Although it’s a heat wave in Tignes at the moment the summer is coming to and end, which means winter is just round the corner, and it’s the time of year I like to think about buying new gear. Currently I’m looking at ski boots, but where do you even start when there is so much to offer!
This is not an extensive list and everyone’s preferences and priorities of what they want are different, but if you are feeling a little overwhelmed then this might help clear something up and could be a helpful place to begin.
When looking for ski boots it’s important to decide…
What kind of skier are you? Do you ski once every few years and are looking for a comfortable boot that can take you from the slope to the bar without any pain, are you a fast aggressive skier looking at race training, or perhaps a park skier who needs reasonably flexible boots. You might want an off piste boot, or a touring set up, or maybe you want to do everything, is there a boot for you that means you can ski everywhere, nursery slopes, park, off piste, touring?!
What is your foot profile? Have you got wide feet, narrow feet, big insteps, past injuries, bunions, plantar fasciitis issues…?
All these will affect what boot fits you best. For example a 24.5cm boot from Technica could fit perfectly, but the same size boot from Salomon might not as the outer shells and liners are designed differently.
What size? It is important to accurately measure your feet to get the right size, but also to look at any aspects that might affect the comfort of the boot. If your boot fitter says you’re a 25.5 but you think it’s a bit big, speak up! At the end of the day you are buying a pair of plastic shoes so you want to make them as comfortable as possible.
Once you have decided the above questions you can choose different boots based around this. However, there are few things that might crop up and confuse you along the way…
Flex? This refers to the stiffness of the boot, they can range from very soft (50/60) to very stiff (110-130+). Usually a less advanced skier would have a softer flex boot, and generally men’s boots have a higher flex. However, the flex index is not really standardized between companies, so it’s important not to over think this.
Buckles? Does it really matter? 2, 3, or 4? If you want a stiff boot should you go for a boot with more buckles? Don’t get hung up on the number of buckles, it all depends on the geometry of your foot and different pressure points.
Walk mode? This is definitely not an essential, but it becomes very handy when you start touring, or if the worst part of your day is walking from your apartment to the lift in those ski boots.
Insoles & Foot beds? These not only help with comfort but also performance. You can buy off the shelf foot beds, or you can get special ones custom fitted for you. It wasn’t until my 3rd pair of ski boots that I invested in these, I haven’t looked back. I genuinely think my ski boots are as comfy as slippers.
Boot heaters? They don’t affect the fit of your boot as they are so thin, personally I don’t have any, but some people swear by them, I would consider splashing out a bit more to get something durable and with a good battery life.
Go to a shop – Possibly one of the most important factors, go to a ski shop, and make sure they have a wide selection of boots! Not only will they measure your foot up to match specific boots, they will also be able to fit them to your foot at no extra cost. Technology these days means they can blow out the outer shell and adjust the liners of your boots every which way so all foot shapes can fit comfortably! Don’t forget you can always go to the shop, gather their knowledge and find the perfect boot, and then buy it online for cheaper, but if it doesn’t exactly fit a ski shop can help adjust it so you too can have slippers as ski boots!