I don’t know if it is because here in the Tetons we often have a lot of flat-ish terrain to cover before we really start skinning uphill, but I’ve really become a fan of a large range of motion in the cuffs of my AT boots. I often ski wearing Dynafit TLT5 Performance boots, which have a huge ROM in the cuff and a great walk mode, but can lack a bit when your are driving a bigger ski (like a BD Megawatt) or really want to shred and haul ass. I usually look to a beefier boot, the Black Diamond Quadrant, when I want to ski more aggressively, or drive bigger skis in the backcountry. They have a decent walk-mode, which gets better with use, but I found myself wanting more ROM in the upper cuff and removed some material in the lower shell, which increased the ROM and reduced overall resistance when in walk-mode quite a bit.
The photo above shows most of the work and I used a dremmel tool to grind down some of the plastic in multiple areas of the boot, like the plastic on the outside of the heel and rear spine area on the lower shell, and the bottom and inside of the back of the cuff and around the inside rivet. Obviously, if you put a stiff liner, like an Intuition Power Wrap, into a boot who’s shell has a lot of ROM, you are not really gonna benefit from the shell’s walk-mode. So, that is something to consider before you start hacking away at your. And to note, doing stuff like this to your boots will probably void the warranty, but the Quadrant is pretty burly and I’ve never had anything break on mine. Here are some more photos.
As you can see, I removed 1/8″ to 1/4″ of the plastic from the bottom of the cuff. I used the tapered area as a guide. I didn’t feel much need to remove plastic by the cant rivet, so I left that area alone. I also did some grinding on the outside of the heel area on the lower cuff. The first photo kind of shows this better.
This shows the area by the walk-mode spine and inside of the cuff. On the spine on the lower shell, I felt that rounding off the corners helped loosen things up, but be careful grinding where the walk-mode bar attaches to the boot, as this is an important place that you don’t want to loose strength. Removing the canting rivet helps to gain access to the inside lower section of the cuff, and it helps to look down from inside of the boot to see where things are binding up as the cuff moves backward.
I found that there was still some resistance in cuff movement after all the grinding above, and due to the shapes and curves involved, I pinpointed it to the plastic by inside cuff rivet. It was hard to do, and maybe a dremmel wasn’t the correct tool for the job, but I was able to grind off some of the green material, which seemed to loosen things up and allow the upper cuff to go through it’s full ROM a bit smoother.
Still looking to increase the efficiency of the walk-mode, I also cut off some of the plastic on the front of the lower shell, so the buckles wouldn’t hit it as the cuff moves backward. I just used a utility knife to cut the material away, and it was a little hard to tell how much to take away so the overlap part of the upper cuff didn’t fall behind the lower shell when the buckles are tightened. How it is now, and depending on how tight the cuff closure is, it occasionally falls behind the lower shell, but it’s not that big of a deal when walking/skinning, and to just realign things before you clamp everything down when you are ready to ski.
The grinds and cuts seem to have helped a lot in increasing the ROM and reduce resistance/friction between the cuff and lower shell. Some say that the efficient movement of a boot’s walk-mode, as well as a large range of motion, can often trump the weight savings of a lighter boot, and to some extend I agree.