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Stealth bindings, real world feedback?


phillips
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I realize I have another thread going about Strada feedback... But in all of my online searching, I found some "last years" Stealth bindings at fairly attractive pricing and even in the correct size and foot-forward orientation for me. The search for Strada's is still on, but if I have to go to the 2014 version to get a matching pair, then we are at the same price as the Stealth now, which I didn't expect. Plus the Stealth adapter plate to avoid drilling my ski, but was glad to find out they have that...

 

Basically, I like the release design and thought of the boots being on a mono-plate. I have never suffered an angle or knee injury from lack of release, but have some friends who have had issues in various bindings and putting ankles back together. I've only had rubber high-wraps until now, so wonder about the adjustment factor since these boots look so tall and rigid. Only seen some limited feedback that they take "some getting used to" but not sure I've seen any feedback from anyone that has used them for a season or longer.

 

Some things that come to mind, how does the vinyl covering hold up to the elements? How stinky does it get in there without removable liners? I see some vent holes in front, but still wonder if they need to be hosed out with soapy water every so often, etc... If you use the adapter plate, does it affect the ski flex any more than if were mounted on a Connelly ski? Ease of entry/exit compared to Radars?

 

As always, thanks for any feedback. At least I feel like I have this narrowed down to couple choices now.

 

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Thanks @Horton, had not found your (short) review. I did see a thread about re-forming the shells if needed to remove pressure points, but not your original review. It kinda confirms my fear that they will feel super stiff, esp for me coming from rubber wraps. But, I'm sure if you use them long enough to get used to them the added ski control would be great. Also, found your comment interesting about having to get back on the platform to get them off - never even tried that, yikes. After a release would make sense, but with the ski still on, never tried it. Would have to figure that part out. Love the release system, just not sure about the tall, challenging boots.

 

I'm wondering if they did not have the Stealth Adapter plate when you used them on the 2012 Prophecy? Part of the appeal to me now is with that plate, you could move the whole assembly easily to any ski with inserts, but it does add another layer of aluminum...

 

Thank much...Geoff.

 

 

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@BlueSki, that seems unfair. I only have trouble flip flops after a couple sets, totally different thing. Although the end of the set is supposed to be "easy" to pull the ski off and climb back in, and this does not sound easy. You are probably just nervous that I'll have to climb back on that fiberglass platform of yours with a ski on, leaving a trail of chips and scratches. At least I would be.

 

The guy with 2014 Power shells emailed me back, now there is another option. At least whatever I end up with, won't have to bring soap along any more I suppose.

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@phillips I have had Stealth's for over a year and haven't had any problems with them apart from the fact that they take a bit of time to put on and If it releases, I have to take the boots off, re mount them on the ski and put it on again. The boots are holding up just fine and I don't use liners and they don't smell even slightly. I haven't even washed them or anything, just allow them to dry properly. I don't have the problem that @Horton has, I can get them off quite easily in the water so it must vary person to person. In saying that I do have slightly skinnier than normal feet

 

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@ Lucas, thanks for the feedback, good to hear from someone that atcually uses these things for over a year. Although, looks like you are on a Connelly ski, so you don't need the adapter plate I guess, like I would. I don't mind the plate and it would make it simple to move the whole mess to another ski if I had the chance to demo somthing else, but wonder if the plate screws with the ski/flex etc.. probably a non-issue. Glad to hear you can get them off OK, assuming you just learned to unlace them blindly, under the water? Do you feel like pre-release is an issue, or they only come off when you have wanted them to? Comfortable for an entire set?

 

@ Chef23, might be worth the hassle is what I'm thinking also. Bottom line is I'm only putting these things on 2 or 3 times per day. More if they release I guess, but even it it takes couple additional minutes, not a big deal for me. For the boat driver on a hot day, yes, but not for me. Esp if I know the release is tried and true. Will let you know soon since you offered the single strada to help out...appreciate it.

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@phillips‌ I have had the same experience as @Lucas‌ . I have had mine for a year now and had some issues with the fit that started the heat moulding thread you mentioned. Since then I have had no issues. I can have my feet out of the bindings before the boat comes back around so getting them off in the water is no issues.

They are are not as rigid up high as they look. The carbon shells finish just above the ankle which allows good movement forward and back but side to side is typical of any hard shell.

The finish is first class and they still look fine even after the heat moulding process.

My front leg is a bit if a mess so I needed a binding that gave me a lot of support and that is safe. The Stealth system just seemed the most logical and Connelly is a reputable brand. Great tech support also as evidence from my previous thread.

If you are concerned with the adaptor plate, find some spare cash and get a Prophecy with inserts and you won't need to demo another ski again! Love my ski.

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Simple thing to think about with bindings........ how many pros are skiing them? How many upper level tournament skiers are skiing them? HO hard bindings come to mind...... I have yet to see anyone ski well on them, but they are pricy and flaunt the tech........ Just my 2 cents.
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@Phillips: I'm on my third year with Stealths. The release is consistent. I added a gatormod, which makes it, IN MY OPINION, the only setup out there that will protect me in a crushing OTF fall.

 

Getting them on is fussy, but not painful. Getting them off in cold murky water, if you haven't planned ahead with where you put the extra laces when you booted up, is an extreme pain in the ass. The laces flop around and get tangled with each other as you ski. However, if you put the slack laces in a known position when you boot up, then getting them off in the water is no big deal.

 

I can't tell a difference with tongue on or off. I think that's all in @Horton's head. Or, I'm not as finely tuned an athlete as he. It is, however, not supposed to be cranked on extremely tightly.

 

The stiff tongue doesn't contact your shin until you have flexed your ankle long past any normal position it encounters while skiing. The stiff tongue is VERY important during an OTF release. It acts as a facilitator to put an upward load on the rear of the plate; without it that load has to come from your Achilles.

 

After 3 years mine are looking a little rough. No problem with functionality, but the exterior surface is getting scuffed up by the laces. I'm all about the style, so this is a problem.

 

They are extremely comfortable, and if you heat mold them they fit like a glove.

 

I meant to graft some "BOA" lacing systems on to mine this winter, but got busy making mods for Ballers running Stealths and Fogmans (and for this one guy on Powershells). I think you could make a pretty cool deal with some BOAs.

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Thanks for another round of helpful replies. Well, mostly...

@JJR, if I can have them off after dropping before the goat gets back to me, I would be at least accomplished enough to not take crap from the boat driver with Reflex system or Goode, so that helps. And I hear you about the Prophecy, but that's not on this years "to get" list and I really want to give the HO a season or 2. Besides, the plate is being discounted along with the boots, and if I go this route, would be great to be able to throw it on another ski in the future, even if I end up later with a Prophecy.

 

@gator1, thanks for the tips also. I can see if the lace cords get tangled would be a mess and then having to get on the platform to get undone, or at least pull off gloves to feel around and get untangled. All a time killer more than anything. If these boots just had the liners and buckles of the PS's seems like the best combination. But, laces vs. healthy ankles is not a very tough call I suppose. Also, I've only read enough on your mod to be dangerous, but am wondering if you had some close calls with this system before you added it? I realize nothing is fool-proof and guaranteed safe, but with this type of relaease, and your mention of the front foot tongue stiffner to aid in release when taking an OTF fall, I would think a release would happen before the critical moment unless the release is adjusted too heavy?

 

Also, not heard about the Boa lace system, but when looked online, there are a couple of gloves out now that use that or similar, right? That would be pretty cool, even tightness from set to set and no more tangled cords...and since you are all about the style, let me know when you get that worked out!

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Boas are available on everything from cycling shoes, to crampons, to prosthetic sockets, to waterski gloves.

 

They are kind of neat tech - although in order to buy the parts you essentially need to be making a licensed product - I've looked...

 

Also they aren't the end all be all, you have to consider how much "cord" needs to be taken up, the boa works fine within a certain range, but it is limited in how much cord it can wind up. - Now if you could graft some ratchets onto the boot,and boat only part of the boot, like the instep you are cooking with fire.

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@Phillips: I switched to Stealths post op after ripping my Achilles and other stuff that took two surgeries to fix. Although I was scared, and therefore adjusted the settings at the absolute low end of tolerance for my weight, I had a couple of falls that released but left me with my repaired foot hurting bad enough that I couldn't ski for a couple of weeks. That was enough for me to add the mod.

 

But, to be fair, I started back skiing before I should have.

 

The tongue helps for sure, but if you ever do put your foot in a Stealth, you'll see that even with the tongue strapped on tight you can overflex your front ankle a long way. The tongue can only add force as the shin, 8 inches up from your ankle bone, moves forward. There is not a lot movement at that point on your shin as you go from "ah that hurts a little bit" flex to "holy shit, that's about to rip something".

 

The back pin needs to hang on in an aborted PEELING OTF, with the back foot pulling up nicely on the pin, but it needs to let go in a CRUSHING OTF, with the back foot not pulling up at all. So, in MY OPINION, although the tongue adds a lot, its not enough insurance that I'm going to risk another 2 years on the sideline.

 

But, my dumba$$ brother, who also ripped his foot up in another binding, is running the Stealths without the mod. 3 years and counting, he's doing fine.

 

Just depends on how much margin you want. I want to be able to survive the 1 in every 10 year fall where I stuff the tip at my hardest pass, on a cold day, at my money pass, skiing hog wild and pissed off. And I want to keep surviving that fall 10 years from now, when my body is even weaker and more brittle than it is now.

 

But, I tried the systems out there that at least in theory purported to protect my ankle in a crushing OTF, and if I had to ski without a mod it'd be in the Stealths. But that tongue would be cranked so tight @Horton might have a legitimate bitch.

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@Phllips, the lacing is pretty easy to get undone blindly. I have never had a pre release. When I first started with them, I had the springs set light for my weight and never had a pre release. Now that it is set right for my weight, it doesn't release as often as it used to but releases well before any injury can occur
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@Lucas, thanks for the extra info. Just curious about the "right position" comment. You mean after heat molding, or just foot position within the boot? Wondering why would not be comfy sitting in the water between passes?

 

@gator1, thanks for the rest of the backstory. I can certainly understand being tentative with your history, and cool design for sure. Amazing what one can do with couple boot laces and dog collars and some ingenuity. I wonder how it fits with the PS's but I'm sure there's a thread and photos for that elsewhere. Your opinion / knowledge of these release systems is appreciated as I am trying to keep my ankles all-original and surgery free going forward.

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@GOODESkier‌ trying to emulate a podium skier by using his/her equipment is a bit silly. I could care less what other pro skiers are using. I know what works for me. I don't use Stealths but I am using Fogman hardshells w/ Fogman releases. I'm using them because of physical limitations/comfort. And being behind the boat and competing is paramount to whatever the big boys are doing.
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@PT Mike just saying, who have you seen skiing with HO's hard shell set up? Stealths? Gotta tell you something about these set ups.......... Not that I see every skier, but I don't know anyone using the STEALTHS and have only seen 2 people on HO's. To me that says something.

 

Personally I do look at what others are using. I look to see what 34 MPH skiers are running for ski, fin, binding, ZO setting, handles, heck....... if I thought I could gain an edge by following some one elses daily routine, I WOULD! Now if it was super uncomfortable, I would question what I might be doing wrong, or better yet, what someone else is doing right.

 

Just my 2 cents. I want to become the best 34 MPH skier I can become. I am looking at what all the best 34 MPH skiers are using for equipment and how they ski.

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@GOODESkier - here is my take on what the pros are using. It is interesting to keep a mental score of who is using what, wether at a pro tournament or local/regional gathering just to see what, if anything, is new and how they like it, why they made that choice if you get a chance to ask. However, it has little effect on steering my purchase decisions for couple of reasons...

 

a) If they are at sponsorship level with a ski company, they are going to be limited in what kind of bindings they put on that ski and represent the brand. In my world, I'm putting these bindings on an HO, so initally looked at some Apex wanting to make the move to hard boots of some kind for control gains. Not becasue I'm sponsored, (ha, not even someday) but just to keep the same brand, hole patterns, etc. I looked enough to not like the APEX design for several reasons, primary is the need to release without the liner (ala Stradas). Also, to your point, of all the HO skis you do see being used by big names, don't see many, if any APEX. I have not read their contract, but assume its NOT considered a conflict to put other bindings on that HO ski as long as the bindings are from a "binding company" that does not sell skis. The Stealth are Fogman based, but considered a Connelly product. The only chance you have seeing them on a big name pro-skier is a Team Connelly / Prophecy skier, no matter who on a HO/Radar/D3/Goode ski may secretly tell you they like the stealth design. Reflex, Fluid Motion, Fogman before the joint venture would be fair game, but not gonna see any pros putting Connelly boot system on another brand ski, unless they are doing it out of sight and considering changing skis also. I don't have this constraint unless ski companies start looking to sign middle-age wannbe athletes that ski 2X per week (in season) in the midwest. So, I put more stock in the folks opinions on this site who have used these things for 1+ seasons and what they have liked, not liked when making my list of pros/cons.

 

b) Most "pro-level" sponsored skiers, even while skiing at much shorter line lenghts than I will ever be, are so damn good at their craft that they are much less likely to make the mistakes that I will, sending myself out the front (or some variation). When there is a crash at 36 mph and 41 off, it can be a bad one for sure. But the pros you are probably observing are too smart about their skiing ability to get into trouble on those passes, save for rare exceptions of course. Plus their bodies (any pro athlete) are more resistent to injuries than mine. They take 32 off as a warmup and stroll thru the next 3 or 4 passes after that like a walk in the park. That ain't me, and especially trying out new skis the next few seasons I am MUCH more likely than any sponsored skier to do something stupid to cause one of those critical falls we all dread and therefore think the release system is #1 consideration followed by comfort and control in deciding factors.

 

Meant to explain my perspective there earlier, but then the topic surfaced again...

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OH, and after all that, forgot to mention that I ordered my Stealths and plate today, so will be able to at least try them on next week in the comfort of my living room and get a real first impression. Will probalbly play with some adjustments before trying to heat them, leaving open the return option, just in case. Next step is to get the boat out of storage...

 

Thanks for all the feedback on this topic that helped me feel good about this, so far!

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@GOODESkier Nate Smith is the 36mph world record holder & skis on T-Factors. Jeff Rogers is the 34mph world record holder & skis on Wiley's!

 

I see lots of folks sporting Fogmans and Stealths at tournaments and they all seem to love them. I personally loved my Fogmans except they were a pain to get out of. I also know several people who used to ski on Powershells and have since moved on.

 

Like ski boots waterski binders are very much a personal preference for fit and function. There are far too few to choose from to rule any one brand out because they aren't prevalent in the pro ranks.

 

I say this with peace and love!

 

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@jipster43 wasn't suggesting any bindings....... just noting that I tend to see what is actually working well. If you buy a binding based on release I have my idea of the "safest". If you buy one based on comfort I have my idea on what fits and molds the best. If you buy one based on performance............. I just don't see success from anyone on many bindings.

 

But it is a good thing not everyone uses the same binding, keeps prices somewhat in check. To each their own. @phillips‌ Like I said congrats and good luck on the new set up.

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Thanks @G00DESkier, agreed that none of the choices out right now seem best in all categories, but have to choose something. If I end up hating these boots after a season, maybe I'll bolt some shells to the plate, who knows...
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OK, couple more questions for those who have used these Stealths... Not trying to beat this dead horse, but now that I actually HAVE them, and have tried them on (living room floor), have couple follow ups:

 

1) Will they stretch out at all with use and/or the heat molding process? Or is that just to remove "pressure points" as needed? My initial impression was they were going to be too small going in for the first time, then my ankles slid past the narrow part of the opening and foot dropped in all the way and felt comfortable, except for the width. I have just enogh toe room to fit like a pair of shoes, but side-to-side they are tighter thean I'd like, enough to make your foot feel like it may cramp up between pull ups. I'd be curious to try a size 12, but PITA to buy another set knowing I'll be shipping one back, and the length is fine, just have wide feet I guess. Don't mind doing the heat molding if it will help the forefoot area expand a little, but the carbon/lower portion looks like it was molded and very rigid. Also once I do that, I lose the option to return for a larger size...

 

2) Was there a manual shipped with these things? I found the one online but it is pretty generic and does not go into how to take them apart to prepare to heat mold, etc... I'm assuming the foot pad piece pulls out and gives access to the screw heads, but mine are in there pretty tight. Didn't want to find out too late they are adhesive backed, etc... Do I need any special tools to disassemble and adjust thest things, or screwdriver and allen wrench, etc..? Guess I could call Connelly tomorrow, but thought I'd ask here from those with experience.

 

Overall think I will be very happy with them. They seem very well made and after a couple practice runs I think I can get used to the laces. The front laces seem like they are a challenge to get tight because of the way the outer tongue is attached at the bottom of the lace, but at the same time the laces don't need to be very tight down there as the upper "keepers" hold tension and the final buckle keeps pressure around the ankle also. There will definitely be no slop and will be "one" with the ski.

Thanks in advance!

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@phillips you should video and post your first set on hard shells............ I remember not being able to ski around the boat guides! On the flip side, my wife went out and ran her first full pass on her 3rd pass on hard shells. I am always interested in how people adjust.
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@phillips Fwiw I just put my teenage son on new Stradas and his initial impression was that they were too narrow, so severe that he thought he was not able to use them. After heat molding they were perfect.
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@MattP, I actually got back with the dealer I got them from with my fit concerns and he offered right away to get in touch with Connelly, so will try that route first. They have been helpful so far, so thought I'd check with them first. I did see that other thread previously, but the part of the boot he was re-shaping there was above the ankle on one side and I'm wondering if I can create just a little more width in the fofoot area, which seems like it will be harder to accopmlish, but will see what they say.

 

@DanE, I'm glad to hear the Strada heat molding helped, you molded the whole boot, not just the liner then? I'm hoping I can do the same, but not sure if the lower portion of Radar's vs. these are similar materials. If I can pull it off to widen slightly, they will fit like a glove...or shoe I guess.

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@GOODESkier, I bet it would be entertaining to video it, but not sure I'd want to post it! I have this feeling of impending doom for the first couple sets like I'll be lucky to get up at all. From what I've been told and read on here, it's like learning how to walk again, but in the end will force me to have better body position and help in the long run. That's my hope at least. For me, this will be a new ski with first run in hardshells, my performance goal will be to stay off the shore the first couple sets!
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@phillips you'll do fine. It takes a couple passes to get used to things. I did the same, went from an old ski with old rubber bindings to a new ski and hardshells all at once. I kid you not....... I couldn't ski around the boat guides and even make a wake crossing! It was a moment of........ "Other people can do this, what the heck?". You'll get it all dialed in!
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