America is the land of the free and home of the brave.
So it makes total sense that it?s a country full of skiers! Indeed, around 10 million people regularly hit the slopes each year.
Few other activities offer the same levels of freedom involved in pelting down a mountain at high speeds. A fair amount of courage is required too!
But to do it safely you need the right gear.
And of all the equipment required, a pair of ski boots is essential. Not only do they bind you to the skis, but they?re often ?solely? (get it?) responsible for how comfortable you feel on the slopes. A bad fit, or the wrong type, can make for a tough experience.
You don?t want to be focused on hurting feet when you?re hurtling down a mountain. How do you ensure you buy the right boots for your needs?
Keep reading to discover exactly how to buy ski boots for your next trip to the slopes.
The Importance of Buying Ski Boots
It?s worth knowing why you should take this decision seriously. Getting a bad pair of boots is never fun. They can have a significant and lasting impact on your health and ability to ski (as well as your enjoyment of it!).
Here?s why you need to get the best boots possible.
Potential Wasted Money
Ski boots don?t come cheap.
That?s just a fact. Indeed, premium-level boots can set you back as much as $800!
Sure, you can find far cheaper options. Entry level boots can cost a couple of hundred bucks or so. You get what you pay for too. Those extra dollars amount to higher quality. However you look at it though, whether it?s entry or expert level, hundreds of dollars constitute a hefty investment!
There?s nothing worse than paying all that cash only to find that they?re horrible to ski in. They may feel great in the shop. But on the slopes, it?s a different story. They may be uncomfortable, move around a lot, or generally feel sub-par.
Make sure the boots you purchase are exactly what you need. If they aren?t under warranty, then you risk losing a lot of money.
Potential Minor Injuries
Money is one thing.
But your health is another.
And poor-quality, ill-fitting boots can cause significant issues. More on those next.
Let?s focus on the minor side of things first. For example, boots that are too tight around the balls of your feet can cause intense discomfort on the slopes.
If your feet were hands, it?s comparable to getting an overly strong hand-shake from someone. The bones in your foot just aren?t designed to be overly constricted.
Equally, bruising and blisters are common issues for skiers. Feet aren?t uniform! The same boots will be perfect for one person, but awful for another. Idiosyncratic features such as knobbly bits, pointy-out bits and so on, can all rub, bump and grind in all the wrong places in the boot.
It might not sound like much. But even the smallest blister can be painful enough to make skiing unenjoyable.
High quality, properly fitted gear is usually enough to prevent such problems.
Potential Major Injuries
Minor problems are annoying but bearable.
Major ski injuries are another story. The wrong boots can lead to significant physical issues that can stop you skiing.
For example, at the lower end of the spectrum, sprains and strains can occur. That might happen if the foot slides around too much inside the boot. Fractures are also a potential outcome.
You may avoid these types of injuries. However, over time, ill-fitting boots will lead to problems with your back, knees, and shins. After all, your body is having to adapt itself unnaturally to the boot. That compensation has an impact.
A worst-case-scenario is your foot coming out of the boot unexpectedly. If that happens, then expect nasty falls and ensuing injuries.
Obviously, injuries cause discomfort.
But you don?t need to be injured to feel uncomfortable in your boots. Everyone knows the pain that poorly fitted shoes can cause. Walking around in shoes that are too small (or big) is never fun! Now imagine wearing them while hurtling at 20 miles per hour down a mountain!
The constant motion, turning, slowing, stopping and starting can lead to serious wear and tear on your feet. It can be downright unpleasant. That?s the last thing you need when you?re trying to enjoy your day!
Potential Performance Problems
The wrong boots can make skiing more difficult.
Of course, you can expect ski performance to suffer when you?re in pain. You?ll be less inclined to go fast, turn quickly, or stay out as long. It?s natural to see your standard plummet.
But pain doesn?t have to be present for bad boots to affect performance.
Your feet aren?t identical. It?s common for there to be slight differences in ankle flex, and foot shape and size. Inside the boots, these biomechanical imbalances have a direct effect on how you ski. For example, turning and edging can be more difficult when going downhill.
Getting the right boot (or custom orthotics/ in-soles) can offer an easy solution.
Similarly, boots that don?t fit properly make you a less efficient skier. Turns, for instance, become far harder. You?re forced to overcompensate for the issue. Over time, fatigue develops, and at a faster rate than it would otherwise.
Finally, what?s the first thing many people do with space in the boot? They shut the clamps on top as firmly as possible.
It makes sense. After all, they?re effectively rectifying the slipping issue. However, that can lead to poor circulation and numbness. Numb feet make skiing both a) a greater challenge and b) less enjoyable.
Top Tips for Buying Ski Boots
We now know the importance of wearing the right ski boots.
Let?s turn to the process of finding the best pair possible. Here is a selection of top tips for choosing the right ski boots.
Speak to a Pro Boot Fitter
Speaking to an expert boot fitter is a sure-fire way to get the best boots possible.
Sure, you could just walk into a ski shop and sort it out yourself.
But you risk all the potential problems we?ve just discussed. It?s akin to purchasing medication online without getting a recommendation and written prescription from the doctor.
Go to a pro fitter. It?s their job to get people the boots the need, which match their individual style, feet, needs, and so on.
Now, one downside to this approach is that many fitters offer contrary opinions.
Unfortunately, there hasn?t been enough research into boot design and the impact of minor alterations. Consequently, there?s no industry standard. Recommendations are often anecdotal and based on their experience.
That doesn?t mean it isn?t worth listening to. It simply means that you can ask three fitters the same question and get three different answers! However, the problem may be solved by them all.
The fact of the matter is that these people are experts at what they do. They know ski boots better than anyone. Paying for their insight is worth every cent.
Know Your Skill-Level
Your skiing ability and intentions dictate the boots you require.
It?s the same with any sport. The equipment you buy will inevitably meet the standards you require. You wouldn?t expect a professional tennis player to enter tournaments with a kid?s racket from the local store. It simply isn?t fit for purpose.
The same goes for your ski boots.
Purchase boots that match individual requirements. For example, green and blue runs may best suit a medium flex boot and a fit that?s large enough to maximize comfort. More advanced levels may seek a stiffer flex. Expert skiers will require smaller boots with a very stiff flex on them.
Indeed, for many people, this will help keep the price down too. For beginner slopes, you?re unlikely to need top of the line footwear!
Keep it Snug
As a general rule of thumb, snug is good.
Don?t try boots on in the same way you buy shoes: tightness isn?t a bad thing. In fact, you want to feel a tightness when you wear them.
For one thing, loose-fitting boots are problematic, as we?ve seen. Secondly, the lining inside will start to compact as soon as you get on the slopes. That means it won?t be quite as tight for too long.
Again, a boot fitter will be able to inform of the requisite tightness for you.
But Not Too Snug
It?s easy to go too far though.
After all, for first-time skiers, how do you know what?s ?tight enough??
Too loose and the boot becomes dangerous. Too snug and you risk causing all sorts of other pain and discomfort. As we?ve seen, blisters and bruises are common from the friction created.
Strike a balance: snug, but not overly so! Speak with a fitter for clarification.
Get the Correct ?Last? and ?Flex?
The average person buys ordinary shoes based on their shoe size.
Aka, the length of the foot. In ski terms, this is referred to as the Mondo size. A simple hack to measure yours is to put your heels against a flat surface and taking the length from there to the tip of your longest toe. A foot that?s 25cm long has an indicated Mondo size of 25.
However, Mondo size is only one component in finding correctly-sized and fitted ski boots.
Last and flex are two other essential considerations. These refer to the width of the boot at its widest point, and the stiffness of it, respectively.
The narrower your foot, the narrower you need the last to be. For flex, higher numbers indicated stiffer boots. In general, more advanced, heavier and faster skiers require higher flex.
Don?t Buy for Looks
We all know not to judge a book by its cover.
Sure, those flash boots on the top shelf may look awesome. They might be the perfect match for your ski suit back home. But the aesthetic appeal is in no way representative of boot quality!
The worst thing anyone can do when buying boots is to buy based on looks alone. Sure, if they look great AND fit perfectly, then that?s ideal. Otherwise, exercise caution. You may end up wasting a lot of money unnecessarily.
Remember, there?s no point looking awesome in your boots if you can?t actually ski in them!
Ignore Personal Recommendations
Here another tip for buying your ski boots:
Ignore the opinion of friends and relatives!
It sounds brutal. However, the truth is that works for someone else may not work for you. It?s tempting to seek advice from those around us, especially when we feel out of our depth.
Your Uncle Jim?s ski boots might be perfect for him. But his feet may be the size of a cinder block! Individual needs should always come before external recommendations when purchasing ski boots. ?
Exactly How to Buy Ski Boots
There you have it: everything to know about how to buy ski boots.
Millions of people go skiing every year in the United States. This incredible sport attracts people from across the country to strap on a pair of skis and hit the slopes. There?s nothing better than being out in the open air, and a mountain?s worth of fresh powder at your feet.
As for most things though, the equipment you have can make all the difference. That?s especially true for skiing. After all, your physical wellbeing is well and truly on the line!
Ski boots are the single most important investment for a good skiing experience. The wrong pair can have a significant impact on your performance, safety, and enjoyment.
Hopefully, this article has provided all the information you need to find the perfect pair for your needs!
Did you find value in this piece? Do you love to ski? Then click here to read more about finding the best skiing gear for you and your family.