How Boots Should Fit
1) First of all, when you put them on, they should immediately feel too small. Your big toe should be hitting the end of the boot.
When you buckle up the cuff of the boot,
it should pull your foot slightly towards the back of the boot,
which gives you a little bit more room, but your toe should still touch the front of the boot.
2) The next thing you need to do, is get into a skiing stance. Your knees should be slightly bent and your weight should rest on the front leg of the boot.
You should feel your toes move slightly back from the front of the boot
without too much slop (meaning you shouldn't be able to spread your toes out).
3) Now check for pressure points. Concentrate on the areas around the cuff, the front of your shin, around the ball of your foot, over your arch, and around your heel and ankle. All of these can be problem areas (and yes, that list does include most of your foot).
4) Check the rear of the boot
for heel lift. You want to make sure that your foot isn't moving up or down too much inside your boot.
5) I would recommend buying your boots
a couple weeks before your big trip, that way you can wear them around your house (try to stay on carpet so that you don't make wear marks on the soles of your boots)
for a day or so. Give yourself enough time to figure out if they'll work for you (I recommend watching a movie in them). If a problem presents itself that wasn't noticeable at the store, then you still have a chance to return the boots.
6) Some boots
have a heat molding foam inside them. This allows boots
to form to your foot for a more "custom" fit. Heat mold them only after you have completed the above steps. Some shops won't take back a pair of boots
that have already been heat molded (and for good reason, I wouldn't want a pair of boots
molded to someone else's feet). This process is not a silver bullet for boot
fitting. In fact, many people can't tell the difference between a heat molded boot
and a non heat molded boot.
This should only be used as a quick break in for your boots.
You can get your boots
about 80% broken in with these systems before you actually get onto the slopes (this is good news for flatlanders where it might take two or more vacations for them to get their boots
Factors to Consider When Buying a Boot
With that note about gimmicks, it's important to note that there are some things that definitely make some boots
better then others.
are designed to flex more than others. Generally, a stiffer boot
is preferred for stronger skiers because it helps them transfer energy to their skis
more efficiently. Softer flexing boots
are preferred by people learning how to ski
because the boots
are more forgiving. To see more info on boot
flex see Ski Boot
Make sure to look at the hardware on the boot.
have adjustable, metal hardware for buckles, whereas cheaper boots
tend to have plastic buckles.
There are two types of materials a boot
can be made from: polyolefine and polyether. It's easy to tell the difference between the two materials. You can see through polyether (it's slightly transparent) and polyefine is always opaque.
Polyolefine is a lighter material that is typically used in cheaper boots.
Because of its light weight, it is not as stiff as polyether.
Polyether is heavier, denser, and is less brittle when it gets colder. Polyether also generally lasts longer.
Last, and probably the least noticed, is adjustability. Better boots
have more adjustability than lesser models. Ideally, when you flex down on your boot,
your knees should be centered over the boot.
The top cuff's angle can sometimes be adjusted to lean to one side or the other (this is called "canting"). You can use a plumb bob to make sure your knees are centered up on your boots.
Watch out For Gimmicks
designer comes out with all kinds of technology to shock and awe prospective buyers, including everything from Recco Reflectors to integrated boot
heaters. Don't be fooled, these products are cool, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to fit. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't use integrated boot
heaters as a reason to not pick a boot,
it's just that personalized fit trumps other technology every time.
As a ski boot
salesman, my first line of defense is a heel lift. This can solve many seemingly unrelated problems. For example, if the top of the cuff is pinching the wearer's calf too much, often a heel lift can raise their leg up just enough to fit at a narrower part of the leg.
Another popular trick is the addition of an arch support. As people grow older, their feet tend to flatten and spread out. This can lead to an increase in pressure on the sides of the boot
around the ball of the foot. Sometimes by adding an arch support, it is able to support their foot in a more natural position and alleviate the pressure from the sides of their boots.
If All Else Fails... Shell Fitting
Some people have feet that are so "unique" that they need the shell of their boots
to be specially fitted. For example, I have strange calcium deposits near my ankles that make it very uncomfortable to ski,
so I had to get my boots
adjusted. Be careful and make sure you go to a reputable shop if you want consider this. There are only a handful of ski
shops that are able to do this well.