A Guide to Buying New Ski Boots
Find a specialist boot fitter.
Buying a ski boot is not like buying a pair of trainers, most people don’t know what a correctly fitted ski boot should feel like. So this is where the experts come in. Your boot fitters job is an essential one. After a thorough assessment of your feet, your skiing experience and skiing goals, they’ll pick an appropriate boot for you.
Sorry picking a boot off the shelf because of the style or colour just won’t cut it. If you want comfort and performance on the slopes then find a specialist. A little online research is all it takes. Pay close attention to their level of experience and any qualifications they have. As well as reading all-important customer reviews to hear what their past clients have to say about the service offered. You can also tell a lot about a company by what they say on their website. If they go into detail about the boot fitting process and speak with authority you’re likely onto a safe bet.
Make an appointment.
It is recommended you make an appointment. Any good boot fitter will provide a one-on-one boot fitting appointment to ensure they allow plenty of time to give you a complete service. These can usually be made online and you’ll need about an hour to complete a thorough process. Don’t forget, as a recreational skier you’re looking to buy a pair of boots that will last you for the next ten years. So don’t rush this process, an investment of an hour is an hour well spent.
Preparing for the appointment
To get the most from your appointment, bring your old ski boots (if you have any) and your ski socks. Make sure your toenails are well trimmed, and be advised during the boot fit you’ll need to roll your trousers up, so no skinny jeans!
Your boot fitter will usually make you a tea or coffee and then begin the process of getting to know you better. This involves asking you questions about your skiing history, level and goals. Before they start on your feet. You’ll need to get your shoes and socks off for this, and roll up your trouser legs. A good boot fitter will take lots of accurate measurements, both weighted and unweighted (or stood up/sat down in non-boot fitter terms) and will also look at your body alignment.
After they have collected all the information they will pick one or two suitable boots and do a shell check. If a boot fitter is just selecting boots and asking you to try them on for size this should ring alarm bells. The average person does not know how a well fitted boot should feel and so is not best placed to make this decision. The first thing your boot fitter should do is remove the liner, and place your foot inside the boot shell (the plastic part). What they’ll be looking to check is the space between your foot and the shell. This is really important as the foam liner will mould to the foot, whereas the plastic shell is rigid and will need to profile the foot correctly.
If the boot fitter is happy with the shell profile they will check your ski socks to make sure they are appropriate. Then it is on with the boot. This is probably going to feel a little alien, maybe even a little too tight. That is perfectly normal. It might surprise you to know many people are in a pair of boots one size too big or more. Over the years we’ve seen skiers in boots up to 4 sizes too big, we’re not joking! Once in your boots, your boot fitter will ask you to flex forward. This will pull the toes away from the end of the boot.
A good boot fitter won’t sell a ski boot without a custom insole, or footbed as they’re commonly known. A footbed provides support to the foot. These are moulded to your unique foot shape to ensure comfort and performance on the slopes. They are usually made using a process where the boot fitter takes a cast of your foot before applying heat to form the footbed. All good boot fitters will block in the underside of the footbed. This involves fitting stabilisation to the underside of the footbed to ensure that your foot is fully supported and that it does not move around. This will take the boot fitter some time to finish. But you don’t need to be there for this process, if there’s a coffee shop, or afternoon tea in your chalet calling.
Completing the boot work
It will take the boot fitter at least an hour to finish off your boot. During this time they will have finished the footbeds and made any necessary adjustments to your boots. This might involve stretching the plastic shell to accommodate the lumps and bumps, that many of us are blessed with.
Skiing in your boots
Make sure you wear the socks that your boot fitter has suggested for the most comfortable fit. And if you’re wondering how to get into these beasts without stamping a hole in the floor, this useful guide on getting into your new boots might help.
Always do your boots up correctly when walking around resort as this will help to protect their longevity (and your resort cred). Open buckles get caught on steps, and loose power straps get trodden on.
It is normal for the boot to feel tight on the first use. Your foot will settle into the boot. But if you have any niggles and feel you need adjustments, don’t worry this is normal, and often easily remedied. Just pop back to the shop where you bought them and they should be happy to make these adjustments for free.
To get the most from your ski boots we also recommend booking a lesson with a qualified instructor. They will help you to find your balance in your new boots and you’ll be able to take your skiing to the next level.
Now you’re all set. All you need to do is look after your boots and they’ll do you proud for some time.
If you’re considering investing in a new pair of boots and you’re heading to the Three Valleys then we’re here to help. We offer free appointments, and all boots come with a comfort guarantee. So you’ve nothing to lose. And all those ski miles to gain. Hope to see you in resort soon.