce a low-friction walk mode and create a large range-of-motion while maintaining a strong, progressive flex in downhill mode — all with a minimal fiddle factor during transitions. Eric Hjorleifson and Fritz Barthel have been working on this particular mechanism for more than 3 years. Check out this video:
According to Dynafit, the Hoji Pro Tour is being positioned pretty directly in the same category as the Scarpa Maestrale RS, but to help locate this boot, here are comparisons to some other boots that occupy at least a somewhat similar space in the category:
Hoji Pro Tour
Stated flex: See note below
Stated last: 103.5 mm (size 27.5)
Stated ROM: 55°
Stated weight: 1450 g (size 27.5 / BSL:300)
Scarpa Maestrale RS
Stated flex: 130
Stated last: 101 mm
Stated ROM: 60°
Measured Weight: 1318 & 1323 g (size 25 / BSL: 288 mm)
Salomon S/Lab MTN
Stated flex: 120
Stated last: 98 mm
Stated ROM: 47°
Measured Weight: 1545 & 1549 g (size 26.5 / BSL: 301 mm)
Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130
Stated flex: 130
Stated last: 98 – ~104 mm (can expand in the forefoot)
Stated ROM: 54°
Measured Weight: 1410 & 1419 g (size 26.5 / BSL: 302 mm)
Tecnica Zero G Guide Pro
Stated flex: 130
Stated last: 99 mm
Stated ROM: 44°
Measured Weight: 1555 & 1558 g (size 27.5)
Dynafit is not publishing a stated flex rating for the Hoji PX or Pro Tour at this time.
However, I tried on the Pro Tour a few weeks ago, and can provide some initial input. The flex of the Hoji Pro Tour felt solid and pretty progressive. It didn’t feel quite as stiff as the Salomon S/Lab MTN, but it had a very similar stiffness to the new Scarpa Maestrale RS — while feeling a bit more substantial and sturdy than the Maestrale RS. We can’t be certain of this at this time, but I expect the PX version will be incrementally softer.
The fit of the Hoji definitely feels wider in the forefoot than each of the above boots, so it could be worth a look for those folks with wider feet. For my foot, I also felt like it had a very anatomical heel pocket with good retention. And the toe box felt very comfy and roomy.
The important caveat here is that I tried on a pre-production boot in a warm room with a liner that was molded to Eric Hjorleifson’s foot, so these notes re: fit are extremely preliminary, and we’ll be saying more once we start putting time in the boot.
Ski / Walk Mode
The “Hoji Lock” system uses a solid lever that flips up for walk and down for ski mode. A series of cables tightens and loosens the power strap and upper buckle when you switch modes. This mechanism is mechanically solid with almost zero play, and could, theoretically, eliminate some buckle fiddling during transitions.
The buckles seem well designed with features to keep them quiet while touring and locked in place for the descent. The boot seems well thought out and designed.
According to Dynafit, the Hoji boots are compatible with semi-automatic crampons, and there is a new ultralight aluminum crampon from Salewa that is compatible with this boot called the Cramp-In. At a stated weight of just 260 g, this is a feather light crampon. We don’t have many details about the crampon or how it attaches to the boot, but we are eager to check it out.
Bottom Line (For Now)
The Hoji Pro Tour isn’t going to be the burliest 130-flex touring boot out there. It is designed for a more general appeal — but that’s not a bad thing. Most of us aren’t skiing at mach speed and / or hucking everything in sight in the backcountry anyway. A wider lasted boot with a solid, reliable design, and improved ease of use that skis as well as other boots in its class will be a welcome addition to the market. We’re excited to ski it this winter — stay tuned for our full review.