My favorite shoes are neither cute nor sexy and I typically can’t wait to take them off at the end of the day. I spent a lot money and time choosing these oh-so-clunky kicks but they reward me every time I wear them. They are my ski boots and they fit delightfully.
Properly fitted ski boots make a massive difference in both the performance of your skis and your comfort throughout the day. They are the connection between your body and the ski, making them a crucial part of the performance formula. While they aren’t designed to be bedroom-slipper comfy, boots that are toe numbing and shin bruising can wreck your day. Striking the right balance means investing in a pair of well-fitted boots. Odds are, ski boots borrowed from the back of your old college roomie’s garage aren’t a good bet. Borrow ski pants, a coat, and even skis, but invest (time and money) into good boots.
Rule #1 – Price doesn’t equal fit. The most expensive boots may not be the best for you. This process is about investing time in finding the right fit, not just spending money.
Rule #2 – Don’t be swayed by flashy good looks, ski boots are only as good as the fit. If you have other priorities, I’ll save you some time…this post isn’t for you.
Ski Boot Buying Tips
Before the fitting:
Find an experienced and talented boot fitter. This is a purchase best made locally. As time passes, you’ll likely need adjustments made to your boots, so a relationship with a local shop will come in handy. Ask avid skiers and check review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s list for “boot savant” recommendations.
Schedule several hours for your fitting. This process can’t be rushed and usually takes two or more hours. Tip: buy your boots at a slow time of day, during the week, or even off-season, to ensure you have the fitter’s undivided attention.
Prepare for the fitting by clipping your toenails and wearing shorts our loose pants that can pull up to the knee. Bring the same socks you will wear on the slopes with you to the fitting. Preferably they should be a single pair of thin, snug, wool or synthetic socks. Don’t skimp and wear dress or cotton socks. Instead, invest in a pair that will take care of you. I’m a huge fan of FITS.
Understand the fitting process so that you can play an active role. This is especially important if you don’t have access to an expert fitter. Reading this post and others on boot fitting is a good start.
The fitting process:
1. Q & A – The fitter will need to know you level of expertise. Be honest, this isn’t the time to let your pride get in the way of your comfort.
2. Foot measurement – Both the length and width of your foot impact which brands and models will fit the best.
3. Try on boots – Based on your Q & A and measurements, the fitter will give you several boots to try on.
4. First try on the shell with the liner removed – Position your toes flat and just touching the front of the shell. You should have about ½ to ¾ of an inch of space between your heel and the back of the shell.
5. Next, try on the liner – It should fit snug and align to the shape of your foot.
6. Lastly place the liner back into the shell and try them on together. Properly fitted boots should feel uniformly tight, like a handshake (with no pressure points), but not painful. The foot should sit flat and the toes just brushing the front of the boot with room to wiggle while standing, and then pull away when the leg is flexed. Your heel should remain in place and not slip as you flex.
7. Decide if you want a custom liner or foot bed – Custom liners and or foot-beds can make a large difference in the comfort and fit of your boot. The time to add them is during the fitting so that your boots can be sized to accommodate.
8. Spend at least 10-15 minutes in your top picks – Boots that feel good initially may reveal pressure points over time, while others may fit better.
9. Final adjustments – Once you’ve settled on a pair of boots, the technician will do final adjustments and custom fitting. Now it’s time to head for the hills to try them out. Don’t be surprised if you need to return for a few more tweaks after a few days on the slopes.
Ski boots may not be sleek and sexy, but the time and money you spend on them will be rewarded in performance and comfort on a powder day.