The other day, Laura Valaas, an e-friend who happens to be one of the best cross-country skiers in North America, emailed me to ask if I would be willing to try out a new product she’d developed: the “BootBuddy,” a little plastic doodad that snaps into the front of your ski boot to protect the metal bar there, to keep snow from building up under the toe of your boot (a huge annoyance, especially when the snow’s wet or when you’re in a hurry), and to give you a bit of traction while walking in your ski boots.
Not only am I not the kind of person to turn down free stuff*, but I’m also a guy who hates to see the wear and tear on the bottom on expensive ski boots caused by walking on pavement from the car to the trail. As a teenaged skier in Upper Michigan, I walked from my house to the trailhead when I wanted to go skiing**, and the 1.2 mile round trip was hell on my boots.
In short, I wish I’d had BootBuddies back then, because – here’s the takeaway – these things are awesome. Like any stroke of genius, they’re deceptively simple: a little wedge of plastic with a notch in the middle and a few grooves for traction on the bottom. You simply press the notch against the bar on the bottom of your boot, and theBootBuddy snaps in, staying put quite well even as it protrudes an inch or so from the front of the boot. See?
I really appreciate the traction created by the underside grooves and that bit off the front, especially on the sheets of ice that are pretty much standard in any ski trail parking lot. And the way the BootBuddy keeps snow from compacting in your boot is pretty sweet, too – especially in “spring skiing” conditions like we’re having in Northfield, with wet, grainy snow that just loves to get mashed into and frozen onto things like boots, sunglasses, skis.
According to SkiTraxx’s website, the BootBuddies are available for most of the major binding systems: SNS Pilot, Salomon, Atomic, and NNN (mine). They’re $15 for the pair, which is enough of a deal that I’m going to order (and pay for) a second pair so that I can keep BootBuddy both pairs of my boots.
Looking around Laura’s website, I see some other cool stuff, too, like a boot carrier and a wall rack for skis and poles. This means that Laura is a hellaciously fast skier and awfully clever, too. One hopes she can add “rich” to the list of adjectives.
* A partial list of free ski stuff I’ve won or received: a pair of sweet Rudy Project ski glasses (by winning a ski trivia contest), a cool racing hat from a Norwegian racing team (by writing and asking if I could buy one; it turns out I couldn’t buy one but that they’d send me on for nothin’), and a great racing suit from a now-defunct pro racing team (by winning an XC skiing fantasy contest).
** True story! And it was (partly) uphill both ways! Needless to say, in the snow!