The R3W 105 TI I.R. enters the fray for next year with an updated graphic and a tongue-style Intuition-Roxa full thermo liner to remain our test team’s favorite three-piece freeride boot. It's a svelte 99 mm three-piece (cabrio), contouring closely along the curves of the foot and lower leg and minimally padded by the custom liner to maintain a direct, connected feel with the ski. The Grilamid shell and Polyurethane cuff combine for a unique blend of light weight and strong flex feel. The hike mode's range of travel is impressive and GripWalk soles add to its easy rolling stride, testers said.
Testers say this 99 mm rides the fit fence between the medium width and narrow groups. The toebox is snug, and the shell feels very close to the navicular and ankle bones—most testers had a full liner molding on their to-do lists. The heel pocket is a bit tight, they say, but right. The calf offers a bit of relief from the squeeze, so average legs attached to slender feet will do well here. Testers noted a sharp feeling tongue against the shin, and again were hopeful that cooking and molding the tongue-style I.R. liner would put that to bed.
Uncharacteristic of most three-piece boots, testers said the flex feel is stout (stiffer than the 105 labeling) and because it starts from an upright position it required some push to find a fore-aft sweet spot. Testers liked the power that the solid cuff generated in lateral moves and said it tipped all manner of skis onto edge and held them there well. The boot's performance sweet spot is in the lateral moves, testers agreed, allowing the stiff, thin-shell-walled lower boot to feel the snow surface and sink its teeth in. Transitions between turns were lively and quick and edging response was immediate, testers said.
Testers like the collection of gadgetry here. The power strap buckle is wide and easily dialed in for tension. The 45-degree second buckle retains the foot at the instep effectively. The ski-hike cuff lock is simple to actuate, and in conjunction with a long and friction-free range of travel in hike mode, they liked the easy roll of the GripWalk soles when walking. Note that the R3W 105 TI I.R. is tech compatible, and that if a skier plans to use them with alpine bindings, be sure those are GripWalk compatible--a set of alpine DIN soles does come in the box.