Over most of Head’s storied history as a ski brand, lighter weight hasn’t exactly been top of mind. They’ve been better known for building battleships as opposed to skiffs. Two pivotal shifts, one global and one local, has made lightweight design a priority, if not the priority, at Head today. The global trend is to make all consumer goods lighter, across all categories, a phenomenon we refer to as Lighter is Better, or LIB. The local event was Head’s license to use Graphene, first manifest in its ski line with the debut of the women’s Joy series four years ago.
Graphene, which is carbon in a one-atom thick matrix, was bound to find its way into Head boots, as indeed it has with the new Nexo Lyt, the most thoroughly transformed of the new generation of lighter weight shells. By “transformed,” I mean not just dependent on material change to deliver improved behavior, or even to expect lighter mass to be of sufficient benefit by itself, but using lighter materials as an opportunity to change how a seemingly conventional boot (i.e., 4-buckle overlap, standard 4o/14o stance angles) reads and interacts with the snow.
If the new wave of lightweight shells is to bridge the gap between novelty and necessity, it will be because of designs like Nexo Lyt. The Graphene-infused Smart Frame shell is sculpted so it can absorb shock (to some degree) and generate rebound (to a greater degree). The sensation of snow feel is as intimate as wearing a moccasin. The quickness to the edge is fencer fast.
The 100mm (medium) last is close fitting out of the box, which is essential to its quickness and accuracy. If the fit around the heel and ankle should relax over time, a viscous fluid, called Liquid Fit, can be injected into an internal pouch that circumnavigates this area. Head doesn’t promote Liquid Fit as a point of sale necessity but a fit-refreshing technology. Able to be extracted as well as injected, Liquid Fit is a nifty fit option that will prove beneficial to all skier abilities.
If any other shell or liner modifications (“mods” in bootfitter patois) are required, the Nexo Lyt shell is also heat moldable. Another standard feature is Grip Walk soles, which you’ll be thankful for the next time you face a long parking lot traverse. These embellishments are also standard on a new, more traditional 4-buckle, 98mm-last boot, the Vector RS. Also outfitted with Liquid Fit, the Vector RS’s offer a more cushioned, buffered fit environment than Nexo-Lyt. Freed from LIB orthodoxy, the Vector RS deploys ultra-clever Double Power levers in the cuff buckles for added cinching power.
Now that Head is comfortably LIB-centric, it has brought its collective imagination to bear on two categories where lightness has always counted, backcountry and women’s boots. I won’t delve into details on the new Kore BC boot as it lies outside our scope; suffice it to say, imagine a Nexo Lyt, only more so.
Head’s women’s boot collection definitely benefits from the trans-gender (old-fashioned meaning) focus on lighter weight. Nexo Lyt and Vector RS offer parallel lines of women’s boots with adjustable cuff aperture and inherently snugger heel pocket. Liquid Fit, working in unison with stretchable Form Fit shells, has particular value for women with low-volume feet who don’t want to absorb the shock of an injected inner boot’s price tag.
Nexo Lyt and Vector RS are meant to serve the mass of humanity that occupies the middle of the ski market. To coddle the divergent needs of those at either extreme, Head offers the Raptor series for racers and their ilk and Advant Edge for those who occupy the nether rungs on the ability ladder.
Both the Raptor and Advant Edge designs are supremely well adapted to their intended targets. You don’t even have to buckle a Raptor to know it will hold you in its velvet vise no matter how rough the road ahead. The returning Advant Edge models are all equipped with Grip Walk soles and a host of other design elements that subtly assist the less skilled at becoming more adept.