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, 2 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, as they span a wide range of fit environments and performance attributes.
Three stories dominated the headlines leading into the 2019/20 season: a new Panterra series, the near universal adoption of GripWalk soles and the debut of Lupo Air. The new Panterras didn’t look anything like the prior generation, despite sharing the same wide last and 3-piece shell structure. The 2020 Panterras were slimmer, sleeker and much lighter, but retained a 50-degree range of motion when in hike mode. In 2022, the Panterra series received a new, “instant fit” liner and a new tongue. All Panterras come with GripWalk soles, as do over 90% of Dalbello’s collection, including many kids’ models.
The absence of tech fittings on the Panterras tell you they’re for hiking around in-bounds; if you want to head to the backcountry, you’ll be better equipped with the new Cabrio Free, a hybrid resort/BC boot that replaces the Lupo of yesteryear. The non-hike version of the same model, the new Cabrio LV, is a low-volume, 3-piece PU shell that assumes the role played for many years by the Krypton and Chakra.
Working the same backcountry turf as the Cabrio Free is the Quantum Free, a 3-model series introduced just two seasons ago. This ultralight, polyamide composite shell isn’t made by injection, as with any PU shell, but by bonding its two halves together. Its Vibram, fully treaded and rockered sole (ISO 9523) can only be used with Alpine Touring bindings.
In 2023, Dalbello debuted a new line of medium-lasted (100mm), all-mountain, 2-piece models named Veloce, four for men and four for women. This year they’ve filled out the Veloce collection with a new 110 and 100 for men and 95 W and 85 W for women. All Veloce models use completely heat-moldable PU shells and come with a new Contour 5 liner with a more accurate fit. GripWalk soles are standard.
To lend more coherence to the total 2024 collection, the high-volume (104mm last) DS MX series of entry-level models has been rechristened Veloce Max. Returning to the line is a fleshed-out series of Il Moro models headlined by the Il Moro Pro, which receives the same significant upgrades as the Cabrio LV vis-à-vis the Krypton: a new shell mold, a new buckle system and a new liner that’s now made a few kilometers down the road from Dalbello’s factory, instead of by Intuition. The 3D Wrap liner uses three densities of foam: two different densities of eva around the foot, and a full wrap of (recycled) PU around the top of the liner for a more precise fit that moves with the skier. All these features are also invested in the new Cabrio Free hybrid hiking boot, that replaces the Lupo. (Uphill skiers can bid a fond farewell to removing the Lupo cuff for climbing; the Cabrio Free allows for a full range of motion without the cuff inhibiting travel.)
The new middle buckle on both the Il Moro and Cabrio models has been repositioned so it closes at a perfect 45o angle, and is anchored on the lower shell, not the cuff, which minimizes distortion, among other benefits. A new Dynalock locking mechanism secures the second buckle so it can’t inadvertently open during flex, and the buckle over the toe box has been flipped so it looks and behaves like the other two buckles. The net effect is better pressure distribution over the forefoot, with more of a wrapping effect and less direct pressure on the instep.
Dalbello didn’t change most aspects of their race boot series, the DRS and DRS WC, but they did swap out the old Intuition liners for new ones they make themselves. The proximity of liner production to shell production is probably most important to the race community, for whom special handling is the norm.
The junior Menace and Gaia aren’t new models, and as of last year, what they’re made of isn’t entirely new, either. Both the shells and inner boots are now made mostly from recycled materials, a significant step forward on the sustainability front.