2013/2014 Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum Ski Boot Review
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Fischer Sports, a family-owned company since its founding, has a long standing tradition of producing high quality ski equipment from its headquarters in Austria and has a firm commitment to innovation and performance. Since 2003, the company has been making alpine ski boots with feedback from their pro racers and athletes and a few years back, they shook up the industry with the first fully custom moldable shell design. This technology is called Vacuum Fit and quite frankly, it is the future of boots. In this review, I will discuss the Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum boot to an extent but will focus primarily on the Vacuum Fit process.
Sizing a Vacuum Fit Boot
First thing I want to talk about is the initial fit decision when purchasing a Vacuum Fit boot. It is important to know some things going into the shop to try on these boots. First and foremost, the out of box fit will be nothing like what you can expect once the custom fit process is completed and you should not approach this like you would other boots. The only thing you are actually fitting with the initial purchase is the length of the boot and the flex/stiffness. An experienced bootfitter is very important in helping you find the right size because they will do a shell fit (without the liner) that will ensure the correct length. I found that the correct length felt much shorter (with the liner in) than I would have selected with a traditional boot. This is because the un-molded foam in the heel of the liner pushed my foot forward a little bit. Don’t let this throw you off or you will end up with too big of a boot once it is molded! A good shell fit for this boot is around 1 to 1 and a half fingers. If you don’t know what that means, be sure to ask your boot fitter.
Fischer Vacuum Fit Process
Once you’ve selected your boot, you will work with a certified Fischer Vacuum Fit shop to do the custom molding process. I strongly suggest getting a new pair of custom insoles to go with the boots in order to get the proper fit for your foot shape. Instaprint and DFP are the standards for insoles. The first step in the Vacuum Fit process is to get set up on a specially designed machine that you will stand in as the boots mold and cool. Your boot fitter will have you adjust the foot plates and shin rest so that they are aligned to where your natural ski stance is. This is key to the process because it is paramount for getting proper alignment. You will have a choice of forward lean depending on preference. Fischer Vacuum Fit boots have a pretty wide range of forward lean customization. While you are setting up your stance settings, your boots will be heating up in a special oven that gets the entire shell plastic nice and pliable and your liners will get heated up on a liner heater. After the required heating time, your insole goes back into the liner and the liner is put back in the boot. Now depending on your foot and preferences, your boot fitter may have put a cap on your toes and/or some padding on your instep. These will have an impact on the fit and give you room in places you may want it. After you put the heated boots on, it’s time to stand in the fitting machine for about 7 minutes while they mold and cool. A special air bladder boot is placed over your boots and connected to the machine. Here is another place where you have a choice to make and the choice is the air pressure used to fit the boot. A lower pressure will offer a more recreational fit and a higher pressure will be more like a race fit. As far as I am concerned, there is little reason for anyone to go with a low pressure because the custom molding takes care of the typical pressure points associated with a performance fit and your skiing will be better with the more secure fit. When you’re done with the Vacuum Fit process, the boots have to cure for a minimum of 12 hours before being skied. I recommend waiting at least 24-48 hours to ski them because there is a noticeable increase in stiffness after they have fully cured.
Fischer Vacuum Fit: Fits Guaranteed
How is the fit of the Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum? In a word: exemplary. When I looked at the boots from the back, I could clearly see the shaping that occurred to fit my odd leg alignment. It’s pretty amazing to see how this process can take a hard piece of plastic and make it fit you like a well worn leather glove. I put the boot on and was immediately impressed by the custom fit and the lack of any hot spots that I normally experience with a new boot. Using the maximum air pressure during the Vacuum Fit process created a totally form fitting mold around my foot. One of the great things about the Vacuum Fit plastic is that it is extremely easy to work on and if you do have any lingering hot spots, your boot fitter can easily remedy them with a punch.
Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum Boot Performance
Feel on the foot is great but if the boots don’t translate that into performance on the ski slope, it’s meaningless. Well, the Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum doesn’t disappoint in this regard. In all honesty, I’ve never skied better in my 26 years on skis. I have always had problems getting a totally flat ski when gliding because my knees tilt the boot cuff inwards. This has always led to barriers to my best possible ski technique. With the RC4 130 Vacuum, the boot alignment is totally custom to my leg and ankle angles and I am able to stand in a natural stance and be completely neutral. It truly was a breakthrough for me that I’ve never been able to achieve when limited to cuff canting options in other boots. As for stiffness, the plastic in the Vacuum fit boots is a bit softer than a non-Vacuum fit boot in the same rating. The boot felt closer to a 115-120 flex. This is plenty of stiffness for 90% of people and too much for a lot of people. Fischer offers the RC4 110 Vacuum and the Ranger line as more freeride/lower stiffness options and you should check them out based on your size and preference. On my first day, I was blown away by the responsiveness of the boot and the great edging ability and I was able to ski in a way I normally couldn’t.
Fischer Vacuum Fit is the Future of Ski Boots
In summary, I strongly believe that Fischer’s Vacuum Fit technology is the way of the future for ski boot fitting. When done properly, you are left with a completely custom fit that takes care of almost all typical boot fitting problems in one step. Hot spots, alignment issues, width, and heel retention are all addressed by the Vacuum Fit process. The number one testament to the boot I can give is that I’ve never skied better or thought less about my boots while skiing them. The Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum is a high performance boot for anyone looking to shred the whole mountain and rip everything from groomers to tree skiing. At $849, the RC4 130 is an expensive boot but it is an investment in your comfort and skiing performance. It also saves you from multiple trips to the boot fitter to try to fix all the issues that come up when getting a new pair of boots. Check out the rest of the Fischer Vacuum Fit line to find a boot that is right for you.