Riding with boots is something all freestyle pro’s do. We rarely see other riders with boots. Why is this? And can non-pro’s (or non-wannabe’s) also enjoy riding with boots? We tried the 2015 Airush Livewire 140cm with AP Boots and see if we could enjoy it.
First time one boots
So how does it feel? Heavy! The first thing (after having struggled at the edge of the water getting in the boots) you notice is the additional weight. It is only a few kilo’s, but it is enough to feel a difference especially while jumping. Another disadvantage of riding with boots underpowered is that they have considerately more drag than straps. So it was pretty difficult in our underpowered 17 knot session to get going. Each time a wave catches the board it is getting pushed back on the boots. All though we rode a relatively large board, riding with boots is not the perfect choice in (light) 17 knots wind conditions with waves.
So is there any good news? Yes! The 25-knot session was a completely different story; The onshore chop was a laugh while riding with the boots. The board in combination with the very solid boots felt like being a tank. Normally riding with straps each choppy wave need to be taken with care. For example preventing to get your twintip-nose being caught by a wave by pushing the board just in front of each chop. No need with boots. You feel like a king which can only be touched by -relatively- big waves. And another massive improvement is the take off: It is a bit complicated to explain the feeling, but it sort of makes you push harder on your edge of the board when jumping compared to straps. If not pushed correctly, your jump immediately is reduced to a ridiculous barely-of-the water jump. Landing also is much easier than with straps. No need to find a flat landing zone, because you can handle much more chop on your landings with boots!
Some people wonder if falling with boots is hurting a lot more compared to straps. Off course getting rid of your board when something seriously is going wrong while flying in the air is impossible. The board will be stuck to your feet until you take it off normally. It is true you might be lying completely in the wrong position after a fall. For example when your board is behind you and the kite is in the water, pulled by the waves in the opposite direction the board is pulling you. We would consider it more as something shitty for the moment, but an average rider probably shouldn’t worry of higher impacts due to riding with boots.
So all in all riding with boots has some con’s and pro’s, but for sure the first couple of times you will feel it in the muscles of your legs the next days. Consider it as new challenge, and some of your jumps will be really much more controlled than riding with straps, especially in powered windy conditions.
The board Airush Livewire
The Airush twintip, made “closely” with former freestyle world champion Alex Pastor, can be considered as a “high end” twintip. It is, with almost 1100 euro’s, far from the cheapest board out there. The Airush website is explaining all the theory behind it. A lot of tech-talk, like the dual rocker, torsion control, biotech wood core and the FMS rating, but in the end it is all about how it feels on the water.
The pop is awesome, and the landings are also really softer as you would expect. The board we tested (140*42) is the largest of the 3 sizes available, but it did not feel big at all. It was quite easy to keep the board edged, even when kiting overpowered. The board clearly is not made to set a new speeding record, but probably none of other freestyle boards are made for speeding either.
The AP boots
When you chose to ride with boots, it needs some investigate at least at two aspects; Can the (inserts of the) board take the beating of the boots and can the boots handle the beating. We have heard several (reliable) stories on other boots to brake down within months. So, not an easy task but it is smart to do some online research on the boots you want to buy. It is hard to test in 1 day how the durability of the boots are, but on the internet we didn’t find any complaints about broken AP boots. The AP boots (AP for Alex PAstor) are to be “extremely strong”, says Airush. They indeed look really solid; for instance the stitches on the bottom part are double layer stitched. They also feel very strong. Maybe even a bit too strong for the average rider. Probably for those riders Airush has a second line of boots ; “Core”. The Core boots -on paper, not tested- should be easier to pull on and off (2 velcron straps in) and should have a softer feeling and are about 20% cheaper. We would not worry too much about the getting-in-and-out issues, but more on how the boots feel when you are riding. In the end we all ride a lot longer on the water than we are (struggling) to get into our boots.
List price: 1099,- Euro (without boots)
AP Boots 350,- Euro (approximately)
Core Boots 299,- Euro (approximately)