Finding the right ski boots can mean the difference between a productive, fun day of runs and a day of discomfort and potential injury. Whether you’re renting for the day, for the season or purchasing your gear, it’s essential to get the right fit. Luckily, Christy Sports offers some tips for finding ski boots that are a perfect fit.
According to Christy Sports, the most important factors in bootfitting include:
Foot shape – All brands offer different models designed to fit different foot widths, also known as lasts. A narrow last is 97mm-99mm, a medium last is 99mm-102mm and a wide last is 102mm-104mm. The overlap is due to variation between brands. Also keep in mind that different brands will fit somewhat differently.
Skill Level – In order to determine the correct fit, you should consider several key factors. These include the shape of your foot, skiing skill level and the type of terrain you enjoy skiing. You can determine your skill level by the terrain you ski, as well as the difficulty of runs you enjoy. Difficulty levels normally translate as green (marked) runs for beginners, blue runs for intermediate and black for advanced. Expert skiers looking for extra difficulty might seek out double black runs as well as backcountry areas. When determining your skill level, remember beginners prefer slower speeds on smooth slopes with a gentle to moderate pitch. Intermediate skiers prefer a variety of speeds on variable terrain. Advanced skiers prefer faster, more aggressive skiing on slopes of moderate to steep pitch.
Flex – Flex is another important aspect of choosing a ski boot. Your skill level, height and weight, and terrain of choice determine the right amount of flex. Beginning skiers should consider wearing a softer ski boot. Softer boots typically allow novice skiers to gain skill more quickly. As a skier becomes more advanced, he or she will benefit from a boot that is stiffer in order to handle faster speeds and increased slope pitch.
A skier’s height and weight effect the necessary ski boot flex in predictable ways. A heavier person should consider a boot with a stiffer flex than a lighter person. Along the same lines, a tall skier has more natural leverage to flex a boot and should start with a stiffer boot than a shorter skier.
When assessing boot flex, considering terrain is also a good idea. A skier who likes to ski hard snow may want a stiffer ski boot, while a skier who prefers powder may prefer a softer boot.
Trying on your boots – Fit is one of the most important aspects of choosing boots for skiing. If your boots are too tight they can restrict circulation and potentially harm your feet. Boots that are too loose won’t provide proper control, and incorrect alignment can harm your feet.
A good fit requires the boot to fit snugly on all areas of your foot and leg, with no painful pressure when flexing. When you try on boots, wear thin synthetic socks or a thin wool performance sock of the same style you’ll be wearing on the slopes. Wear them for at least 20 minutes, walking around and standing to allow your feet and the boots time to adjust.
When standing up, your toes should just touch the end of the boots without being pressed into them. When you flex the boot forward your toes should slightly pull away from the end. A proper fit is essential to ensuring performance and enjoyment on the slopes regardless of skill level.
Christy Sports has the knowledge and the talent to help you find the right ski boot. Consulting a Christy Sports specially-trained bootfitter at any of their locations is a great way to get expert advice on this important process.
Getting the perfect fit on a ski boot is a holy grail of sorts. Not all boots are the perfect fit for all feet right out of the box. But even if you had achieved the perfect fit, now imagine that your feet are a different size every ski season. Madness, right?
That’s exactly the case with my three kids (and most everybody’s kids, for that matter). I get the little chiddlers fit in boots one year, and they grow out of them the next. Over the years, we’ve had footbeds installed at Christy Sports and had shells cut (to make the boot less stiff) at Larry’s Bootfitting in Boulder. At Podium Sports in Frisco, they even added shims and inserted a little screw into the spoiler of the boot to increase the forward lean angle. That little magic trick changed my then 10-year-old son’s skiing instantly.
Now that I have teenagers, I thought boot fitting might get simpler, but this season they really sent me chasing my tail.
My 13-year-old daughter is like Goldilocks. In early October, she tried on last season’s boots. “These boots are too small.” So, I went out to the garage, where I have about 10 assorted pairs of hand-me-down ski boots, and found the next size up. (My garage is like the Island of Lost Ski Gear.) My husband moved her Hotronic boot warmers from the old boots to a pair of pre-owned Tecnicas, which is not the easiest process and probably best left to a professional boot fitter. But my husband is handy. She tried them on. “These boots are just right!”
Fast forward to Thanksgiving week, when we hit the slopes for the first day. “These boots are (now) too small.” Seriously.
“My toes are curled up inside the front of the boot,” she said. “They are killing me!!!”
“Those are brand-new boots!” I countered. (“Okay, brand-new to you.”)
We skied anyway, but there was a lot of whinging on the chairlift.
At home, I went back out to the garage and found a slightly loved pair of Lange boots in a slightly bigger size. I switched the Hotronics from the Tecnicas to the Langes. Out with the liners, in with the liners. Repeat. She slipped her feet in.
“Now these are comfortable,” she said.
Which in the world of ski boots, probably meant the boots were too big. But we gave them a try up at Eldora the next day. I asked how the new boots were feeling at the bottom of the first run.
“Um, I think they’re too big,” she said.
It was time for professional help. My knuckles were raw from pulling liners in and out of shells. We brought the boots into Christy Sports, where you can find a boot fitter who also happens to be a ski coach at Eldora (Eric is just one of a squadron of savvy boot fitters at the shop). I brought both boots, a pair of thin ski socks, and my daughter to the shop. Eric confirmed that both boots were the right size (by having her stand in the empty shell with her toes touching the front of the boot and measuring how many fingers could fit behind her heel). The Lange boots were a better choice, he said, for her foot shape. This is the kind of thing a good boot fitter knows. The problem was that her lower leg is so svelte that we couldn’t buckle the top buckles tight enough for her not to be sloshing around in the boot. Eric moved the top buckles over (I believe rivets were involved), and voilà!! The boots are now perfect.
We weren’t done yet. My son, who is 15 and is a ski racer, has a size 12 foot. His feet are like seal flippers. Last year, I put him in an adult customizable vacuum-seal Fischer boot that retails for $750, so I was very interested in him getting at least two seasons out of them. In October, he tried them on and said they felt a little pinchy.
“It’s just because you’ve been wearing flip flops all summer,” I said.
“Mom, my feet are starting to go numb,” said he.
Back to Christy Sports for more boot fitting. Eric ground out a little material from the shell in the front, then ground a little more, and voilà! They fit. Albeit like a super-tight glove.
They were great for his early ski training in October and November. By Thanksgiving, the boots were feeling tight again. (Can feet really grow in 2 months?) We went back to Christys for round two. It wasn’t the toes getting crushed this time, it was a pressure on the forefoot that was cutting off his circulation.
This time, Eric shaved a little off the custom footbed and a little off the boot board underneath. Voilà! It was just enough room to make the boots comfortable but still retaining a precision fit that would allow instant transfer of power from foot to ski.
Getting the right fit year after year is a challenge with kids, but it’s not insurmountable. In the end, we made three trips to the shop, but both kids are happy and skiing. The key to it all was having a good boot fitter and a bit of perseverance.