Ski boots are just about the two most important elements of your equipment. And Dr. Gear knows best, because he has already worn out quite a number of boots. While some riders have a quiver of skis and they can ride a different ski every day of the week, it's different with ski boots. If it fits and functioning properly, then there's no reason to change. Anyway, even Dr. Gear keeps his eyes and ears open, of course, and watch what is happening in the market. Dr. Gear might be old, but certainly not stuck.
One of the boots that Dr. Gear certainly wants to try this year is the new Black Diamond Factor MX. This boot is well known with the more avid riders, because the Factor has been around for a while as part of the line of Black Diamond (in fact, I understood that forum member Roelaano is still feared by Black Diamond because of its test results with the shaft of the shoe), but the MX Factor has been greatly improved. And Dr. Gear was interested and I'll tell you why.
The fit of the boot is the most important thing. How technically and beautiful a ski boot is, if it doesn't fit, there no use in trying any further. Well, it is true that it's easier than ever to adapt a boot with insoles, adjusting scales etc, but Dr. Gear is from the old school and has the opinion that the base of the boot should be good. That the boot should fit your foot. And if the Black Diamond Factor MX fits your feet: lucky you. How do you find out? Simple. Try. It. On.
Freeride vs Tour
What is interesting about the MX Factor is the combination of freeride and touring. It's both possible on the new MX factor. There is a removable 'binding interface', causing the Factor MX fitting any binding. Dr. Gear likes a stiffer boot. Not a race boot, but just nice and stiff. With a flex of 130, the MX Factor is 'freerider' stiff.. What is perhaps more interesting, is the lateral stiffness. Lateral stiffness is not the forward stiffness (which is 130), but how stiff the boot is to the sides. And according to Black Diamond that's as much as 70% stiffer than competitors. That is, in any case, very promising.
Lighter and stiffer
When touring, it is nice when the boot is not too heavy. The new MX Factor has become 100 grams lighter than the old Factor. And the flexibility (call it the hike and ride mode) is improved, because you now have a clearance of at least 40 degrees. You may notice that the Wasatch Mountains are literally in the backyard of Black Diamond in Salt Lake City. About half of the staff working there skin to a local peak when the conditions are right. It's quite obvious where innovation comes from.
Furthermore, the liner of the Factor MX is totally fine. The freeride liner of the Factor MX works with the Fit. Flex. Acces. It's been quite a development to create a liner that's stiff in places where it needs to be stiff, which is thickened at relevant places and just a bit more attention to the toe box is given so that your toes are just what warmer.
Dr. Gear has always been a fan of the old Factor, and this new Black Diamond boot looks more than fine. Obviously, the selection of a boot remains very personal, but if you are looking for a boot that you can charge on powder and allows you to hike up a mountain just as hard, then the Black Diamond Factor MX is worth considering.