No other boot brand has done more with the 3-piece, external-tongue shell design than Dalbello. Dalbello didn’t just copy the Raichle design they adopted; they improved on it. They optimized its performance properties by playing up its strengths: a stout spine and sidewall construction extending from the lower shell; correct pivot location, a key element in this design’s successful execution; and a ribbed external tongue to manage flex and forward energy transmission.

From a performance standpoint, the brilliance of the 3-piece “cabrio” design is the way it blends lightning lateral reaction with a progressive flex that’s well suited to handling the shocks of off-piste skiing at speed. If this doesn’t sound like your kind of skiing, fear not: Dalbello makes several very different flavors using the 3-piece shell as the foundation, from super cushy ladies’ slippers to rugged Alpine Touring iterations, in fits that range from tugboat wide to daringly close-fitting.

Dalbello would have a complete collection if they stopped there, but they also have an end-to-end line-up of four-buckle overlap shells for all-mountain skiing, a race boot series and a catalog of kids’ boots that sell like candy. The overall line accommodates so many foot shapes in so many different shell structures, it’s meaningless to say, “I like how Dalbellos fit.” With Dalbello, you have to be very specific about which shell and liner combo intrigues you, for they cover so many distinctively different fit environments and performance attributes.

Almost every model in the 2018 line incorporates some degree of customization. The majority feature MyFit, Dalbello’s umbrella term for boots that include among their attributes a heat-moldable shell. (Note that any polyamide (PA) external tongue won’t be affected by heating.) Any MyFit shell includes either a partially moldable inner boot (Instant Fit) or a 100% moldable EVA liner (Intuition Dalbello).

Dalbello’s take on heat molding is that it’s a fallback position when its already well-mapped boots aren’t comfortable right off the shelf, but it never hurts to cook shells and liners a tad to accelerate break-in and ensure a blissful first day. The MyFit package of heatable shells and liners are found across the high end of Dalbello’s 2-piece, four buckle boots and its signature 3-piece, 3-buckle cabrio models.

Last season Dalbello offered its signature (98mm) Krypton shell in a medium, 100mm last, introducing the 120 AX and 110 AX, either with or without an ID liner. This season, the Lupo series of Kryptons with a hike mode (HM) receive the same treatment, adding the Lupo AX 120, AX 115 and AX 110 W for women. Women with short but wide feet – you know who you are and hard it is for you to find anything that fits – should note that the Lupo AX 110 W goes down to size 21.

New to the 2-piece, 4-buckle DRS series of overlap shells are lower cuff versions made for women, the DRS 90 LC and DRS 80 LC. The women’s DRS boots are also 98mm lasts with PU cuffs and shells.

The series with the elemental changes for 2018 is Panterra, a HM boot that shed 25% of its weight over the summer. The new Panterra shells remain the only 3-piece Dalbellos with an accommodation for forefoot width built into the first of its four buckles, opening the area up from 100mm to 102mm. The ID liner is standard equipment on the Panterra 130 and optional on the 120. The 100 and 90 also use the new, lighter shell material; a variation of the 90 comes with a GripWalk sole installed. The returning Panterra MX 100, 90 and 80 models use a 103mm last for wider feet.

Many 2018 models with regular DIN replaceable toe and heel pads can be retrofit with a heavy-tread, rockered Gripwalk sole that meets the ISO standard for AT boots, making it easier to walk even if you’re not an actual hiker.

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