Salomon’s new S/Pro 120 has been my go-to ski boot this season, and it’s been a blast to say the least. I’ve skied the S/Pro with several different skis and in a variety of snow conditions over the 30-something days I’ve spent on the mountain this year. From deep powder on my 120 mm-waist skis to ripping groomers on my narrower all-mountain sticks, I’ve sampled a bit of everything in my S/Pro ski boots.
Before we get too far into how the S/Pro performs, let’s talk about how Salomon arrived at their current design of the S/Pro. To start, Salomon assessed the best features of their popular X/Pro boot. The custom shell, liner design, and buckle arrangement were adapted to the wider S/Pro design. Next, Salomon scanned the feet of over 5,000 skiers across Europe and North America.
The accumulated design based on these scans is meant to accommodate a wide variety of foot shapes. In fact, Salomon boasts that this boot will fit 70% of Western populations, with only slight modifications required. And, thanks to Salomon’s fully heat-moldable liner and shell, you can custom fit your S/Pro boot with minimal effort.
With Salomon’s Coreframe 360° technology, the S/Pro maintains its lightweight stiffness and integrity, even after the heat molding process has taken place. Made with a combination of polyurethane, fiberglass, and Salomon’s Custom Shell HD material, this boot maintains a consistent density for excellent power transmission.
Salomon added an oversized pivot to increase power transfer between the cuff and the sole. With a larger, stiffer connection, the boot holds its shape better, avoiding the vulnerabilities that some boots have in the ankle pivot. The stiffness can also be modified with the rear flex adjuster. This insert can be oriented to boost or smooth the flex to give you versatility in varying conditions.
The ISO 5355 pre-mounted Alpine DIN soles are compatible with traditional alpine bindings, WTR bindings, and GripWalk bindings. However, this boot doesn’t feature any tech fittings, so while it has the same sole shape as some alpine touring boots, the S/Pro 120 does not have a walk mode for touring.
When compared to other boots with a flex rating of 120, I found the S/Pro is on the lighter side, at 1750 g, but it’s not the lightest boot in its class. The flex rating itself, however, I’ve found to be accurate. While some boots with a claimed flex of 120 seem less rigid than others, the S/Pro feels stiff and reliable, even in choppy, unpredictable snow. It’s also worth noting that my all-mountain skis weigh just under 1700 g each, making them very lightweight. At this weight, these skis are vulnerable to bucking and being redirected when I’m trying to charge through crud, but with the S/Pro on my feet, I feel quite confident riding a lightweight ski at speed in choppy snow.
My experience of the S/Pro may be partially contingent on the specific shape of my foot, but as stated above, this boot is very versatile and highly customizable. For me, the S/Pro is a good choice because I have a wide foot with a narrow ankle. My arch height is average, but the bridge of my foot is not exceptionally tall. In essence, I have a wide, shallow foot. The S/Pro’s last is customizable between 100 and 106 mm, which is substantially wide, but the volume of the boot is described as medium, meaning it will cater to feet that are wide but not tall. Keep in mind, though, that with the S/Pro’s custom fit, it’s not limited to one foot shape.
When I first stepped into the S/Pro, I found the fit to be snug in the toe box, which pushed my big toe into my second toe, and felt a pinching sensation around the bridge of my foot, as if my metatarsals were being squeezed together. The heel cup felt snug and secure, and I had no problem cranking down the cuff for a precise but still comfortable fit. Because I have a slim calf and ankle, I usually run the rear flex adjuster on the stiff setting, ensuring a minimal amount of movement in my lower leg.
After a day and a half skiing with the S/Pro, I took it in to get heat-molded. Afterwards, I began to feel the toe and midfoot packing in. The fit was still tight and precise, but there was less restriction and pinching in my toes and metatarsals. And, given this boot has four aluminum buckles and a 45 mm power strap, I have plenty of options to dial in a fit that adheres to the shape of my foot.
The S/Pro feels right at home on the hill. Getting into and out of these boots is really easy—especially when compared to some of the stiffer, narrower, race-style boots. I never get red-faced, wince, or grunt while putting them on or taking them off. And that in itself is something to be lauded. Standing at 12.5° of forward lean, these boots put my ski stance right where I want it to be—the ideal middle point between overly aggressive and overly relaxed. I have an easy time putting my weight over the balls of my feet where I want it to be, but I don’t feel excessive fatigue in my calves after a long day on the mountain.
With its lightweight and stiff shell, the S/Pro’s lateral responsiveness is excellent. The snappy rigidity makes it easy to get my skis—even the widest ones in my quiver—from one edge to the other very quickly, which is a vital aspect of skiing steep, technical terrain. While the lateral stiffness is ideal, the longitudinal stiffness may be slightly less so. I never feel like I’m rocking forward or back to an unsafe or uncontrollable extent, but there is slightly more longitudinal movement than lateral movement, even when the upper cuff buckles and strap are nearly maxed out. This only occurs when I monster-truck over something big, like a massive unseen mogul at high speed, but it’s still worth bringing up. As stated, though, my calves and ankles are quite skinny, which is probably also a contributing factor to the slight forward and back movement I feel. I think it’s also important to note that my heel always stays firmly planted in the heel cup—no motion ever makes it feel like it’s being lifted away from the sole.
Drawbacks and Shortcomings
Given the great experiences I’ve had with this boot, it’s a bit of a struggle for me to come up with drawbacks. But, along with the slight longitudinal movement, there are some minor shortcomings that should be stated. For one, the boot has no walk setting. This doesn’t particularly bother me, though. If it’s a long walk to the ski hill, I just leave the buckles loose so I can walk comfortably, and then tighten them up when I get to the lift.
Another factor to consider is that this boot’s stated last goes all the way up to 106 mm. And while Salomon states that they designed it by averaging the scans of over 5,000 feet, it doesn’t take a podiatrist to know that a 106 mm last is wider than average. So, if unlike me, you don’t have a particularly wide and shallow foot, you may want to consider the X/Pro series instead. Salomon’s X/Pro line has a very similar construction and is designed for the same type of skiing, but features a narrower last.
It’s my inclination that even medium-wide feet could pack the S/Pro boot in after a season or two, and eventually find that there’s more wiggle-room in the forefoot than the skier originally wanted. That said, my feet still feel plenty snug in them, and I rarely buckle past the first or second notch in the lower buckles.
As a main takeaway, Salomon’s S/Pro 120 is a very light, responsive, and capable ski boot. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s quite comfortable for how stiff it is. It may not be as light as some of the newer, ultralight alpine boots on the market, but it’s definitely a competitive fighting weight. And it features the rigid responsiveness you want to tackle steep, technical terrain. I’ve hucked some sizeable cliffs with tracked-out landings in these boots, and that’s definitely not something I would do if I didn’t feel confident in the boots on my feet. Lastly, the S/Pro 120 is very customizable. It responds really well to heat molding, and it strikes the perfect balance between contouring the shape of your foot and transferring power from movement. If you’re a moderately aggressive skier with wide feet who typically likes light boots with a 120 flex rating and a good custom fit, this is a great boot for you to consider.
By Jeff Walker, Content Writer