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Your ski boots can be the difference between the best day’s skiing you have ever had and the worst one. This is because poorly fitting ski boots can cause horrendous foot pain.
Also, ski boots that don’t match your skiing ability or style won’t give you the control you need. Your ski boots will make or break your mountain time, so you really need to get the right ones for you.
In this post, we will tell you how to buy ski boots to make sure you are as comfortable and as in control as possible.
Learn The Language Of Ski Boots
There is some jargon associated with ski boots that you should know. It isn’t complicated, but it will give you a bit more understanding of what options are available to you. Understanding the terminology will help you get the right size and shape boot too.
This will stop you from experiencing pressure points, cold feet, shin bang, foot pain, and a bad day on the mountain. It will also mean that you will stand a good chance of buying the right boots first time. This will ultimately save you money, as you won’t need to buy another pair later on.
The “last” is the term for the width of the ski boot. If you have a boot with a last that is wrong for your foot, you could be in a whole world of pain. Put on a thin sock and measure the width of your foot at the widest part in millimeters.
It is regarded that a measurement below 100mm is a narrow foot, while above 104mm is a wide foot. Just like shoe manufacturers, ski boot brands tend to lean towards narrow or wide lasts. Therefore, you need to find a brand that makes boots for your foot width.
The Mondo (or mondopoint) refers to the length of your foot in centimeters. The best way to determine this is to go to a ski shop to get measured. It is possible to measure your foot at home.
To do this, put your foot on a piece of paper and draw around it. Then measure from your heel to the top of your toe. This will give you your mondopoint.
This is how flexible the ski boot is, and it is indicated with a flex rating. Lower numbers indicate that a boot is more supple, while ski boots with higher ratings are stiffer. Generally, ski boots have a flex between 60 and 150.
Boots that are easier to flex in a forward direction make it easier to control your skis. If you have stiffer boots, you will need to work harder to put your energy into the skis. But stiff ski boots allow you to ski harder and more aggressively.
Therefore, less experienced skiers will benefit from having softer boots, while more advanced skiers will need boots with a higher rating.
The flex of your ski boots will also be determined by your body weight. Light people will wear boots with a lower flex rating, as they are putting less pressure into the boot than heavier people.
The shell is the outer plastic part of the boot. This is where you will find the buckles and fasteners that ensure a secure fit.
The liner is the soft part inside the boot. These are removable, and they protect your feet from the cold and from vibrations. Liners can be altered or formed with heat to make them fit your feet perfectly. But you need to realize that you can only expend them, not shrink them down to size.
Visit A Ski Boot Fitter
A decent ski boot fitter will have the knowledge and experience to prevent you from making bad choices. A good ski boot fitter will ask to see your old boots if you have any.
They will ask you why you want to replace them and what you like and dislike about them. They will also ask you where you spend most of your time skiing, what type of skier you are, and how often you hit the slopes. The answers to these questions will narrow down the options for you.
When you are talking to the ski boot fitter, you need to be honest and realistic about your ability. Do not talk up or down how well you can ski. This is because there is a good chance that you will end up with ski boots with the wrong flex or a pair that doesn’t match your style.
A Note On Socks
When trying on ski boots, remember to wear thin socks and not a pair of thick ski tubes. If your boots fit correctly, you will not need thick socks to provide extra cushioning. Also, thick socks will misrepresent the boot’s fit, which may lead to the wrong decision.
When you think about socks, they are your first point of contact with the whole ski and boot set up. A thicker sock may be slightly warmer, but it will reduce control, feel, and response.
Therefore, the best skiers wear thin socks when on the mountain. A good ski boot will have sufficient insulation to keep your feet warm in most cases.
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How Should Ski Boots Fit?
Experienced boot fitters will know what ski boots will fit you properly before you have even put one on. You will need to give feedback to the fitter on how a boot feels, so he can advise you further.
When you put on a new pair of ski boots, they will feel a little short and tight. This is normal and nothing to be concerned about, as they should feel snug without cutting off your circulation, but you should not feel any pressure points.
A promising sign that the boot is the right fit is the feeling of slight to moderate pressure on your longest toe when the boot is bucked up, when standing up straight.
If the boot is causing too much pressure on your toes, there may be an issue with the liner. Therefore, you can take the liner out to see if the problem lies with the liner or the shell. If it is the liner, the boot fitter may be able to stretch it out slightly to fit your foot.
Ski boots will start to pack out after you have skied in them a few times. Your goal is to buy some boots that will fit you perfectly at the end of a season and not while in the shop.
If you put on some ski boots in a shop and they feel perfectly comfortable and have loads of room to wiggle your toes, they are probably way too big.
Don’t Buy Ski Boots Because They Look Cool
There are some really good looking ski boots on the market right now. These ski boots are eye-catching and can often sway people’s choice on which ones to buy. But those sexy boots may not fit you as well as the more plain-looking ones.
Choosing a pair of ski boots because they look good is a terrible idea, and people are more impressed by your skiing than your fancy boots.
Don’t Buy Ski Boots Based On Other People’s Experiences
Everyone’s feet are different. Also, skiing ability and technique varies from person to person, even if they have similar amounts of experience on the snow. Your friend may be recommending that you buy the same ski boots as them.
This is because they have managed to find the perfect pair for them that has been picked out by a professional boot fitter. However, just because they are great for your friend, they may be terrible for you.
If you go to a good ski shop, they will have a wide range of ski boots from several brands. These boots will all have their own fit, flex, and features. A professional boot fitter will be able to advise you and pick out some great options that suit you and your budget.
When To Change Your Ski Boots
The more you use your ski boots, you will notice that they will get looser. You may start to do up the buckles harder as they don’t hug your foot as well as they used to, but this causes problems. Your boot will begin to develop pressure points, or the extra room will allow your foot to move. Both of these are not great situations to be in.
A ski boot will last about 150 days of use. But you need to think about what a day’s skiing is for you. Do you ski non-stop from when the lifts open to when they close?
Or do you finish at lunchtime? Also, how hard you ski will make a difference to the longevity of your boots. So all this considered, if you manage to get 30 full days on the hill per season, you will need to replace your ski boots every five years.
However, before you rush out to buy new ski boots, you may be able to get away with changing the liners. This is a much cheaper way of solving the problem. But, sometimes, a pair of ski boots is too far gone to get away with just changing the liner.
There are a few things to check when deciding if your ski boots need changing. These are also good points to check if you are buying used boots.
Check that your buckles are not damaged, and they still work as they should. Some buckles can be replaced, depending on the age and model of the boot.
Over time, the boot’s shell can be weakened from UV light exposure and extreme weather conditions. This means the shell can crack, compromising the boot’s integrity.
The parts that clip into your bindings wear out over time. This can be really dangerous, as the biding struggles to hold the boot in place. Some ski boots have replaceable heel and toe pads. If yours are worn, and your boots don’t have replaceable pads, it is time to replace them.
Choosing a pair of ski boots is more involved than picking the ones you like the look of.
You need to take a few things into account to make sure your feet are not in agony, and you have as much control as possible. A ski boot fitter is your best bet for finding the best ski boots for you.