Head has garnered an avalanche of well-earned accolades for its amazing Race and Technical skis, precipitating a rise in the brand’s fortunes at retail. Most of the athletes hoisting Head skis on a podium are also wearing Head Raptor boots, yet the magnificent Raptor has yet to catch fire with consumers to a commensurate degree.
What’s up with that? It must be due to the public’s apprehension about using a real race boot for recreational skiing, because if more advanced skiers tried them on, you’d see a lot more white boots on the hill. It’s understandable why even skilled skiers would shy away from a 140 flex, but their worst fears are unfounded. The Raptor 140 puts the skier in a perfectly balanced stance, and the fit through the steering column of the leg and rear foot is intimate and so accurately contoured that contact is felt everywhere.
The 2018 Raptor 140 eliminates two obstacles to pervasive public appeal: the liner is no longer of the minimalist, lace-up variety but a conventional – and very good –design; and the sole is ready to step into any alpine binding, rather than the thick, non-standard sole that needs to be shaved down to be skiable. It’s unlikely a skier with a narrow foot will want to expand the 96mm Raptor shell, but both it and the liner can be heat molded as required.
The Vector Evo shell borrows its stance angles from the Raptor series, but little else. The Raptor skis as if it were made from a single block of polyurethane; the Vector Evo is palpably two-piece, it cuff reasonably compliant even in a 130 flex, with a customizable liner and shell built for comfort, not for speed.
Every change in shell volume in the Head line triggers a complete change in shell construction, so the high-volume Advant Edge shell uses architecture tailored to the recreational skier. The lower shell extends into the upper cuff to help manage stance and pressure. Both shell and liner use Head’s Perfect Fit heat molding system, so even the most elephantine pedal extremity can be housed therein.
Perhaps the best feature on the Advant Edge and Vector Evo models is Head’s unique Double Power lever that’s so neatly integrated in the cuff buckles you hardly notice it. Until you need to use it, when the extra leverage it applies makes even the tightest setting easy to close.