Why Strolz ski boots from Lech in Austria, with their foam-fitting technology, are worth the money – and the wait.
A version of this article first appeared in the Financial Times of 23 October 2004 under the title “Sole Mates”.
They may be pricey, but Robert Pimm finds some boots were just made for skiing.
Financial Times, October 23 2004
In the basement of Sporthaus Strolz, a man and a woman stand at a bar in a state of immobility, their feet are clamped into ski-boots filled with slow-setting liquid foam.
“How much longer will this take?” the man growls at a waiter.
“About ten minutes longer.”
“Bring me another schnapps.”
The family-owned firm of Strolz, based in the Austrian resort of Lech, is famed for its custom-made ski boots. But are they’re also known for a hefty price-tag and a foaming process for which you have to stand still for 30-60 minutes.
“Some people resist foam fitting because they’ve heard horror stories,” says Jay Cowan, a former ski instructor from Snowmass, Colorado, who once described the process as ‘feeling like a truck has parked on your feet’. “But it’s not that bad. They ply you with alcohol to distract you.”
“It’s true the foam exerts some pressure,” says Daniel Strolz, President of the company and the third generation to run the business since 1921. “But it’s less painful than a sore foot.”
Everywhere in Strolz’s wood-panelled fitting rooms, feet are being measured and analysed. Boots are custom-made on the basis of an initial consultation, during which feet are measured for footprint and volume. At the second consultation the hand-crafted leather inner boot is fitted, and the foaming takes place. Around 12 hours later, the boots are ready for use.
“A lot of boots fit in the shop, then don’t feel right on the slopes,” Jay Cowan says. “My Strolz boots were good the first time I took them out, it was a revelation. Since then, I’ve worn them for over 200 days of ski-ing. I think they’re tremendous.”
Back on the mountain, I ask my ski instructor Robert whether he’d recommend Strolz boots.
“Well,” he says, “they’re expensive. But if you can afford them, they’re worth it.”
He looks at my ancient Dachsteins and grins. “Of course, if the boots you have are comfortable, there’s really no need to change them.”
Strolz Ski Boots cost €529, regardless of model, plus €79-119 for the recommended foot-supporting sport insoles. The consultations are usually arranged on the afternoon of one day and the morning of the next, but can be squeezed into the morning and afternoon of the same day.
Strolz, s.Hd Frau Annelies Bernsteiner, A-6764 Lech 116, Austria. Tel: +43 5583 2361-0, web-site: www.strolz.at
If you’d like to read other articles about ski-ing in Lech, see What is so special about ski-ing in Lech (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site) or Ski-ing with a guide: where even experts fear to tread.