Objectives: I was looking for a replacement for my old leather ski touring boots. A lightweight, inexpensive and robust boot that you can use off trail. What has happened in the past 15 years is an entire type of ski touring has been forgotten. Simple, lightweight ski touring boots have disapppeared from the market, to be replaced with snowshoes. When I started in 1975 in Calgary, the use of light Nordic skis for backcountry use was just being discovered. Suddenly a whole new set of extended backcountry trips and traverses became possible, which were too long for the alpine touring skis. So the new generation started with light and inexpensive skis and leather boots and blew the old guard away. Then in the early 1980's the telemark turn got re-discovered as a means of forcing the skis to turn. But then "telemarking" started to be pushed as an objective in itself, and the manufacturers kept making the boots heavier and stiffer and much more expensive. Finally, they just started pushing AT gear. Meanwhile the X-Country stuff got lighter, and flimsier such that it couldn't be used off trail. So that left a huge hole in the middle, and no-one was making light inexpensive backcountry equipment. To fill that void, hundreds turned to snowshoes. So if you go to Diamond Head or many other local areas today, you'll see more snowshoes than skis.
For the last 15 years, I've been getting by with various pairs of old leather boots I bought at cheapskates. And several times, I'd check the stores to see if anybody was making a robust and flexible backcountry boot that could be used with the classic, reliable cable bindings. But I found none. The problem with the new types of pure X Country bindings is they are not robust enough. The boots ice up under real backcountry exploration conditions, such as plunge stepping up a peak, or down a gulley or along the edge of a river. In the 1970's we learned that the only reliable design was the nordic norm cable binding. At that time, the manufacturers were pushing the three pin system, which was fine for groomed day trips, but iced up in combat situations. The old cable binding system was the AK-47 of the ski touring world. All we need is suitable boots.
The thing about flexible boots is you can use simpler, lighter, more robust bindings, because you don't need any release mechanism.