A good fitting pair of boots is a critical part of your ski set up. Boots not only support your feet and ankles but help transfer your body movements to your skis, what is known as “driving your skis.” You want to buy boots based on fit and performance, not color, style, or what your friend wears. No matter how good a pair of boots looks with your skis or pants, if they don’t fit, you’ll be spending more time at the lodge than on the slopes.
Where to begin? These six tips will get you through the boot purchasing process and into a pair that feels good and rides well.
1. Take Your Time
Buying boots can be a process. Don’t just buy the first pair you try on. Plan to spend an hour or so at the shop with an expert bootfitter to ensure the right fit. Your time upfront is worth the extra time you’ll have on the slopes later on.
2. Go to an Outdoor Shop with an Experienced Bootfitter
A knowledgeable bootfitter will help you find the boots you need based on your ability and the type of skiing you want to do.
Yes, you can get screaming deals online, but if those close-out, bargain-basement boots don’t fit, they could tank your ski season. This is one of those times when the investment really does pay off. Find a shop with an expert bootfitter who can walk you through which boots are right for you. Expect questions about ski experience, terrain you enjoy, how often you ski. Your answers will help determine which boot is right for you, so answer honestly.
3. Get Measured
This is where the magic happens. Different brands and styles work better for different foot shapes—rest assured, there will be a boot for you! Your bootfitter will check the shape, length, width, instep height, and arch length on both of your feet. They’ll also measure calf volume and flexibility of your lower legs and feet as well as consider any injuries or specific issues.
4. Try Boots on for Size
Take your time when trying on boots and rely on your bootfitters’ expertise to help you find a good fit.
Once measurements have been taken, your bootfitter will provide you with a few styles to try on. Be sure to buckle boots, get in your skiing stance, check boot flex (that stiffness is what helps transfer energy from your legs to your skis), and spend some time to truly get a sense for how the boots fit. Also, listen to the questions and prompts from your bootfitter, this is where their expertise will truly benefit you.
5. Assess the Fit
Finding the right boots can take some effort, but it is well worth your time.
Epic Mountain Gear’s expert bootfitters recommend a few points to consider when thinking about the fit of your boots:
- Make sure you put the boot on correctly—set your foot into the liner and buckle your boots
- Make sure the heel holds firmly but comfortably.
- Your toes should be snug, not too tight, but not free to wiggle.
- Your boots should be firm but comfortable—too firm and you will be aching, too loose and you’ll suffer from a lack of support.
A ski day can be long, so a little ache or blister in the morning can ruin your afternoon. Mention any issues to your bootfitter so they can dial in your fit before you hit the slopes.
There are many accessories to help you get the best fit. Moldable shells and liners come with many boots and you can get additional insoles as an add-on purchase. If any of these extras help you get a better fit, it’s worth a thought. Again, the better your boots fit, the better the performance on the hill.
Once you hit the slopes, expect a brief adjustment period as the boot liner packs out around your foot. Within a few days, your boots will be dialed, and your efforts and diligence will be rewarded with years of happy skiing feet. Yes, it’s worth it!
Written by Allison Pattillo for Matcha in partnership with Rent Skis.