Choosing the right ski boots should be something that you put some time and thought in to - like tyres on a car, your boots (and skis) are your main contact with the powdered terrain. Naturally these should be properly fitted, comfortable and of good quality for safety reasons but also a properly fitted pair of ski boots can actually enhance your skiing performance - would you believe it!
You can, of course, start by looking online to get an idea of the sort of ski boots that are currently on the market, and then go on to purchase online; but to get the perfect fit, we recommend physically visiting a store to try on and purchase your boots. Read on to find out how to choose the right ski boots for the slopes...
Firstly, we need to understand the five main types of ski boot you can choose from; Men's, Women's, Children's, Freestyle and Racing. Obviously if you're simply looking to indulge in recreational skiing on a winter holiday, you may want to opt for Men's, Woman's or Children's (dependent on which category you fall in to).
The Men's boots tend to be larger in size, whereas the Woman's ones are shorter with a lower buckle. Freestyle boots are much softer and have a padded shoe board attached to reduce the impact of landings. Racing boots are stiffer than other types of boot in order to keep their shape when travelling at faster speeds. The racing boots will generally be more appropriate for the more professional and advanced skiiers.
The boot itself is made out of two main parts - the shell and the liner. The shell is the main outermost hard part, whereas the liner is the soft part which fits inside the boot. Within the liner is a piece called the footbed, which is basically a removable sole; usually this is pretty flimsy as the manufacturer expects you to upgrade or obtain a custom built one.
In order to choose the perfect ski boots, we need to understand the three main factors to look out for: the heel width, forefoot width and the instep height. If you are unsure of the correct way to measure your feet, don't worry, the staff in store will be able to do this for you and find out what your correct foot shape is. Buying a pair of ski boots should be seen as an investment, therefore it is important to get this part right to obtain a good fit.
If you are measuring your feet at home, a good way of doing this is to grab a piece of cardboard, put your feet on and draw round them. You can then measure the heel and forefoot width this way and then simply measure the instep height. Ski boots are measured using the Mondo Point size scale which is in centimetres - for accuracy, measure your feet in centimetres too!
Remember that you will need to add extra room to your measurements when purchasing your boots for things such as socks and liners. If possible, complete your foot measurements using the socks and liners that you plan on wearing on the slopes.
If you're new to skiing this step may confuse you a bit at first!
When you think you've found the perfect ski boot, try it on, buckle it and stand up. Unlike normal shoes, your toes should be touching the end of the boot. Next, bend your knees and lean forward slightly (as if you're in the skiing position), your toes should move back towards the back of the boot. It's okay if your toes are still slightly touching the front of the boot, although only gently.
A comfortable fitting ski boot should be snug but not too tight. Generally, space in the boots should be between ½ to ¾ of an inch; you need to be able to wiggle your toes whilst wearing them and not have any slippage around the heel. Although the outer shell of the boots won't change, the liner will mould to the shape of your foot gradually. Certain styles may require a specialist technician to heat mould the inner liner for you, so ask for advice before purchasing.
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