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Uncomfortable, toe-crunching, calf-strangling ski boots have always been considered a necessary evil. Two months ago, though, Dahu Ski Boots, a Swiss-born company that recently opened its North American headquarters in Eagle, decided to add some more flexibility to the market. The Dahu Écorce 01 features a cushy snowboard-boot-like liner supported by a rigid, plastic exterior casing. Not only does the padded inner footwear soften pain while catching turns, but the outer frame also opens so the interior boot can escape for midday breaks and après sessions. Jon Jay, head of gear testing at Ski Magazine, says the Écorce is great for older or intermediate skiers looking for a more relaxed fit but lacks the unassailable stiffness sought by many experts. That’s just fine with Dahu global president Clark Gundlach, who believes the majority of skiers simply want a more comfortable boot: “It fits the needs of 80 percent of the skiing population.” With a decidedly high-end cost ($899), he’s also betting there’s no such thing as too great a price to pay for that comfort. Buy from Ski Dahu or Amazon