Rear Entry Boots For Comfort And Convenience.

Full Tilt boots: comfort, warmth, convenience.
Full Tilt boots: comfort, warmth, convenience.

If you bring up the subject of ski boots among senior skiers, you’re bound to hear someone lament the demise of rear-entry boots or praise the old Raichle Full Flex boots (AKA Flexon Comps). Today when some oldsters need boot horns to get into their ski boots and boot jacks to remove them, these defunct models have a nostalgic appeal.

Rear-entry boots pivoted open from a center point to provide a wide space to insert the foot, while Flexon Comps had a tongue that hinged forward, with wires and clamps to secure them. Neither style won much appeal from ski racers, and instructors talked recreational skiers out of using them, presumably because they were not judged sufficiently stable.

True, Bill Johnson won his downhill gold medal in the 1984 Winter Olympics wearing Flexon Comps, but that wasn’t enough to save the pattern. By 1999 both models were gone.

Some devotees stockpiled the boots. Others turned to thrift shops and Ebay for boots or parts to keep them going. For most skiers these old comfort boots seemed to be gone forever.

Enter Full Tilt boots! Someone had the good sense to buy the original Raichle molds, improve the dynamics of the older models, and re-launch them in the mid 2000s. I never see Full Tilts reviewed or advertised in ski magazines, but you can find all their current boots online at www.FullTiltBoots.com and locate a dealer.

My wife and I own two pair of Full Tilts each and find them comfortable, warm and convenient. My older pair are the original black-and-yellow “Bumble Bee” style, and they even have “Flexon Comp” molded into the back side of the tongue. Nowadays they come in a variety of attractive colors and designs and are popular with freestyle skiers and other hotshots.

Once we met a group of young ladies from a college in Vermont training for freestyle at Brighton, Utah who all wore Full Tilts, so we posed with them for a picture—Grandpa and Grandma flanking the kids, all in colorful boots.

Full Tilt boots have heat moldable liners that wrap around and conform to the shape of your foot. A dealer will heat and fit the boots properly, or you can just warm them with a hair dryer and wear them around the house to get a good fit.

The boots come with a user manual detailing adjustments for liners, cables, buckles and tongues (all replaceable) for setting the forward lean or canting. We’ve never had to make such micro-adjustments; the only changes I’ve made are replacing the exterior heel pads secured by two screws about once a season.

Prices for Full Tilts are comparable to other modern ski boots, but—as with most ski gear—if you look online or check local shops off-season you can usually find some on sale.

I was on a gondola once at Sun Valley with a couple wearing Flexon Comps. I stuck out my Full Tilts for a comparison photo—comfort ski boots, old and new. You gotta love it, seniors!

12 Comments

  1. Another boot to look at is Apex. Basically a 2 part setup. The boot itself is like a snowboarder boot. Comfortable and easy to get in, adjust, and walk in. A step into exo-skeleton provides the stiff structure needed by alpine skis.

    • The Apex boot is indeed comfortable to get in, adjust, and walk in. Unfortunately for me, the performance trade-off wasn’t worth it as they were quite soft fore-aft and not really precise laterally. They are also quite heavy. I finally abandoned them and had a Fischer Vacuum boot molded which, IMO, is worth the trade off between ease of entry and performance.

  2. Very accurate article. The original Flexon Comp was widely used by downhill racers prior to Bill Johnson’s win. Used only in speed events because of their ability to absorb terrain changes at high speed while racer could maintain his tuck position. Very easy entry and exit for senior skiers.

  3. Avatar Jim Greenleaf says:

    Another boot with the same flexible tongue design is the Dalbello Cabrio series – 9 boots ranging from beginner all mountain to pro freeski. Very comfortable

  4. Thank you very much Jim Greenleaf for the tip. I went out and bought a pair of Dalbello Panterra 100 Cabrio series boots. $399. I know from my past experiences from trying on many brands that Dalbello is about the only one that gives me good calf clearance. I wanted to stick with them. They work great in the store for easy entry. Cant wait to try them out on the slopes.

  5. Avatar Larry stevenson says:

    I am a skier and snow sports enthusiast.

  6. Avatar Rex Cochran says:

    I am a Senior skier and in recent years have kept a small travel can of Johnson Baby Powder in my boot bag…I apply it to my socks and the inside of my boots, the powder helps with putting on my boots and the socks seem to slide on the powder. I use a pair of 3 buckle boots.
    Works for me.

  7. You will be surprised that a sturdy plastic bag placed in the rear of the boot helps slide your heel in while pulling the bag out simultaneously.

  8. Avatar Norm Reynolds says:

    I used to put grocery bags on my feet to slide into the boots, which actually works OK. I recently discovered scuba socks, thin slippery socks made for pulling on wetsuits, and they work even better. Get them at dive shops.

  9. Check out the Boot Horn. Works for me putting on Langes.

  10. Way better than plastic bags. Costs around $12. The trick also is pull the boot open by pulling the tounge to the side. Boot Horn continued.

  11. Avatar Larry Stevenson says:

    I purchased full tilt boots and love them. The boots are easy to put on and take off. After reading about Full Tilt boots on this web site I found a dealer in Mt. Shasta, Ca. My home town and bought them. They are easy to adjust and the most comfortable boot I have worn. I would buy another pair.

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