Good boot fitting changes the game.
We all know the feeling. Your feet are having a total meltdown. You just can’t wait to get those ski boots off. But it’s a marshmallow fluff powder day with zero lift lines. Snow keeps falling, and your friends are skiing lap after lap. You don’t want to stop skiing. On a great ski day, boot trouble can be heartbreaking.
If your feet hurt, it doesn’t matter what skis you are on. Foot fatigue, hot spots, cold toes, and general discomfort are all common complaints from a long ski day. While ski boots will never be confused with slippers, a good boot fit can solve a lot of problems. Lots of folks think that’s just the way ski boots are, but boots don’t have to be foot torture chambers. All it takes is a good boot fit.
If you are looking to prioritize one part of your setup, focus on the boots. Having a boot that is comfortable (but not too comfortable), is crucial for a good day on sticks. Ski boots aren’t just another pair of shoes though. You might get close, but converting shoe size to ski boot mondo size (ex. 27.5, etc.) doesn’t necessarily translate to the right boot for you. Not to mention all the other factors that go into how a boot fits. Foot width, instep height, ankle range of motion, arch stability—the list goes on. This is why seeing your local boot fitter is so important.
The all-important boot fitting assessment
Having a local boot fitter take a look at your feet in person and analyze all the different aspects of your feet gives you a better out-of-the-box fit. Different boots come in different shapes and molds that naturally fit different foot shapes better. For example, Lange is known for their narrow heel pocket. This suits folks who have smaller ankles or like a very snug fit but can cause pinching and pressure for folks with larger ankles.
Some folks might have noticed the width of their foot or ankle size from experiences in hiking, climbing, or street shoes, but the instep is a trickier measurement (and super crucial for a good fit). Different models of boots have different instep heights, and it’s not something they’ll necessarily note on their specs. The instep can be a really tricky area. If your instep is too high for the boot, that can cause a lot of pain on the top of your foot, or even cause numbness. If your instep is too low, you can move around a bit too much in the boot, which can cause pain or foot fatigue.
On top of measurements, there are other parts of the full assessment that help with fine tuning your boots. Pronation or supination are super common in most folks, but the amount can vary from person to person. This just means when you stand up, your foot rolls inward or outward as you weight your foot. In ski boots, this can be a big problem. The boot has such a specific, rigid shape, if your foot splays out, it can cause some pain points. We love throwing some arch support, like a custom footbed in there to solve that. You’ll find custom insoles actually solve a lot of problems.
Big boots don’t always equal equal comfort
Aside from the shape of your foot, a boot fitter can dial in the correct size. A common misconception is that a more comfortable boot is a larger boot. Sure, the boot will feel better right out of the box. Once you start skiing though, your foot starts moving around or flexing aggressively to try and stay stable in the boot as you are skiing. This can lead to a lot of strange hot spots or discomfort, as well as foot fatigue.
When you wear those boots in the shop, consider that they will only get roomier over time. Liners have a finite life, and over time they slowly lose their shape and form. That’s why boot fitters will encourage a snug fit, because the first time you try it on is the most snug that boot will ever be.
You might need custom boot fitting (and that’s okay!)
Loads of us have bone spurs, a random extra long toe, or some other feature that makes our feet a little…special. While ski boots haven’t been designed to accommodate our funky feet, they have been designed to be customizable.
Depending on the shop, boot fitters keep loads of tricks up their sleeves to manipulate the plastic shells and liners of boots. Certain areas are harder to work on than others, but it is possible to “punch” or grind certain parts of the boot away to create more space. Alternatively, we can also use specially designed foam to help alleviate pain or take up volume. That being said, getting the right fit (or closest to it) out of the box is ideal. If the boot fits better out of the box, it requires less custom work. This gives you more time to keep shredding on the hill rather than taking your boots off in the lodge. And more skiing means more fun.
Looking to upgrade your boots? Come visit the shop for a boot fitting appointment.