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Black Diamond Factor 120

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  • Black Diamond Factor 120

    Getting ready for a get-away today and decided to rework the inner boots in the BD Factor 130's I've been skiing. In the mental checklist of things to bring on a ski vacation boots are usually tops on the list. Many of you are like me and the question is not which boot, but rather which boots? That's why I decided to review the Factors today. They're the only boot I'm bringing on this trip and that would have surprised me a couple of years ago when I bought them.

    I bought these boots because they were cheap and I advise you to do the same. They're at REI right now for as little as $200 and change in the much sought after 27 shell size. Why? Because the ski industry over produces product and these boots have been reviewed pretty poorly and I think that's a disservice. I originally purchased them for my wife when she was converting from snowboarding to skiing. She's always been interested in skiing in the backcountry and decided to take the opportunity of living near good lift-access to learn to ski. These boots served her well and she eventually moved on to buying her own lift-access boots and borrows a different pair of my AT boots when she joins me on tours. At nearly 5 lbs. per boot the Factor is not friendly for long tours. She ignored several people's advice and wore them for a longish ascent into a hut and paid dearly. If you're not a stallion these are sidecountry / lift access oriented.

    At their retail price they are not price competitive (at full retail) for lift access use. If you just ski lifts in alpine DIN bindings there are a lot of great softish boots out there. Don't let the 130 flex fool you, these boots are soft. They ski like a quality intermediate boot. The BOA liner could be replaced for increased quality and lighter weight, but ultimately I think sidecountry is their calling. When I converted back to alpine from telemark I went out and bought one of the stiffest boots available, some older Lange 120's. This boot is not even in the same ballpark stiffness-wise. But, IMO, with decent technique it drives a ski with sidecut adequately on the groomed and will push the biggest ski you own in soft snow. I pair them with the original Pontoons on bottomless days, a mid-fat early tip rise ski (Prior Husume) in less than a foot and with an all-mountain ski with two sheets of metal (Nordica Enforcer). That to me is the beauty of these boots, their versatility. I think that's also why they've fallen between the cracks as far as resonating in the market. The Cochise is the industry favorite in this category and there's little room for anything else. One caveat to the Factor is that it only comes with the AT sole and you must purchase the sole with the tech inserts and more climbing-oriented and lugged tread if you need it. So if you're planning on using it with an AT rig you need to budget for the 40 or 50 bucks for the soles. A replaceable sole is nice if you wear one out, assuming BD makes them for very long.

    A couple of tips to anyone who owns them or is considering them: try them with other liners as the stock liner isn't the best IMO, and tighten down the nuts - these boots have a lot of hardware considering they have removable soles and walk mode as well as t-nuts in the upper/lower interface of the cuff that are known to self loosen. As far as fit, I wear a 10 to 10.5 street shoe and can very comfortably wear the 27 shell (318 BSL) I barely fit the 27.5 / 28 scarpa shell and usually have bumped up to the 28 in Garmont.

    Edited to add: In researching the weight I saw the updated Factor 130 in the 2012 (last year's) model for the low price of $205 as mentioned above. I decided to go ahead and update mine, so a review of the newer version is forthcoming. Also, probably a pair for cheap on the swap.
    Last edited by Matt J; 27 March 2014, 11:09 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Matt J View Post
    ... As far as fit, I wear a 10 to 10.5 street shoe and can very comfortably wear the 27 shell (318 BSL) I barely fit the 27.5 / 28 scarpa shell and usually have bumped up to the 28 in Garmont.
    This fits with BD's reputation of making high volume boots. How do they fit over your instep (topside of foot, above the arch)? Do you know if you have a high or average instep height? Width of your foot? I'd guess D if you like these, but it would be good to know for reference.

    And, most importantly, thanks for the review. I'm learning from fellow bootfitters in the Truckee area that part of the reason alpine skiers don't like backcountry boots is the use of Pebax, which is lighter than Polyurethane, but softer. The softness is good for touring, but to chargers, inferior for turning. C'est la vie.
    Last edited by Dostie; 24 March 2014, 11:35 PM.

    ain't no turn like tele!

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    • #3
      I have OG Factors (aka the last gen Factor 130) and they fit my high instep well, which is one of the reasons I like their fit--although I need Cosmo to rebake the Powerwraps he put in mine.

      That said, I'd like to switch to real alpine boots and something like the TLT6 or Spectre. The non-progressive flex of the Factors, I think, exacerbates the shin bang I get at the site of my tib-fib fracture.

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      • #4
        I think my instep is average on my right foot and kind of flat on my left. I measure as a "D" or standard width. I usually use a superfeet aftermarket insole, but the BD stock ones are cork and pretty nice. Notice I changed the title of the post, but couldn't change the thread title. I don't know how I've always thought these were marked 120 flex when in fact they're marked 130.

        Definitely a real alpine boot and a real touring boot is ideal. I find that the Factors are a replacement for my "real" alpine boots, but the durability and performance are sacrificed a bit.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by LightRanger View Post
          I have OG Factors (aka the last gen Factor 130) and they fit my high instep well, which is one of the reasons I like their fit--although I need Cosmo to rebake the Powerwraps he put in mine.

          That said, I'd like to switch to real alpine boots and something like the TLT6 or Spectre. The non-progressive flex of the Factors, I think, exacerbates the shin bang I get at the site of my tib-fib fracture.
          I never skied the Factors but for the weight seems way heavy for a touring boot and not up to speed as a alpine boot compare to real alpine boots either. BTW, I have some TLT6's and they are NOT a progressive flex boot, massively stiff in the fore and aft range. The liners are pretty soft so I don't notice undo pressure on my shims. You might want to look at the Dynafit One or the Dynafit Mercury. I think if I was going to do it all over again, I would take a hard look at the One and the Spectre.
          "Just say no to groomed snow"

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          • #6
            Thanks QZ. I really meant that in relation to the alpine boots. It's not a big concern in the BC, but more if I'm pounding through crud/bumps/whatever inbounds.

            I'd heard that about the TLT6s. This thread has a wealth of information on comparing them and the Spectres: TGR Comparison

            I'll probably go with whichever one fits my foot best--something that the BD is good for.

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            • #7
              I might have jinxed myself with that review. I was getting some pain just below the end of my tibia in the soft tissue of the the medial anterior ankle. Started taking a good look at the liner and realized that the Boa system was the culprit, the hard rubber bumper they run the cable through specifically. I just cut it out with a pocket knife like a tumor. Feels awesome now.

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