The Evolution and Options for Every Freeheel Enthusiast

Telemark Boots

Telemark skiing is a dynamic blend of downhill, cross-country, and touring techniques, offering skiers the flexibility to enjoy various styles without the need for changing equipment. The latest trends in telemark equipment design increasingly focus on versatility, gradually diminishing the boundaries between different skiing disciplines.

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From Cowhide to High-Tech Plastic: A Brief History of Telemark Boots

Telemark skiing, renowned for its exhilarating fusion of downhill and cross-country techniques, has seen its equipment evolve dramatically, particularly its boots. The transition from traditional cow leather to contemporary plastic boots represents a monumental leap in telemark history. Initially, telemark boots crafted from leather provided flexibility but lacked in support and protection. The introduction of plastic boots by Scarpa in 1992, however, marked a revolutionary change. These plastic boots brought enhanced support, durability, and performance, adapting to the varied demands of different skiing styles and revolutionizing the telemark experience.

The Modern Telemark Boot: A Spectrum of Choices for Every Skier

Today, telemark enthusiasts are greeted with a wide array of boot options, tailored to skiers of all skill levels and preferences. Beginners might prefer softer models with a lower flex index around 90-100, offering ease and comfort. In contrast, advanced skiers might opt for stiffer, sportier boots, boasting a flex index of 130-150, catering to more aggressive and technical skiing. A key feature of these modern boots is the thermoformable inserts, which provide custom fitting to the unique contours of each skier’s foot, enhancing overall comfort and skiing performance.


Moreover, there’s a distinct difference in the design and fit between men’s and women’s models, ensuring a personalized skiing experience. Leading telemark ski brands like Black Diamond, Scarpa, Crispi, Scott (formerly Garmont), and Alpina, are continually innovating, producing boots that are compatible with a variety of telemark bindings and skiing styles.

Old School Telemark Leather Boots: A Nod to Tradition

Despite the advancements in boot technology, old-school leather telemark boots maintain their charm among many skiing enthusiasts. Crafted from premium quality leather, these boots offered a distinct blend of comfort and flexibility, which was integral to mastering the freeheel technique. Though largely supplanted by modern plastic designs, leather boots remain a symbol of the roots of telemark skiing and continue to be favored by some for their classic aesthetics and feel.

The Traditional 75 mm Boots: A Staple in Telemark Skiing

A crucial component in the realm of telemark skiing is the traditional 75 mm boot. Recognizable by its elongated sole, often referred to as the “duckbill,” these boots are compatible with 75 mm bindings. Striking a balance between the old-world charm and modern-day needs, these boots offer enhanced support compared to their all-leather predecessors while retaining the traditional telemark feel. They remain a popular choice among skiers who cherish the classic telemark style but desire more control and stability.

NTN System Telemark Boots: A Modern Revolution

The introduction of the NTN (New Telemark Norm) system marked a significant milestone in the progression of telemark technology. Boots designed for the NTN system feature a unique sole construction, tailored to seamlessly connect with NTN bindings. This system has become increasingly popular for its superior power transfer, heightened precision, and enhanced safety features, making it a top choice for contemporary telemark skiers.

The TTS Boots (Telemark Tech System): Bridging Traditions with Technology

The TTS (Telemark Tech System) boots stand as a testament to the ongoing innovation in telemark skiing. Skillfully merging traditional telemark elements with modern alpine touring (AT) technology, these boots are distinguished by their sole design, which includes two inserts at the front for attaching to the side binding pins. This innovative design offers a more secure and responsive connection between the boot and the ski, reflecting the sport’s evolution.

Backcountry Telemark Boots: For the Off-Piste Adventurer

For those who venture beyond groomed trails, backcountry telemark boots are the ideal companions. These boots, combining leather and synthetic materials, offer the perfect mix of comfort, support, and flexibility needed for diverse backcountry terrain. They are lighter than traditional alpine or telemark boots, featuring adaptable soles and walk modes for easier uphill movement. However, their design prioritizes flexibility and comfort, which may compromise performance on challenging groomed slopes, particularly steep and icy ones. They excel in traversing snow-covered hills and undulating terrains, rather than in high-performance downhill skiing on well-prepared trails.

Embracing the Freeheel Spirit with the Right Telemark Boots

In conclusion, the journey of telemark boots from simple cowhide to advanced plastic constructions mirrors the dynamic and evolving nature of telemark skiing. With options available for racers, beginners, and general freeheel enthusiasts, the right pair of boots is crucial for an optimal skiing experience. Understanding the various boot types, from traditional and NTN to TLT systems and backcountry-focused options, is key in selecting gear that aligns with your skiing style and preferences. As you delve into the unique challenges and joys of freeheel skiing, remember that your boots are more than just equipment. They are your connection to the snow, the foundation of every turn, and an integral part of your telemark journey.

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