BOULDER, Colo. -- Skiing, fun. Walking in ski boots back to the lodge, not so much.
In mid-September, a company in Boulder will start selling a ski boot it says is so comfortable that skiers accustomed to having their feet clamped into rigid plastic shells will be able to walk around in their boots like snowboarders and maybe even drive.
Comfort and convenience come at a price: $1,295. That's at least a few hundred dollars more than a pair of high-end ski boots.
"We'll be the most expensive boot on the market," said Jim Malmgren, director of operations for Apex Sports Group.
The company hopes to sell 1,200 pairs this season.
For years snowboarders have enjoyed softer boots whose main focus is keeping them centered on their boards, but skiers have to be able to apply pressure through their boots to make a turn.
"It's trying to keep the ski part of your skeleton," said David Ingemie, president of SnowSports Industries America.
The Apex ski boot is basically a heat-moldable liner fit inside a less bulky snowboard boot, with a lacing system by Boa Technology. The "walking" boot then slides into a trim but rigid two-buckle carbon-fiber chassis that fits into a ski binding.
The whole system weighs less than 9 pounds, or about 2 pounds less than a pair of traditional ski boots often made of polyurethane. The walking boot potentially could also be used to snowboard if the board's bindings are adjustable enough to hold it.
"Our whole design concept is first and foremost to have a boot that's comfortable," said company founder Denny Hanson, the man who launched Hanson Industries in 1970 and helped pioneer rear-entry ski boots. "Comfort and warmth are important to our target market."
That market would be a recreational skier, intermediate to expert level -- with enough cash to blow on ski boots made partly of pricey carbon fiber.
The boot got an "interesting" reception at a trade show last January, he said.
"We've got a very, very difficult economy, a high-priced product. There's some skepticism around making this price point work for us," Hanson said. "We didn't come out of that with a tremendous order book, but we did make our point that there are some other ways to make ski boots."