Hard Boot Manufacturers

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There are 3 major hard boot manufacturers for the US/Europe: DeeLuxe, Head, and UPZ/Virus. In addition, G-Style makes boots for Japan.


DeeLuxe is the brand name that continues the Raichle line of hard boots (pronounced RIGH-Clee).

The Raichle AF700 (DeeLuxe indy)
The Raichle SB423 (DeeLuxe Le Mans)

Previous to '04, the boots were sold under the Raichle name in the US, but under the DeeLuxe name everywhere else. Starting in '04, the line is sold under the DeeLuxe name worldwide. There was no difference between the DeeLuxe and Raichle boots, but the model names were different:

Raichle AF600 = DeeLuxe Suzuka
Raichle AF700 = DeeLuxe Indy
Raichle SB series = DeeLuxe Le Mans

New for 2007: DeeLuxe produced the Track line of boots, which have real buckles instead of the zip-tie plastic buckles. The toe buckle is reversed, to prevent if from opening while in a leaned-over carve. The boots are available as the Track 325 and Track 225, which reverts back to the old Raichle numbering system. In order to get the Track buckles to fit on older Raichle boots, you need to follow instructions from Starikashka. Some carvers have replaced all 4 buckles on older Raichle boots with the new Track buckles.
Shown here are the Raichle SB223. The SB series is designed for freecarving and has a lot of flex in the shell plastic.


Head bought out Blax, and starting in '01, the Head boots are a continuation of the Blax line.

The Head Stratos Pro and Head S-LTD are the high end race boots. These are basically the same with the exception of a few very minor differences. The Head boots are slightly softer than the DeeLuxe Indy, but stiffer than the Burton Wind.

The cuff on Head boots is not as tall as the cuff on either Burton or Raichle boots. However, the high end Head boots have adjustment "wings" that extend some of the cuff plastic up by an inch. The lower cuff on the Head boots makes them a candidate for a women's fit.

Head claims constant stiffness plastic over a wide temperature range.


Consumer Alert

Several carvers have experienced major hassles and delays trying to replace broken Head Stratos Pro boots under warranty. To begin with, all Head boots sell out by January, and Head does not keep extra boots around for warranty replacements. So if you break the boots in February, there are no replacements; you have to wait for the next production run in December (that is, if Head decides to continue production). In all cases, it seems that Head sends a pair of softboots as the "replacement" for the broken hard boots. Of course, that's not going to work. Typically, Head eventually replaces the boots, after major hassles. However, in one case, Head provided a replacement consisting of new old stock Head Vega boots, which are low-end hard boots, and not comparable to the Stratos Pro. When you buy Head boots from a retailer, try to get some kind of instant-replacement guaranty directly from the retailer, so that if your boots break, you can somehow get a replacement pair immediately, in case Head is uncooperative.

Head boots come with a set of race heels/tongues.
With Head boots, the heels are held using inferior inserts (the ones shown on the left), because the inserts have no spikes. The inserts resemble oblong barrels, which sit in recessed oblong holes in the boot plastic. As you might imagine, it doesn't take a lot of force to cause those inserts to wear down the plastic and start spinning. In a typical (and worst-case) scenario, you will be unable to tighten the heel bolts, because the inserts will start to spin before you can get the bolts sufficiently tight. Yet, when you try to unscrew the heel bolts, the insert has enough friction with the bolt to spin with the bolt as you try to unscrew it. In order to unscrew the bolt, you need to press a left-hand screw extractor into the insert from the inside of the boot, then unscrew the bolt from the outside. Then, knock out the inserts and put in new ones with retaining spikes (shown the the right).


Virus has their own private-label version of the UPZ boots.

UPS Boots changed their name to UPZ starting in '05. UPZ produces one model, the 5 buckle RSV Superlight, constructed from Polyamide 12 Nylon-Plastic. They are 30% lighter than previous boots and maintain a constant stiffness across a wide temperature range. They include liners with separate heat-moldable areas that self-mold to your foot. The boots come with F.A.S.T. heels, and are specifically designed for Snowpro bindings, which means the boot-to-binding interface for this combination is rock solid. They can also be fitted with Intec heels. Some vital statistics:

Older Models


Shown here are Burton Wind boots, with Intuition liners. '02 was the last year that Burton manufactured hard shell boots. As a result, Burton will not be able to replace parts that break or crack. If you buy Burton boots, consider getting a second pair to use for spare parts. Burton boots made with translucent plastic were most susceptible to cracking. But other than the cracking problem, the Burton Fire and Burton Wind hard boots are great.

Some notes about Burton hard boots:

The G-Style line of hard snowboard boots in Japan. They seem to be expanding their product line, so alpine must be growing. They offer several models:

Discontinued hard boots

No longer sold, but plentiful on eBay.




DSM: Same as Head.

Northwave: The .900 and .950 models (4-buckle + strap) were last manufactured for the 1999 model year. Other models included the .850 and .350. They are preferred by the ExtremeCarving people because they have the perfect progressive flex for ExtremeCarving, and they have a short sole base. However, they are not Intec compatible. Unfortunately, the Northwave people threw away the molds, so there is basically no hope that these will be brought back to market. Northwave also made the Nexus model.

Dalbello: Dalbello previously manufactured the DSM brand in Italy but did not import them into the US. Dalbello is the OEM for Head, Burton, and Voodoo.

Koflach: Made in the late 80s, these fluorescent yellow boots featured built-in pink gators, along with Vibram soles that make them great for AT riding. 2-buckle + strap. They came in the Valuga and Albona models. Favored by Damien Sanders.

Kastinger: They made boots in many different models, ranging from Vibram-sole boots with no buckles (lace-up) to 4-buckle race boots.

Crazy Creek: OEM from Kastinger

Nordica Made several snowboard boots with fully lugged soles. They look quite a bit like the older Raichle 121. These boots are still great for AT touring:

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