If you’ve seen any of the annual films that Teton Gravity Research, the fabled Jackson Hole-based production company, has released over the past decade, chances are you’ve spotted a pillow-hoppin’, high-flyin’ ripper with a pair of Skullcandy headphones and a smile on his face. That would be none other than Colter Hinchliffe. The 35-year-old has experienced quite a bit over his storied career, from descending high peaks in his backyard of Aspen, Colorado, to getting barreled in record setting winters in Italy. Today, he’s as driven as ever, still bringing his own unique style into the world of freeride skiing. And though Hinchliffe has had his fair share of heli-ski trips in the high hills of Alaska, and has been known to rip a snowmobile once in a while, he spends much of his winter finding his turns the old fashioned way; with skins on his planks, and his heels as free as a bird, breaking a sweat and ascending in style.
A tenured man of the backcountry, Hinchliffe is someone whose word you can trust when it comes to touring gear. That is why we got excited when the news broke that he had a hand in Dalbello’s newly crafted Krypton T.I. 130 boot. This laboratory creation is practically the same as its world-renowned predecessor, the Krypton, but it now comes standard with tech inserts and rubber soles. The new additions create something very special; a trusted freeride boot that you can use to tour with your binding of choice. For those skiing like Hinchliffe (or attempting to), the average touring boot might not provide the support and stability you want when descending a line riddled with pillows, cliffs, jumps and everything in between. Big man Hinchliffe was integral in this makeover of a classic and we had the chance to sit down and talk with him about his involvement in the updated Krypton T.I., and why he’s excited for the rest of us to get our hands on this piece of Italian-made functional art.
You have been skiing on the Krypton for a number of years. Tell me about the redesigned boot and why you and Dalbello landed on a new version with tech toes and rubber soles.
Essentially this is the same Krypton boot that’s been here for years. But, now, you can click into a touring binding and still have the confidence that you’ll be able to ski as hard as you want on the way down. Plus the rubber souls add a whole new element of grip and security when you’re hiking up on a rocky ridge or a slick surface. I really think it’s brilliance in simplicity, having such a reliable, freeride-focused alpine boot that you can do more with.
What was your involvement in the design process?
Originally it started with a few of us splicing together parts of the Lupo touring boot with the Krypton. The idea was to make a touring boot that still allowed you to hit cliffs and jumps. The Lupo and the Krypton aren’t too far off, so we put the Krypton cuff on the Lupo bottom, essentially making a Krypton boot with tech inserts. When I went over to Europe last year and met with some Marker/Völkl/Dalbello (MDV) folks, I saw that others over there were doing this, and my role really became introducing this idea to our US program. The MDV team as a whole are super receptive [to athlete input], so I sent a few emails explaining how passionate we were about this idea—and next thing you know, the boot showed up on my doorstep.
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Photo: Tyler Wilkinson-Ray
What new features does this boot offer to freeride skiers?
It gives you one of the best performing alpine boots with the capability of clicking into a touring binding. And the rubber souls are such a great benefit. That added traction is no joke. It can really come in clutch when you find yourself on a precarious bootpack, or even just walking to the chair. The additions blend together seamlessly, and will give you a boot that is meant to go anywhere and ski anything.
What advantages do these new features provide?
Personally, I’ve found that a lot of boots with touring capabilities don’t provide the same security as an alpine boot when charging downhill. This can be a problem for how I like to ski, and I think the biggest advantage this new design gives is being able to have a boot that allows you to tour in your binding of choice, and still ski the mountain as creatively as you want.
Photo: Eric Parker
Why are you excited about the upgrades to this year’s boot?
I’m definitely pumped for people to have one boot that lets them do everything they want. I think this will give more options to those who don’t want to spend a ton of money getting a whole new set up for the backcountry. For the person who goes out on a few treks into the backcountry, but still skis the resort and likes to rip with a freeride focus, this new design gives you one boot that checks all the boxes.
Photo: Tyler Wilkinson-Ray
Why have you stuck to riding in the Krypton model for so long? Why not switch to a different boot from Dalbello?
The three-buckle Cabrio design goes so well with the way I ski, and really fits my foot just right. In a nutshell, it holds your foot in place without being overly constricting. I think any skier can tell you that when you find the boot that works for you, it’s hard to ever switch to something else. I remember when I swapped into it 15 years ago at Snowmass, and I honestly don’t think I’ve been in a four buckle boot since then. I don’t get shin bang, my foot is comfortable and the buckle over your ankle really pulls you back into the heel pocket, which is a game changer. That one buckle might be the most important piece of gear that I have.
Anything else you want to say about this boot?
I just hope this boot brings people the opportunity to ski in the places they want and with the style they want to ski. The accessibility it gives you is incredible and my vision is that this replaces your alpine boot entirely. I should say that this isn’t meant to be a substitute for people doing very long tours throughout the year; there’s no walk-mode, so if you’re heading out for a long day, you’ll be happier in a more tour-focused boot like the Quantum or the Lupo. But if you’re going out several times a season, looking for shorter walks and eyeing down cliff lines, skiing creatively and aggressively, this is for you. At the end of the day, I hope this boot helps you have fun in the mountains.