Tecnica is much more than just a boot company, although to the boot buying public appearances remain unchanged. Tecnica’s alpine boot line remains a classic amalgam of narrow to wide lasts, with the obligatory option of boots with a hike mode (HM). What most skiers don’t know is that the folks behind Tecnica also own Nordica, a brand with its own storied history as a market leader, and Blizzard, a ski brand so hot it can’t keep its award-winning all-mountain skis in stock.

All of which is of little consequence to you unless you’re a stockholder in the Tecnica Group. As a boot buyer, all you need to remember is that Tecnica’s line is comprised of classic overlap, anatomically accurate 4-buckle shells in three different lasts and a full line of hike-mode boots that underwent a thorough re-design last year.

The Cochise 130, flagship of the HM series, is a 4-buckle boot with a readily modified Custom Adaptive Shape (C.A.S.) liner and shell. The Cochise 130 is one of the few ski boots with an alpine norm sole incorporating low-tech inserts for use with a backcountry binding. This feature, along with its more accurate 99mm last and supportive inner boot, gives the Cochise 130 its uncompromised ski-ability. The stock sole can be replaced with a rockered touring sole if so desired.

Most significantly from a performance standpoint, the Cochise shell material isn’t polypropylene, Grilamid or some other less sturdy stuff, but high-grade polyether (PE) in a bi-injection that makes the sole and spine 2.5 times stiffer despite shell walls that are 30% thinner. This results in a boot weighing less than 2000g with the steering properties of a World Cup race clone.

One of the battleground issues in any serious HM boot is range of motion (ROM), or how far the unlatched cuff will allow the lower leg to travel in stride. Tecnica contends that the issue isn’t simply how far rearward the rear spoiler can rotate, but achieving a balance between fore and aft movement. Working with their stable of athletes, Tecnica arrived at two inescapable conclusions: 1) world-class athletes demand an equally elite level of support in their touring boots and don’t care to settle for less, and 2) on steep inclines, forward ROM is every bit as important as rearward ROM.

Since the new Cochise didn’t have to share its shell or cuff molds with other models, special accommodations could be made to address the number one criterion of all gear that will be worn far, far from home: it must not fail. The one element in a touring boot that can’t degrade or disappear is the hinge rivet, so Tecnica eliminated it. Instead of a squashed rivet that can impinge cuff travel, Tecnica molded a post into the lower shell for the cuff to fit around. This creates a more solid connection with no teeth or fittings to wear out. Don’t worry that the cuff can’t be canted, as it won’t matter in most Tech bindings and in the alpine arena of DIN soles and standard bindings, Cantology™ shims will suffice in most cases.

As we’re on the subject of soles, I should italicize a Cochise anomaly: the men’s 130 and 120 and women’s 105 W come with a DIN sole and Dynafit-certified Tech inserts. This is a very cool set-up for the resort skier with only an occasional sidecountry scratch to itch. A rockered touring sole (ISO9523) kit is available for those intending to do more long-haul hiking.

At the end of the day, the 2018 Cochise is more an all-mountain boot with a hike mode than a touring boot with in-bounds chops. Perhaps the best way to approach the Cochise clan is as a fit alternative, particularly as pertains to the rest of the Tecnica line. The Mach 1 LV is on the tight side of the fit scale; the Mach 1 MV is a bit relaxed for a 100mm last. The Cochise slips in between the two, providing a 99mm last that is snug where it needs to be and easily opened up by a competent bootfitter using C.A.S. features to relieve pressure points.

Also returning to the Tecnica fold are its benchmark in-bounds performance models, Mach 1 LV for low-volume feet and Mach 1 MV for the mid-sized. Both boot families use the same features and components and are offered at parallel price points. Also returning are the more voluminous Ten.2 models for both men and women.

If there’s one feature that defines the new Tecnica – little is left of the line of 3 years ago – it’s C.A.S., for it’s the glue that provides the primordial connection between ski, shell, liner and skier that determines the success of any ski experience.

In a market besotted by heat molding, Tecnica sticks to its own customization methods for a very simple, yet compelling reason: their boots ski great just as they are. The fit process may be different, but the results are hard to ignore: the Mach 1 and Cochise are undeniably among the best boots in their respective categories.

The big news for 2018 is a significant re-design of the women’s Mach 1 models, a direct result of Tecnica’s Women to Women campaign. The major changes are to the C.A.S. inner boot, the upper cuff and stance position. The women’s C.A.S. liner is softer, to improve initial fit impression and lined with Merino wool, which is cooling when it’s hot out and super insulating when it’s cold. To improve circulation and blood flow, all Mach 1 W liners feature a Celliant® and Lambswool blend. Celliant is a bi-component fabric that converts body heat into infrared energy, which in turn enhances circulation and oxygen delivery.

The upper cuff, where women’s calves are often pinched or left to flop around in an overly flared opening, is an area of particular attention on the new Mach 1 W series. C.A.S. Cuff Adapter remolds the top of the spoiler and liner cuff in a 6-minute heating process that can open the calf volume by 10% or shut it down by 5%. Having this broad range of adaptation is a major benefit for the large percentage of the female population that has trouble fitting this area accurately.

Research conducted with Cerism University Research Center found that women ski in better balance when at a well-supported 12o stance angle, so the new Mach 1 W’s spines are 3mm taller and set to this natural stance position.

The one part of your boots you have to use every day are the buckles, and Tecnica has one of the best buckle features, Lift Lock. After unbuckling, Lift Lock buckles move out of the way and stay out of the way so they won’t accidentally re-latch when you’re trying to get your boots off. Nice touch.