Ski Boots

How to Fit Ski Boots

Ski boots are the easiest piece of equipment you’ll buy because they’re the only piece of equipment you can actually try in the store. The most important thing about buying ski boots is to make sure they fit correctly when you buy them! Most boot fitting problems are related to boots that were fit improperly to begin with. And the most common fitting mistake is that when people that don’t know how to buy ski boots they end up buying them too big!

These are the essentials of proper ski boot fitting:

The most correct way to size a pair of boots is to remove the liner from the ski boot shell and put your stocking foot inside the shell of the boot. Stand up and put weight on your foot, slide your foot forward until your toes are lightly brushing the end of the shell. For recreational skiers there should be about _” between the back of your heel and the inside of the shell. Racers should shoot for about _”.

Boot fitting:

When you first put on a correct sized ski boot your toes will hit the end of the boot. Don’t worry about that yet. Lightly buckle the boot shut then flex forward firmly a few times to get your heel seated back in the boot (this should pull your toes back off the end of the boot). After you’ve seated your heel back in the boot flex forward and buckle the lower buckles to a normal skiing tension, this will hold your foot back in the boot. Next, rise up until the back of your leg touches the back of the boot and the shaft of your leg follows the shaft of the boot. DON’T LEAN BACK IN THE BOOT. Buckle the upper buckles to a normal skiing tension.

How do they fit? When you’re standing in a neutral stance, not leaning forward or backward but your leg is following the forward lean of the boot, your toes should be lightly brushing the end of the boot. When you flex forward into a skiing position with your legs pushing against the front of the boot, your toes should pull off the end of the boot. It’s important to make sure that new boots fit like this because the inner liners will pack out and the boot will grow. In fact the boot will never again be a small as they are the moment you first put the boot on. If you can’t touch the end of the boot with your toes when you’re standing in a neutral position the boot is too big.

Socks the least expensive most important piece of ski equipment you’ll ever buy are ski socks.

Every boot manufacturer will tell you that the last 10% of the fit of a ski boot are in the ski socks. Ski socks are tightly woven, fitted socks with no ribbing where the boot touches the foot or the leg. They’re made from blended wool, silk or man made polypropylene or insulated Thermax. DO NOT WEAR COTTON ATHLETIC SOCKS! Unlike wool, cotton fibers mat down when they get wet and they make your feet cold.

Always fit the boot with single pair of ski socks. Never wear two pair of socks because it’s too easy for the bottom layer of sock to wrinkle and cause a pressure point. Also, the bottom of your long underware should be above the top of the boot. There should be nothing between your foot and the boot except for a single ski sock.

Warm feet hint :

Drive to the ski area in your regular socks and put your ski socks on right when your put your ski boots. If you drive to the area in your ski socks they’ll become wet from perspiration during the dry and make your feet cold. If you have a problem with cold feet (which is usually caused because your feet are wet from perspiration) try spraying your feet with an antiperspirant before you put you ski socks on. That should help you feet stay drier.

Performance vs. Price Inexpensive entry level boots, use softer plastic shells, and softer less dense foam liners. The fit is looser and the emphasis is on “cush” rather than support. Higher performance, more expensive boots use firmer shells and more dense less cushy liners. The liner fits snugger to the foot. Performance oriented liners often have multiple layers of foam in them with softer more comfortable layers next to the foot and progressively more dense layers toward the outside of the liner to hold the foot more securely.

Less expensive entry-level boots use stitched liners. The bottom of the liner is stitched to the side of the liner giving the liner square corners next to the foot and a less supportive fit. Performance oriented liners are lasted. Lasting is a process where the liner is made around a form of a foot which gives the liner more of a foot shape with a defined arch and heel pocket. Lasted liners ski much better than stitched liners.

The ski boot is the link between the skier and the skis. The looser and sloppier the link, the less control the skier has over their skis. The firmer and more responsive the link the more control the skier has over their skis. Trying different boots at various price points will give you a quick indication of how much more supportive the boots become as they get more expensive. Many shops will have a device that will clamp the boots down firmly onto a ramped board. This allows you try different performance level boots on, flex them firmly and evaluate how well each boot holds your foot in place.

The best advice is to get the most expensive boot you can afford because more expensive boots mean more support, which ultimately means better control and better skiing technique.

Be sure to read the section on Custom Fitting to learn how to make your boots perform better.

How to Fit Kids Ski Boots

Kids’ boots are harder to fit than adult boots because kids can’t verbalize how the boot feels. A good way to get an idea on how the foot is going to fit the boot is to put the child’s stocking foot against the bottom of the shell of the boot. There should be about an inch between the toes and the front of the boot and an inch between the heel and the back of the boot. That will give you some room to grow without getting it so big that the foot slides around inside.

You need to be very specific about what you’re asking kids when you’re fitting them for boots. Don’t ask, “how does it feel?” Instead, tell them the boot is suppose to be snug and ask “does it hurt or pinch anywhere?” or “is your foot loose or sliding around?”.

Make sure that the child can flex the boot. Some kids’ boots are so stiff that the child can’t even bend the upper cuff. If they can’t flex the boot it will be very difficult for them to learn proper ski’ technique. Also keep in mind that if they can’t flex the boot in the ski shop when its 70 degrees, they’ll never be able to flex it outside when it’s cold and the plastic shell stiffens up.