Shrewd Moves: Boots

Shrewd Moves C

Still shocked by high sticker prices in the September Buyer's Guide? Remember, what you pay at a ski shop will be 5 to 25 percent less than Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), which are listed below, along with ski dimensions. Discounts go deepest after Christmas. But you can't wait, so here are SKI editors' picks for great gear deals of 2000-01. With skis, it's a relatively easy task in the age of super-sidecuts: They're all great compared to anything built five years ago. That's harder to say about boots, but three easy picks emerge from this year's medalists. In each case, we divided a product's performance rating by its MSRP to find the gear that yields the very best bang for the buck¿gear that let's you enjoy performance, knowing you've saved a bundle. Note: Reviews include MSRP, Tip-waist-tail widths in mm and range of lengths available in cm.

Tecnica RX Ultrafit
All-Mountain Expert/Freerider
The last thing you want from a boot is a hard time. The RX Ultrafit understands. It serves up generous fit, easy and effective adjustments, effortless entry and exit, slick buckles and, of course, Gold Medal performance. Testers pegged it as a terrific blend of quickness and comfort for frequent skiers. And if all that doesn't clinch the deal, the price will: It's the lowest of all medal-winners in the category.

Atomic Ride 9.50 HC
All-Mountain Expert/Freerider
Atomic introduces radical new Tri-Tech designs this year, yet keeps prices low, apparently preferring market-share to long margins. It's your chance to buy into new technology on the ground floor. The 9.50 shines in the test criteria that count: Rearward Support, Forward Flex, Steering Power. Its three-piece sole reduces weight and lets the ski flex, and its toe-box offers plenty of warm wiggle-room. We predict success for the Tri-Techs. And higher prices next year. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Dalbello PRX 11
Skiers have come to expect a good deal from Dalbello, which positions itself as offering value boots. What skiers don't necessarily expect is state-of-the-art performance. But the PRX 11 delivers¿and does so in our most demanding category. It's the lowest priced¿by a long shot¿of all the Racer medal-winners, and it blends humane flex with surprising precision. In other words: performance without the pain at a price that won't hurt.