As sexy as shiny new skis are, every skier knows boots are what really make a set-up work. And, while skis change for the better every season, in the boot world, some old technology is poised to give the newest designs a run for their money. Distinctly-shaped three piece boots are reappearing on skier’s feet in a re-incarnation of the concept of the once-popular Raichle Flexon. But this time, it looks like they might be here to stay, thanks to brands like Full Tilt and Dalbello. The simple three-piece design is the result of an ingenious application of NASA technology to ski equipment. Eric Giese, a former NASA worker living in Aspen in the late 1970s, took the same concept used to make articulating joints in space suits (see also: bendy straws) and used it to create a flexible, floating ski boot tongue. One of the major draws of the design is a smoother flex, which virtually eliminates shin-bang and jolting. As the tongue flexes, it is loaded with energy and springs back without losing contact with your leg. The position of the middle buckle securely locks your heel back in the pocket. Aftermarket tongues can be switched to change the flex in a few minutes, and less plastic in the design makes for a lighter boot overall.

Three-Piece Suits

Or, how Full Tilt and Dalbello, with a little help from Seth Morrison and NASA, are bringing the sexy back to three-piece ski boots.