Great boot fitting essential for ski and snowboard boots, nordic boots and ice skates during the winter season. Being warm and comfortable will allow you to enjoy your sport longer, perform better and improve quicker. The right boot for you can make or break the entire experience. This complex journey doesn’t need to be travelled alone, seek a professionals help and you’ll be well on your way!
We will cover the steps necessary to get the best boot fit possible, your feet can thank us later.
5 steps to a great bootfit:
1) Where you go counts! Choose a qualified boot shop, we suggest one that is certified with the “Americas Best Bootfitters” – These shops will have depth in boot stock; experienced boot fitters; a complete cross section of tools to analyze and adapt boots for fit and performance to your particular feet and needs. Ask if they have a boot fit guarantee, your shop of choice should stand behind their work.
2) Any great relationship starts with great communication – It’s the same with bootfit. Does the the boot fitter really listen to you? – Does he/she ask you questions about:
-What type a skier are you?
-Where do you ski? and how often do you ski?
-How aggressive a skier are you? if you are a novice, what other sports or exercise do you engage in regularly?
-What bootfit issues have you had in the past?
-Do you have any other problems with your feet or movement, medical issues?
-What are your skiing aspirations? e.g., Do you want to improve or are you satisfied with your present level of skiing? Maybe you have a specific goal, like ski the bumps, skiing certain terrain or conditions? Do you want to ski backcountry? Are you planning on skiing more in the future?
3) Create a profile (this is VERY important). The Bootfitter should measure and analyze both of your foot sizes (your left and right foot may be different!) length, width, arch length, instep height and calf volume. The boot fitter should use a brannock foot measuring device. Your foot size may actually be different from what you thought. Your boot size will be measured in centimeters (mondo point) whereas shoe size is in brannock sizes.
Shape = Your foot shape is just as important as the size. The boot fitter should analyze the shape of your foot. Are your feet ballet dancer’s feet or fred flintstone feet? Fear not, there is a boot for every shaped foot.
Flexibility – of ankle, mid-foot and balls of the feet.
Looking for variations – do you have bunions? Did you have an injury? do you have calluses?
4) Try, compare and choose
Your Boot fitter disappears into the mysterious back boot storage room and reappears with boots that best match characteristics to your foot and your skiing – ideally the boot fitter will have narrowed down the field to the best few styles.
Try on two different boots at the same time. Be patient and don’t judge until they are buckled up and you flex forward. The boot should be suspiciously tight. Remember the liner will compress over time. Better to start with a close fitting boot than later try to make a boot smaller. These are NOT your slippers or casual shoes.
Simulate skiing. Best done on a skiing simulator; work the boots forward and side-to-side. It takes 3-4 minutes to begin to get the feel of a boot.
What do you notice?
Is the boot snug and provide a contained uniform grip of your foot?
Are there any pressure points?
Does the flex feel uniform and consistent?
Do you feel your foot moving around (not good)?
Does it feel too stiff, too soft or just right (your boot fitter will also help address this as “in the shop vs on the hill” can be slightly different)?
5) You’ve chosen the best boots for you, now here’s the good news they are about to get even better!
Time to customize.
Liners: Most contemporary boots have heat moldable inner boots or liners.
Shell: Many now have a moldable shell
Footbeds are essential for both a great boot fit and to ski/board well. They keep your feet from moving and causing discomfort, even injury! They hold the foot in a fixed position so if the fitter needs to change the shell shape to match your unique foot shape he or she is not chasing a moving target.
It’s the little things; mini alterations, heel lifts, adjusting buckles, cuff angles as needed that will ensure you are dialed and the boots truly match your feet. All boots offer various micro adjustments to further customize them for your happiness.
If you have dramatic unique high points, the boot fitter should be able to make shell alterations to accommodate even the most unusual foot variations. Stretches, padding or grinds for bunions or big ankles or high insteps should all be on the menu and included in a full bootfit if needed.
This is where the boot fitters experience and expertise will have you happy and skiing or riding better than ever.
Remember that boot fit guarantee we mentioned earlier? If you have additional boot challenges go back to your boot shop which has lots of refit capabilities. Boot fitting can be an ongoing process to get you skiing the best possible and keeping your feet happy. If you love your boots let your boot fitter know…. and your friends!
OK you’ve made it to the bottom of the blog post and you’re almost done your boot fit! Here’s the 6th step….Take it further. (Here’s an insiders hint, you wouldn’t find a pro skiing without their boots Canted properly) Cant analysis and canting of boot:
If you stand knock kneed or bow legged when in your boots, your range of motion to one side or another is limited, resulting in lack of power or difficulty linking turns or over torquing the ski so its difficult to glide smoothly (often times people feel like they can’t carve well, balanced between edges or at all). Maybe you’re just plateaued and your skiing is just not advancing. Time to check your alignment.
The boot fitter should have the tools and knowledge to measure your alignment and make adjustments to the boot to improve your performance. Typically a cant adjustment is a boot grind or a shim between the sole and the chassis of the boot.
You may be amazed at the improvement in your skiing with canting, it can open up a whole new world of possibilities on the hill!
Did this merely whet your pallet for knowledge on boot fitting? Check out this in depth blog post from our Boot Fitter in our BootDoctors® Taos, NM store; Charlie Bradley. Read more here.