A decade 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 Mach1 series, boots made for high performance recreational skiing and the technicians who fit them. If there’s one feature that defines the new Tecnica, 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 has by and large stuck 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 Mach1 and Cochise are undeniably among the best boots in their respective categories.
Two years ago, Tecnica concocted a means of distorting the carbon fiber in the upper cuff of a new C.A.S. design made specifically for women. By bringing adaptability to the one feature that defines a women’s boot, cuff height, Tecnica is able to raise the rear spoiler height and increase its forward lean on its top Mach1 W models. This brilliant, contrarian move instantly elevated Tecnica’s entries in the women’s high performance market. For 2022, the Mach1 LV W is embellished with T.Drive on its Pro and 105 models.
Last season, Tecnica updated the medium-volume Mach1 MV with what has become the Mach1 collection’s signature feature: T-Drive, a link attached to the spine that connects the lower shell and cuff. For 2022, T-Drive’s bundle of benefits has been applied to the narrow-lasted Mach1 LV family. T-Drive manages both how and to what degree the boot flexes while minimizing the usual shell deformation by 20%.
For most experts who prefer a race-quality fit, the new Mach1 LV 130 is more than enough boot. But if you were raised in race boots, there’s something they deliver no other boots quite manage to. Maybe I suggest a Firebird R, a series that fits in between the race department Firebird WC series and the Mach1 LV. In a word, they’re immaculate. The Firebird R140 has all the goodies you get with a true race boot, without the discomforts. It has a solid sole (that you don’t have to grind to fit in a binding), lace-up liner, 96mm last, polyether shell and, of course, that 140 flex index. Even if you’re a really good skier, this may sound like more boot than you need. Trust me, it’s not.
Not to minimize the merits of the new Mach1 LV 130, but the big news at Tecnica this year is the rejuvenation of its hybrid, hike-mode models, the Cochise collection. A new, more anatomically accurate last allows the Cochise to shed 10-15% in total weight while continuing to use a PU shell that is superior in several ways to the nylons that predominate in the hiking realm.
The biggest advantage Cochise models have over the usual hiking fare is they ski better. There’s nothing second-rate about the Cochise’s climbing properties, but it’s the downhill performance that sets it apart. The medial shell wall is thicker than the exterior panel, for more power to the edge, an enhancement most other hike-mode models eschew.
Among the new Cochise design’s bundle of benefits is a new hike-mode mechanism called T.Ride. Neatly integrated into the spine, T.Ride’s long lever arm adds strength and power, and the ability to lock-out the hike mode during descent provides an added measure of security for the aggro skier who didn’t climb to the top just to poke his or her way down.