Six years ago, Tecnica was at a point in its evolution where it had to change. The brand still had market mojo, but the line was due for an upgrade. Once a brand decides it needs new molds, all ideas are on the table until eliminated in the R&D cage match that is product development. The usual approach is to find some nugget that was previously shelved, make some prototypes and pass them around to cognoscenti for their comments.
Tecnica took a different tack. It assembled the cognoscenti, but instead of displaying an array of half-baked possibilities, its marketing team displayed only curiosity: what should the next performance boot look like? What features should it have? How can we make it easier for bootfitters to modify it?
The result was the Mach series, boots made for high performance recreational skiing and the technicians who fit them. If there’s one feature that defines the new Tecnica – little remains of the line of 4 years ago – it’s Custom Adaptive Shape (C.A.S.), the primordial link between ski, shell, liner and skier that determines the success of any ski experience. C.A.S. isn’t just an anatomical shape, but a fit methodology and a means of modifying the liner and/or shell without impinging on its structural integrity.
In a market besotted by heat molding, Tecnica sticks to its own customization methods for a very simple, yet compelling reason: their boots ski brilliantly just as they are. The fit process may not involve an oven, but the results are hard to ignore: the Mach 1 and Cochise are undeniably among the best boots in their respective categories.
New for 2019 is Mach Sport, the performance of a Mach 1 in a 103mm (very wide) last. For years, skiers with paddle-like feet had to settle for oceanic buckets with the support of an unlaced sneaker. The litany of features bestowed on the Mach Sport models matches those intrinsic to the narrower Mach 1’s, which return this year unchanged. Women get their own high-volumes Mach Sports, with a women’s specific liner, cuff and aperture-opening system.
Last year in this space I composed a paean to Tecnica’s then new off-trail collection of Cochise models, citing every feature and elaborating on their copious benefits. (2018 Boot Reviews are archived on our member’s section for those who wish to revel in the original copy.) I won’t reiterate the lot of it, but the following snippet still pertains.
The Cochise 130 is a 4-buckle boot with a readily modified C.A.S. liner and shell. It’s 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.
While the latest Cochise is old news, the new news is Tecnica’s latest race series, Firebird WC. Think you’re hard-core? Ready for a 93mm last that would leave a mark on a No. 2 pencil? How about a flex index that goes up to 150 (with a non-DIN sole that requires grinding before use)? Or a lace-up inner boot and polyether shells and cuffs down to a 90 flex? That’s badass street cred. There are also Firebirds for future champions down to a 60 flex.
Two years ago, Tecnica significantly re-designed the women’s Mach 1 models, a direct result of Tecnica’s Women to Women campaign, a feedback loop similar to what transpired during the Mach 1’s development. The major changes were 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 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 Mach 1 W spine is taller and set to this natural stance position. Ditto the new Mach Sport W models.
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.