RYAN REPORT – Gear of the Week – Intuition turns 25
Ask just about anyone that works on skis and they’ll tell you their most important piece of equipment is their boots. Their the connection between body and ski and unhappy feet equal miserable people. The key to warm, comfortable and high performance boots is fit.
Wrapped in a hard shell of plastic a good fitting pair of ski boots is all about the interior liner. We know that now, but 25 years ago that wasn’t the case. Everyone with comfortable fitting boots probably has Intuition Liners to thank. The Vancouver based company revolutionized ski boots with the invention of the heat moldable liner and this week they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary.
The company started in 1992 as a personal project of one ski bum, Byron Gracie, to find an edge for skiing steep, committing lines around Whistler. At the time a lot of R&D had been done on ski boot shell plastic, but the liner had mostly been ignored. Gracie teamed up with entrepreneurs Rob Watt and Herb Lang and they scoured the globe for a material to make a better liner out of. It had to be stiff and tough but supple and moldable. They found a EVA foam made by a Ultralon, a small New Zealand company that worked. By 1993 they had their first contract with now-defunct Raichle boots. But at first, their business was mostly selling replacement liners.
In partnership with Ultralon they tweaked the recipe to improve the liner. Sales increased until the Vancouver factory was overwhelmed and the company moved production to China. Other brands noticed and began developing their own custom moldable liners. Now just about every ski boot maker offers customization in their higher end boots, but 25 years in Intuition remains a leader.
The company now makes its own foam, produces 400,000 pairs of liners per season and partners with several brands supplying liners in most Scarpa, Full Tilt, Roxa and Daleboot boots.
RYAN REPORT is a frequent web post by Ski Canada magazine’s technical editor, Ryan Stuart.