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Boot Fitting Tips & Buying Guide

Boot Fitting Tips & Buying Guide

Often underrated, professional boot fitting can be the make or break of a ski season. Our boot fitting service, free with the purchase of new ski boots and performed by our experts, is an essential part of buying new ski boots.

We pride ourselves in our boot fitting skills so when buying ski boots we always recommend that you travel to our store and have one of our professional boot fitters fit the boots to your feet.

Many boots also require heat moulding to make the liner fit your feet - this requires a special machine and needs to be done by a qualified technician. If buying your boots online, we would still recommend taking your purchased boots into a store with a qualified boot fitter as soon as you can to ensure a better fit - please note we don't charge for refitting boots bought from us, provided they've not been used, however other stores may charge for this service.

We train our staff continuously, introducing new and more technical fitting methods all the time to give you a better service.

For some people buying ski boots might seem a daunting prospect but in reality it’s a straightforward process. Our expert fitters follow simple tried-and-tested rules but are also armed with a wide selection of fitting-aids and the knowledge to deal with more complicated problems.

Book a Boot-Fitting Session

Top 10 Boot-Buying Tips for Success

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or replacing existing boots follow our 10 tips to help explain the selection process and make it even easier.

1. Allow Time

Don’t rush yourself, the initial fitting will take between 1½ and 2 hours. It doesn’t matter if it takes longer we have the time, patience and skill necessary to make sure you get the right boot.

2. Know Your Feet

It sounds obvious but do consider and discuss your ‘boot history’ and any previous problems you may have had with ski boots or your feet in general.

3. The Budget

Have a budget in mind of what you’d like to spend though do be flexible if it means getting the most suitable model. Make sure the budget includes supportive footbeds if you don’t already own them – they will improve the comfort and performance.

4. Measuring

Measuring is just a guide, a starting point. The correct size will be gauged from a shell check with your foot in the plastic shell of the boot, without the inner liner inserted. This will confirm if the size, shape, and volume of the selected model are the correct match.

Measuring

5. Thin Socks

New ski boots have warm padded liners that will support your feet and insulate them. Thick socks will only make the boot tighter, restricting blood flow and ultimately making it colder. Thin socks will improve precision, control and comfort.

6. The Right Boot

It isn’t about how the boot looks or what is recommended in the latest edition of ‘What is the best Ski Boot’ magazine. It’s about the fit and function.
Fit - the fit is so important to your enter so much more than colour, style or the latest trend. Focus on how they feel (read How a New Boot Should Feel).
Function – Biomechanics and size are just as important as ability. Some people need stiffer boots than their ability might suggest, some need softer. The boot should support and work with you, ignore the stickers and numbers. Focus on how they feel.

7. Footbeds & Stability

Don’t concentrate solely on the boots, to really make them perform and be comfortable you first have to ensure your feet are stable when inside. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of a well-made custom footbed to a successful boot fitting. In most cases it is the key to a successful fitting.

WE FABRICATE CUSTOM INSOLES BY SIDAS
CUSTOM FOOTBED:
$160 (boots purchased at Snowride)
CUSTOM FOOTBED:
$190 (boots purchased elsewhere)
PRE-MOULDED FOOTBED:
$59
BOOT CUSTOMISATION/HR:
$90 (boots purchased elsewhere)

 

Footbeds & Stability

8. Initial Wearing

After buying your new boots don’t just put them away till it’s time to go on holiday. Wear them as much as possible either skiing at indoor snow centres or dry slopes, or at home whilst stood up, for example ironing. The more you wear them the more the liner will soften and mold to your feet.

9. Modifications

There are only a small number of brands and styles of boots, there are millions of different feet. Ski boots are designed to be modified to accommodate lumps and bumps. Our staff have the tools and knowledge to stretch and grind plastic shells, transform inner boots and alter angles and flex. Little changes can make a big difference.

10. After Sale Service

Sensations like minor tingling, slight numbness or some hot spots can be expected to start with as the liner packs down. If they don’t ease with use, take the boots into a store for modification. Even if you have a more painful problem, please don’t panic, in most cases it only takes a small change to fix it. We provide free customisation on all our boots; whether it’s the day you buy them, after 1 weeks skiing or 3 years down the line.

There is one thing you must remember, to have time – on the day of the fitting you should allow at least 1½ hours in the shop. It is advisable to purchase your boots well in advance of going away.

Book a Boot-Fitting Session

Let's Get Technical

It helps to know some of the jargon used in the ski boot world, that way you’re more equipped when it comes time to purchase a shiny new pair of high density plastic foot-housing devices. AKA, boots.

Mondo Point

What size are my feet? A very important question when looking at boots. The majority of all ski boots are sized with UK, US and Mondo sizes. Mondo size is equal to the length of your foot in cm making it much more consistent between brands. This will relate to the internal length of your foot inside the shell of the boot. So when choosing a boot your foot will be measured in Mondo points because all the manufactures can agree on this standard. The high performance and specific nature of boots will require a precise fit. When fitted well, a ski boot should feel like a firm handshake. Remember: the size of shoe will not necessarily be the size of your ski boot.

Boot Liner

The ski boot liners in today’s boots have improved vastly even from equipment only a few years ago. Liners are now built and designed to have multiple support areas and provide cushioning and comfort throughout. The majority of off-the-shelf liners are now heat-mouldable. This means that during the fitting process in store, liners are specially heated with hot air then re-inserted into the shell. Once the liner is re inserted into the boot and the customer has their foot in the liner, the boot gets fastened to ensure a precise moulding of the foot and lower leg. Because the liner material is heat sensitive and soft when heated, it fits to the form of the ankle and lower leg, providing a secure and comfortable fit.

Custom Liner

There are two main types of custom liners, Foam and Heat Form. With these different styles they have their positive aspect but lend themselves better to some aspects of skiing more than others. Though liners that come with boots have improved, custom liners provide the highest level of performance and comfort. It is important to remember that custom liners are not just for expert skiers - recent designs and models make Custom Liners very comfortable and accessible for recreational skiers. Skiers who have had trouble with standard liners in the past should explore this option which may ultimately provide better support, relieve pressure and increase performance pleasure.

Foam Liners are ideal for people looking to have a precise fit as the injected foam fills spaces around the ankle and forefoot. When it sets firm, the liner provides a direct interaction between foot, liner and boot because any space is now eliminated. The big advancement in foam liners is that they are now more suited to the recreational skier looking for performance as much as the expert skier. The Transfoam Liner by SIDAS takes the best aspects of comfort and performance into one liner making it the ideal choice for the majority of people.

Heat Form Liners are gaining ground in many forms throughout the industry. Initially Heat form liners were only available as an after market liner, but now the majority of manufacturers are incorporating Heat Form Liners and parts of, in their delivered boots. That said, the after-market heat form liners offer tremendous comfort, mouldable aspects and lightweight features. Many full heat form liners such as the Intuition have wrap-around mouldable aspects and provide a very soft, light flexible liner which sees favour especially with Touring boots but not limited to these uses.

Boot Last

The interior shape of a boot, 'Last' is a cobbler's term for the foot-like form around which shoes were once crafted. Boot Last for ski boots still refers to the internal shape of the boot, but in many cases the main point of reference for people will be the width of the boot. The most common measurement it refers to is the width across the widest point of your foot at the Fore foot– the metatarsals. Each manufacturer designs their internal shape slightly differently, so two boots of the same Mondo point size and similar published last, may have a slightly different volume and feel.

Boot Flex

This is the ability of the boot to bend forward at the ankle joint. The paradox of ski boots is that though they need to be stiff to support and provide control, they also need to bend in order to allow skiers to absorb pressure and to maintain balance. An indication of how difficult a boot is to flex is usually given by a number ranging from 50 to 150. Racers will tend to have boots 120 and above because they apply greater pressures to boots when skiing whereas recreational skiers are probably more happy with a Flex of 80-110. Remember though each manufacturer has its own way of designing boots, and though they may have a similar published Flex rating, you will only be able to tell if it is right for you by trying it on.

Boot Board

The platform inside the boot shell on which the liner rests; usually removable. Also referred to by its Italian name, zeppa.

Cant

The lateral angle of the boot in relation to the ski; often confused with cuff-alignment (the adjustment of cuff angle). Boots can be canted inward or outward, usually by grinding the sole at an angle, to give a skier better access to all four ski edges. Usually reserved for extreme alignment issues or high level racers.

Lifter

Layer of plastic applied to the boot sole for extra height/leverage. Usually only required in very technical circumstances such as boots for racers.

Lugs

The portions of the shell's sole that interface with a ski binding; must meet industry standards for size; often replaceable in the event of wear.

Shell

The plastic exterior components of the boot, usually comprising two elements: the cuff (or upper) and lower.

Repairs

We are able to repair many boot problems from replacing buckles to heels and toes. In most cases we can get the parts you need to make your boots good as new. Speak to our boot technicians who can provide a guide to services and prices, or have a look at the Boot Repair section on our Workshop page.

Cuff Alignment

Cuff alignment adjustment is possible on many boots especially in higher-end models. This feature assists in ensuring that the lower leg sits properly in the boot by being able to slightly adjust the cuff laterally inwards or outwards to ensure there is no undue pressure and that there is equal spacing around the lower leg allowing the foot to stay in a neutral position. Should you need this sort of adjustment, our boot fitters can assist.

Boot Warmers

For sufferers of cold feet, boot warmers may be an option to consider. In most cases these aftermarket units consist of a small element that sits under the toes and a battery unit fixed to the ski boot. The elements can be fitted to any footbed either custom-made, or standard issue and provide a gentle heat to these areas improving comfort and circulation

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QUESTIONS?

We’d be happy to answer any queries you might have or provide some helpful tips on minimising foot pain. We’re always up for a yarn, so get in touch by emailing info@snowride.co.nz or call us on 0800 SNOWRIDE.