What’s on Hoji’s Feet?

Magazine Exclusive: Eric Hjorleifson's constant tinkering has created the ultimate 'Frankenboot'

Photo: Blake Jorgenson

(Ed’s note: This article appears in the February 2011 issue of Powder, with additional photographic documentation.)

Photo: Blake Jorgenson

By Derek Taylor
Published: January 24, 2011

Eric Hjorleifson is skiing's mad scientist. The 27-year-old from Canmore, Alberta, has been known to tinker with his gear obsessively, which in turn has led to two of the most sought-after skis on the market this year: 4FRNT's EHP and Renegade. Now, Hoji is turning his attention to boots.

"I like the progressive approach Dynafit is taking with their randonee racing product," says Hoji. "The Dy.N.A and TLT 5 series bring some amazing advancements in design, particularly the two-piece upper cuff walk/ski mode mechanism. I would like to see this design applied to a freeride touring boot."

Never one to wait for the market to catch up, Hoji went out and built his own Frankenboots, which the MSP Films star used every day last season for filming, touring and skiing on the hill. Here's what's on his feet this year.

• The core of Hoji's boot is the Dynafit Titan. "I started with the Titan because I feel that compatibility with TLT/Tech bindings will be essential to the future of high-performance freeride boots," he says. "The Titan has one of the most supportive and solid lower shells currently available in the ski touring boot market."

• "To try and minimize play between the upper and lower shell created by the ski/walk mechanism, I removed the black overlap polyurethane material and replaced it with the stiffest tongue on the market, the Dalbello Krypton B flex," Hoji says. He then uses the tongue connector from the Garmont Adrenaline to fasten the tongue to the boot (slightly modified so he can take the tongue on and off quickly).

• Making use of the technology and materials used by his apparel sponsor, Arc'Teryx, in their Vancouver headquarters, Hoji laminated on a waterproof membrane, similar to what's used in Dynafit's randonee race shoe, the Dy.N.A. This keeps snow and water out of the boot, and allows him to remove the tongue for maximum range of motion while ascending.

Photo: Blake Jorgenson

• The ankle buckle on Hoji's boot is attached through the pivot point. "Three-piece ski touring boots have the heel retention buckle attached to the upper cuff," Hoji says. "When the boot is flexed forward, this buckle in turn moves forward with the upper cuff and heel retention is lost." Attaching it through the pivot ensures the ankle stays locked in place. He uses the ankle buckle and wire from the Dalbello Krypton, held to the inside pivot point by a piece from a tele boot, the Scarpa Terminator X Pro. The pivot mechanism has also been replaced with a Tecnica canting assembly.

• The top buckles of the Titan have been replaced with the oversize buckle from a Salomon Ghost.

• Because interchangeable soles can create play between the boot and the binding, especially on wider skis, Hoji sanded the boot sole surface and inside the toe blocks, then glued the blocks in place using Freesole Urethane. He then removed some of the Vibram lugs so that the boot would fit into an alpine binding with an adjustable toe-height, such as the Salomon 916 or the Marker Duke.

• "To improve the lateral stiffness of the Titan, I laminated a Head Driver Plate onto the inside of my upper cuff on the medial side of the boot," says Hoji. "Holding an edge on wider skis creates more force on the boot laterally."

• For those keeping track, that's one ski boot derived from seven
different manufacturers, and one apparel company.