As Dynafit launches the new Hoji Free ski boot for winter 2019-20, it’s useful to look back on where it came from.
Last January, I was skiing with the boot’s mastermind, Eric Hjorleifson, when he said to me, “No more compromises.”
Hoji, as the Canadian skier is known, was on a trade show and media tour, showing off the Hoji Pro Tour ski boot, which launched to consumers last year and earned a Skier's Choice from POWDER. The Pro Tour was billed toward general touring, and Hoji knew that after its launch he could focus on the freeride-specific version of his new boot and patented technology. The day after we skied together, he flew to Europe to draw the new version's narrower last and work on other specifics. He was going to make sure he nailed it.
The Pro Tour's Hoji-Lock System easily stole the show last year with regards to innovation. The system intertwines the power strap and top buckle with one spring-loaded latch to snap the shell open and close. It makes for fast and smooth transitions while touring in the backcountry. It also had phenomenal heel hold with the ability to roll into a turn with ease. However, its downsides included a shell fit that was wide in the forefoot and void of a toe lug, prohibiting it from use with any binding that didn't have a tech toe. (This ruled out using the boot in any multi-norm compatible binding that accepts both DIN and tech soles.)
All of those shortcomings are now gone with the Hoji Free. The Hoji Free uses the same ski/lock system, but will be compatible with all touring bindings currently on the market with its DIN/ISO 9523 sole. It is also stiffer (130 flex), has a lower volume shell fit, and has a traditional toe lug. It's the spawn of the Dynafit Vulcan, and the brainchild of Hoji, who worked along Fritz Barthel, inventor of the first low-tech binding more than 30 years ago. Weighing in at 1550 grams, the Hoji Free will retail for $899, and walks the line of light and powerful for skiers who earn their turns yet value the speed of the descent. It also comes stock with a customizable Sidas liner—a big move for Dynafit whose liners were typically tossed out for Intuitions in years past.
We'll be skiing the Hoji Free shortly and we are excited to put it through its paces. It's the boot I've personally been waiting for—no compromises for the up or down. I'm just wondering what to do with my spare Vulcan parts that I've stockpiled over the past seven years—keeping the old shells alive until a better replacement came along.
The Hoji Free hits shelves next fall.