While prowling the underbelly of the Internet, I’ve come across all manner of idiotic “Top Ten” gear recommendations, dooming whoever dares believe them to irredeemable misery. Every one of them seems to make its selections by lottery, for they all end up with a mishmash of models with only one thing in common: they can be bought on Amazon.

After a few years of scanning this sort of tripe, I thought I’d seen it all. Hah! I didn’t count on the ingenuity of Apple News to find someone capable of recommending absolutely the worst boots POSSIBLE and labelling them, the “6 Best Boots of 2023.” You simply have to follow this link – https://apple.news/Axiabo8LhS-2TpH644YNlVg – to fully appreciate the monumental stupidity and unprincipled avidity of whoever is responsible for its content.

I’ll suppose, for the moment, that you haven’t popped over to the article as yet, so I’ll swiftly summarize its contents. The four-sentence prelude takes the time to suggest this utter inanity: “Ideally, buying the same brand and manufacturer [there’s some key difference?] that you’ve rented in the past ensures a great fit.” 

That might be the stupidest sentence I’ve ever read, supposedly written by a person, whom the article identifies as Rebecca Boniface. The worst fate I can imagine for the poor rental customer, who invariably will be mis-sized, is that he or she transition to a retail boot of exactly the same fit and quality as a typical rental boot. The whole point of getting one’s own boot is so that it will be BETTER than the buckets of love that adorn the shelves of rental shops.

But wait, the advice gets much, much worse. The “writer” sagely advises to “know your shoe size,” a fact no one needs to know as your feet will be sized with a metric measurer that correlates with how all ski boots are sized. Her preparatory remarks conclude with this implausible summation of the methods that led to the discovery of the 6 best boots of 2023:  “To find you the right pair, we dug through thousands of reviews for a variety of ski boots available online.  Based on our research, these are the best ski boots you can get right now.”

It’s hard to tell from this if the author is a congenital liar, a George Santos-level fabricator or simply an amoral idiot. There is no way on heaven or earth that anyone dug through 1000’s of reviews.  How would that be possible, when 5 OF THE 6 BEST BOOTS SELECTED would never, ever, see the light of day in ANY CREDIBLE BOOT REVIEW, much less be crowned as the best in the entire market?

The “journalist” in question then compounds this insult to intelligence with her Editor’s Note, which has been italicized to emphasize its truthiness:  “The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research [a solid 10-minutes’ worth] by our team of expert product reviewers [expert in what, exactly?]. The picks are based on examining user reviews [bullshit!], product specifications [none of which these “experts” understood], and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named. [In other words, you never skied them, nor did anyone you know.]

In a mere 11 pedestrian, utterly untrue sentences, this self-described “writer” managed to mis-represent just about every subject on which she touched. And we haven’t even gotten to the boots she selected…

Five of the six “best boots of 2023,” are entry-level nothing-burgers so soft-flexing most specialty dealers wouldn’t carry them, as they are all but useless, even to beginners. I shouldn’t have to point out the unlikelihood that 5 of the 6 best boots available are bargain-basement love-buckets that will do more to retard skier development than promote it. 

Of course, they all felt great on her “expert testers;” high-volume boots like these barely touch the foot.  BTW, no expert of any kind would ever mistake any of these five boots as worthy of mention, much less adulation. But let’s complete the picture: just who are the lucky winners of this clown-suit of a review? 

Just as a tease, I’ll let you know that 5 of the 6 have a flex index of 80 or lower, and therefore are all but unskiable by an adult. How boots that all cost around $300 could outperform every boot that sells for two or three times as much – which would be nearly all of them – is truly a marvel the Editor should have pondered for, I don’t know, ten seconds?

Remember, this is the outfit that claimed to have examined 1000’s of reviews. Apparently, they understood none of them.  A goldfish could have done an equally excellent job.

So here they are, the most indifferently selected group of 6 ski boots ever assembled: the Tecnica Mach Sport HV 80, Salomon X Access 70 Wide, Salomon S/Pro HV 80 IC, Rossignol Pure Comfort 60, Rossignol Evo 70 and completely out of the blue, the Fischer RC4 The Curv GT 130 Vacuum Walk.  The Fischer could not be more out of place in this line-up of ultra-wide bottom-feeders, but why it was selected out of the dozens that could have stood in its stead I have no idea. BTW, the Editor couldn’t even copy its name down correctly, perhaps thinking that “Vacuum Walk” was a new feature for skiers who take a stroll in outer space between runs.  

I suppose there’s little harm in proposing least-common-denominator boots to dopes dim enough to buy their boots online, but do we have to claim that they’re the best boots you can buy? Aren’t there any laws against this sort of misrepresentation by “experts?” Who at Apple News will answer for this scandalous consumer abuse?

This “review” isn’t just a little off; it’s a collection of outright lies assembled to dupe the public into buying an expensive piece of footwear that will do them no good and may do them serious harm, since no one who knows what they’re doing is likely to intervene in this revolting process. 

Some of my Dear Readers may wonder why I’m squandering my precious time picking on an article that should by rights be completely ignored. Because this is our future, where “journalism” is unblushingly heading: content that isn’t just ill-informed, but maliciously predatory, from brand names that people trust at their peril. This is one of the many reasons I continue to champion the embattled specialty ski shop, where at least there’s a decent chance you’ll hear the truth and have the opportunity to undo the egregious errors engendered by this sort of garbage. 

And don’t forget: the AI engine that will write tomorrow’s boot reviews will be downing this swill by the bucket, unironically absorbing it all as worthy of copying and re-issuing. Sigh.

I consider myself an eternal optimist, but it’s tough to see any light in this darkness. I’m going to close with a few words I received today from Stuart Winchester, the voice of The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast, opining on the state of online journalism:

“The state of ski media is pathetic: a once-proud niche run by professional journalists with ethics and fidelity to the art of language has been displaced by a mob of brain-dead bros who care more about being cool than tending to the masses of skiers who don’t spend their days skiing out of helicopters in Alaska. Even worse, the majority of this drivel is pay-to-play branded content disguised as journalism – say nice things about our skis/kit/mountain and we’ll give you free stuff. It’s unreadable, unwatchable, and, worst of all, boring.

And that’s the best of it. Step into the sewer and swim to the bottom, and there you’ll find the current bathroom waste that passes as ski-gear reviews. Most of it is uninformed and unhelpful at best, deceitful at worst: guiding skiers to skis that in no way match their ability or interests; reviews that betray the fact that the reviewer likely has never been in the same zip code as said skis; prompts to order ski boots on Amazon – which may be the single best way to ensure that a skier stays mediocre forever.”

Well said, Stuart. Glad to have you on the side of the angels…

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