Better Than Intuition Liners? Palau Liner Review

Yes, it’s only August, but it’s that time of year again to start thinking about next season’s gear. Here at 14erskiers home base, we’re already noticing that tiny bit of crispness in the air, signifying the approaching change of season as we head towards Autumn.

Last spring, I was given the opportunity to use and review a pair of Palau Alpine Air Breath liners in my Tecnica Cochise AT boots. Palau is a French company, and their liners come stock (or have in the past) for boot manufacturers such as Dynafit and Garmont, as well as Tecnica’s Cochise Light model. Here in North America, the gold standard for aftermarket boot liners seems to be the offerings from Intuition, which both Brittany and I have considerable experience with (In my case, the Powerwrap model). So, how did these Palau liners stack up?

Liner with and without the Cochise shell

Out of the box, the first thing you’ll notice is that these liners (like Intuitions) are light. Palau’s advertised weight for these liners is 400g- I am not sure which size that represents, nor did I find a scale to weigh my own since that isn’t our main concern here at 14erskiers, but it was obvious to me that replacing my stock liners with the Palaus dropped some weight for my boot system.

The tongue can be fixed into a perfect position thanks to Velcro. For years, racers have actually cut their tongues out in order to position them inside their shells at an optimum position. I, for one, am a huge fan of this performance feature on the Palaus.

Another obvious feature right out of the box is the cut of the liners which allow for a tremendous amount of fore-aft movement, as shown in the following photos:

This is an important feature for many of today’s modern AT boots which feature a high range of movement. Another great feature of the Palaus is the “pre-installed” ankle “L-pads”. I frequently use these pads on stock and aftermarket liners to help take up room between the Achilles tendon and the ankle bone, but happily the Palaus already have them.

The liners are thermomoldable, much like other liners- heat them up, put them in your shells, and let them cool as they form to your feet and shells. From the first run, these liners were comfortable, and they took a boot that I already believe to be the best skiing AT boot on the market to another level completely. Responsiveness with these liners was excellent- in fact I would even consider these liners for my alpine boots, which is something I normally reserve only for the amazing zipfit aftermarket liner (zipfits are not a valid option for AT boots). Like many liners of this type, the Palaus are warm- warmer than the stock liners by quite a bit. Despite this, they breathe fairly well, and they have not developed a stench by any means.

MSRP for these liners (they are available directly from Palau on the first link of this review) is 95 EUR, which is currently about $117 US dollars. Depending on model, this is up to $100 less than Intuitions (Palau 1, Intuition 0). Intuitions are made in China, which I personally try to avoid due primarily to China’s occupation of Tibet and other political reasons. Palaus are made in France (Palau 2, Intuition 0). I found Intuitions to pack out quickly- the Palaus have not (Palau 3, Intuition 0). I found both touring and downhill performance to be superior in Palaus (Palau 5, Intuition 0). Intuition durability is superior to that of the Palau liner. My Palaus developed this tear in the flex area in a relatively short amount of time. In the future, Palau will need to reinforce this area.

(Palau 5, Intuition 1). As you can tell, I was exceptionally pleased with the Palau liners. The popular opinion on Intuition liners is that they are the gold standard, but to be honest I never found them to be that incredible outside of their incredible weight savings, something the Palaus share. If you’re in the market for an aftermarket liner, check out Palau.

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Frank Konsella

Frank loves snow more than anything... except his wife.  He ensures his food is digested properly by chewing it 32 times before swallowing.He is a full-time real estate agent serving Crested Butte and Gunnison and his website is CrestedButteRealEstateAgent

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18 Comments

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  1. so frank,
    when you were still in the Zeus boot how’d you feel about the stock dynafit liner. I haven’t been especially enamored of it but it did fit my foot well and worked ok overall with custom footbeds. I need to replace my liners in the zeus and wonder how the palau’s compare . . .

  2. I thought the stock zzeus liner was OK. I did like the lace-up feature and I did put a lot of miles on them until they packed out too much. There is a good chance that it was made by Palau, but I’ll try to doublecheck tonight. I replaced them with Intuitions and they simply didn’t take up enough room for my skinny legs- a problem I would not have had with the Palau liners I’m currently using. [Of course a different Intuition may have treated me better just as a different Palau may have been worse.]

  3. I am wondering what makes you say that Zipfits are not an option for AT boots? I have the Cochise, and was looking for a new liner. The Zipfit website actually lists a Tour version, but it looks like the only real difference is the spoiler is not a solid piece. I have no experience with the Zipfits, so I am curious about your take on it.

  4. Thanks for the comment, this is a good one to discuss. I should start by saying that I am not overly familiar with Zipfit’s Tour model, though I did check it out. I have been using their alpine model for 12 or so years. I love, love, love them in my alpine boots, and I highly recommend them for that application. they are a much different animal than liners like Intuition and Palau in that they are not foam based. Even my bootfitter calls what they are made out of “goo”- basically a viscous material made up of silicone and cork bits. Every time you ski in these liners, the mixture heats up and more or less remolds to your feet, so they’re pretty amazing from a performance perspective and they more or less never pack out.

    One of the biggest selling points of the foam-based liners like Palau is that they’re incredibly light. I’m no gram-counting weight weenie, but switching for the stock liner to the Palau resulted in both better performance and a drop in weight, and I’m all for that. The zipfit goo is not light- in fact I’d bet good money that my alpine zipfit liners weigh more than several models of skimo racing boots and liners. I did not see the weight of the zipfit tour listed, but I’m guessing they’re fairly heavy as well. Another issue with the goo is that its insulation qualities leave a lot to be desired. They’re cold. Not a big deal inbounds, but potentially a big deal out in the bc. My final thought on zipfit is whether or not it would allow the same freedom of movement as the Palaus while touring.

    All that said, it depends on what you’re using your Cochises for. If you’re doing a lot of inbounds, slackcountry, short tours, and snowmobile laps with them, they might be a great choice. I do longer tours so I’m not sure they’re what I’m looking for, but I could be wrong.

    If you go for it, please report back on what you think of the zipfit tours.

  5. Its interesting that you have been so happy with the Palau’s. My only experience with Palau liners was the old G-fit liners, which I, like many others, hated. When you say these ski better than intuitions, are you comparing them to the Power Wraps (which you comment you have a lot of experience with)? Power Wraps ski great, but they do limit range of motion for touring so I’ve been thinking about trying some tongue liners, but I haven’t liked any I’ve tried so far. It seems the wrap really adds skiing performance. Do these Palau’s really stack up against Power Wraps on the descent? On a side note, did you ever get to ski (or at least try on) the Cochise light? Thanks!
    Justin

  6. My old Adrenaline liners were also the G-fit liners. I didn’t hate them, but I certainly didn’t love them. In an effort to get more downhill performance out of that boot, I went with the Power Wraps, realizing that it may not have been a great choice for the up. They were instantly too low-volume for my foot and I never really got the increase in dh performance I was looking for. Next up were my zzeus boots and their stock liner made by Palau. Again, a pretty mediocre stock liner. Once again seeking more dh performance, I remolded the power wraps and gave that a shot in the zzeus. I was again underwhelmed for the same reasons. In the end, I think I simply don’t like wrap liners. The Intuition tongue liners I’ve tried to work with didn’t impress me so I gave the Palaus a try and yes, I’ve been happy with them. And I would say that I get a lot more dh performance out of them than the powerwraps. Even approaching zipfit dh performance.

    I tried on the Cochise Pro at SIA, since it is a different last, but only fondled the Cochise Light since the shell is largely identical to the regular Cochise. BTW, one of the main reasons for the weight loss of the Light is the use of a Palau liner (I believe quite similar to the one I have reviewed).

  7. Are the tongue and cuff of the Palaus pretty stiff? Their website says “Important flexion due to the liner construction, easy walk and soft flexing tongue for freeriding.” The part about soft flexing tongue worries me…

  8. I just grabbed the liner to confirm this. If you look past the horrible translation, I think they’re trying to say that they allow movement at the bottom of the tongue (i.e. where your ankle flexes). The upper part of the tongue is quite stiff- not as stiff as an alpine liner which may even have some plastic there, but stiff.

    Take a look at the Cochise review and photo #6 (unfortunately a little blurry). The stock liner has a little oval shaped cutout at the bottom of the tongue to allow movement there, which I hated because it often pinched. This is the area where the Palaus are “soft flexing”. Hope that makes sense.

  9. Couple more questions for you.. I think you commented on this but I didnt fully understand it, how much volume did the Palau liners take up compared to the stock liner or Powerwraps? Regarding the Cochise in general, do you ever feel the rearward range of motion (ROM) in touring mode is limiting? It does not have nearly as much ROM as some of the dynafits and scarpas, but its hard to know if thats really an issue, unless you are doing super long flat approaches.

  10. Justin- The Palaus take up the same volume as the stock liners, and more than the powerwraps.

    I have not found the touring ROM of the Cochise to be limiting at all. In fact, when I took those side by side photos of the Cochise and the Dynafit zzeus boots, I was actually quite surprised to see that the Cochise had less ROM. In practice, the Cochise is SO much smoother than the dynafit that it actually tours much better, IMO.

  11. Great review on the Palau Alpine Air.

    I’m trying to decide on getting the Intuition Powerwrap liner or the Palau OVPH overlap liner. The Palau are near $100 cheaper.
    I have a skinny calf so I’d like to try the wrap style. I can’t find any reviews on the Palau overlap. Do you think they are comparable to intuition Powerwrap?
    Thanks!

  12. Kyle, I have not tried the Palau overlap, so I’m afraid I can’t comment on those. I also have skinny calves, and I can tell you that the Intuition powerwrap/ Dynafit zzeus combo did not work very well for me in that area. FYI, Zipfits are heavier and more expensive than either Palau or Intuition- but if you really need to take up space, Zipfits are pretty amazing liners.

  13. Thanks, I decided to order the Palau Alpine Air instead. I am swapping them for the stock liners in the new Dynafit One boot.

  14. I received the Air Breath today from France. Supr fast shipping, total $115 w shipping.

    The only difference is the tounge does not have the Velcro fastner. I’m not sure why but on their website it does show them without it as well. I’m getting them custom molded at my Local shop soon here in Los Angeles, already looking forward to next season.

    They are super light and comfortable as you mentioned. I think for the price Intuition has a serious contender should word get out :) thanks again for the review!

  15. Awesome Kyle, I hope they work out for you. Thanks for the update re: the velcro on the tongue.

  16. Hi everybody
    I inform you that Palau ski boot liners range will be update for season 2014.
    Prices will remain accessible because Palau develop and manufacture the liners and directly sell them to users. Intuition import from Chinese manufacturer “Super Dragon” and user buy the Intuition marketing.
    Have a good season.
    Fred

  17. Thanks for supporting friendlier countries concerning freedom the future the environment and plenty more – thanks too for helping with performance up and down those mighty mt s – best regards

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