Black Diamond Factor MX Review

Last spring, I was given the opportunity to review the Black Diamond Factor MX AT ski boot. When the original Factor debuted a few years ago, I was excited- after all, they were one of the first AT boots that were built to ski. Unfortunately, the durability of the first generation Factor left a lot to be desired- the ski/walk mode mechanism was extremely fragile, and the boot soles weren’t much better.

Enter the MX version. While this boot retains the Factor name, it’s quite a bit different than its predecessors.
black diamond factor MX review

One of the big changes that Black Diamond touts with this boot is their “direct connect” system. The Factor MX has interchangeable soles like many other boots in its class. The problem with attaching a boot sole to the boot body is that it creates another point of, for lack of a better word, sloppiness. If you have a boot with interchangeable soles, try placing them in your bindings and moving them side to side- there is a good chance you will see movement at the boot/ boot sole interface. Most boot soles are connected via wood screws (more or less) directly into the plastic shell. The MX has threaded inserts, and the top part of the heel is part of the actual shell for frame or alpine bindings. Gimmicky though “direct connect” may sound, it is an improvement over other systems, and results in more stiffness and power transfer.
factor mx direct connect

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Day One – First Turns of the Season (14 Oct 2014)

Every fall, the air changes. The prevailing winds persist and carry the scent of fall along with the crispness in the air. Warm hues illuminate the peaks. And as the leaves begin to drop, I anticipate with great angst, the oncoming of winter.
Brittany Konsella skiing first turns 2014-15

I am not one who usually ventures out on the first storm. I often wait for two or three storm cycles to blanket our peaks in white. But, I also usually lay my first turns before the end of October. And I didn’t want this year to be different.

Ben McShan skiing

Ben smiles with the first turns of the season.

The first storm came as September transitioned to October. And the next storm came a little over a week later. But, the forecast then predicted an unusually long dry spell. I suddenly realized that if I wanted to seek backcountry turns in October, I might not be able to wait for another storm. So, I took advantage of what snow we did have, rallied a friend, and went skiing.

Admittedly, things didn’t look so hot when we started. The road was slick with a bit of fresh snow, but it was only a couple of inches deep.
skinning up road for first turns

But, I held faith that the typical north-to-east-facing zone would be wind loaded with snow. Sure enough, as we rounded the corner, things began to look a bit better :)
Ben skinning for first turns of the season

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Photo TR: Hartman’s Season

It’s shoulder season, so that means the annual migration of Crested Butte mountain bikers heading downvalley to drier temperatures and dryer conditions at Gunnison’s Hartman Rocks recreation area. In my opinion, fall is the most beautiful time of year in the high desert. Whether it’s the angle of the sun, or the muted colors of autumn, either way I love it. With wet weather plaguing Crested Butte, we headed down to “sunny Gunny” for a beautiful afternoon of biking. I hope you enjoy the photos:
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