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, have 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 several 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 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, which now comes in a full range of shell lasts. 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 of the original Nexo Lyt 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. In 2021, it will be available on Raptor models for the first time.
If any other shell or liner modifications (“mods” in bootfitter patois) are required, all the Lyt shells are easily heat-moldable. Another option is the substitution of rockered, Grip Walk soles, which you’ll be thankful for the next time you face a long parking lot traverse.
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. Even though BC boots belong to a genre I rarely visit, curiosity compelled me to essay the Kore 1 when it debuted. Despite its extraordinarily featherweight design and relatively soft flex (in a 130), it remained supportive when I drove into it. Its quickness to the edge rivals that of any recreational Alpine boot.
Head’s women’s boot collection definitely benefits from the trans-gender (old-fashioned meaning) focus on lighter weight. For 2021, women have a choice of Nexo Lyt RS (98mm), Nexo Lyt (100mm) and Edge Lyt (102mm) shells in an assortment of flexes. All come equipped with Form Fit moldable shells, adjustable cuff aperture and Liquid Fit liners that are of particular value to women with low-volume feet who don’t want to absorb the shock of an injected inner boot’s price tag. New this season will be Head’s first backcountry boot for women, the Kore 2 W.