boots are your single most important piece of equipment in skiing.
Think of the ski
as an extension of your foot. Your boot is the link between your foot,
the ski and the snow. So obviously, the better the fit of your boot,
the more control you'll have of your edges, which results in better
turns. It is your ski boot that will, to a large extent, help you
grow or hold you back as a skier. Your ski boots should fit tightly
or snugly without hurting your feet (and have enough "wiggle room"
for your toes.) There should be no pressure points or sore spots when
your feet are in your boots. You should not have to get "used
to" any foot cramping or discomfort and, there should be no pain or
pressure points whatsoever. If there is, see a good boot fitter or
think about changing boots.
first trying ski boots on, start with ones that are a full size smaller
than your street shoe. A boot technician will usually measure
your foot in the shell without the liner. You should be able to get
two fingers behind your heel when the foot is forward in the shell
and the shin resting against the front. Once you know you have the
right shell size, try the boot on with the liner. Go for the smaller
liner first. If they are too snug move up a half size until you find
the ones that seem right.
A boot liner will pack out when you start skiing so you
want a relatively snug fit at first. Make sure you seat the heel in
the pocket of the boot to alleviate pressure on the toes. (It's a
good idea to trim your toenails to minimize any discomfort or possible
bruising that might occur if they are too long.) Buckle the two buckles
over the top of the foot and press the knee forward. Pushing the knee
forward forces the heel back and into the heel pocket of the boot.
You apply a great deal of pressure to your feet when you make a turn
due to the centrifugal force of the skis gripping and gravity pulling
so it is difficult to know how a boot will perform until you actually
try them on the hill.
resort area ski shops offer a "demo" program that will allow you to
try a performance boot and deduct the price of the demo from the purchase
price of the boots. This is the best way I know to find the boot that
will work best for you. However since a demo ski boot liner will pack
out differently for each foot that skis in that boot, be aware that
you'll have a more accurate fit once you purchase your own boots.
I look at the right ski boots as an investment that should last a
number of years if you buy the right boots and have the right fit.
It's critical to your ski performance that you get boots that are
going to work for you. Most if not all beginner boots do not work,
especially rental boots. Ironically boots made for the skier who needs
them the most are the least reliable. Ski boots that are bigger than
your street shoe size won't give any control on the hill. A larger
boot may feel good on your foot because it has room to move but they
won't help your skiing for the same reason. If you have to crank your
boot buckles to the last notch they are definitely too big. Whether
you own or rent boots, your boots need to fit snug to be effective.
Unfortunately most beginner or rental boots only aggravate the ankle
knuckle resulting in pain or severe discomfort. Rear entry boots (where
your foot enters from the backside) give the least reliable performance
while front entry boots (where the buckles are located in front and
on top of the foot) are better in terms of comfort AND increased performance.
Avoid skiing in rear entry boots if possible! The number one
rule of skiing is that your foot should not move inside your boots.
Any excess movement of the foot inside the boot will result in a lack
of edge and ski control.
foot can move inside the boot in a number of ways, up and down heel
lift, movement over the top of the foot, and sliding back and forth
from heel to toe. It's the biggest problem for the average skier but
one most are not aware. If your foot slips or slides around inside
the boot when you are making a turn, it diminishes your balance and
your ability to effectively use the edges of your ski. The tighter
and more secure the fit of the boot the better your ski control.
When it comes to ski boots there are two factors that will enhance
performance; one is the proper size the other is the right fit. It
is possible to custom fit your boot so it fits like a glove. A custom
fit can include orthotics or insoles or even a custom liner. Custom
insoles are molded and form to your foot to give added stability and
support. Custom liners are either injected with foam or heated and
mold to the shape of your entire foot. These liners give a perfect
fit and are worth the expense if you have trouble with your feet or
want more precision. If you choose not to go the custom route you
can still work with a boot fitter to get a better fit. Working with
a recommended boot fitter can help to eliminate any excess movement
or discomfort. You can minimize or eliminate movement with heel pads,
or adhesive foam strips. These attach to the liner, between the shell
and the liner to snug up areas that are loose or roomy. If you are
making these adjustments yourself make sure the adhesive pads do not
shift when you put the liner back in the shell of the boot
When you move your foot the ski should respond. A turn starts
when you tip or tilt the inside foot to engage the big toe edge of
the outside ski. It is the pressure from your entire foot on your
stance or outside leg (the arch, ball and big toe) that allows you
to hold the edge through the turn after you tip or tilt the skis on
edge. The better the fit of your boot the better your control. If
your foot moves inside your boot you will lose your balance and the
ability to hold the edge when you tip of tilt at the beginning or
most critical part of the turn. Instead of engaging the edge (because
you lack the control) you'll twist your body or shoulders to make
the turn and bring the skis around. Once you get the fit of your boots
right you'll be surprised at how much more sensitive your foot feels
on the snow. You'll have more control of your skis and edges than
you ever thought possible.